White wine with red meat? I say yes—when the wine is Gravner. Gravner’s magical, golden wines are fascinating on their own, but they also assume different disguises when paired with food. They are some of the most versatile wines I have ever tasted, and they cause most of my senses to stir. Not only do I enjoy partaking in these wines, but also I take great pleasure in playing with spices, herbs, textures and proteins to elicit the varying flavors and nuances in these special Friulian wines. Similar to great red wines, Gravner’s amber wines have the acidity, tannins and structure that promise vitality and they’re destined to live a long life.
I had a great privilege of meeting Josko last year, tasting his prized Ribolla Gialla through seven vintages, 1998 through 2006. These mysterious Gravner wines aren’t always instantly scrumptious; instead they slowly draw you in, evolving with time, producing a feeling similar to when a book or a movie starts slowly, draws you in gradually, and next thing you know you are hooked. As cerebral as these Gravner’s wines can be, they are also just tremendously fun to drink, both in their youth and mature stages of life.
Note to those who partake: if you are expecting a fruit-forward zesty white you will be sharply disappointed. However, if you are open to Gravner’s magic, you will be greatly rewarded with wines that have gorgeous texture, depth and character.
Gravner 2004 Breg Anfora $89.99
Ripe apricots, honeycomb, red tea, wildflowers and spices abound in this Breg Anfora. Exquisitely balanced, the ’04 Breg, a blend of white grapes, is a gorgeous, textured wine. This saffron-hued wine has an unctuous mouth-feel that’s filled with velvety tannins, a deceptively chewy body, and a finish that last for what feels like ages.
Gravner 1998 Breg $125.00
This special blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling offers perfumed aromas of stone fruit and honey. On the palate this Breg is soft with incredible elegance, as the wine has had time to soften and evolve. This is a rare treat and, along with 1991 that my friend Mark recently shared with me, this ’98 Breg is of the most memorable Gravner wines that I have yet to taste. If you love Gravner you will fall more in love, and if you have yet to dive in, it doesn’t get much better than this!
This week, we took a peek under the hood of IWM and got a glimpse at the secret wine cellar where your IWM wines live, breathe, and age in temperature-controlled splendor. And Stephane Menard made a compelling case for enjoying the 2013 Le Volte, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia‘s “second” wine, early and often. This under-the-radar Super Tuscan is under $30 and completely delicious!
Garrett Kowalsky confessed that the first wine he fell in love with was a Bruno Giacosa Barolo, and he picked two wines to testify to the longevity of his passion. John Camacho Vidal explains the secrets of enjoying mature wines, selecting two beautifully aged Barolos for you to try. Michael Adler alerts you to a hard-to-find, little-known Burgundy producer, François Gay, by selecting a dynamic duo from this overlooked estate. And it’s no secret that Chablis is perfect for summer; Crystal Edgar picks a pair from William Fevre.
Cheers to your beautiful wine secrets–may you share them with the people you love!
Bruno Giacosa is where my love of wine started—and not just Italian wine, but the whole wide wine spectrum, wine from all corners of the earth. I grew up around wine; my parents owned a wine shop and my brother was a Burgundy fiend, but my love for it was not immediate. It took years of sweet drinks, bad beer, good beer and more before my palate finally came around. It was New Year’s Eve 2010 at La Pizza Fresca on 20th Street when a 1989 Barolo from Bruno Giacosa switched the wine light on. It’s been a love affair ever since and I see no signs of my passion slowing.
I’ve chosen two wines from the iconic Giacosa estate to celebrate my wine epiphany—and to deepen your wine love.
Barbera is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy but it’s mostly known for being the little brother to Piemonte’s Nebbiolo-based Barolo and Barbaresco. Nearly all of the producers who make these great wines also grow and make a Barbera because, realistically, you can’t have a Barolo every night. This Giacosa Barbera is bursting with sweet fruits, a lively acidity, and a surprisingly long finish. Feel free to pair this with pasta, risotto, burgers, pizza—nearly any dish under the sun. You’ll end up smiling each and every time. Drink now to the end of the decade.
While the Barbera is all about sweet fruit and accessibility, the Barolo Riserva or “Red Label,” as it is known at the Giacosa estate, is an absolute powerhouse. In its youth this wine’s Nebbiolo fruit is tight and foreboding, but as time passes and the tannins integrate, this bottle becomes a wine of extraordinary elegance and remarkable complexity. This bottle will never hit you over the head with bombastic flavors; it would much rather seduce you over a long, long time. Drink 2018-2035.
As my palate evolves and my understanding of wine increases, I have grown to appreciate the secondary and third flavors that a bottle of mature wine can provide. I’m amazed that in some cases after 60 or 80 years in a bottle a wine can still smell and taste like the fruit that made it. It’s as if the wine is expressing itself at sublime levels. Whenever possible I try to include a wine with some age in our Saturday tasting series so that our clients are able to experience old vintages.
Nowhere in Italian winemaking is mature wine more important than in Barolo. Over the past three decades, a new wave of Barolo producers has worked to show different, non-traditional characteristics and to make more modern expressions of the Nebbiolo grape. Some of these winemakers have made Barolo more approachable through more modern vinification methods, but Barolo remains a wine of patience, and there is a division between modernist winemakers and those who protect the traditional way of making Barolo. I’ve chosen mature wines from two producers who make wines that are traditional, age-worthy, and great. Both of these mature bottles are unique expressions of a time that we’ll never see again.
Damilano 1978 Barolo $199.99
Making wine since 1890, the Damilano estate is one of the oldest wineries in Barolo; run by the fourth generation, Damilano continues to make excellent Barolos. This 1978 Barolo is a perfect example of perfectly mature Nebbiolo. The palate has just enough fruit that the wine is elegant, but the secondary and tertiary notes of orange peel, leather, earth, wet leaves slight tobacco and minerals make it very interesting. The palate is silky with some bitter notes that give way to sweet tannins and a nicely acidic finish that lingers with its secondary flavors. Drink now.
Giuseppe Mascarello 1968 Barolo $425.00
Giuseppe Mascarello was a vine-grower before he started the family estate in 1881 in the village of Monforte d’Alba. This 1968 Barolo is a traditionally made Barolo with grapes sourced from three vineyards, each one imprinting specific aromatics, structure and fruit. At this stage, this wine is ethereal showing a nose full of secondary aromas—loads of truffle mingled with remnants of dark red and black fruit flavors, some spice and wet leaves with notes of tobacco. The palate is very elegant with silky tannins that lead way to a soft mineral finish. Drink now.
I 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!
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