The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa 2014 Dolcetto d’Alba

A delicious, fresh everyday Giacosa bottle!











31TqXXO1wyLThis past weekend was Mothers Day,and we all honored our mothers for raising us, loving us, and supporting us. Honestly, is there a better way to show your appreciation than with a bottle of wine? You really can’t go wrong when the name Bruno Giacosa is on the bottle, so I chose the delicious, yet affordable Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa 2014 Dolcetto d’Alba.

Bruno Giacosa is one of the finest producers of Barolo and Barbaresco. His highly sought-after wines are often intense in character and rich in flavor. This Dolcetto, however, represents the more approachable side of Giacosa; it’s a balanced everyday wine that’s under $30 a bottle. Giacosa’s estates have been crafting high quality wine for decades, so it may surprise you that Giacosa once purchased all of his grapes from outside suppliers. This explains why the name Casa Vinicola appears before his name on this wine. The Giacosa estate does not own the vineyards in its Casa Vinicola bottlings; rather, it hand-selects the finest and most desirable grapes from farmers whom the Giacosa team trusts.

Dolcetto roughly translates to “little sweet one,” but this translation does not do the wine justice. This Dolcetto bursts with fruit, but it’s balanced by a bright acidity. The result is an easy, approachable wine that goes well with pretty much anything. I had mine with grilled chicken and vegetables, but, due to its versatility, it can just as easily be enjoyed with pasta or even pizza. This wine is an instant crowd-pleaser and an ideal wine to have on hand for any occasion.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2013 Le Volte

Intense, structured, vibrant and delicious under $30 wine from Ornellaia!











RD8563-2I was very excited and curious to try the new 2013 vintage of Le Volte, the “second wine” from the iconic Tuscan producer Tenuta dell’Ornellaia. After drinking it this past weekend, I’m delighted to tell you that this 2013 Le Volte drinks like a beauty and priced just under $30 it offers a great price-to-quality ratio for a top quality Super-Tuscan.

With neighboring producers like Tenuta San Guido, Antinori’s Guado al Tasso, Grattamacco, and Le Macchiole,Tuscany’s tiny coastal town of Bolgheri is at the pinnacle of winemaking in Tuscany.  Tenuta dell’Ornellaia was one of the region’s first estates, and 1985 was the estate’s first vintage. The estate’s 63 acres are planted predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small plantings of Cabernet Franc, all sitting on elevated parcels composed of clay, gravel, and loam soils. Although it is considered the “second wine” of the estate, Le Volte combines the Tuscan expression of opulence and generosity with structure and complexity. The approachable style of Le Volte , a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (sourced from trusted neighboring estates), reflects the philosophy and outstanding savoir-faire of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia.

One of the secrets of this gorgeous wine is that the grapes from each vineyard ferment separately in individual tanks. This makes a lot of work for winemaker Axel Heinz’s team, but it means that each individual base wine (of which there are more than 60!) contributes its own character to creation of the final blend according to the specific conditions of the vineyard area.  Only after a period of 12 months of aging in French oak barrels does the Ornellaia team select and blend the base wines to create an elegant expression of the vintage’s unique character.

Intense red and dark fruits aromas burst from the glass and the pure fruit notes are beautifully delineated. The 2013 Le Volte reflects its cool growing year and late harvest in its concentration, structure, energy and purity. It’s a perfect wine to enjoy now with a bit of decanting and it’ll pair perfectly well with a wide variety of Mediterranean dishes, grilled or braised meats, but it will drink beautifully for another 7-10 years if you have the patience to age it in your cellar. I highly recommend it and hope you will enjoy it too!

Go-To-Tuesday Wine: Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico

A lively, vivacious under $18 Italian white!











WH1883-2TFinally, some consistent white wine weather (or just spring weather for the rest of us). As the mercury rises in New York, it means only one thing: it’s the perfect time for a lively, vivacious white. I decided to enjoy my weekend with Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico.

This wine was born in a region called Castelli di Jesi, arguably the best region for Italy’s Verdicchio grape. Situated around 1,000 feet above sea level where nothing blocks the cool sea breezes coming off the coast of Ancona,  Sartarelli’s vineyards impart the estate’s wines with a rich minerality. This mineral core balances out the wines’ fruitiness and adds substantive structure. Despite the seemingly ideal landscape for Verdicchio,  the talents of winemaker Alberto Mazzoni make Sartarelli wines something special. Dedicating Sartarelli entirely to Verdicchio, Mazzoni uses his experience with the ancient grape to create wines with a silky texture.

Like most of Sartarelli’s wines, this Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico is an easy starter wine and a real crowd-pleaser. And did I mention that this wine is under $18? Yes, this white is probably one of the best value wines we offer at IWM. I shared this with my friends and heard nothing but excellent reviews as we drank it with linguine and shellfish. Although it has powerful fruity aromatics, this Verdicchio is very well balanced and goes well with almost any food as its flavor will not overpower any dish. However, I will say we particularly enjoyed it with seafood. Its minerality and almost almondy finish just seemed to lend itself perfectly to mussels, clams, and linguine. I full-heartedly recommend keeping a few bottles (or cases) of this on-hand for the warm weather ahead.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Il Conventino 2014 Rosato

A delicious organic under $20 rosé made from Sangiovese!











ROS26-2Spring is finally kicking in, so it’s time to get ready for some serious aperitivi! Italian rosé can have the reputation of being too rich and heavy, but not all of them are. I recently enjoyed Il Conventio 2014 Rosato, a fantastic under $20 rose that is fresh, aromatic and much lighter that you would think. It’s exactly the bright, succulent rosato you’re looking for for your long summer nights.

Il Conventino winery was acquired in 2003 by the Brini brothers, who started their career as attorneys but eventually realized their dream to operate a winery right in their native Tuscan region of Montepulciano. Under the guidance of a great oenologist, Il Conventio now produce high quality organic wines they ship in more than 20 different countries; these wines include Montepulciano, Bianco, Vin Santo, Grappa, and, of course, today’s Rosato!

This beautiful Rosato is made with 100% Sangiovese, which might surprise some of you because this grape is more famous for the Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Super-Tuscan blends, but when you vinify Sangiovese with brief skin contact it actually makes an outstanding Rosé. Clean, fresh aromas and flavors of strawberry and flowers abound, and this wine is both crisp and juicy in the middle palate. Although not very complex, this rosato has quite a persistent finish and offers an incredible value at $19.99. I recommend you served it chilled in an ice bucket–it will be your best companion for the summer!

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Pojer & Sandri 2013 Vin dei Molino Rosato

This beautiful $23 rosato bridges the worlds of red and white wines











WH1606-2Spring has come, but last weekend’s weather didn’t seem to get the memo.  I couldn’t decide if the weather called for a red or a white, so I went with something with the qualities of both. With the dark berry color of a red and the easy drinkability of a white, Pojer & Sandri 2013 Vin dei Molino Rosato seemed like my best bet. Being from the multicultural region Trentino Alto-Adige, this rosato derives from the admittedly not very Italian-sounding Rotberger grape. However, once you see Trentino Alto-Adige on a map, the name begins to make sense. This Italian region is a unique cultural nexus that borrows language, style and traditions from its Swiss and Austrian neighbors. Not surprisingly, this Alto-Adige rosé is influenced by its interesting background, which gives it characteristics unlike just about any wine I’ve ever tasted. It’s certainly something worth trying, especially given the $23 price tag.

Since 1975, longtime friends Mario Pojer and Fiorentino Sandri have been cultivating excellent grapes from the mountainous Trentino Alto-Adige. Back when they started, the friendly duo, armed only with youthful optimism and winemaking know-how, set out to show that their hometown of Faedo could produce high quality wine. Aided by an Italian wine craze in the 1970s, their vineyard proved successful, and its wines became known for their uniqueness and aromatics. Fast-forward to 2013 and Pojer & Sandri’s Rosato is no exception; it combines the refreshing qualities of a white with the dryness and satisfaction of a red. Though certainly more red-like, this wine has mass appeal for both white and red lovers, making it an ideal any-time wine for entertaining guests or just relaxing at home.

The light and approachable Vin dei Molino Rosato would go great with any light meal, but I enjoyed it with bread and assorted cheeses. This rosé has a red wine’s elegance and acidity, but it finishes with a fun, lively fruity tang that’s reminiscent of a white. The ’13 Vin Dei Molino Rosato appears darker than most rosé wines, though it’s still smooth and easy on the palate. The nose is filled with rich berries and flowers, and the finish leaves you with black currants, almond, and a hint of spice. Best of all, its flexibility is perfect for dealing with the ups and downs of this month’s weather until spring really arrives.

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