The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-to-Wine Tuesday: Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico 2011

An under $25 true typical Chianti Classico from a storied family

le_cortiI always like a wine with a story; I enjoy it more when I know about the history behind a wine. Last time Sergio was in town, we tasted through a slew of wines for the showroom—all our Italian wine selections are tasted and approved by Sergio to ensure that we are representing the best quality wines possible. One of the wines that he approved was the Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico 2011. This is a perfect wine for easy enjoyable drinking at a great value $24.99.

This wine comes from one of Italy’s noble families, and is rich with history. Originally from Poggibonsi, a small town in the province of Siena, the Corsini family came to Florence at the end of the twelfth century. Initially they were merchants, and then they became bankers, sometimes finding their way into political and religious careers. Their family ancestors include a pope (Pope Clement XII in the eighteenth century) and a saint (Sant’Andrea Corsini in the fourteenth century). I recommend looking up the winery and reading up on the family’s rich history.

Fast forward to the present. The Le Corti winery has been a part of Prince Corsini’s property since 1427, and the estate is now in the hands of Duccio Corsini, the heir to the title of tenth Prince of Sismano. In total, the property consists of 632 acres, of which 121 acres are vineyards and 180 acres are dedicated to olive groves. The Prince has stated that he tries to create wines that are sophisticated and elegant, seductive yet simple, and, above all, wines to be enjoyed. The Prince prides himself on using traditional methods of winemaking, including relying only on natural rainfall and snowfall for irrigation and harvesting by hand.

When you take the first sniff of this wine you can tell the commitment the prince has given his wines. Composed of 95% Sangiovese, and 5% Canaiolo and Colorino, all indigenous to the Chianti region, the fruit is fermented for 28 days at temperature-controlled open-air tanks with indigenous yeast. The wine is then aged for 12 months in cement vats and large wood casks before bottling.

Beautiful ruby red in color, this wine shows a super elegant Sangiovese nose with bright red cherry, and at first sip some mineral and caramel; then with twirling of the glass to aerate, earth and fruitti di bosco notes come out. On the palate it has silky mellow tannins with great balance of fruit and acidity that is quite refreshing and lingers on the finish. There are few wines that show true typical Chianti, and this is one of the best expressions within the price point.

Expert Picks: Badia a Passignano and Talenti

Two expert selections from David Gwo

DAvid gwo blog bio photoSangiovese is the star of Tuscany and there are two regions that are famous for producing wine from this varietal. If you’re into Italian wines you’ve definitely heard of these places before: Chianti and Montalcino. What I love about Sangiovese is its versatility. It can be made in a wide array of styles ranging from structured and elegant to powerful and dark. The winemaker has a lot of influence on how the wine will turn out based on the type of Sangiovese used, the amount of time the pressed juice spends in contact with the skins (aka extraction), and aging duration in oak.

There are many different variants or clones of Sangiovese. In Chianti and Chianti Classico there is no restriction on which clones are allowed to receive the label of Chianti or Chianti Classico. In addition, blending is allowed in these two regions, though regulations require a minimum percentage of Sangiovese by law. Montalcino is a different story. Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino must be made with 100% Sangiovese Grosso, known locally as Brunello. The following two wines are great examples of Sangiovese from each of these regions.

Badia a Passignano 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva $54.99

There is a ton of mediocre Chianti and Chianti Classico that floods the US market. Up until relatively recently, white grapes were blended into the wines from Chianti, detracting from quality with a focus on volume production. Thankfully, these days many producers have stepped up quality and produce wines of great character, depth, and complexity. This is a Chianti Classico Riserva made by the Antinori family. Riservas see extended aging in barrel and bottle before release and this is Riserva is made from 100% Sangiovese, the same Sangiovese used in their flagship Tignanello bottling. This wine really falls within the category of “drink or hold.” It’s approachable now, but it’ll continue improving over the next couple of years, and will drink well for a decade.

Talenti Pian di Conte 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva $69.99

Talenti is one of my favorite producers of Brunello di Montalcino for a couple of reasons. Talenti makes their Brunellos in a modern style and the wines are more approachable in their youth, compared to some of the traditionalists. Don’t be fooled, though; in great vintages like 2004, 2006, and 2007, Riccardo Talenti’s wines are more than capable of long-term gaining.  Quality is high and you don’t have to wait 10+ years to drink the wine. The best part about Talenti’s Brunellos is their reasonable pricing. The normale Talenti Brunello retails at $54.99 and this single-vineyard Riserva sells at $69.99. Both these wines drink like they cost $100+ and Riserva Brunello of this quality is rare to find at this price point. This is a no-brainer wine for Sangiovese enthusiasts.

Expert Picks: Fontodi and Talenti (Big Bottle Edition)

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

Will_newThis is the time of year for parties, our last hurrahs to the summer and our final period for outdoor gatherings, but by no means are we going quietly into the night. Large format always, always drink better and every wine I have enjoyed from 1.5L, 3L, or 6L bottles has been more balanced and integrated lasting more years. These big boys are perfect for these end of summer parties as the temperatures tend to go down at night and a glass of great red is welcome.

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2008 1.5L at $76.99/btl

I have had this conversation many times with many people, if you think Chianti is a cheap wine than think again. A well made Chianti can match up against a number of incredible dishes, has a powerful elegance, can age for a minimum of 10 years and once aged can be a silky smooth delight. From a magnum, Chianti is even more exceptional as that famous kick it has is slightly mellowed by large format. This is what you’re getting with Fontodi, probably my favorite Chianti producer, as year after year this outstanding wine is everything you would expect from a great Italian red wine.

Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Pian di Conte Riserva 2006 1.5L at $146.99/btl

Riccardo Talenti is the man behind this estate who was of the opinion that great Brunello could be enjoyed a bit younger than the usual 15-25 year wait. After his work with Il Poggione, he picked up a little plot of land 400 meters above sea level and began his adventure with his Pian di Conte estate. Today Talenti remains one of those great wine makers who make absurdly good Brunello at a very affordable price. An IWM staple, this Talenti Riserva is spectacular; round, balanced and one of the most enjoyable wines you’ll drink at this price.

Expert Picks: Castell’in Villa and Bruno Giacosa

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

Will_newIt feels like there’s an infinite number of Italian wines. With over 2,100 different varietals and around 650 million cases of wine made each year, you can imagine how many different bottles you could find—literally, any palate could find a perfect match with something Italian. I’m a big fan of the basic grapes and the traditional wine, so I wanted to share two wines that I have recently enjoyed that simply say, “This is Italian wine!”

Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico 2009 $23.99

Chianti is probably the first Italian wine the people in general learn about. It’s unfortunate that many associate it as being a cheap wine; let me tell you that while many Chiantis may be inexpensive, a well made wine from this appellation can make your meal at home an incredible one. It’s all about the producer. The Countess Leonessa Coralia Pignatelli is responsible for making this little gem that’s earthy, spicy, and leathery with notes of cherries. Drink now with some antipasti or roasted chicken.

Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili 2008 $129

The jealous brother of Barolo, Barbaresco is a typical Italian northern wine for many. The region is small—a lot smaller than Barolo—and it falls closer to the Tanaro River, has lower elevation and its microclimate is a bit warmer. The result? Barbaresco is typically are designed to drink between 10-15 years from the date on the label, but of course there are exceptions. Giacosa is a traditional Barbaresco producer and as such his wine are best enjoyed, like those of Gaja, after 20 or more years. Not every vintage requires this aging, however, as the 2008 will show. This wine is soft and easy drinking after an hour of decanting and, above all, it’s elegant.  Enjoy this Barbaresco with grilled or stuffed mushrooms, a grilled sirloin or a light tagliatelle with shaved summer truffles, if you are among the lucky few to find them.

This Week on Inside IWM, July 22-25, 2013

A look back at the week that was

Garrett 013The biggest news in the greater NYC region is the breaking of the hot, hot heat, and a return to normal temperatures. It’s hard not to celebrate turning off your air conditioner. And so we began the week with a reflection on choosing wines for a party while sticking to a budget: no reason to compromise quality for quantity with these sparkly quaffers.

Francesco continued our paean to delicious thriftiness with a go-to-wine Tuesday post on Porta del Vento Ishac Nero d’Avola 2010, a great Sicilian wine made from a great indigenous grape (and under $30!).

Wednesday, we took a quick tour of Paris with Garrett, who checked in on his favorite tourist destinations when he was an unabashed tourist. The pictures alone are worth a click.

And Thursday, David Bertot picked a peck of Fava beans to create a cold salad with prosciutto. Recipe and wine pairing here.

This week, our Experts were definitely feeling the Francophilia, choosing to feature a bevy of Burgundy, Bordeaux and Beaujolais. RKO began the trend with his picks of hot weather Burgundies from Chevy Chouet and Nicolas Rossignal.

Like RKO, Justin Kowalsky went thoroughly French, selecting two big, beautiful bottles of wine–both magnums, both Burgundy, and both perfect for big groups this summer: William Fevre and Marcel Lapierre.

On Wednesday, Garrett had one foot in Italy and one foot in France with his picks of De Conciliis and Faiveley Corton. What theme joins these two disparate bottles? There’s very little of them left, and they are delicious.

Francesco was our sole expert devoted to Italian wines this week. He selected a pair of wines that completely blew him away–an aged Chianti Classico and a Soldera Brunello.

Here’s to keeping your cool, indoors and out.


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