The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Pio Cesare and Bruno Giacosa

Posted on | April 26, 2016 | Written by Michael Adler | No Comments

Michael Adler 5.29.15Today I’ve chosen two killer Barolos from the outstanding 2004 vintage that were crafted by two of the region’s most historic and influential producers, Bruno Giacosa and Pio Cesare. 2004 is a perfect vintage to drink over the next decade or longer, depending on your individual preferences when it comes to enjoying mature wines. While family-owned-and-operated Pio Cesare has been making wines in Barolo for more than 100 years, the estate continues to innovate, constantly striving to improve quality in both the vineyard and in the cellar. If you’ve been in the IWM client family for long, then you probably don’t need me to tell you how special Bruno Giacosa’s wines are. Located in the town of Neive in the heart of the Langhe region, Giacosa consistently crafts some of the very finest wines to come out of both Barolo and Barbaresco, and after a decade of aging in the bottle, this ’04  will knock your socks off.

Pio Cesare 2004 Barolo $79.99

Surprisingly youthful in the glass, this 2004 Barolo from the historic Pio Cesare estate will benefit from an hour or two of decanting. Black and red fruits lead the charge, supported by notes of black tea, tar, crushed flower petals and spicy oak. This wine can easily age another 10 years if you’re so inclined, and if you have the patience. Pair it with braised lamb, a hearty risotto or a rare rib-eye steak.

Bruno Giacosa 2004 Barolo Croera di La Morra $225.00

In a stellar vintage like 2004, Giacosa’s wine have the potential to age for many decades, and this ‘04 Barolo Croera di La Morra is shaping up to be a wine for the ages. Even after ten years in bottle, this Barolo is still somewhat tight and massive, with intense, muscular tannins that will benefit from a long decant prior to pouring the wine. Bright red cherries and berries are joined by notes of olive tapenade, dried roses, cigar tobacco and minerals, and the finish lingers for what seems an eternity. As it is still relatively early in its development, I’d suggest holding this one for another 5-8 years if you have the patience.

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How to Visit Italy with Great Taste and Truffle Museums

Posted on | April 25, 2016 | Written by Janice Cable | No Comments

IMG_1617Summertime approaches, and with the nearly even currency conversion rate, now is the time to visit Italy. I’ve only been twice, but Italy is never far from my mind. I spend a lot of time there in my imagination, if not in my body, and I live vicariously from other people’s visits. For these reasons, I wanted to compile my travel posts in one easy to read compendium. If you’re going–and you should–I want you to enjoy yourself, and I want to add a touch of esoteric travel to your schedule.

My post on how to visit winemakers gets linked a lot by winemakers. While advice like make appointments, plan carefully and get an Italian cellphone may feel intuitive, my winemaker friends they’re shocked by how often simple visits go awry. All I can say is that going to wineries in Italy is nothing like going to wineries in Sonoma or Napa, where wine tourism is an accepted practice, and, indeed, it’s viewed as just another service that wineries offer. This is not the case in Italy, and this post gives you some essential information that will keep everyone from crying.

IMG_2282When I watched the film “The Trip to Italy,” and its paean to Italian food got me thinking about my favorite restaurants, mostly all in Tuscany (one is in Liguria), where I spent the most time. I made a brief list of my favorite dining experiences, with links to helpful webpages. All I can say is that if you have the opportunity to eat at any of these spots, you will be so happy. So, so happy.

Italians have a deep-seated sense of whimsy, and the things they do for fun are not necessarily the things we do for fun. You will not find amusement parks in Italy. You will, however, find three truffle museums and many sculpture parks. Going to Italy and not taking advantage of some of the more intensely Italian amusements is like going to Wisconsin and not eating bratwurst, going to Vermont and not enjoying maple syrup, or visiting New York City and not riding the subway. It’s counter-intuitive and silly. Here is my take on one Tuscan truffle museum, and here is a description of visiting a sculpture park, with links to a few others.

My best advice for visiting Italy, especially Rome, but, really, all of it is pretty simple: Get lost. Get lost in Rome. Ask when your town’s market day is, and visit it. Wander lonely as a cloud. Drink it all in, and let me know what you enjoy because, until I get to go back, I’m living through you.

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Expert Picks: De Conciliis and Renzo Seghesio

Posted on | April 25, 2016 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiWe wine-lovers are always looking for value—those wines that give us the most bang for our bucks, or those superb bottles that should cost more than they do. I get asked about value a lot. Sometimes value is a wine that over-delivers on a relatively expensive price point, but other times it’s a wine doesn’t cost much yet still explodes on the palate.

Regardless of whether you’re a big-time collector or an enthusiastic novice, chances are you’ll sometimes want to drink a wine that’s easy and delicious. This kind of wine, the bottles that don’t require much thought often fit most neatly into the value category. Last week, I enjoyed two wines that fall into this easy-going value category: a Fiano from De Conciliis and a Nebbiolo from Renzo Seghesio. I expect these wines, favorites of IWM founder Sergio Esposito, will become your favorites too, once you give them a shot.

De Conciliis 2013 Donnaluna Fiano $24.99

De Conciliis has long been an IWM staple. This estate produces a superb lineup of wines that includes a sparkler, whites and reds from Campania in the South of Italy. This Fiano offering is a bright, golden and complex white from along the Campania coast. Fiano, an ancient grape that for many years teetered on extinction, has made a resurgence thanks to producers like De Conciliis; this complex ’13 Fiano feels ready to burst with citrus fruits, honey, minerals, nuts and fresh, palate-cleansing acidity. Drink to 2020.

Renzo Seghesio 2011 Ruri Langhe Nebbiolo $36.99

The Seghesio family has been producing wines in the Barolo region for more than a century—with a 100 years of experience I am not surprised that this estate has nailed down the intricacies of the Nebbiolo grape to produce some stellar wines. Seghesio’s Barolos are traditional, elegant and long lived, but they can be difficult to approach in their youth. That is why this Nebbiolo Langhe, sourced from the younger vines and refined in steel as opposed to oak, is such an important play. This Ruri Langhe Nebbiolo allows you a chance to appreciate the freshness and cherry fruit that Nebbiolo offers, but without the overwhelming tannins. It’s definitely a reward for those on a budget and for those without patience. Drink to 2022.

 

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Expert Picks: Mascarello and Gravner

Posted on | April 21, 2016 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoI like different wines for different reasons but I have my favorite producers, the ones that I get excited about when I see the bottle and know that I’m in for a treat. This week I was lucky enough to taste wines from two of my absolute favorite producers, a Barolo from Bartolo Mascarello and a Merlot blend by Josko Gravner.

I like Old-World wine, wine that has been made the same way for generations, and when it comes to Piemonte and Barolo, Bartolo Mascarello is a name that is synonymous with that tradition. Although a slew of modernist winemakers emerged in the area showing different personalities of the majestic and noble Nebbiolo grape and wanting to make Barolo more approachable, Bartolo Mascarello believed that “Barolo is a wine of patience and it has an ancient, glorious past that cannot be forgotten.” The estate is now run by his daughter Maria Teresa, who has also resisted the temptation and pressures of commercialization and continues along the traditional path, making gorgeous wines that would make her esteemed father proud.

Many people believe that clay amphorae were the first vessels ever to hold and age wine, and historians have verified that winemakers have used this ancient practice for more than 4,000 years. Josko Gravner is a producer who has turned his back on vinification equipment like stainless steel, temperature controls, and barriques, tools that he himself helped pioneer in the area of Friuli. Now he has embraced working with ancient techniques, using amphorae for aging and combining bio-dynamic winemaking with more traditional methods like extended maceration on the grape skins.

Bartolo Mascarello Barolo (Hand Painted Label) 2008 $379.00

This wine greets you with a nose full of red fruit mixed with violets and eucalyptus, and with some twirling in the glass, spice, licorice and a slight tarry earthiness come out. The palate is tight right now with a silky mouth feel and bright acidity that come together mid-palate, leaving a nice, clean, lingering finish. Drink 2018-2038.

Gravner Rujno 1985 $399.00

This wine is still fresh and vibrant. The color is deep ruby purple with a slight orange tinge on the rim that is barely noticeable. The wine is bright and elegant, with black cherry, spices, hints of cocoa and tar, sour cherry and leather all making appearances. The palate is silky with tart, fruity acidity. Woodsy tannins start to sneak in on the mid-palate. It climaxes in a beautifully sweet finish with a bit of heat, and lingering herbal and chocolate notes. Drink 2016-2024.

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Expert Picks: Bruno Giacosa and Gaja

Posted on | April 20, 2016 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Crystal 2014Spring is officially upon us (at least that is what I am telling myself here in New York), and it is time to bring out the whites and rosé wines to welcome the warmth! Today I am excited to introduce a couple of my favorites, both of which dwell far off the beaten path. I do love crisp Chablis, Sancerre, Friulano, Gavi and other bright and refreshing whites, however I like to spice it up from time to time. Seeking a bit of adventure, I find myself reaching for unique producers, grapes or styles of wine. Here are two of my favorites, an Arneis that can be enjoyed anytime and Angelo Gaja’s Gaia & Rey Chardonnay, which requires more attention and contemplation as well as a few very good friends with whom to share the magic.

Arneis (pronounced are-NACE) is in my opinion a somewhat forgotten white grape, living in the shadows of its other Piemontese cousins. Its name translates to “little rascal” or “whimsy” in the local dialect and was so named due to its unpredictable nature and difficulty of cultivation. Although records of this grape date back to the 1400s in the Roero hills, it only gained traction in the late 1970s when winemakers began to realize its potential. Chardonnay, on the other hand, is more of a “household name” grape that’s produced in many countries throughout the world and shows different sides of its personality depending on where it is grown. Gaia & Rey might be not just Italy’s best Chardonnay, but the best white wine in any category to come out of the Boot. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Gaja’s first Chardonnay vineyard, and the wine is named for both his oldest daughter, Gaia Gaja, and his grandmother, Clotilde Rey, a marketing mastermind who taught Angelo the importance of promotional efforts.

Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2014 $29.99

Aromatic, surprisingly intense, and deeply enjoyable, this zesty 2014 Arneis is a fresh and pretty white that shows a nice weight on the palate. White peaches, lemons, pie crust and floral aromatics comprise the flavor profile, and a tangy acidity tempered with a creamy mouth-feel and piquant minerality complete the experience. This is a fantastic wine with fresh seafood or simply as an aperitif before the meal.

Gaja Chardonnay Gaia & Rey 2009 (375ml) $129.00

Gaia & Rey is fermented with naturally occurring yeasts found on the grape skins and in the winery, endowing the wine with a touch of exoticism. It is a hedonistic wine, delivering lusciously ripe flavors of guava, tangerine, honey, marzipan, oak and spice. Impressively chewy in the mouth, the concentrated, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a lively acidity that persists through the long, lingering finish.

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