October comes to a close with Halloween as the month’s last great bash. November debuts with the New York Marathon and ends with Thanksgiving. We are entering red wine season and today I have two exciting IWM Picks. Tuscany gets the call with Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2008 and the newly released Ca’ Marcanda Magari 2012.
The very talented Riccardo Talenti crafted this delicious Brunello di Montalcino that’s not only one of our favorite Sangiovese Grosso, but it’s also one of IWM’s fastest selling wines. Angelo Gaja is a force of nature. When I first met Angelo at a Wine Spectator event many years ago, he didn’t speak a word of English. The determined Angelo tackled the English language, and now he speaks beautifully. With this same straight-line thrust he moved into Tuscany in 1994 acquiring vineyards and vineyard land. Starting with just a vision, twenty years later he is making some of Toscana’s most exciting wines.
The beautiful, ruby red ’08 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino spent twelve months in Slovonian oak. The concentrated and complex nose emanates spice, leather, cherries, fruit preserves, tobacco, dark chocolate and hints of violets. The wine enters the palate with a wide-open throttle with flavors of cherries, wild berries, cassis and red licorice. Smooth and harmonious, this Brunello offers smooth velvety tannins and a long balanced finish with years of life ahead.
The Ca’ Marcanda Magari 2012 is a great example of the capable hands of Angelo Gaja, and it’s a wine that lets you enjoy this maestro at less than $70! “Magari” means “if only it were true,” and Gaja explains that Italians use this expression to express desire, hope, and a vision of a bright future. This inky, dark blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc spent eighteen months in barriques and an additional six months in bottle. On the nose, its perfect blend of aromas highlight the plum and spice of the Merlot balanced by the classic cassis and black currant scents of the Cabernets. Offering a rich, silky and bold palate, this wine’s finish is long and fulfilling. It’s simply a delicious wine at an amazing price point.
It could only be a romance. How could it be anything but? The first time I had Gravner Breg and Gravner Ribolla Anfora, I was in Verona. There with IWM Founder Sergio Esposito we had dinner with Filippo Polidori, one of Sergio’s close friends and the sales manager for Josko Gravner. It was VinItaly, and this antediluvian café was very clearly the industry spot. My Italian is pretty lame, but even were I fluent, I’d have been so delirious with the company, the capretto risotto, and the Gravner wines that I doubt I’d have been witty. I can’t separate the heady, textured feel of drinking these wines from the glittery Verona night, its spectacular romance and the sense that the air was buzzing with everyone who knew anything about wine.
My memory of this meal—and I’m not doing it justice; it wasn’t merely the first time I experienced the telescoping layers of Gravner’s amber wines for it was also the first time I ate burrata—is almost hallucinogenic in retrospect. Filled to the jawline with people, Verona was a nightmare for cars, and we haplessly made it a nightmare for people too. Driving to the restaurant, the GPS sent us down a marble-paved pedestrian walkway. Tourists skittered like bunnies, gelato in hands. Sergio had to wedge our car into this tiny church parking lot. I’m still shocked that no bumpers were scraped.
After the meal, Sergio, Filippo, a friend whose name escapes me but whose ‘70s inflected outfit will never leave me, and I wandered around Verona. We crossed a giant piazza and lounged before a fountain; I still rue the fact I left my camera in the hotel room. We passed the home of Juliet. We walked by the Verona Arena, an ancient coliseum that’s still in use. We wandered the stone streets and Verona shimmered like a mirage all around; my febrile American mind wonders if it was real or a figment brought about by Gravner. Frankly, I don’t really care—as long as it’s an experience I can recapture whenever I drink Josko’s wonderful, chimerical wines.
I often hear “I love Italian reds!” but I don’t often hear the same exclamation over Italian whites. Of the wines produced in the top winemaking countries—France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the USA, Australia—Italian white wines tend to fall to the wayside. This is a shame, and something I want to remedy with today’s selections.
I’ve chosen to highlight Sartarelli’s delightful expressions of the Verdicchio grape from the Le Marche region of Italy. Sartarelli meticulously makes wonderfully terroir-driven wines, producing Verdicchio wines with impressive finesse and complexity. Located in the heart of the Marche, Sartarelli is sifted with a unique terroir where 20-35-year-old vines perch on slopes 1000 feet above sea level. No oak is used for any of the wines, allowing for the purity of the fruit to come through. Sartarelli’s wines are clean, soft and layered with complex minerality and notes of honey, peach and white flowers.
Below are two offerings that offer exceptional value and drinking pleasure: the refreshing Classico, being released right out of the gate, and the Travilio, which trails one year after the harvest. Always impressive, these wines offer unbeatable value and are wonderful to drink with a variety of foods, flavors and friends.
This lovely Classico delivers a clean, crisp and elegant expression of Verdicchio, perfect for those anytime moments. The fruit and green grass on the nose marries with the fresh minerality and bright acidity on the palate, ideal for a simple lunch of pasta primavera or classic raw bar favorites. Easily among the best value whites here at IWM!
Sartarelli sources its Tralivio from specially selected grapes from the winemaker’s oldest vineyards. Yields for the Tralivio are limited, translating into a wine with softness and finesse. This crisp yet full-bodied white gives you floral tones on the nose followed by that unmistakable raw almond and white peach. If you are looking for a lovely, unoaked white that gives an abundance of flavor and aroma, you can’t go wrong with this special Verdicchio. Another exceptional value under $25!
This week began with the original wine teaching tool–the Pythagorean Cup. Is it a trick? Is it a treat? It’s certainly ancient and interesting. Read about it here, and learn how to make your own! The week ended with something else you can make–a recipe for Osso Buco, winter’s signature dish. In between, Jessica Catelli offered a sentimental take on a wine to enjoy all year long, the 2011 La Sala Chianti Classico. And best of all, David Bertot offered a travelogue of his time in Liguria, with plenty of pictures of the Italian Riviera!
In a rare departure, all of our experts gravitated to French wines. Playing well known against the under-the-radar estates, Garrett Kowalsky offered two picks from Louis Jadot on Monday, and on Thursday, he picked a pair from Chandon de Briailles. Robin Kelley O’Connor selected two very classic Champagnes to make your celebrations bright, Louis Roederer Crystal and Billecart-Salmon Blanc des Blancs Brut NV. And David Gwo experienced a wine epiphany and chose two lovely wines from Domaine Latour to explain it.
Cheers to you and your wine, and making the very best out of whatever this fall hands you!
Heat up a Dutch oven on high heat.
Dust eight seasoned veal shanks (center cut), 2 to 2 1/2 inches think, and sear in a little olive oil; set aside.
Lower heat to medium.
Add 2 chopped onions, 4 chopped ribs of celery, 2 chopped carrots, and 5 minced cloves of garlic to the Dutch oven, and sauté for 5 minutes in a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil.
Deglaze with half a bottle of a neutral tasting white wine (feel free to pour yourself a glass or two).
Add 12 ounces of veal stock and a 14 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes.
Add the veal shanks back to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.
Add rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaves as well as salt and pepper.
Cover the Dutch and put into a 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
Set aside the shanks.
Reduce sauce by half; taste and re-season, if needed.
Serve over saffron risotto, drizzling the sauce.
Serve extra sauce on the side for dipping.
Stick a 3 inch piece of rosemary in the shank bone for presentation and aroma.
Here are 3 simple tricks to add a tremendous depth to the flavor of the risotto:
- Instead of using chicken stock, use veal stock for more depth.
- Use bone marrow instead of butter.
- Increase the saffron threads by 50%.
Serves 4 to 6, with plenty of leftovers. If you are so inclined, broken down Osso Buco leftovers make an amazing filling for homemade raviolis.
Barolo is a spectacular choice for this classic Northern Italian dish. I highly recommend the 2007 Renzo Seghesio Barolo. I have been able to enjoy the 1996, 1998, 2004, and 2007 vintages of this particular Barolo, and all of them are delicious. The freshness and zippiness of the2007 will certainly complement this dish at first, but the complexity of the dish and the wine with finely sync as the meal progresses.
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