The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Billecart-Salmon and…Billecart-Salmon!

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014I see every day as a celebration, so any day is the right day to enjoy a bit of sparkle in the glass! Bubbly wines are not only for special occasions; rather, they’re for anytime. The holidays just means that “anytime” happens more often, and the chances are you’ll be in needed a few special bottles of bubbly.

Sparkling wines are quite possibly the most versatile wines. This category offers a wide range of flavors, color and sweetness, and in some circumstances, these wines are great for cellar aging. Although there are many options to choose from, quality producers all share a common thread: finesse and balance. I’ve chosen two Champagne favorites that are definitely finessed and balanced. You can enjoy these bottles tonight, New Year’s Eve, or any time of year.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Réserve $59.99

This lovely bubbly is the calling card for the Billecart estate, and it’s one of the most popular among Champagne drinkers. The Brut Réserve offers impressive structure with lovely aromas of while flowers, stone fruit and hints of chalk and minerals. A combination of 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, this is a Champagne of power, finesse and balance with a lingering flinty finish. This Champagne suits all occasions, and it’ll pair perfectly with a multitude of food dishes.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé $89.99

This delightful Rosé is probably one of my personal favorites, offering aromas of citrus, white flowers, guava and hints of minerals. A blend of 45% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, the wine is brisk on the attack and finishes soft with flavors of red berries, toasted nuts and a cleansing minerality. A glass of this rosy bubbly has at least a million reasons to drink it any old night, and I highly recommend snagging some for your upcoming celebrations!

Expert Picks: Roger Coulon and Krug

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiI could drink Champagne every day of the year. The effervescence, the vibrancy, the flavor—Champagne makes me feel good about life, love and happiness. While many wine-lovers feel that Champagne should be reserved for celebrations or special events, others are like me: ready to pop the Champagne cork anytime. Those who feel that Champagne is for celebrations are in luck; we’ve reached the holidays, that time of year when you must join the rest of us, the bubble lovers, to bask in the year’s accomplishments and ring in the New Year the right way. I’ve chosen two of my favorite Champagnes that are sure to make anyone smile and to make any celebration just a bit more festive.

Roger Coulon NV Brut Reserve de l’Hommee 1er Cru $52.99

Every so often, a wine comes along that shouldn’t be missed. Roger Coulon is a tiny grower producer in Champagne that you have probably never heard of, but I have my job to make sure you do! Bold aromatics of sourdough bread, brioche, stone fruit and a slight nutty character let you know that you are about to drink something very special. On the palate, the micro-sized bubbles explode into a full-bodied, creamy, sexy and utterly mind-bending mousse. It grips the palate and never lets go! Drink now until 2020.

Krug Champagne Brut Rosé NV $349.00

The wines of Krug are towering accomplishments and in particular, Krug’s Rosé is simply divine. Founded in 1843, Krug is one of the most famous and well respected houses in all of Champagne. The Rosé took some time to make its debut, however, first being released in 1983. A blend of all three grape varieties of Champagne, the Krug Rosé shows exceptional balance. Strawberries and brioche mingle, highlighted by a citrus zest that makes your mouth water. This is truly one of the best Champagnes you will ever taste. Drink now to 2025.

More Time to Stock Your Cellar!

IWM’s legendary Cyber Monday Sale!

Happy Monday! It’s IWM’s Cyber Monday event! Get up to 20% off your favorite wines–while they last.unnamed

How to Learn to Love French Wines

How to add French wines into your wine rotation

599px-French_vineyards.svgOver the past four years I have been proud to work with many clients, many of whom I now call my friends. I have worked with people who are already very aware of theirs likes and goals with regards to wine, but I have also helped shepherd newbies as they explored the wonderful world of vino and become accomplished collectors. Part of this is of course deciding if you want a cellar or some storage, and if you do, how best to balance it. Because, really, wine is like life in that to enjoy is best there must be balance in countries, regions, styles and producer. It is no secret that I’m a Burghound (lovers of the wines of Burgundy, in eastern France), so I thought I might throw out a few pointers to the readers who might be considering jumping in to the world of French wine, feet first.

One thing you must understand (and probably already do) is that France is riddled with unique climates and growing regions. In each, producers work with different weather, soil and grapes to produce profound wines. It is therefore important to explore many of these regions to make sure you identify favorites and make room for all of them on your shelves. I picked out the five areas where you should focus. If you are unsure of selection, ask your own portfolio manager or me what bottles are most “typical” or “representative” of the region.


This is the home of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and I would argue that no region in the world better uses these grapes as a blank canvas to their terror. There are some selections that are lithe and nimble, others big and bold, but most are assuredly seductive delicious.


This is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, two of the most planted grapes around the entire world. Not to mention the supporting cast of Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Not only are the grapes deftly blended and unique by property, the style has been copied the world over (ever hear of Meritage or Super Tuscans?). Bordeaux is where it all started.


There might be no other region where the differences in terroir are so visible. Often just looking at a hillside it is difficult to look at drainage, consider soils, and assess the lay of the land. Rhone is not like that. In the North the vines clearly struggle; they are gnarly and there is very little greenery, while in the South the foliage is much more lush. You taste these differences in the wine. Home to the brave grapes Syrah and Grenache, this growing area in Southeastern France is another must.


If you hold the idea that Champagne is solely for celebrations, you would be wrong. Unless you treat every night like a celebration, then I would agree with you. Too long this style has been reserved for special events in America. Bubbles should be brought out to be enjoyed at all times and nowhere in the world will you find sparklers as good or as special as in Champagne.

Alsace/Loire Valley/Languedoc/Provence/and more…

I owe a sincere apology to the producers for lumping them in together here, but to be truthful, I am running short on space. Alsace is home to incredible whites and possibly the best Rieslings. Loire and Languedoc offer up interesting and approachable reds and whites, while Provence is where lovers of the best Rosés focus their attention. There’s so much to love from these regions that they really deserve some of your attention.

If you have hit at least 10-20 wines from solid producers from each of these regions, you should be able to start making informed decisions based on your preferences (take notes during this period!). I am 28 years old (29 in three weeks) and I have been enjoying wine since my family purchased a wine store when I was nine years old. Of my collection I would say about 300-350 bottles are French and the breakdown would be something like 70% Burgundy, 10% Bordeaux, 10% Rhone and 10% Champagne. But that is just my tastes and preferences. You can include all regions or omit most. You can become an avid fan of Riesling and Gewürztraminer from Alsace or you can swear of white selections and only put massive Chateauneuf-du-Papes from Rhone in your collection.

Like any interest or hobby, the key is to educate yourself and find your passion. If you take the time to review all of the regions above I think you are taking a massive step forward to understanding what you like and why you like it. From there the growth of your wine stash will come naturally.

Expert Picks: Barone Pizzini and Louis Roederer

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiTomorrow marks the start of fall. Many of you might lament the impending cool weather, but I don’t. I welcome the cool nights, seasonal treats and the dazzling array of colors in the foliage. Below you will find two tremendous sparklers. You might say to yourselves, “Aren’t sparkling wines summery?” I am of the belief that Cava, Prosecco, Franciacorta and Champagne are all-season wines, and I intend to drink them in celebration of the arrival of autumn. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Barone Pizzini 2009 Rosé Franciacorta $49.50

Unlike Prosecco, which uses the Italian grape Prosecco and a different production method, Italy’s Franciacorta, located in Lombardia, is actually quite similar to Champagne from France. This Rosé uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (both champagne grapes) and the secondary fermentation, the process that gives the wine its bubbles, happens inside the bottle (this is known as méthod champenoise). The noble family of Pizzini and their relationship to the Franciacorta region date all the way back to 1870 and this estate was among the first in the region to go organic. This is wine presents an incredibly fine mousse and red berries dance across your palate. Drink now until 2018.

Louis Roederer 2006 Cristal $249.00

You would be hard pressed to find a wine drinker across the globe that is not at least familiar with the name “Cristal.” The brand has become so famous that you might start to think there’s no way it would match the hype—but you’d be wrong. The family-owned Louis Roederer estate owns grand swaths of vineyard and it has access to some of the finest and most refined microclimates, all of which find their way into this detailed, floral and rich offering. Time will only make this prime vintage Champagne better. Drink 2016 to 2026.


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