The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Aldo Conterno

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014Today, I wanted to pick two wines I’ve drunk recently that I know you will love. They are terrific, and if you love Italian wines, you won’t want to miss them.

I can easily say that every time I taste a Le Volte, I always say “Now, that’s a great wine for the dollar!” That said, the 2013 is the best vintage I have yet tasted from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s entry-level wine. There is just something about the 2013 Tuscan wines in general that makes them stand out from the other vintages, and this Le Volte is a Super Tuscan to know and love. Next up is Poderi Aldo Conterno, the estate that bears the name of “he king of Barolo.” While Aldo Conterno’s wines are very well known, I’ve found they’re really exciting me these days. The estate’s 2011s are to die for and the best part is that they are so approachable and very delicious right now, especially the Colonnello.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2013 Le Volte $29.99

Composed of 50% Merlot, 30% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, with all varieties vinified separately, this 2013 Le Volte bottling is the best I’ve had from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia. Rich, aromatic, voluptuous and exquisitely finessed for a $30 bottle of wine, this Super Tuscan has got everything you want and need. With winemaker like Axel Heinz behind it, you know it’s going to be good.

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2011 Barolo Colonnello $149.99

I’ve never smelled aromatics in a recent vintage Barolo quite like those in this ’11 Barolo Colonello—they’re complex, enticing and extraordinary. The Colonnello vineyard is known for wines with lighter structure, bursting aromatics and approachable nature, and this Conterno is so beautiful that it’s hard to keep your hand off of it. I just drank one of these ’11 Barolo Colonnellos on Monday, so it’s still fresh in mind—all I want is to find another reason to drink one. The beguilingly rich aromatics alone are worth the entrance fee!

Inside IWM, March 7-10, 2016: Look Beyond the Ordinary

A look back at the week that was

800px-UmbriaPanoramaWe began in ancient Greece and we ended in Umbria, and in between, this week was a whirlwind of delicious wine. A man who figured out all the angles, Pythagoras knew a thing or two about politeness too; we look at the Greek philosopher’s wineglass that schools greedy guests. Stephane Menard doesn’t want to relinquish winter too soon, so he’s holding onto the last of it with this delicious $25 Valpolicella Ripasso from Venturini Massimino. And Umbria is more than Toscana’s neighbor; it’s a vital winemaking region in its own right. We look beyond Orvieto in this tour of Umbria.

Garrett Kowalsky looks past the myth of Charlemagne’s beard in his expert picks, selecting a pair of Corton-Charlemagne bottles from Louis Jadot and Henri Boillot. Michael Adler pretends it’s still winter and cuddles up with a pair of Aldo Conterno Barolos that just don’t quit. And John Camacho Vidal just cant quit Amarone; he looks at the region’s wines and picks two outstanding bottles from Nicoli and Romano Dal Forno.

Here’s to celebrating a life less ordinary with wine and people you love!



Expert Picks: Aldo Conterno and…Aldo Conterno!

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Forget for just a moment that it feels like spring; picture snow-covered sidewalks and feel the frigid wind snapping at your cheeks, draw your scarf tighter around your neck to conserve every bit of warmth and heat. What you need in the dead of winter to brighten your spirits and thaw your soul is a bottle of rich, warming, tannic and powerful red wine. I can think of no better wine for frozen winter evenings than Barolo. The Nebbiolo grape offers wine-lovers the perfect winter red to warm you from the inside: dense, opulent, palate-coating wines with ample acid, muscle and alcohol. What more could we ask for on a freezing winter evening?

To celebrate the pure, hedonistic pleasure of sipping a great Barolo alongside a hearty, warming stew or pot roast, I picked a pair of knockout-gorgeous bottles from the iconic Aldo Conterno estate, its ripe, structured 2011 Barolo Bussia and its dark, brooding 2011 Barolo Colonnello.

Aldo Conterno 2011 Barolo Bussia $82.99

The estate’s classic bottling, the ’11 Barolo Bussia is a towering testament to the enduring greatness of the Aldo Conterno estate. Muscular, textured and gripping, this  Barolo Bussia thunders out of the glass with intense aromas of ripe red and black fruits, rose petals, underbrush and earth, with a hefty dose of that unmistakable Barolo terroir. On the finish, its chewy tannins give way to a refreshing, mouth-watering acidity that keeps this massive wine texturally balanced. Nebbiolo lovers who appreciate a modern, powerful and fruit-driven Barolo will want to revisit this Barolo Bussia again and again.

Aldo Conterno 2011 Barolo Colonnello $149.99

Ever since Aldo Conterno split from the illustrious Giacomo Conterno estate, the master Barolo producer has shows a penchant for doing things his own way. For instance, he followed the lead of Angelo Gaja and Valentino Migliorini of Rocche dei Manzoni and began bottling a superb lineup of single-vineyard expressions of Barolo, which have since become collector staples worldwide. Deriving from a warmer vintage, this ’11 Barolo Colonnello is somewhat more approachable than other vintages. It delivers a cornucopia of red and black fruits along with savory herbal and meaty notes and a polished core of minerality. While it shows well in its youth with some decanting, it will only get better over the next decade and will continue to drink well through 2025 and beyond.

Inside IWM, February 29 to March 3, 2016: You Gotta Have Heart

A look back at the week that was

Il Palazzone's olive trees in bloom

Il Palazzone’s olive trees in bloom

We kicked off the week with a look at the other great product from Italy–olive oil. Remembering her time in Italy, Janice Cable talked about why olive oil is good for your heart, both  literally and metaphorically. Sean Collins enjoyed an under $30 Aldo Conterno wine, and you bet your corkscrew it was delicious. And John Camacho Vidal went to Umbria, where he toured the iconic Paolo Bea estate–and got to meet Paolo himself!

Crystal Edgar looked forward to spring with two white Burgundies from Michel Niellon; these Chassagne-Montrachet bottlings will make you feel like flowers in bloom! Garrett Kowalsky also selected white wines to hurry spring’s arrival, but he chose bottles from Antinori’s San Giovanni della Sala and Burgundy’s Bachey-Legros. And Camacho Vidal dove into Chianti Classico, explaining the region’s DOCG laws and picking two favorites, La Maialina and Castello dei Rampolla.

Here’s to faith in warm weather and enjoying the wine you love, no matter the season!


Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Aldo Conterno 2012 Langhe Rosso

A delicious, charming, under $30 red from Aldo Conterno

RD8888-2I was looking for something balanced and drinkable, but because I was planning to enjoy it as I watched the Academy Awards, it also needed to be distinguished and elegant—but not as pricey as celebrity after-parties. After careful deliberation and with no help from the Academy, I went with the Aldo Conterno 2012 Langhe Rosso. Although this estate is known for its tradition of exquisite Barolos, Aldo Conterno’s Langhe Rosso proves to be a heavenly combination of approachability, balance, and, most importantly for me, affordability.

In the 1969, Aldo Conterno split from his brother Giacomo and decided to leave the family farm and pursue his own winemaking career. Despite having learned viniculture together, Giacomo’s methods proved to be too traditional for Aldo, who, although far from modern himself, preferred to utilize innovation. The “King of Barolo,” Aldo Conterno passed away in 2012, but the five-generation tradition of making high-quality wine continues with his three sons.

The balanced and supple Langhe Rosso 2012 is a blend of 80% old-vine Freisa, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. What’s interesting about this is that, despite being from Piemonte, this wine actually contains no Nebbiolo, thus keeping with Aldo Conterno’s legacy of mixing innovation with tradition. Despite the interesting grape blend, this $30 bottle retains all of the charm and quality the estate’s reputation deserves. Juicy berries, spices, and flowery notes wrap together in an excellent dry palate. The Langhe Rosso 2012 does its sister wines proud, yet this affordable gem caters to anyone looking for a great vintage red on a limited budget.

keep looking »