The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, April 13-16, 2014: Other Places, Other Wines

A look back at the week that was

Château Margaux

Château Margaux

IWM clearly has been struck by wanderlust. It’s most evident by Garrett Kowalsky’s post about his upcoming trip to Italy, where he details the three things you should know in planning your trip. However, it’s just as plain in Robin Kelley O’Connor’s detailed history of Bordeaux’s Château Margaux, and our primer to the indigenous grapes of Friuli (get your red-hot Refosco and Picolit panda here!). Only David Bertot seems pretty happy to be at home with his bottle of Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Ruscum, but then he also made risotto for his wife.

Our experts enjoyed sharing a little knowledge with their picks this week. Crystal Edgar explained “winemaker’s vintage” with two bottles of 2002 wines. And Will Di Nunzio explored cult wines with picks from Italy’s North, Sandro Fay and Miani.

Cheers to you and your wines, wherever you may be, and wherever you may wander!

Expert Picks: CVNE and Artadi

Two expert selections from Robin Kelley O’Connor

Robin_D_8.6.14_72dpiSpain is on the rise as one of the world’s top wine-producing countries, and there’s no region more intriguing than La Rioja. A stalwartly traditional region, La Rioja has an impeccable global reputation. As traditional as it is, Rioja has been going through a winemaking revolution over the past two decades, and you can find wines that range from the traditional to the modern to everything in between. As Spanish Tapas bars have taken the country by storm, the wines of Spain and particularly Rioja have integrated nicely in this new enthusiasm for Spanish cuisine, and Americans have woken up to the greatness of the region. To see the reason why Americans are enthusiastically embracing the food, wine and culture of Spain, you only have to recognize the efforts of two great Bodegas: CVNE-Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España and Artadi. Today’s picks are two indisputable world-class wines: CVNE Contino Rioja Reserva 2005 from magnum and a conventional sized Artadi Rioja El Pison 2001.

CVNE represents all that’s traditional and noble, yet it hasn’t lost its focus on innovation and modernity. CVNE-Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España was founded in 1879 the tiny wine town of Haro—Haro is to Rioja what Barolo and Barbaresco are to Piemonte or what Beaune is to Burgundy—located in the heart of La Rioja. While CVNE has a long history, Artadi has achieved international fame in rather short order, producing some of the finest wines in all of Europe. Artadi was founded in 1985 in the idyllic village of Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa region. Owner and winemaker Juan Carlos López de Lacalle describes Artadi as “having a history linked to the memory and the know-how of our ancestors” and “a passion and respect for the vineyard.” There’s no doubt that that the wines of these two bodegas have woken up the wine writers and pundits.

CVNE Contino Rioja Reserva 2005 1.5L $249.00

Made from 70% old-vine Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, and 15% Grenacha, the CVNE Contino Rioja Reserva 2005 is a sublime masterpiece coming from a 153-acre single estate located in Alavesa. The color is dark deep ruby with a gorgeous nose of concentrated berries, and the wine is very concentrated and powerful with notes of tobacco, leather, earth, and wonderful scents of blackberries and cassis. The palate is bold and vigorous with the fruit so pure and perfect that it practically shines. It is flawlessly balanced, textbook exquisite, and ends with the most wondrous finish—it’s a wine made for the ages.

Artadi Rioja El Pison 2001 750ml $325.00

The 2001 is a 100% Tempranillo; it’s a pure treasure and Tempranillo at its greatest expression. Elegance, finesse, expressivity, nuance, balance, a certain delicacy gives this wine the feel with an iron fist in a velvet glove. This ’01 offers tremendous purity of fruit, subtle minerality; it’s a gorgeous manifestation of perfected terroir elements of climate, soil, topography, and the Tempranillo vine. This wine is so incredibly delicious that you could drink it now; however, the rewards will be even greater with a few years of cellaring. The vineyards for Artadi Rioja El Pison were planted in 1945 by owner and winemaker Juan Carlos López de Lacalle’s grandfather, and El Pison as Contino is one of Spain’s first single-vineyard wines.

Expert Picks: Quinto Chionetti and Angelo Gaja

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

will expertI’ve picked unlikely pair for my selections today, both from Piemonte and both extraordinary. The first is a little known Dolcetto from Dogliani (twenty minutes south of Barolo) that Sergio is enamored with and the second is a well-known producer—Angelo Gaja–with a wine that many have never had, especially not one this old. I drank both recently, and both bottles were a phenomenal experience. This just goes to show that even though these are not blockbuster wines like Barolo or Barbaresco, Piemonte offers many outstanding wines for our enjoyment.

Quinto Chionetti 2010 San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani $27.95
This Dolcetto is not like any other you may have had. It’s not fruity; it’s not grapey; nor is it something you need to drink within two years. No, this beautifully balanced wine is structured, and presents an elegance that rivals most $75 bottles. Organically made and incredible smooth after some decanting, this wine can age for a decade. It follows a tradition that began over 100 years ago when the estate was founded in 1912. I highly recommend this Chionetti Dolcetto for your daily drinking—you’ll be more than surprised.

Gaja 1985 Darmagi $309.00

The magic of Gaja never ceases to amaze, but many wine-lovers don’t bother with his wines that are not Barbaresco. This is a big mistake! This Cabernet Sauvignon wine (now blended with Cab Franc and Merlot) was a knockout! Darmagi, meaning “what a pity,” is a name given by Angelo’s father, who thought it was a shame that Angelo used a prized vineyard site in Barbaresco for Cabernet grapes. Little did he know that Angelo would go on to make one of the finest Cabs in Italy. Sergio and I had this wine together a few weeks ago at IWM over dinner with some friends and clients. It was incredibly smooth, round, elegant and medium weighted; in its prime, this ’85 Darmagi was just shocking. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I highly recommend it for any one who loves Cab.

Expert Picks: Domaine Lamarche and…Domaine Lamarche!

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiToday I wish to honor the estate and legacy of a Burgundian legend, François Lamarche. A winemaker who made wines that at times seemed like they could move heaven and earth, he passed both his skill and property down to his daughters a few years ago, but he could never stay away from the vineyards. Tragically, we lost him last year. The wines I pick today celebrate the long career of Msr. Lamarche.

The wines produced from the fruit of the vineyard Grands Échézeaux are brooding, not a term often associated with Pinot. Black fruit and deep red cherries are abundant on the nose and palate, as is telltale Asian spices, hoisin sauce and tea. Aside from these notes, Grands Échézeaux wines also have the reputation for being some of the longest-lived wines in the entire Cote d’Or. I have recently had the two I chose for today, and if you do insist upon drinking them now, I highly suggest decanting them for 8-12 hours. However, give them years in the bottles and they will give you memories for a lifetime.

Domaine Lamarche Grands Échézeaux  2011 $329.99

As recent vintages go, the 2011 had more similarities to 2010 than any other in the past decade. The wines were decidedly mid-weight and classically Burgundian in style. These bottles are all about their elegance and their detail, and they will go for a very long time on the palate. The complex 2011 deftly weaves together fruit and spice. Drink from 2020.

Domaine Lamarche Grands Échézeaux 2012 $379.00

If you want a contrast to the ’11 and ’10, look back to the 2009s, which is akin to the recent 2012 vintage. There were many differences between these years—for example, 2009 was a bumper crop and 2012 saw a production dip of 50 percent—but the result of both vintages is voluptuous, rich, dense and seductive wines that stain the palate. Because of these qualities, the wine might not cellar as long, but it is all relative because it will still be a joy for thirty years. Drink from 2018.

Inside IWM, March 9-12, 2015: Big Thoughts, Big Wines, and Lots of Nebbiolo

A look back at the week that was

The hills of Barolo

The hills of Barolo

This week was all about serious thinking here at Inside IWM. We kicked off the week with part two of Francesco Vigorito’s series on building a serious Italian wine collection. He laid the foundation in part one, and in part two, Francesco talked Piemonte wines that every collector should have. As if picking up Francesco’s cue, Robin Kelley O’Connor took a long look at Barolo and explained why this wine is hot on the auction and collector market. On Tuesday, David Bertot gave his impassioned take on the Donnas’ under $25 “Mountain Barolo.” And on Wednesday, Emery Long took on the divisive topic of natural wines in the effort of helping you decide when you should go natural–and when you should reach for its opposite.

As much as our writers were taken by big thoughts about big wines, our experts were gripped by spring fever and the sheer joy of enjoyment. Garrett Kowalsky poured out a pair of 1998 Super-Tuscan icons from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Tenuta San Guido. On Thursday, Garrett’s brother Justin reveled in the spring weather and chose two classic white Burgundies, one from Gilbert Picq and the other from Domaine Leflaive. Crystal Edgar appreciates unusual wines, and she picked a pair from Fantinel’s boutique estate, La Roncaia, that offer full flavors of Friuli. And like Crystal, David Gwo opted to celebrate a single estate, but he chose the Rhône Valley’s E. Guigal, selecting Hermitage–one white, one red, both gorgeous.

Cheers to you, whether you’re simply enjoying the weather or thinking big thoughts with big wines!

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