The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

What Do Millennials Want? A Wine with a Story

Finding meaning in a bottle of Movia Merlot

Findings by the Wine Market Council, graph from  WinesandVines.com

Findings by the Wine Market Council, graph from WinesandVines.com

Being a kid in the 90’s was awesome. My days were typically spent rolling around town on my Razor Scooter, sipping on Capri Sun, listening to Now! Volume 7, and generally being boss in every imaginable way. But alas – one must grow up and enter the real world. As time passes and my generation, known as “Millennials,” enters adulthood, we bring with us a fresh set of tastes, preferences and values. And while I’m typically wary of such all-encompassing generational monikers, it is impossible to negate the effects that Millennials have had on the world of wine.

Now, at the ripe age of 24, I’ve been lucky enough to taste a lot of amazing wines at IWM. My unique position does not make me an outlier, however; nationwide, young people are encompassing an increasingly broader share of the consumer market. Twenty-somethings in 2014 drink a lot more wine than twenty-somethings in 1994. Wine bars are popping up all over the city.

Most importantly, the Millennial wine market is less concerned with “old-guard” standbys such as traditional rating systems. Younger wine drinkers value an intriguing story over a number. Quoted in a recent Fox Business piece on Millennial wine drinkers, Melissa Saunders of Communal Brands says, “Historically, wine has been marketed to older generations and came with a huge pretense. But this generation is blowing all of that out of the water. They don’t care about the pretentiousness of a wine, they want something that is authentic and speaks to them.” I know my own experience attests to the truth of Saunders’ assertion.

One of my favorite wines comes from Movia in Brda, the land that straddles the border of Italy and Slovenia). Centuries old, the Movia estate is rare in that it combines old-world traditionalism with new-world sensibilities. Ales Kristancic, owner of Movia produces all of his wines biodynamically, meaning that not only does he grow the grapes and make the wine without intervention, he uses the movements of the moon and the stars to guide his practices. You might be inclined to raise an eyebrow at the cosmological aspects of Kristancic’s winemaking process–that is, of course, until you actually taste his wine. I recently had the pleasure of tasting the Movia Merlot 2004, which I found lively while remaining smooth and gentle. The 2004 Merlot from Movia offers a delightful expression of terroir that is drinking beautifully today.

Maybe you’re a Millenial, in which case I suggest you open a bottle of this biodynamic beauty for your friends. And maybe you’re a Gen-X or Baby Boomer, in which case I suggest the same. A great wine is a great wine, and as long as you’re over 21, you’re adult enough to enjoy it.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Movia Vila Marija 2008 Merlot

A delicious, silky, biodynamic Merlot for under $25

RD5908-2Italian grown Merlot has made a name for itself as a part of the Super-Tuscan movement, especially when part of a blend with other international varietals or indigenous Italian grapes. Because of this blending trend, I often find myself hard pressed to find a great 100 Merlot coming out of Italy—at least one that I can enjoy regularly, leaving Masseto, Messorio and Redigaffi out of the picture.

The creativity of Aleš Kristančič, the man behind the Movia winery in Brda, Slovenia (which straddles the border with Fruili, Italy), takes front stage in his 2008 Merlot from Vila Marija. Aleš makes all of his wines in a biodynamic method, by the rhythms of the moon and without any added yeasts, chemicals, pesticides, fining or filtration. In making his Vila Marija Merlot, which derives from grapes grown on younger vines to preserves the delicacy of the grape, Aleš allows the cap of grape skins to fall to the bottom of the tank, which naturally filters the wine.  The wine is then aged in French barrique for 18 months and goes through biological deacidification, processes that give the final product body and wonderful structure while still retaining that silky texture and soft tannin.

I have been a long time fan of biodynamic wine production, a strategy of agriculture that can be described as “organics plus.” When it comes to Movia wines, this growing method gives the wine drinker a direct link to the exact spot where the grapes were grown, the soil conditions and climate. It’s also is a testament to Aleš’s innovative winemaking techniques and the care and attention he gives to all that he does. Biodynamic producers must adhere to an organic production for a number of years before they can become certified biodynamic, meaning that Movia has been committed to an all-natural approach for some time now. I believe that Aleš personifies what biodynamic viticulture is capable of.

What’s special about Movia’s 2008 Vila Marija Merlot—beyond the growing and vinification methods—is that in the final product you get all the juicy, soft elegance of the Merlot grape in the glass. What I love most about this wine are the subtle tannins; they’re certainly present but they only whisper so as not to take away from the floral nose, or the red berry flavors and earthiness you get on the palate. Just under $25 a bottle, this makes for a perfect glass of wine when you are serving with h’ors d’oeuvres or a light lunch. If you want a departure from those full, big, tannin-rich reds of the winter season, I would definitely suggest you pick up a bottle.

Expert Picks: Movia Vila Marija and Castello dei Rampolla

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

Will_newThe Underdog – a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest. Astonishingly enough, there are many underdogs in the Italian wine world, and today, I wanted to point out two incredible wines that many pass up simply because they don’t know them. Even if you’ve enjoyed these wines before, they’re worth a second look. Don’t sleep on the underdogs, because they’re the ones that will always surprise you.

Movia Merlot Vila Marija 2008 $24.00

Slovenia – Merlot

You probably already know this Slovenian estate is one of the foremost authorities on biodynamic production in Italy—it’s easily tied for first place with the likes of Gravner and Radikon. Ales Kristancic spearheads this operation, making wines in the most natural and terroir-driven way possible, just as his ancestors did beginning in 1820. You may have had his Movia Merlot, deriving from vines anywhere between forty and eighty years old, but the Vila Marija is where it all begins. These vines are less than twenty years old and offer a fruit-driven and lively bottle for the every day. A beautiful, affordable wine that not many know of and not many have in their home. Highly recommended!

Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco 2004 $74.99

Toscana – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Sangiovese

There have been a few offers recently on the wines of Castello dei Rampolla, another biodynamic producer you’ve probably seen but may not know much about. Since the estate’s inception in the 1960’s, it has stayed behind the scenes, not having the same marketing power as Sassicaia and Ornelliaia, and so not getting the same attention. This little wine is no slouch. though. Located in Panzano in Chianti, Castello dei Rampolla makes its Sammarco blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot and Sangiovese. It should be considered an equal to the great Sassicaia and Ornellaia as the artist behind it is the same legend in Italy that has made those great producers—Giacomo Tachis. Full-bodied, well balanced, gorgeous and with another ten years on it easily, the 2004 Sammarco is a delight to the Tuscan wine-lover. When you have the chance buy a wine worth collecting, one that follows the same principals as the most collectible Tuscan wines in the world, and for half their price, wouldn’t you buy it?

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Movia 2008 Pinot Grigio

An all-weather, high quality biodynamic $30 Pinot Grigio

WH1593-2Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris everywhere outside of Italy) is one of the most well known white wine grape varietals here in the States. This recognition comes from the work of certain producers who have become staples in the U.S. market for this varietal. Unfortunately, as a result of the popularity of this white, there are tons of mass produced mediocre Pinots out there. Thankfully in the world of wine there are always exceptions, and there are a few producers who focus on quality through careful plot selection, grape harvest, yield limitation, and production methodology. These individuals create wines of great character that are incredible examples of Italian Pinot Grigio.

Many people are under the impression that Italy stands as a benchmark for Pinot Gris. Truthfully, in most instances, I would personally much rather have an Alsatian or even an Oregon Pinot Gris. In my opinion, wines from these regions have much more going on for them in terms of complexity and expressiveness. That being said, one of the producers that we love here at IWM is Ales Kristancic of Movia. The Movia estate sits in Brda, straddling the border of Slovenia and Friuli. Brda is one of those innovative regions where winemakers are constantly experimenting with winemaking techniques, especially with the white wines the region is famous for. Movia wines are 100% biodynamic and they make a fantastic mono-varietal Pinot Grigio, as well as a Chardonnay, a white blend labeled Veliko Bianco, some reds, and sparkling wines as well.

Even though it’s wintertime and freezing here in NYC, you can enjoy a good white year round (hopefully indoors and in the warmth) with good food, and Movia Pinot Grigio is one of those whites. On the nose this 2008 wine possesses classic aromas of pear, melon, and a unique white flower/chamomile tea-like note that I was surprised to find. The fruit flavors follow through on the palate with a medium to full body and a nice, round mouth-feel. This wine would be in great company with a nice piece of fish or pasta in oil or a light sauce; it’s even lush enough to go with grilled chicken over a salad.

In comparison to other available Pinot Grigios, this Movia bottling stands out as what an Italian Pinot Grigio can and should be. If you’re going to spend over $20, do yourself a favor and consider picking up this bottle. It’s a delightful antidote to the common Pinot Grigio.

Expert Picks: Movia and Radikon

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco_1Today I am in the mood to talk about funky wines. When I say “funky,” I mean something that breaks from the normal paradigm of winemaking, something that doesn’t hew close to the expected, and something that has a little bit of wildness to it. As I get further along into my wine-drinking career these are the types of wines that do it for me.  As delicious as they are on the palate, they are even more a treat for the mind! I’ve picked a pair of wines from two biodynamic producers, Movia and Radikon, to help share my love of funk.

Movia Lunar Chardonnay 2008 $42.50

If you are looking for a cookie-cutter Chardonnay, step away now. The 2008 Lunar is one of the most unusual looking Chards in the business, and at first glance, it looks like sandy water. It’s murky and cloudy but, boy, is it packed full of flavor. The eight-month skin maceration in custom oak barrels gives this Chardonnay some real character. Movia doesn’t even press the grapes, there is no added nonsense, and finally, the wine is gravity racked. This is a wine for a true wine guy or gal.

Radikon Merlot 2000 $199.00

Once again, this wine gives a usual grape but a very uncharacteristic profile. Radikon is another one of these out-of-the-box winemakers, and this Merlot taste like no other Merlot you have ever tasted before. Radishes, beets, mushrooms are all at the forefront. It displays many tertiary characteristics that let you know that this wine is ready to be drunk.  Soft tannins frame the long savory finish.

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