The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Practical Wine Jokes or Educational Tool? The Pythagorean Cup

Posted on | October 20, 2014 | Written by Janice Cable | No Comments

From the Wikipedia page on the Pythagorean Cup

From the Wikipedia page on the Pythagorean Cup

The name Pythagoras likely brings to mind geometry class. After all, this Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician devised the theorem that holds his name, the Pythagorean theorem that states the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. But the teaching of Pythagoras the Samian, 570-494 BCE, wasn’t limited to just math.

He was also keen to teach people proper etiquette—wine etiquette, in fact. To this end, Pythagoras likely also invented a drinking vessel that bears his name, the Pythagorean cup. Shaped more or less like a bundt pan with a central spoke, the Pythagorean cup has an ingenious design that enforces wine politesse. If you’re greedy and pour too high, past the central spoke that leads from the foot of the cup to just below the cup’s rim, wine fills the two channels in the cup and spills onto the lap of the unsuspecting glutton. Click here to see the Pythagorean cup in action.

It might be simple physics—hydrostatic pressure creates a siphon that draws the wine continually out of the cup and out the hole in the foot of the glass—but it’s also ingenious. While there’s not a lot of historical writing that directly connects Pythagoras with the vessel, cups showing this ingenious design date back more than 2,500 years, and location suggests a strong correlation between Pythagoras and the cup that bears his name.

While enterprising souvenir sellers in Greece continue to replicate and sell the cup to tourists, you can actually fashion your own from a plastic wine glass, a straw, silicone glue, a plastic test tube and a box cutter. While IWM doesn’t condone the spillage of fine wine, we also believe in pouring wine to a polite level—and one that allows the wine to breathe. If, however, education through practical jokes is not your thing, you probably want to invest in some basic Brunello or Burgundy glasses for your wine consumption. You can always choose to educate through a superlative example.

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Expert Picks: Louis Jadot and…Louis Jadot!

Posted on | October 20, 2014 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiMaison Louis Jadot is one of the most revered names in all of Burgundy. Yes, the estate makes many wines from many different parcels, but true Burgundy aficionados know how special Jadot’s wines are. Last week the IWM team was lucky enough to host the current winemaker Frederic Barnier, who took control after longtime (30 years) winemaker Jacques Lardiére stepped aside. The transition has been seamless, and Frederic has maintained this storied estate’s excellent levels of quality and character. While we were privy to the 2013s last week; here are two older vintage bottlings that we have in stock. These wines are sure to please the Pinot lovers out there.

Louis Jadot Cote de Nuits Villages le Vaucrain 2010 $29.99

When many Burgheads think of a Village level wine, they do not expect them to come from single vineyards. However, this is exactly the case in this Cote de Nuits Villages le Vaucrain, as all of the grapes derive from this eight-care parcel that the estate has owned and managed for almost 20 years. The wine is silky and rich with red berries that burst from the glass. Drink now and for 3-5 yrs.

Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques 2011 $149.99

Those in the know will recognize that the Clos Saint Jacques vineyard could arguably have been awarded Grand Cru status when the first official classification occurred. Today there are only five different owners of the vineyard which faces southeast for optimal sunlight throughout the day. This ’11 Chambertin is broad shouldered and powerful, evoking the animalistic characteristics that we so often associate with Gevrey. This ’11 is a champion that will go for a very, very long time. Drink 2016-2030.

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Inside IWM: October 14-16, 2014, Brief but Intense

Posted on | October 17, 2014 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

John Camacho Vidal with his idol, Paolo Bea

John Camacho Vidal with his idol, Paolo Bea

Starting with Columbus Day, this week was compact, but you’d never know it from the content on Inside IWM! We began with a look at artisanal Montalcino producer Baricci and the estate’s velvety, rustic 2012 Rosso di Montalcino–David Gwo shared a bottle with friends and found it the perfect under $30 wine. On Wednesday, John Camacho Vidal risked everything by meeting one of his idols, but his visit to Paolo Bea in Umbria was everything he could hope for–and more! Don’t miss his travelogue. And we finished the week with a look at changing DOC rules in Chianti, another chapter in this region’s long, illustrious history.

Our experts were guided by their own whimsy and personal preferences in their picks this week. Crystal suggests that every day could be a celebration, and she picks a pair of bubbly wines for all occasions (one’s only $16!). Francesco opted for wines from two of Italy’s cult producers, Valentini and Miani, selecting two unusual yet absolutely extraordinary wines from these painstaking estates. And Robin Kelley O’Connor shined a light on Louis Jadot, choosing a pair of great bottlings from this august estate.

Join us for our Barolo and Barbaresco tasting on Saturday, October 18 in NYC–or one of our other amazing wine events!

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Changes in Chianti and Chianti Classico–the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Posted on | October 16, 2014 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

unnamedToday’s eletter offered Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva 2008, so we wanted to revisit the latest changes to Chianti’s regulations.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione made its United States debut last week in New York City, and I had the privilege of moderating its U.S. premiere to the press and trade. This action-packed day was the first look at the new top tier wine category of Chianti Classico. It began when I introduced Sergio Zingarelli, President of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and owner of on behalf of the nearly 600 members of the Consorzio and the 28 wineries in attendance, who gave opening remarks highlighting this new era for Chianti Classico on behalf of the nearly 600 members of the Consorzio and the 28 wineries in attendance. Sergio’s father, the famed Italian film producer, Italo Zingarelli, purchased Rocca delle Macìe estate in 1973. Sergio referred to Gran Selezione as the Chianti Classico Revolution, suggesting its importance.

unnamed-4The new Chianti Classico Gran Selezione designation will sit at the top of the summit of the Chianti Classico pyramid. Chianti Classico itself was born in 1716 when Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, delimited the Chianti production zone to the nine communes between the provinces of Florence and Siena. In 1932 a ministerial decree was issued to distinguish the Chianti made in its zone of origin by adding the suffix “Classico.” Today, the Chianti Classico production zone still lies between the provinces of Florence and Siena, entirely covering the Chianti communes of Castellina, Gaiole, Greve and Radda, as well as parts of Barberino Val d’Elsa, Castelnouvo Berardenga, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa, and Tavarnelle di Pesa.

In short, Chianti Classico now makes three types of Chianti:The suffix “Classico” is important because it distinguishes Chianti Classico and Chianti. The two different DOCGs have different sets of production regulations, production zones and consortiums. The total Chianti vineyard area is 24,700 acres, while 17,784 acres of vineyards are registered as Chianti Classico. Sangiovese reigns as the king of all grapes planted in both, although rules allow for the option of maximum 20% of red indigenous varieties such as Colorino and Canaiolo, as well as “international” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. At the top of the DOCG Chianti Classico quality pyramid, Gran Selezione must be produced exclusively with grapes from single vineyards or selected from the estate’s best-suited vineyards. The technical and organoleptic characteristics are stricter, and the wines can’t be released to market before a minimum of 30 months after the harvest, including three months of bottle aging. The wineries will be obliged to declare in advance whether the intended wine is going to be Chianti Classico Annata, Chianti Classico Riserva, or Chianti Classico Gran Selezion, which will eventually account for about 10% of the Chianti Classico production. At the moment it is about 7-8%.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG

• Gran Selezione must be made from exclusively from a winery’s own grapes

• A minimum aging requirement is 30 months, including 3 months of bottle aging

• Grapes permitted are Sangiovese from a minimum of 80% to 100% including the option of a maximum 20% of red indigenous varieties such as Colorino and Canaiolo, as well as “international” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

• A minimum alcohol content of 13%

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG

• A minimum aging requirement is 24 months, including 3 months of bottle aging

• A minimum alcohol content of 12.5%

• Grapes permitted are the same as Gran Selezione

Chianti Classico Annata DOCG

• A minimum aging requirement is 12 months

• A minimum alcohol content of 12%

• Grapes permitted are the same as Gran Selezione and Riserva

The presentation was followed by a well-organized, focused tasting with 28 wineries presenting their Gran Selezione mostly from the 2010 vintage, with a smaller selection of 2011s and 2009s. As all good Chianti wine needs good food to showcase the glories of the vine, the Consorzio hosted a magnificent seven-course dinner prepared by famed Tuscan Butcher and Chef, Dario Cecchini at the Four Seasons Restaurant with thirty two Gran Selezione wines. It was, in all, a lovely premiere for a very exciting new designation.

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Expert Picks: Valentini and Miani

Posted on | October 16, 2014 | Written by Francesco Vigorito | No Comments

Francesco 2014These two wines have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that are both extremely rare and that they come from two of the finest estates in Italy. While Valentini is mostly known for its jaw-dropping whites and reds, the estate’s Cerasuolo is also a thing of beauty that should not be missed. Perhaps one of the most elusive producers in all of Italy, Miani’s wines are very hard to come by, and in 2010 Enzo Pontoni makes an affordable cult classic.

Valentini Cerasuolo Rosato d’ Abruzzo 2012 $89.00

Simply said, this is the best rosé I have ever tasted. Is it worth the price tag? Absolutely. The overall complexity, concentration, elegance and balance make this a rosé that serious wine-lovers cannot pass by. Trust me, this bottle will be a memorable one!

Miani Rosso 2010 $99.99

Enzo Pontoni didn’t bottles any of his high-end single-vineyard wines in 2010, but he did us all a favor by blending the grapes together—and by cutting the price by more than half! While not and rich and textured as his single-vineyard Merlots and Refoscos, this wine impresses for its amalgam of flavor, overall classiness and harmony.

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