The winter is over. It’s now time to stock up on your favorite warm weather whites for those anytime moments. I like to keep at least a case on hand of easy-drinking summer whites or rosés for entertaining or simple porch—or, in Manhattan, balcony—sipping. I find that I often drink the same way I eat: in cold winter months, I reach for hearty dishes and rich, winter brawny wines; fall’s crisp air and seasonal produce inspire a craving for a bit of spice and personality; and with spring upon us and summer not far way, I find my market basket full of fresh vegetables, herbs and seafood and that draws me towards bright and vibrant whites that are lighter on their feet.
Today I’m highlighting the Antinori family’s 2013 San Giovanni della Sala Orvieto Classico Superiore, an exceptional white to have on hand this season! Not only is it delicious to drink with or without food, but it is also one of the best values at under $22 a bottle. A blend of Grechetto, Procanico, Pinot Bianco and Viognier, this charming white is strikingly elegant offering aromas of white flowers and mineral laden stone fruit flavor, enlivened by a vibrant and refreshing streak of acidity. Food pairings are endless, but my favorite would have to be oven roasted turbot drizzled with fresh lemon and a piquant Tuscan olive oil, served with side dishes like roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes and sautéed fiddle head ferns or another springtime favorite.
It’s a delicious wine to push you into spring–and before you know it, it’ll be a great wine for summer too!
Each third Monday in November the Paulée de Meursault takes place at the Château de Meursault, leading up to the chartable auction of the Hospices de Beaune. This gala, which celebrates Burgundy’s finest wines, hosts over 800 guests to mark the last day of the Trois Glorieuses-Burgundy Celebration. A three-day event starts on Saturday evening with a dinner at Clos Vougeot and ends with the Paulée de Meursault marathon lunch. On Sunday the central event occurs, and the charitable wine auction sells barrels of wines through the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune. After the auction. there is a phenomenal candlelight dinner at the Hôtel-Dieu.
Today my picks are an ode to this great wine and food event. Anyone attending Trois Glorieuses and the Paulée de Meursault would be pleased and happy to drink Domaine Pavelot Savigny Les Beaune 2010 and Domaine Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Perrières 2011.
This affordable beauty from Domaine Pavelot comes from the outstanding 2010 vintage. The color is classic Côte de Beaune bright crimson red, and the wine has a dark Pinot Noir nose with red cherries, a good expression of the gout de terroir (earthiness), and complex, smoky notes. On the palate, this elegant medium to full-bodied wine is very appealing and finessed with good structure, a velvety texture, a wonderful concentration of fruit, and supple tannins. It has lovely balanced finish. The 2010 vintage rates as one of the best of the last 40 years and, sadly, the precious few bottles that remain are irreplaceable.
Latour-Giraud has been in the heart of the village of Meursault since 1845 and can trace its winemaking ancestry back to 1680. Latour-Giraud specializes in crafting some of Burgundy’s very finest white wines, which account for 80% of the domaine’s production. This glorious 2011 has a bright yellow straw color with an exciting bouquet of apples, almonds, floral notes, touch of vanilla, all offered with great intensity. The richness of fruit is immediately detected on the palate with notes of baked apple and pear; medium full body in structure this ’11 offers concentrated rich fruit flavors with a long finish. This is a wine built for the ages and a must-have bottling for true lovers of white Burgundy.
In 2011, I had the rare chance to live in Italy for about six months, to visit some of Italy’s greatest producers, and to drink some incredible wine. Among all the visits I made, my very first–to Gianfranco Soldera–is perhaps the most indelible. Soldera is not an easy-going man, but he is an unquestionably great winemaker. He holds his estate, his wines, and himself up to nearly impossible standards, and he achieves impossible feats.
If Montalcino is a magical place (and I believe that it is), then Soldera’s Case Basse estate is at the center of its mystical convergence. Much has been made in print about how the ecosystem of the vineyard works to create an insanely perfect spot to grow grapes. The vineyard has been studied by agriculturalists, microbiologists, botanists and oenologists. The estate itself seems to function as a perfectly balanced organism of water, insects, birds, flowers, trees and, of course, grape vines. It all revolves around one man, Soldera.
It’s almost less important what Soldera said in the few hours that I and my friend Eleanor Shannon spent with him. He spoke in streams of Italian uttered in comforting tones and repetitive phrasing. He spoke of opera and how, as in opera, everything in nature must work in concert, and how if there is one discordant note, the entire piece falls flat. He spoke of Italy, the importance of its peninsular shape, the ranges of mountains and how they direct the air currents, and the way that the seas on all sides affect the climate. He spoke of bees and of water and of knowing how many yeast parts per million his wines contain at various stages of development. He spoke about his wine, all wine, wine throughout time, and yet what he said the loudest he didn’t say in words.
It happened twice, actually. Soldera bent down, grabbed a handful of soil, and crumbled it through his fingers. He said something in Italian too, something about how the minerals in the soil is what makes the wine taste the way it does, something about how the vines need to suffer to produce good grapes (when he said this about suffering, I got an image of Degas’ ballerinas, their fatigue and their beauty). But I didn’t find the meaning in the words he was saying—though they had import—rather, I found meaning in his old man’s hands, the almost caressing way he held the soil, and the way that he reluctantly let it dribble through his fingers.
And then it came to me: This is a man who doesn’t just know his estate; this is a man who is his estate.
I had the chance Soldera’s cellars, and I got to smell them in all their grape-cardboard-wet-rock-and-wood glory. I got to drink wine out of his botti, wine a few years old, and wine just a few months, and it was bright and beautiful. I got to do things that most Brunello lovers never get to do, but imagine when they look at books of Montalcino or dreamily sip a bottle of Brunello. I got to ask Soldera questions, and as I did, I got to feel inadequate. How often do we have the opportunity to take up the time of a genius? And how can we do it without feeling the pains of our own ordinariness?
Yet what I’ll remember is the magic of Montalcino filling the air, the presence of its greatest magician, and the hush of it all held in this unforgotten moment.
In today’s eLetter, IWM proudly offered the latest release from Gianfranco Soldera, the Casse Basse Soldera 2008 Rosso IGT, called thus because Soldera left the Brunello Consortium in 2012.
There are a handful of Barolo producers that IWM supports whole-heartedly. These estates have a combination of history and a strong impact on Italian wine; moreover, they consistently create terrific expressions of Nebbiolo. One of these heralded producers is Paolo Scavino. Today, Paolo Scavino is run by Enrico Scavino, who inherited the estate in the ’70s. Enrico’s Barolos lean towards the modern style, a result of wanting to break from tradition when he assumed control. He uses temperature-controlled and rotary fermentation, as well as aging in barriques. Those who enjoy the modern style will consider Scavino Barolos to be perfect, but there’s a lot to like even if you tend to gravitate towards the traditional.
There are seven Barolos in the Scavino line-up, and in 2010 all of them are tremendous. The entry Barolo and Carobric bottlings consist of Nebbiolo grapes sourced from multiple vineyard sites, while the estate’s Bricco Ambrogio, Monvigliero, Cannubi, Bric del Fiasc, and Rocche dell’Annunziata are single-vineyard “crus.” 2010 for the Barolo region may turn out to be one of the great vintages in history, so one of my Scavino selections today features the 2010 entry Barolo and the other is the 2004 Scavino Carobric. The 2004 will give you a glimpse of what the 2010’s will achieve. I suggest you lay the 2010s down and enjoy the ’04 now!
Paolo Scavino 2010 Barolo $49.99
Don’t think that just because this is the “entry” Barolo that this wine is anything short of spectacular. In 2010 many of the entry-level Barolos present an incredible quality-to-price ratio that you only find in great vintages, and Scavino’s is no exception. The wine possesses a high degree of finesse and elegance in its classic notes of cherries, flowers, and eucalyptus. It’s a shame that production volume in 2010 is down, so grab as much ’10 Barolo as you can while they’re available!
There’s something to be said about a perfectly mature Barolo, and this ’04 Carobric is drinking like a beauty. The wine is gracefully balanced with great integration between its tannins and its juicy acidity, leaving you with the ability to savor and revel in the flavors of black cherry, violets, and minerality that glide across the palate. This wine is super delicious, and, truthfully, regardless of which Barolo style you like, one taste of this ’04 Carobric will leave you wanting a second, third, and fourth glass!
IWM clearly has been struck by wanderlust. It’s most evident by Garrett Kowalsky’s post about his upcoming trip to Italy, where he details the three things you should know in planning your trip. However, it’s just as plain in Robin Kelley O’Connor’s detailed history of Bordeaux’s Château Margaux, and our primer to the indigenous grapes of Friuli (get your red-hot Refosco and Picolit panda here!). Only David Bertot seems pretty happy to be at home with his bottle of Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Ruscum, but then he also made risotto for his wife.
Our experts enjoyed sharing a little knowledge with their picks this week. Crystal Edgar explained “winemaker’s vintage” with two bottles of 2002 wines. And Will Di Nunzio explored cult wines with picks from Italy’s North, Sandro Fay and Miani.
Cheers to you and your wines, wherever you may be, and wherever you may wander!
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