The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, December 14-17, 2015: Giving, Getting, Loving

A look back at the week that was

3 bottle basket 1What to give? What to get? What to drink? The holidays have us in a tizzy. We began the week with a salute to the traditional Italian gift wine, Barolo–learn its history, its specifics, and some of our very favorite producers. We ended the week with a guide for last-minute wine gifts, including beautiful, weird things like corkscrews and beautiful, useful things like Scott Conant’s new cookbook. John Camacho Vidal explored the many wines of Bruno Giacosa–including the esteemed producer’s everyday bottlings. And Stephane Medard toasted the recent warm New York City weather with a lovely Piemontese white, an under $27 Roero Arneis.

Francesco Vigorito can’t hide his love of Aldo Conterno, but his two picks are off this producer’s beaten path; don’t miss the value wine! Michael Adler can’t contain his enthusiasm for Anne & Sébastien Bidault; this domaine’s Burgundies are out of this world! And Crystal Edgar believes in Champagne all the time–but especially during the holidays. She picks bottles from Billecart-Salmon that ring in your celebrations with style.

Cheers to you and to yours and to your holiday season. May it be merry, bright, and delicious!

Expert Picks: Aldo Conterno…And Aldo Conterno!

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014Poderi Aldo Conterno, the estate that bears the name of “The king of Barolo,” makes some excellent “business card” wines. The estate’s Barolos often overshadow these excellent bottles, so I wanted to bring them to your attention. These two bottles are some of my favorite wines at these price points. Both will blow you away! I think these two lower-tier bottles show just how good this estate has become in past decade. I could drink these all day long!

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2012 Langhe Rosso $29.99

This is an incredibly interesting blend of 80% old-vine Freisa, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. No one really knows that Aldo Conterno makes this stuff, and for $30 it’s a steal for this great-drinking, thought-provoking and crowd-pleasing wine. The Freisa lends freshness and cherry fruit while the Cab and Merlot sneak in to provide texture, concentration and some color. Don’t miss this bottle. We don’t have much and it will be gone before they hit our cellar next week.

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2012 Langhe Nebbiolo Il Favot $64.99

A Langhe Nebbiolo from a pedigreed producers is a dream to right away or over the medium term. Last year I drank Aldo’s 2003 Langhe Nebbiolo and was totally taken aback, but the 2012 has even more oomph and concentration going for it, as well a much better vintage behind it. It drinks gorgeously right now and will continue to do so for the next decade. I would buy a case, drink half now and save the rest. Your palate will thank me!

Inside IWM, October 26-29, 2015: Pumpkins, Wine and Boo!

A look back at the week that was

tumblr_nrq18lXlRO1tipcz3o1_500It’s Halloween! And that means it’s time for pumpkins, candy, wine and boo! We ended the week with a very relevant post on pairing Halloween candy treats with wine. The day before, we created pairings for pumpkin bread, cookies, and pie. ‘Tis the season for Pumpkin spice, and we want you to raise your glass with style. On Tuesday, Michael Adler sang the praises of a stellar under $20 Rosso di Montepulicano. And we kicked the week off with a look at Grattamacco, one of our favorite under-the-radar Bolgheri producers.

Our Expert selections came in two-by-two this week. Garrett picked an unusual, affordable pair from Rhone Valley great E. Guigal. Francesco Vigorito doubled down on ’90s vintages of Super-Tuscan icon Sassicaia. Crystal poured out a matching set of the “Sassicaia of the North,” Tenuta San Leonardo’s flagship San Leonardo. And John Camacho Vidal double-fisted Aldo Conterno, but he did not pick the usual suspects!

Here’s hoping your Halloween is all treats and no tricks–and lots of really excellent wine!

Expert Picks: Aldo Conterno and…Aldo Conterno!

Two expert selections from John Camacho Vidal

CamachoLast night I had the opportunity to participate in IWM’s winemaker dinner featuring Franco Conterno from Poderi Aldo Conterno. These dinners are always spectacular because there’s no better way to taste a wine than with its maker. The Aldo Conterno estate is located in Monforte d”Alba in the Barolo region of Piemonte, and Chef Mike Marcelli created food pairings based on regional classics. We tasted the estates entry-level wines along with the famed single-vineyard Barolos that transmit the different soil characteristics, allowing for individuality in the ways they express the Nebbiolo grape. We finished off with the Barolo Granbussia, which is in a category of its own, but the wines I felt the most connection with were the value Langhe Rosso and the Barolo Colonnello, both described below.

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2012 Langhe Rosso $29.99

This is the estates entry-level wine, and it’s a joy to drink. The 2012 vintage was made with 70% Friesa, which Franco says a cousin of Nebbiolo, blended with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. It’s ruby red in the glass and the nose is full and inviting with notes of strawberry, raspberries, currant, rose petals and hints of tar and smoke, finishing with earth notes and sweet herb on the tannins. Drink now to the end of the decade.

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2011 Barolo Colonnello $149.99

According to Franco Conterno, the Colonnello vineyard gets its name because it was planted by a Colonel in Napoleon’s army who was smitten with Piemonte and the wines produced in the region. Coming from the vineyard closest to Barolo, this land has a mix soil of sand and clay, allowing for a wine that is the approachable of the estate’s single-vineyard Barolos. This 2011 has a nose that is elegant yet intense, with aromas of lavender and roses backed by red fruit, hints of eucalyptus, sweet spice, and a touch of mineral and herbs. On the palate, the tannins are super silky, but they grow dusty and linger throughoutm integrating nicely with loads of black plum, sage, hints of leather and tobacco. This wine ends with a powerful, lasting finish. Drink 2017 to 2036.

Expert Picks: Damilano and Aldo Conterno

Two Expert Selections from David Gwo

David Gwo 12.8.14My selections today feature two wines from Barolo, which in the world of wine is referred to as the “King of Wines, and the Wine of Kings.” Today’s two bottles are special for different reasons, but both demonstrate why Barolo earned its regal title.

1978 was one of the greatest Barolo vintages in history, yielding wines that still possess vibrancy today after almost 40 years. At the time, producers always blended their Nebbiolo grapes across all of their vineyard holdings. This was done to maintain consistency from vintage-to-vintage, but the downside was that the fruit from the best plots always got “muddled” in with everything else. In fact, this blending of multiple vineyards is a hallmark of traditionally made Barolos. Many “modern” producers opt to bottle single-vineyard expressions under the pretense that different sites produce different characteristics. However, this isn’t to say that one method is better than the other, it’s a preference and you’re allowed to like both! The 1978 Damilano Barolo demonstrates the longevity of traditionally styled Barolo from an iconic vintage. As an estate, Damilano has transitioned from bottling a single Barolo to bottling a line-up of single vineyard expressions over time.

The other Barolo today is a young one, and if you’ve been following IWM for a bit, it’s definitely a name you’ve seen before. Aldo Conterno was the son of Giacomo Conterno, whose estate produces some of the most sought after Barolos in the world. Aldo chose to pursue his own venture and wanted to make a style of Barolo that possessed a combination of both traditional and modern characteristics. The 2006 Granbussia Barolo Riserva is the estate’s flagship wine and is only bottled in the very best vintages. It represents a selection of the estate’s best grapes, coming primarily from the Romirasco vineyard. Not only was 2006 a significant year, but starting with this vintage, the family decided to drastically reduce yields and production of this wine to increase quality.

Damilano Barolo 1978 $199.99

Historically, the wines of Barolo were built to last and producers wanted them to be drinkable 20 years down the road. Vintages like 1978 stand as a testament to the greatness that was achieved even back then. This Barolo is a perfect example of perfectly mature Nebbiolo; there is just enough fruit on the palate to keep the wine “pretty,” but with tons of secondary and tertiary development. You’ll find notes of orange peel, leather, earth, and minerals. These are notes that only come with age, and they are what a true Barolo enthusiast looks for in a well aged wine.

Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia 2006 $399.00

I’ve had the opportunity, or the privilege rather, to taste this wine on multiple occasions now and it never fails to impress. When you first open and taste this wine it’s a brick; lots of dark fruits, violets, tar, and spice. However, after a few hours, it begins to reveal itself and the layers begin to unfold. The structure is obviously massive, it has big tannins and raunchy acidity, but it is still enjoyable to taste and contemplate. It exemplifies the classic “iron fist in a velvet glove” and will develop gloriously over the course of a decade, likely more. This is one for both the cellar and the record books.

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