The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

What to Pour with Your Easter Ham

Balancing fruit and acidity is a challenge–here’s how to meet it

IMG_2225I love celebrating Easter. In addition to all of the religious ceremony, my family celebrates with a feast—a veritable cornucopia of dishes and dressings as far as the eye can see or the table can handle. At the center of it all, as with many families, sits a large, glistening, succulent ham. (A couple of years ago, the NY Times offered a helpful article on how to pick out a good ham.) It’s a tradition, and it makes me very, very happy.

But the eternal question is this: what wine do you pair with a ham? I am glad you asked. Here are a few ideas kicking around my head to bring home this weekend, and one wine immediately popped into my head. The 2014 Sartarelli Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi for under $18. I would be shocked if you had not already heard me sing the praises of the region of Le Marche and what its  doing with the Verdicchio grape. In my humble opinion, this remarkably refreshing yet detailed and crisp grape is poised to be the Next Big Thing in Italian Whites.

As for the red selection, you need a wine with bountiful fruit. Trying to combat the savory meat with a tannin-laden wine will end in your cursing the decisions you’ve made. Your bottle should be bright, vibrant and relatively devoid of mouth-puckering tannins. I have picked up a few bottles of the Domaine Faiveley Mercurey 2012 Clos des Myglands for just under $60. It’s dense and rich; juicy raspberries explode from the glass and match the festive mood of the occasion. Velvety tannins work in harmony with the dish to result in an altogether charming experience.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Easter. Enjoy the time you spend with your family!

P.S. I would like to leave you with a favorite poem of mine regarding the joys of pork.

ODE TO PORK

I wouldn’t be here
without you. Without you
I’d be umpteen
pounds lighter & a lot
less alive. You stuck
round my ribs even
when I treated you like a dog
dirty, I dare not eat.
I know you’re the blues
because loving you
may kill me—but still you
rock me down slow
as hamhocks on the stove.
Anyway you come
fried, cued, burnt
to within one inch
of your life I love. Babe,
I revere your every
nickname—bacon, chitlin
craklin, sin.
Some call you murder,
shame’s stepsister—
then dress you up
& declare you white
& healthy, but you always
come back, sauced, to me.
Adam himself gave up
a rib to see yours
piled pink beside him.
Your heaven is the only one
worth wanting—
you keep me all night
cursing your four—
letter name, the next
begging for you again.

—from Dear Darkness

Kevin Young

Distinguished Poet and National Book Award Finalist

Expert Picks: Château de la Maltroye and Bachey-Legros

Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito

Francesco 2014It’s quite difficult to find exceptional values in Burgundy, so whenever I come across some spectacular Burgundy bottles in the under $40 range, I get pretty excited. Château de la Maltroye and Bachey-Legros both make phenomenal Burgundies, and they somehow manage to keep the price down, while keeping the quality very high. Maltroye’s Bourgogne Rouge has always been one of my very favorites and you simply can’t beat a $35 Chassagne-Montrachet from Bachey-Legros. Don’t hesitate to snag these value Burgundy bottles!

Château de la Maltroye 2013 Bourgogne Rouge $29.99

This wine is pretty, delicate, floral, and elegant. Château de la Maltroye makes Pinot Noir the way it’s supposed to be, and to get this Bourgogne Rouge for less than $30 is a steal. It drinks way above its price point; pound for pound, it’s one of the best pours out there!

Bachey-Legros 2013 Chassagne-Montrachet Plantes Momiéres $34.99

Exclusive to IWM, Bachey-Legros has taken us by storm. It’s simply unheard of to get a high quality Chassagne-Montrachet with character for less than $35. This one derives from a single plot of land, Plantes Momiéres, adding even more distinction and character to this wine from a rarely heard of producer. This ’13 Chassagne-Montrachet is a definite bargain that’s easy on the wallet and delicious on the palate!

Expert Picks: Arnoux-Lachaux and…Arnoux-Lachaux!

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014As 2014 Burgundy rests at our doorstep, I recall some favorites from the barrel tasting a few weeks back featuring some of Burgundy’s biggest and brightest stars. Some of the standouts for me were the gems from Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne-Romanée. Covering 15 appellations in the region, this special estate sports a long history with five generations of Arnoux have been making wine in the Côte de Nuits. The family’s approach is to keep things the way nature intended and using organic and biodynamic practices. The wines are concentrated, polished and highly sought-after!

I’m focusing on the 2012 vintage while I wait for the 2014s to be bottled. 2012 was a real page-turner vintage. The first half of the year could not have been worse, but in the end, quality-wise, the resulting wines turned out really excellent! Nuits-St-Georges and neighboring areas fared the best, and these two offerings are sensational. The only bad news is that the given challenges among the vines yielded a tiny crop, so not much to go around here.

Arnoux-Lachaux 2012 Chambolle-Musigny $79.99

Chambolle-Musigny is responsible for some of the most elegant and sexy Pinots from the region, and this 2012 offers complexity and rich red fruit character while showing off silky tannins and a finish that does not let you forget the seductive notes and nuances. Really gorgeous overall, and from a producer like Lachaux, every Burgundy lover needs a bottle or twelve.

Arnoux-Lachaux 2012 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Procès 1er Cru $104.99

Slightly more mysterious than the Chambolle, this single-site Nuits-Saint-Georges gives you a bit of everything: red fruit, savory notes of earth and game with more power and strength leading to a bold finish. Great concentration and complexity here with superb balance—this 2012 is a fantastic showing from Arnoux-Lachaux.

Expert Picks: Domaine Lamarche and…Domaine Lamarche!

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiA couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little about Italian wine royalty and the house of Antinori. Today I wanted to take a peek at one of the revered estates of Burgundy and a family that traces its roots in the region back to the 1760’s. More than five generations later, the estate was purchased by François Lamarche, and since 1986 we have seen vintage after vintage of remarkable wines. François passed in 2013, and the property is now in the talented hands of his daughter Nicole and niece Nathalie. Located in the village of Vosne-Romanée, Lamarche maintains a handsome holding of 22 acres of vineyards. This is a remarkable amount of land when you consider the how properties and plots have been divided over the years, especially in vineyards as acclaimed as those in Vosne. Below are two ways to introduce yourself to both the simplicity and the majesty of Domaine Lamarche.

Domaine Lamarche 2011 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits $37.99

When many people think of the first wine or introductory wine of a property, they usually do not expect something this good. To start, the average age of the vine is 30 years old. Most properties I know around the world would be using vines aged 5-10 years in their first wines, not ones of this maturity. Cool and expressive fruit splashes across the palate and the mid-weight structure is both attractive and welcoming. This is the perfect wine to take out with friends while indulging in some meats and cheeses. Drink now until 2020.

Domaine Lamarche 2012 La Grande Rue Grand Cru $109.99

La Grande Rue is a 4-acre monopole owned by the Lamarche family—it’s an almost unheard of amount of property, especially when you consider that it abuts the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard. This wine is among the elite Pinot Noirs in the world, and it manages to display opulence and elegance, structure and seduction. To drink it now would only offer you the tiniest glimpse into the magic, but wait at least five years and you’ll have a memory making wine on your hands. Drink 2017 to 2030.

Expert Picks: Anne & Sébastien Bidault and…Anne & Sébastien Bidault!

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15I’ve long considered it impossible to find red Burgundies that inspire me with their depth, finesse and complexity for less than $60, but after tasting through the 2013 lineup from Anne & Sébastien Bidault, I fully admit that I was wrong. Never before have I found a group of village-level wines that so clearly and accurately articulate their respective terroirs.

Today I want to focus on two exceptional wines from this tiny, family-run estate. A husband-and-wife team, Anne and Sébastien Bidault make their wines in super low quantities (just 5,800 total bottles per vintage), which keeps both quality and demand sky high. They source all of their phenomenal Pinot Noirs from vines that are at least 50 years old, and production levels are miniscule; between its four crus, the estate produces fewer than 500 cases in total! These are serious wines that merit serious consideration, and they offer near-unparalleled value.

Anne & Sébastien Bidault 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes $55.99

Deriving from vines averaging nearly 85 years of age, this is one seriously delicious Gevrey-Chambertin! Loaded with aromas of red and black fruits, minerals, earth and sauvage, the palate offers ample acidity and a firm tannic structure that belies its silky, finessed mouth-feel; this is one of those rare and special village-level wines that drinks like a premier cru (a holy grail for value-conscious Burgheads on a budget). While it is approachable now, it will be at its best in 5-7 years.

Anne & Sébastien Bidault 2013 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes $199.00

One of four grand cru appellations located in the commune of Morey-St-Denis in the far north of Burgundy, Clos de la Roche is home to some of the region’s most thrilling and special wines. This old-vine offering is downright impressive, displaying all the characteristic depth and nuances that we know and love in the wines of Morey-St-Denis, while achieving a level of aromatic complexity rarely seen in such a young Pinot Noir. Blackberries, cherries, minerals, wildflowers and soft warming spices all mingle on the nose, and its finish persists for nearly a minute. I can only imagine how amazing this wine will be in ten years!

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