The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Bodega Chacra and Tenuta San Guido

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

will expertMany great producers involve themselves with wine far more than just making it. They get into writing about wine, the politics of it, and its traditions, working to conserve or move it forward for the next generation. And, of course, there are those who are in constant search for the next discovery—the next great wine. One such family is the Incisa della Rocchetta family of Tenuta San Guido, makers of Sassicaia. From the very beginning, Mario Incisa della Rochetta did what everyone told him not to do: make a Bordeaux blend in Italy. In the 1940s, this was probably the craziest thing to have ever happened in Italian wine.

Mario’s two grandsons are at the head of Tenuta San Guido these days, and while Giovanni runs the estate in Italy, his brother Piero acts as an ambassador as he continues his own personal pursuit of happiness on the other side of the world. Over a decade ago Piero Incisa della Rocchetta opened the doors to Bodega Chacra, his Pinot Noir project in Patagonia, Argentina. It took him years to find the very best location to make his Burgundy-styled Pinots in the middle of the Patagonian desert, but the success of Bodega Chacra shows that Piero’s work was worth it. Today, I’ve chosen one of Piero’s Patagonian wines and one beautiful magnum of Sassicaia to celebrate this great winemaking family.

Bodega Chacra 2011 Pinot Noir Rio Negro Cincuenta y Cinco $60.00

Every time I open this bottle I am impressed. Piero delivers a glorious, elegant and balanced Pinot Noir from Argentina, where we usually find big, fruity wines. Made from vines that were planted in 1955, hence “Cincuenta y Cinco” or fifty five, this is a wine for all palates. I had this ‘11 with some friends as a starter wine a few weeks ago during one of Chef Michael’s elaborate meals. Antipasti or tapas styled meals are perfect for this gem from one of the great Italian winemaking families.

​ ​Tenuta San Guido ​2012 ​Sassicaia 1.5L $​449

What can you really say about the most collected Italian wine? Many things, actually. 2012 Sassicaia throws me for a loop as it has two characteristics that are phenomenal. First, you get what you expect from your Sassicaia: all your earthy, leather, young Cab fruit and balance that are typical of this wine. Second, you get something unexpected, which comes from how the vintage changed the wine. 2012 had some cool spells, and this Sassicaia offers higher minerality and gorgeous acidity, which will only make this one of the great Sassicaias down the road. This is one clean, elegant vintage, and we were all very excited to see where it will end up. Especially out of magnum!

Inside IWM, February 2-5, 2015: Great People and Great Wine

A look back at the week that was

Wines poured at IWM NYC's winemaker dinner with Axel Heinz

Wines poured at IWM NYC’s winemaker dinner with Axel Heinz

Last night, IWM NYC hosted a winemaker dinner with Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s renowned Axel Heinz, and we’ve got that after-party feeling of exhaustion mixed with exhilaration. We finished the week with Robin Kelley O’Connor’s account of a lunch honoring renowned Bordeaux winemaker Patrick Léon, so you can’t fault us for feeling the party spirit. We began with a look back at Montalcino’s storied history and BBS11, the grape that launched this town and Brunello into greatness. David Gwo actually samples a bottle of Montalcino’s glory in Fuligni 2012 Rosso di Montalcino, an under $28 extraordinary wine. And Jessica Catelli asks the all-important question: Should you buy a wine by its label? The answer’s not as superficial as you might suspect.

Two of our experts stayed true to one producer in their selections this week. Garrett Kowalsky proclaimed his affection for Ada Nada’s affordable cru Barbarescos, and Crystal Edgar finds surprise and intrigue in Bodega Chacra’s old-vine Patagonian Pinot Noir. Our other two experts let recent wine experiences serve as their guides for their picks. Will Di Nunzio (who hosts this Saturday’s Big Red tasting) chose great wines from San Giuliano and Tenuta San Guido, and Francesco opted for a pair of vintage beauties from two Italian icons, Roberto Voerzio and Giuseppe Rinaldi.

It’s cold out there throughout much of the country. Here’s to great wine–and great company–to keep you warm!

Expert Picks: Bodega Chacra and…Bodega Chacra!

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014When asked about my favorite wine or region or producer, I can’t give a straight answer. Similar to my music preferences, my beverage preferences tend to follow my mood and the occasion. Like a good resident of Williamsburg, I appreciate wine (and music) with an element of surprise, producers found off the beaten path, winemakers who offer that “je ne sais qua” to their repertoire. I certainly don’t consider myself a hipster by any means; however, there are certain winemakers that could fall into the effortlessly cool category, and one that comes to mind is Bodega Chacra’s Piero Incisa della Rocchetta .

For those who are not yet familiar with Bodega Chacra’s “edgy” Pinot Noir, this biodynamic estate in Argentina’s Rio Negro valley crafts a selection of beautiful single-vineyard wines from gnarled 80-year old (pre-phylloxera) Pinot Noir vines in Patagonia. The estate’s success can be attributed to its visionary winemaker and the unique Argentine landscape. The Sassicaia prodigy embodies the same spirit and passion that drove his grandfather to think outside the box and create something extraordinary in Bolgheri. And, much in the way that Sassicaia distinguishes itself from others in the Super-Tuscan category by producing honest wines of elegance and complexity, the Pinot Noir of Bodega Chacra captures these same driving attributes.

Whenever I taste these wines with clients, I find there is an instant element of surprise and intrigue. The purity of red fruit, silky texture and lingering nuances of spice and earth are an easy fit for the Pinotphile, but also the classic Barolo enthusiast that appreciate elegance and finesse over extraction and power.

Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Cincuenta y Cinco 2011 $60.00

This Pinot Noir comes from vines planted in 1955 (hence the Spanish numbered name) and it’s one of the most vibrant, fresh yet rich and intense pinots I have tasted. The balance of acid, tannin and fruit is very impressive; it’s an ideal match with grilled lamb, roasted duck or goose or a simple spaghetti Bolognese. If you are not sure what wine to bring to a dinner party, this wine is a home run every time whether you are a novice or connoisseur.

Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Treinta y Dos 2010 $130.00

This wine needs undivided attention as it defies the idea of New World Pinot can be. Sourced from vines planted in 1932, this gorgeous multi-layered Pinot Noir can be enjoyed now with a few hours in the decanter or kept in the cellar for another decade. If you want a wine to rattle you up and keep you on your toes, this is the bottle for you.

Wines for Thanksgivinukkah

What to pour when you’re celebrating more than one

potato-latkes-friedThis Thursday, like many families across the US, my family will celebrate Thanksgiving and the first night of Hanukkah. Along with the turkey and the cranberry relish, the oyster stuffing and the brussel sprouts, the dressing and the gravy, my parents’ table will be loaded with fragrant, crisp latkes and dotted with dishes of applesauce and sour cream.

For the latkes, I know need a little something sweet to balance out that applesauce and something a little acidic to work with the sour cream. Maybe this Frecciarossa Riesling Gli Orti, a Riesling from Oltrepo Pavese that has good complexity and nice heft. This wine sounds like it would also go really nicely with my mom’s sweet potato kugel.

To work with my turkey, I’m thinking Bodega Chacra Cinquenta y Cinco 2011. I very much appreciate Piero Incisa della Rocchetta’s biodynamic approach—as well as his style that prefers low alcohol levels. This Patagonian Pinot Noir has the sweet fruit and the slight funk to make turkey sing.

My mom, who has grown an organic garden for over three decades, is devoted to veggies. Usually, she placates my dad with his beloved green beans sautéed with almonds, but she also likes to make roasted root vegetables, grilled portabello mushrooms, or collard greens with caramelized onions. I like the sound of Sartarelli Verdicchio Tralivio 2011, which is an unusually yummy Verdicchio; it’d also go well with the latkes.

For dessert, usually a honey cake and traditional apple pie. Clearly it’s a case for Massolino Moscato d’Asti. There’s nothing like ending a meal with a gentle sparkler, especially when you’re celebrating two holidays in one.

Lunch for 40? Our Pleasure!

An IWM event in the delicious making!

Everything begins with boiling water.

Everything begins with boiling water.

Today, IWM is hosting a corporate event for forty people in our Studio del Gusto today, and I thought I’d give you a look behind the scenes as our kitchen staff was preparing for the event

photo 4photo 5Then, polenta and roasted tomatoes.

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Eventually, you get these delicious apperitivi!

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Prepping skate and cooking casericci.


photo 1photo 2Finally, the finished dishes: Abalone with bolognese, and Casericci with tomato and basil. We served them with 2009 Cervaro, the stellar  Chardonnay from Antinori’s Umbrian estate,  and 2008 Bodega Chacra Chacra Cincuenta y Cinco, the old-vine Pinot Noir from Piero Incisa della Rocchetta’s Pategonian estate.





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