The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Domaine Barat and Christian Moreau

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Chablis is one of my favorite appellations for white Burgundy because of its zippy crispness, ultra-refreshing acidity, and beguiling complexity. In addition to being food-friendly, it’s also often an incredible value, in part because of the way Chablis was marketed in the States for so many years. Those of you who enjoy a cleaner style of Chardonnay that’s less influenced by oak and more focused on minerality and bright citrus notes need to revisit Chablis. You’ll likely fall in love, as I have.

The two Chablis wines I’ve chosen differ greatly in many ways, yet while these two producers have very different artistic intentions, they both do a fantastic job. Along with a small selection of premier cru bottlings, Domaine Barat makes an exceptional entry-level AOC Chablis that’s incredibly affordable and consistently high quality. Domaine Christian Moreau, on the other hand, is one of my top three favorite makers of white Burgundies, and that’s not an exaggeration. Moreau’s wines are delicate yet powerful; mind-bendingly complex and delicious, Moreau’s wines impress me with their precise and artful representations of their respective terroirs. I cannot recommend Christian Moreau’s wines highly enough to fans of serious white Burgundy!

Domaine Barat 2013 Chablis $22.99

Clean, bright and very crisp, Domaine Barat’s ‘13 Chablis is an outstanding white Burgundy that will win you over with its incredible depth and complexity. Mid-weight and quite aromatic, it’s perfect complement for your holiday table, but it has enough stuffing to be the kind of white that you’ll want to drink year-round. Flavors of lemon and tart green apple mingle with steely mineral notes and a pleasant, refreshing acidity that keeps your mouth watering long after your glass is empty. Look no further for your go-to everyday white Burg!

C. Moreau 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Clos des Hospices Les Clos $119.99

Deriving from a walled vineyard plot at the bottom of the hill sitting close to the village of Chablis, Christian Moreau’s Chablis ‘12 Clos des Hospices is a powerful, muscular Chardonnay that will benefit immensely from another five or more years in the cellar. Clos des Hospices sees time in oak, but this is not an oaky wine in any way—the oak is there to provide structure, depth and complexity, playing a very minor role in the wine’s flavor profile. This is an insanely complex and delicious Chardonnay and one that easily holds its weight against the great masters in Puligny, Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. The domaine is currently transitioning between generations of the Moreau family, with father Christian passing the torch to his son Fabien, who has already demonstrated his unique ability to make some of the world’s very best Chardonnay in Chablis.

Expert Picks: Etienne Sauzet and…Etienne Sauzet!

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiThis week will be the first in a long time that temperatures in NYC do not touch at least 70-degrees Fahrenheit. This will of course send many citizens running from their iced coffees to hot ones and from their Sauvignon Blancs to big, warm reds. No doubt there is a certain glow about enjoying a rustic rouge in front of the fire (or space heater), but you should not abandon whites altogether. There are phenomenal whites that carry outstanding structure and would pair marvelously with cool weather dishes like chicken and rice soup or roast pork loin. For a couple of ideas I proudly present to you two wines from the much praised estate of Etienne Sauzet, considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, houses in Puligny.

Etienne Sauzet 2013 Puligny-Montrachet $84.99

Telltale characteristics of the best Puligny Montrachet bottles are a mineral-driven personality, bright citrus notes, and a crisp acidic backbone that allows the wines to stand up to any fats and pair with intensely flavored dishes. Etienne Sauzet’s village-level Puligny embodies these traits perfectly, and it offers a glimpse into the mastery of an iconic estate. Elegant and expressive even in its youth, this is a treat. Drink now until 2022.

Etienne Sauzet 2013 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts $134.00

Premier crus and grand crus amplify the mystique and genius that we look for in white Burgundy. The personality becomes more prominent than in that of a village-level bottle. Take this Referts, born of 35+ year-old vines—that’s decades when those gnarly vines have had to bury themselves deep within the soil to soak up the nutrients. Think how mature and refined you are at 35 versus when you were 10 or 15. This bottle is ripe, rich, and chock full of sumptuous fruit, and it finishes for almost a full minute on your palate. Drink 2016 to 2024.

Inside IWM, November 2-5, 2015: Explore the Unusual

A look back at the week that was

There's Sangiovese Grosso in them there hills

There’s Sangiovese Grosso in them there hills

This week began with a salute to Sangiovese Grosso and ended with using your four senses to guide you to better tasting (spoiler alert: it’s everything but hearing). In between, we enjoyed a lovely $22 Rosato from Italy’s North and broadened wine horizons by venturing into French territory.

Our experts explored the unusual this week. Michael Adler poured out two bottlings of Italian Chardonnay from Gaja and Antinori. Will Di Nunzio responded to this fall’s weird weather with two all-temperature reds. John Camacho Vidal embraces autumn with biodynamic amber bottles from Paolo Bea and Josko Gravner. And Garrett Kowalsky says, “Viva la difference!” and picks two very different wines.

Cheers to you and your exploration, wherever it takes you and your wine glass!

Expert Picks: Antinori and Gaja

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Let’s face it: Italy isn’t the first place that comes to mind when we think of world-class Chardonnay. It can be easy to overlook Italian Chardonnays in favor of white Burgundy; however, you shouldn’t. Italy’s winemakers make more than a few outstanding Chardonnays, and I urge you to approach them with an open mind—I promise you won’t regret it. Today I’m focusing on a pair of Italy’s most outstanding Chardonnays that are crafted by two of Italy’s most legendary winemakers, Angelo Gaja and Antinori.

Inspired by the wines of Meursault, Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay is a perennial IWM client favorite, and it’s one of Italy’s finest collector whites. Coming from Castello della Sala, the Antinori family’s estate in Umbria, every vintage of this wine impresses with its balance, structure, and stunning evocation of Umbrian terroir. Like the ancient winemaking family of Antinori, Angelo Gaja has had an enormous impact on the development, evolution and modernization of winemaking in Piemonte, and Gaja used his Chardonnay to introduce the region to unfamiliar palates in the ‘70s. It’s no surprise that these two winemakers are responsible for two of Italy’s most prized and collected white wines, and if you haven’t yet tried them, here are two bottles to enjoy.

Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2013 Chardonnay $54.99

Antinori makes this wine in a Burgundian style that is reminiscent of a traditional Meursault, and the ‘13 Cervaro is texturally stunning; crisp and clean while at the same time round, lush and luxurious. 2013 was a relatively cool growing season, ideal for Chardonnay grapes, and this beautiful wine coats the palate in waves of citrus, orchard fruit, herbs and stony minerals. While Cervaro is immensely enjoyable when young, this bottling will also benefit from some additional time in bottle and continue to evolve for another 8 to 10 years.

Gaja 2011 Chardonnay Gaia & Rey $239.00

Angelo Gaja is a towering figure in modern Italian winemaking. Gaja’s wines are unapologetically modern, seeing time in new barrique and receiving temperature-controlled fermentation, yet they are still highly representative of their respective terroirs, and this improbable balancing act makes them so astonishingly good. Gaja’s top-of-the-line Chardonnay is always an impressive effort; this ‘11 Gaia & Rey Chardonnay is a concentrated, opulent wine that’s seen some time in wood. 2011 was a ripe vintage and this wine is more accessible in its youth than other recent bottlings, yet it has the necessary structure to age another 10 to15 years.

Expert Picks: Miani and…Miani!

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014Enzo Pontoni, owner of cult estate Miani in Friuli, is arguably one of Italy’s finest winemakers. If you have ever tasted his wines, you know why. If you have not, then you are missing out one of Italy’s very best. With Enzo’s reputation and the scarce amount of wine that he makes, his wines are impossibly rare and extremely sought after. Time after time, IWM has the best allocation of Miani wines, and anytime you find the opportunity to snap up Miani’s wines, you absolutely should.

Miani 2010 Rosso $99.99

In 2010 Enzo chose not to bottle any of his top single-vineyard reds, which command prices of over $300, he to put all that wonderful and expensive fruit into his Rosso bottling. I was blown away when I tasted this wine last in April. The nose is so powerful that I could smell the aromas with out even swirling. The flavors are dark, ripe and juicy to the core, and the wine displays an extraordinary class and elegance.

Miani 2013 Chardonnay $104.99

One of the best expressions of Italian Chardonnay that I have come across! Crisp, mineral-laden, deep, and heavily concentrated, this Chardonnay can rattle your bones from head to toe. The more approachable Chardonnay in Miani’s lineup, this wine offers some ripe tropical and citrus notes with background of hazelnuts. It’s sublime!

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