The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Bruno Giacosa and…Bruno Giacosa!

Two expert selections from John Camacho Vidal

CamachoLast week, New York City’s wine industry was filled with exciting tastings from importers showcasing producers and their portfolios of wine. It’s an exciting time for me as I have the opportunity not only to participate in various seminars to further my knowledge but, on some occasions, I also have the luck to meet and speak with the win makers themselves. I was able to attend a unique and exclusive tasting this week where I tasted some spectacular wines surrounded by beautiful classic automobiles. For example, racy wines were poured and Lamborghini rides were provided with a professional driver. Needless to say, it was an amazing tasting.

All the wines were spectacular, but one wine that really transported me when I tasted it was from the legendary Bruno Giacosa, a third-generation wine maker who bottles wines both from estate grapes grown in the wineries own vineyards and vinified on the estate. These wines bear both labels reading “Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa” as well as “Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa,” which designates wines with grapes bought from other farmers. I picked a pair

Bruno Giacosa 2012 Barbera d’Alba Falletto $77.99

This Barbera is full of juicy red fruit and vibrant acidity. The nose is very aromatic, full of red flowers, blackberries, spices and slight herbal notes. The tannins are full and velvety, and the wine finishes with a nice, lingering tartness. Drink now to 2018.

Bruno Giacosa 2012 Barbaresco Asili $149.99

This wine has a nose full of super elegant, soft Nebbiolo that mingles a touch of raspberries with earthy, herbal notes of sage, cedar and roses followed by currants and red berries. The palate is equally as elegant with rich, silk,y tart tannins that are in harmony with the acidity. Drink 2020-2025.

Breezy Beautiful Beachy Summer Wines

Seven wines, several palates, many peak moments

beachAs much as I adore a big, heady, complicated bottle of Barolo, Brunello or Amarone, some summer days and some velvet summer nights call for bottles that are easy, lively, delicious and uncomplicated. Every summer I spend some time out on Fire Island, where I live by different rhythms than those I live by in the city. Instead of the trains, the nightlife, the internet and the iPhone, I live by the beach, the tides, the grill, and the deck.

The little community where I stay is extremely quiet—for example, there are no cars. We get everywhere by bicycle, and we pull our groceries and our luggage by little red wagon. It seems out of place to drink big wines here (though I’ve certainly enjoyed bottles of Sammarco, Il Palazzone, and Quintarelli on special occasions). For my most recent trip out here, I shipped seven bottles of delicious wines: four reds , one white, one amber and one rosé.

For the reds, I chose a Rosso di Montalcino from of my all-time favorite Montalcino producers, Baricci; San Giuliano’s beguiling Barbaresco; Le Macchiole’s seductive Bolgheri Rosso; and Aldo Conterno’s exuberant Barbera d’Alba. I wanted food-friendly favorites that would pair with grilled meat and fish, and I think I did really well. They were each distinctive and each delicious. But as much as I like reds, I was more excited for the other wines.

The white was Ferrando La Torrazza Erbaluce di Caluso, and it was a delicate, honeyed, mineral beauty. Really, I can’t say enough good things about this under $20 wine. The rosato was a splurge, as was the amber wine. The former was Raffaele Palma Salicerchi, and this deeply sanguine, powerful rosato floored my friends. Finally, I brought a bottle of Josko Gravner’s 2005 Ribolla Anfora. What can I say? Gravner makes my very favorite wine, and this is like drinking textured velvet. One of my friends turned 40, and the Gravner felt like a fitting marker to her birthday. It was a lovely few days, made all the better for great wines to share with great friends.

Expert Picks: Giacomo Conterno and…Giacomo Conterno!

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiToday I wanted to take a moment and celebrate not just one of the greatest Barolo producers, and not just one of the greatest Italian producers—but one of the finest winemakers in the world: Giacomo Conterno. Dating back to the early 1900’s, Giacomo Conterno is most famous for its Barolo Riserva Monfortino, but while that wine is exquisite, the estate also produces world-class wines at several other price points. Giacomo Conterno is staunchly traditional and strives to make wines of elegance that have seemingly endless drinking windows, so be prepared to drink these now and for the next decade or three. Behold the 2012 Barbera and 2009 Barolo Cascina Francia!

Giacomo Conterno 2012 Barbera d’Alba Casinca Francia $64.99

I have always been a huge fan of Barbera, for its versatility in food pairing and for its downright delicious nature. There are also many producers who make delightful Barbera’s, but there are a few who stand atop the heap, and Giacomo Conterno’s Barbera is always at the pinnacle. Never thin or acidic, Conterno’s Barbera is always chock full of blue fruit, full of energy and very structures. This is one of the few Barberas that would benefit from aging and patience, as opposed to immediate consumption. Drink now to 2025.

Giacomo Conterno 2009 Barolo Casinca Francia $189.00

Throughout the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, it was common for Giacomo Conterno to purchase the fruit the estate used to make his wines. However, many of these farmers started to make their own wines, so in the ‘70s, the estate purchased the “Cascina Francia” vineyard, the heart of the estate then and now. This 2009 is full of power and dark fruit; ’09 is a ripe vintage all around, and it graced this Barolo with exceptional depth. Also consider the fact that the estate decided to not make Monfortino in ’09, so all that beautiful fruit can be found here. Drink 2018 to 2035.

Expert Picks: Aldo Conterno and…Aldo Conterno!

Two expert selections from David Gwo

David Gwo 12.8.14Aldo Conterno is a name that you hear regularly from IWM. That’s because the late Aldo Conterno ranks among the most influential winemakers in Piedmont’s history. Aldo Conterno was the son of Giacomo Conterno, another great namesake, and brother to Giovanni Conterno. While Giovanni chose to uphold the Giacomo Conterno legacy and continue to make the wines of his father, Aldo wanted to see what he could do by incorporating aspects of modern winemaking, and he parted ways to found his own estate.

We describe Aldo Conterno’s style as an intermingling of the traditional and the modern. While he didn’t completely dismiss the teachings of his father and the traditional school, he did incorporate some modern winemaking techniques into the production of his wines. The result are Barolos that have the powerful structure reminiscent of traditional style, but matched by an enhanced expression of fruit that is characteristic of modern style wines.

The two wines featured here today are a great introduction to the wines of Aldo Conterno. The first doesn’t feature the region’s famed Nebbiolo, but rather Barbera, the grape that makes the everyday wine of the Piedmontese. The second selection does feature Nebbiolo, but it’s a younger-drinking version that will give you an idea of what Aldo’s Barolos are all about!

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2011 Conca Tre Pile Barbera d’Alba $38.99

Let’s forget about the majestic Nebbiolo for a minute and turn our heads towards Piedmont’s most planted red grape—Barbera. About half of the vineyards in this region are dedicated to this grape, but people often forget that Barbera is what Piedmontese natives regularly enjoy at the dinner table. What makes Barbera so appealing is that it’s an ideal food wine. When you pour it, the wine has a really dark color and you’d think that it’d be really heavy and full-bodied, but it’s not. Barbera is actually a light to medium-bodied red with softer tannins, but high acidity, which is a key component when pairing with food. On the nose and palate the Conca Tre Pile presents notes of black fruits, wildflowers, minerals, and spice.

Poderi Aldo Conterno 2011 Langhe Nebbiolo Il Favot $64.99

This wine is 100% Nebbiolo, just like Barolo or Barbaresco, except the fruit used to produce the wine comes from younger vines and sees less oak aging. This results in a wine made for near-term enjoyment, rather than 10 years down the road. Langhe Nebbiolos usually yield softer tannins and a tad less depth and concentration than their Barolo counterparts. However, with the single-vineyard Il Favot, this is hardly the case. This wine has all of the aromatic and flavor characteristics of Barolo, but it’s softer on the palate and an absolute pleasure to enjoy now. Dark fruits, violets, and a hint of tar in a med-full-bodied frame that’s backed by perceptible tannins and vibrant acidity.

Expert Picks: Giuseppe Rinaldi and Roberto Voerzio

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014Today I am going to pay homage to two Piemonte greats: Roberto Voerzio and Bepi Rinaldi! Both of these winemakers are iconoclasts, although they make wines that are in totally different styles. Nothing is more traditional than Rinaldi Barolo, and today I’m highlighting the 1994 Le Coste, which is firing on all cylinders. Next, I just have to talk about Voerzio’s Barberas as they do not get the attention they deserve! He only bottles them in certain vintages and only in magnum.

Giuseppe Rinaldi 1994 Barolo Brunate Le Coste $225.00

Over the past year, I have grown insanely in love with Rinaldi Barolo. His 1996 Le Coste is still on my mind from tasting it about a year ago, and while the 1994 won’t have the structure of 1996, this bottling provides an extremely elegant, mature and sophisticated Barolo loaded with nuance and all that aged Barolo goodness. Tar, licorice and dried meats provide the background to the sweet cherry fruit that coats the palate. Tannins are as soft as tannins can be, providing a world-class Barolo ready to drink now.

Voerzio 1999 Barbera Riserva Pozzo Annunziata (1.5L) $299.00

Mostly known for his Barolos, the “mad scientist” of Piemonte, Roberto Voerzio, has the lowest yields in the business! That said, he makes a single-vineyard Riserva Barbera that can hang with any Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello or Super Tuscan. Supremely dense and concentrated, this is unlike any other Barbera I have tasted. The sheer concentration and density alone in a Barbera this old is unrivaled. Couple that density and firmness of the 1999 vintage, and you have something truly eternal and unquestionably spectacular.

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