The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Poggio di Sotto and…Poggio di Sotto!

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014“Genius” is one of the words that comes to mind when I think of Poggio di Sotto. Piero Palmucci was pretty much the mad scientist of Montalcino and the brain behind the estate, but keep in mind that he utilized the late, great Giulio Gambelli as his consulting winemaker. Palmucci recently sold the estate and Gambelli passed in 2012, forever changing the history of this estate—even though in recent releases current owner Claudio Tipa of Collemassari has shown that quality remains high. I chose two phenomenal vintages of classic Poggio di Sotto Brunello dating from before the changes, and these wines are pure genius.

Poggio di Sotto 2007 Brunello di Montalcino $169.00

Back in 2013 when I first starting offering this wine, it was one of the fastest-selling wines I have ever sold, and for good reasons. Number one, it’s made by Poggio di Sotto, and number two, it’s from the 2007 vintage, which is one of the finest benchmark vintages of Brunello. Aromatic, lush, seductive and opulent are just the beginning of this polished gem. Ready to drink right now, this ’07 Brunello will drink well for next 5-7 years, but it lacks the structure for the ten to twenty-year haul. Open this bottle now, and you will be a happy wine-lover.

Poggio Di Sotto 1995 Brunello Di Montalcino $299.00

Vintage Poggio di Sotto is extreme scarce, and good luck finding anything beyond the 2000 vintage with exceptional provenance; however, IWM has a few bottles of this ’95 tucked away for lucky wine lovers. If you’ve never experienced a mature Poggio di sotto, you are missing out on a thing of beauty, and these ’95s show you greatness.

Expert Picks: Domaine Ponsot and…Domaine Ponsot!

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014One of my favorite areas of Burgundy, Morey-St-Denis always hits the spot without completely breaking the bank. I believe that Morey-St-Denis suffers a bit of an identity crisis and thus loses out on the full respect and appreciation it deserves. Wedged between the famous Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and adored Chambolle Musigny to the south, Morey-St-Denis is a quarter the size of Gevrey and also the smallest viticulture village of the Côtes de Nuits, but it houses five grand cru vineyards and is rich with premier cru sites—not too shabby!

Today I reach for a few exquisite wines from the masterful Domaine Ponsot. This estate has been a leader in the region and a catalyst for innovation since the late 1800s. Today, under the watchful eye of Laurent Ponsot, the estate produces wines from 50+ year-old vines with miniscule yields and no new oak whatsoever. When asked about his philosophy Ponsot says, “We are lazy, we don’t interfere with nature. My aim is to express the vintage and the terroir through my wines, not to express myself. Some people say we are inconsistent. To me this is the greatest possible compliment.”

Ponsot’s wines are some of the most compelling and age-worthy in the region, even in vintages where nature has been less than kind. In great years I would say two decades is a minimum for his top wines and even his village and lieux-dits pack impressive power. Here are a few highlights from 2012 that I am quite excited about:

Domaine Ponsot 2012 Morey-St-Denis Cuvée des Grives $101.99

Offering an exquisitely balanced floral nose with dark berry fruit, earth and game on the palate, this lovely village offering shows impressive depth and complexity. Enjoyable now with room to age should you have the patience, this wine is perfect with roasted duck breast

Domaine Ponsot 2012 Morey-St-Denis 1er Cuvée Alouettes $246.00

This elegant premier cru offers impressive fruit character and structure with impeccable balance. This site offers layers of minerality in between laces of fruit and earth with a finish seems to go on forever. It’s one of the best values for quality of such caliber from Ponsot and a must-have for real Burgundy connoisseurs.


Expert Picks: François Gay and Fiorano

Two expert selections from Will Di Nunzio

will expertLast week, I had the pleasure of hosting one our longtime clients and his family for a dinner. After some bubbly and a little tour of the cellar, we sat down and enjoyed Chef Mike Marcelli’s amazing food—from his never-ending antipasti to the Waygu sirloin, it was all just an incredible meal. Of course, the wines were just glorious, and the two that stood out for me in particular were the François Gay Aloxe Corton 2013 and the Fiorano Sémillon N 42 1987. While very different, these two wines were exceptional in their own.

François Gay Aloxe-Corton 2013 $59.99

This little estate on the north face of the Côte de Beaune is run by François Gay, a man who seems to really care less about status and prestige. François makes great wine, and all he wants to do is make his wines the best he possibly can. Interestingly enough, he has no premier cru vineyards, although all of his vines grow in premier cru locations, meaning that his wines carry all the quality of this AOC level without the price. This Aloxe-Corton should be twice the price at least. Light, elegant, silky and a wine you can drink all night, this 2013 Aloxe-Corton is a magical little bottle of wine for any occasion.

Fiorano 1987 No. 42 Sémillon $149.00

The story of Fiorano is now well known, and this bottle is a cult wine that you would be hard pressed to get your hands on. Fortunately for everyone, Sergio Esposito, IWM’s founder, was able to get an incredible allocation many years ago, so our cellars are one of the guardians of this estate’s odd, astounding, and impossible wines. Why impossible? There are not many wines in the world—white wines that is—that show the way this 1987 does. That night, we opened an ‘88 and an ‘87 side by side. While the ‘88 showed great notes of nutmeg and almonds, some earth and port-like aromas, it was a little tired. The ’87, however, was brilliant, clear, bright and fresh. As we tasted this wine, we couldn’t believe what our heads were whispering to us. “This is a 1987?” we kept asking. It didn’t make sense; it was impossible. That is Fiorano at work—an unbelievable experience.

Expert Picks: Cupano and…Cupano!

Two expert selections from David Gwo

David Gwo 12.8.14We’ve been supporting Cupano, the rising star of Montalcino, for quite some time now and for good reasons: this estate’s organic wines are incredibly well made and they appeal to a variety of palates, from Italian wine aficionados to Italian wine newbies.

Cupano is most well known for its Brunello di Montalcino, but the estate also bottles a Rosso di Montalcino and a Super Tuscan, Sant’Antimo Ombrone. Both the Rosso and the Brunello are made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, the name for this specific clone of Sangiovese. The differences between the wines are that the Rosso derives from younger vines and is aged less extensively. Rossos are meant to be consumed earlier then Brunellos, and are made to enjoy while you age your Brunellos! In good vintages Rossos are always a deal: you get high quality wine at a fraction of what the Brunello would cost. Below is a set consisting of a Rosso and Brunello from Cupano in the 2008 vintage. Enjoy the Rosso now and keep holding the Brunello—if you can, that is!

Cupano 2008 Rosso di Montalcino (1.5L) $94.99

The 2008 Cupano Rosso is drinking exceptionally well right now, especially out of magnum! With softer tannins and less oak character, the Rosso demonstrates its delightful dark cherry, leather, and tobacco notes while being backed by zippy acidity. The perfect pizza or pasta wine, this bottle also a great weekend warrior. Magnums are always fun to open among good company and this Cupano Rosso is surely a crowd pleaser!

Cupano 2008 Brunello di Montalcino $109.00

​I’ve had the opportunity to taste many vintages of Cupano, and this ’08 bottling is lovely. The 2008 will be earlier drinking than vintages like 2004 or 2006, but it has all the characteristics one looks for in a modern-style Brunello. Dark fruit, dark flowers, spice, and oak are at the forefront of the palate, but if you give this bottle a few more years, everything will round into form nicely. Cupano is an incredibly consistent producer and there’s no doubt that the 2008 will be a pleasure to follow into the next decade.​

Expert Picks: Giacomo Conterno and Giuseppe Rinaldi

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014Does it get any better than 2004 Barolo? Some might argue, but 2004 is and will always be a legendary Barolo vintage, one that will go down in the Piedmont history books. Two of the finest Barolos produced in 2004 come from my two favorite producers, Giacomo Conterno and Giuseppe Rinaldi. If you are into classics Barolos, these two bottles should absolutely be in your collection.

Giacomo Conterno 2004 Barolo Cascina Francia $275.00

Rich, powerful, intensely perfumed and explosive, this stunning Barolo overtakes the senses and never ever lets go. Now at 11 years old, this wine is just starting to hit its stride and it will easily get better over the next decade or so. This Barolo is a hard one to beat given the quality of the vintage and the pedigree of the producer.

Giuseppe Rinaldi 2004 Barolo Brunate Le Coste $399.00

Veterinarian turned winemaker is the story behind Giuseppe Rinaldi. A contender for the most classic Barolos in production, Bepi frankly doesn’t care if you like his wines or not; he makes them for himself and his friends and family. Their profile is lean and mean with a backbone of strong tannins that allow them to age gracefully and effortlessly. The 2004 may the be the finest vintage produced of this Barolo, and they are in very high demand these days—there’s almost nothing to go around. We are lucky to be getting six bottles.

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