The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM February 8-11, 2016: All the 💞 Edition

A look back at the week that was

proxyLove is in the air, and IWM can’t help sharing it. Stephane Menard loved an under $30 white from Bruno Giacosa, and this Roero Arneis from the Piemonte master winemaker deserves all the adoration in the wine world. We published the fifth post in our series of Italian red wine grapes, and this one, focusing on Nebbiolo to Primitivo, was all about grapes that make the wines we love. And Janice Cable loves history–even the weird, questionable history of Valentine’s Day, which she looked at this week, for obvious reasons.

Love always guides IWM’s Experts. Garrett Kowalsky loves Burgundy legends Domaine Lamarche. Michael Adler loves cult vigneron François Gay. And Crystal Edgar loves Brunello she can drink right now, without waiting.

Cheers to you and the people you love, the wine you love, and sharing one love with the other.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Castello di Selvole 2012 Chianti Classico  

A tasty under $25 Sangiovese Chianti Classico that’s anything but ordinary!

RD9047-2When you think about Tuscany, you probably think of Chianti, one of the most famous wines in the world. The beautiful Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico 2012 is not your ordinary Chianti. A historic producer whose roots stretch back to 1070, Castello di Selvole embodies the role that Chianti Classico has had in shaping Tuscan identity. This Chianti Classico, which is among my personal favorites, is crafted in a mix of traditional and international protocol; this wine ages in barrique before bottling, where it rests for three months before release. It’s a delicious, evocative Chianti Classico that makes food sing.

As fall is unfolding with its beautiful light and colors, I wanted to make a comforting dish that would be ideal for the crisp weather. The ragù Toscano that I chose to cook is actually the first Italian recipe I learned how to prepare. When I first moved to Italy, one of my good friends named Giovanni was an apprentice chef and shared with me this recipe he originally got from his Tuscan grandmother.

I highly recommend opening the beautiful Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico a couple hours before tasting. The high acidity of the Sangiovese grape is perfect for the tomato-based ragù, and it pairs perfectly. This ’12 Chianti Classico has great balance, and after aerating for a couple of hours, it shows beautifully. Open a couple of bottles of this $25 Chianti Classico, invite a bunch of your friends, and celebrate the fall with my friend Giovanni’s recipe for ragù Toscano.

Ingredients for fettuccine al ragù for 8-10 people:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

2 carrots, finely diced

4 celery sticks, finely diced

One bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley

Three sprigs of thyme

One sprig of rosemary

A few fresh basil leaves

2 bay leaves

2 bottles of Castello selvole Chianti Classico

3 Pounds of ground meat (ideally 50% beef and 50% veal)

2 classic Italian sausages.

Canned peeled San Marzano DOP tomatoes (approximately 70 oz)

3 teaspoons of tomato concentrate

Salt and pepper to taste

soffrittoFinely dice the onion, carrots, and celery and mix them together.

In a very large pot gently heat some extra virgin olive oil and add the vegetables, let cook this soffritto for 5 min at medium heat or until the vegetables have softened.

ragu meatIn the meantime, open up the sausages and mix together with the ground meat in a very large bowl.

Add some olive oil, salt, pepper, minced parsley, thyme and rosemary to the meat. Mix well.

ragu meat cookingAdd the meat and the garlic cloves to the vegetables in the pot; increase the heat to HIGH and stir well. Once the water released by the meat evaporates, add ¾ of bottle of Chianti Classico. Keep the heat on HIGH to let the alcohol evaporate for approximately 7 minutes.

tomato cookingOnce the alcohol has evaporated, add the peeled tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of tomato concentrate and a cup of water. Adjust the salt level. Mix well and bring to a boil.

ragu near finishedLower the heat to LOW and cover. Let cook for 3 hours.

You can stir gently every 45 minutes. For the last 45 minutes of cooking, you can take the lid off and let your ragù evaporate a little bit to reach desired consistency.

Toss the pasta in a 5-quart pot filled with salted water. Once the pasta is cooked, put it in a large plate, cover with the ragu sauce and add some leaves of fresh basil. You can use long pasta like pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghetti, or you can use short pasta like paccheri, or rigatoni.

Tm6aWg0MS1vV5TNA2ZWPlEKRr26KMmBMNC-zKftjoLGKMGUlh5Purs3VC1HOE21H-tbtSg=s2048Then settle back and enjoy the warmth of friendship, home cooking, and Chianti Classico!

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Cornarea 2014 Roero Arneis

Uniting Italy’s North and its South with this delicious wine and a simple pasta dish

stephane pastaArneis, also called Nebbiolo Bianco, stands alongside Gavi di Gavi as one of Piedmont’s most highly regarded white wines. Arneis almost went extinct, and it was rescued only in the 1970s when the Cornarea estate started replanting a 35-acre hillside vineyard with the grape, assuring its revival in the region.

Recently, IWM got in the 2014 Roero Arneis from Cornarea, and I had to take a bottle home. Dry and crisp, this Roero Arneis bursts with blossom-like aromas complemented by flavors of fresh pear and stone fruits. This white is a great alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. This ’14 has really nice acidity that makes it a perfect to complement a wide range of foods, from white meats to seafood; today, I chose to pair it with a great southern Italian dish, pasta ai calamari, or pasta with calamari, a dish you can find if you make it down to Campania’s Amalfi Coast.

Unifying the Italian North and the South has been a political issue in politics for hundreds of years, but it works incredibly well in cooking! I am happy to share with you today a great food and wine pairing that will make your palate travel from the hills of Piedmont down to the Amalfi Coast, and given that Cornarea Roero Arneis is inder $27, you’ll want to enjoy it often.

This is my recipe for this delicious summer dish:

Carefully wash the calamari and separate the “legs” from the “tubes.” Cut the tubes in ¼ inch rings. Keep both parts in two separate bowls.

In a frying pan prepare the “soffritto” by gently frying 2 cloves of split garlic and one small dried red pepper in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Put the “legs” into the pan and increase the heat to sauté the legs until the legs are all curly and slightly grilled; then add the rings as well and stir.

Add half a glass of Cornarea Roero Arneis and let the alcohol evaporate—it should take a couple of minutes at high heat.

While the alcohol is evaporating, prepare the pasta by dropping it in a very large pot of salted water. Taste the water to check the lever of salt. I prefer to use “Paccheri” pasta (a smaller version of the cannelloni, typically Neapolitan), but large spaghetti or linguine are a great alternative.

Once the alcohol has evaporated, lower the heat of the pan and add a dozen hand-crushed mini-tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of salted capers. Rinse the capers carefully to get rid of the excess of salt. (It is important not to choose the capers in vinegar because the strong acidity is not what we are looking for in this recipe).

Cover and let cook for about 7-9 minutes at low heat, then take the lid off the pan and add a 6 to 12 pitted Gaeta olives; if you can’t find these wonderful southern Italian olives, you can replace them by some small kalamata olives. It is important to choose brown/purple olives in brine, not the very dark and dry, back olives that are too strong.

As capers and olives are already very salty it is not necessary to add any salt to the sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked al dente, strain the pasta and add it to the pan with your calamari sauce, mix well at medium heat to finish the last 30 sec of cooking. Add freshly cut Italian parsley before serving in large plates.

Expert Picks: Fontodi and Bartolo Mascarello

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

will expertAlmost everyday I hear, “Will, what should I get?” or “There are just so many wines, I get lost, what’s good?” If you’re new to Italian wine, it’s completely normal to feel a little lost; the strange language, Italy’s 20 regions, its 3,000 different grape varietals, and then your own questions over whether you should drink or cellar wines can make choosing a wine feel overwhelming. It’s a lot to know and we too are constantly learning more and more about new wines being released and new ways of perfecting wines.

In the end, there are only a few wines that can consistently hold their own every vintage, just a few that can bring quality to the table every time, and even fewer that keep their estate’s traditions and show their maker’s passion. These producers’ wines are the ones that I champion and the ones that I urge my clients use as the foundation for their collections. Today are two examples of IWM staples, and these wines are always, always amazing!

Fontodi 2000 Flaccianello $169.00

Toscana – Sangiovese

In 1981, Giovanni Manetti, a talented winemaker in Chianti, made a very risky decision when he decided to bottle a mono-varietal Sangiovese wine and called it Flaccianello. Like Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte, Flaccianello stood outside of the Chianti DOCG rules and regulations, but Giovanni was out to show just how impressive a pure Sangiovese wine could be. Over the years, Fontodi has revised Flaccianello’s vinification processes, and the quality of Flaccianello improved exponentially and, thanks to aging in barrique, the wine is smooth, round and rich—almost the perfect Super Tuscan. This wine is a real delight in the 2000 vintage, and it’s drinking right now. Only a few bottles remain in our cellar, if you are lucky enough to try it.

Bartolo Mascarello 2009 Barolo $129.99

Piemonte – Nebbiolo

Bartolo is the mecca of traditional Italian winemaking, and no producers have kept as firmly to traditional beliefs than Bartolo Mascarello did in his lifetime of winemaking. His daughter, Maria Teresa, has filled her father’s shoes quite nicely, and she is producing some of the best Barolo. She makes it, as her father did, in Slavonian oak casks—no barrique has ever or will it eve be used here—making for elegant, precise and beautiful wines meant to age a few decades. The advantage of a ripe vintage like 2009 is that it offers some approachability, which is a good thing especially for Mascarello because you normally can’t even look at them for 10 years. If you can resist a few more years and open this bottle towards the end of the decade, you’ll be blown away and will be glad to have saved a bit on the less popular vintages. Mascarello Barolos are all so great!

Inside IWM, August 3-6, 2015: Easy Summer Living

A look back at the week that was

10439508_10152644621759316_3393193485606291090_nThis week was all about enjoying easy living. Emery Long wrote on the beauties of the labels on Roberto Voerzio’s many bottlings, and how each symbolizes the wine held within. John Camacho Vidal wrote on the simple joy of a bottle of under $22 Frapatto. And our blog’s editor wrote about four of her very favorite hot weather wines, two red, two orange, all delicious.

Our experts went in pairs, two by two. Michael Adler picked a pair of Champagnes, one from a large marquee house, the other from a small producer. Francesco Vigorito picked a pair of 2004 Barolos from two very traditional producers. And David Gwo picked a pair of Grattamacco to show what makes this Super-Tuscan producer so great.

Cheers to you and your easy summer living. We hope you’re enjoying it with a glass of wine in your hand a person you care about.

keep looking »