Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli
It’s spring and time for that ritual cleaning. I was helping my old client and now very good friend Bix clean out his cellar; basically, we were looking for wine he should be drinking. There was much to choose from—old Bordeaux, Barolos, Brunellos—you name it. But the one that jumped out at me was Montevertine’s Rosso 2003. I remember selling this to his many years ago. IWM doesn’t have anymore of the 2003 in stock, so I’m replacing it with the current 2010 Montevertine Rosso. On that same hunt in Bix’s cellar we thought it would be prudent to see how some of the big boys were drinking and we decided to keep it in the family–Le Pergole Torte 2008. Here’s to spring cleaning and finding forgotten treasures!
Montevertine Rosso 2010 $44.99
We both always enjoyed this wine but haven’t had this vintage in ages…we were rewarded—it still had plenty of fruit but the complexity and earthiness gave the wine an added dimension. It drank like old Brunello but with an elegance and grace that would make you think this wine was much, much more than that $30 bottle of Rosso that I sold to him all those years ago! The lesson learned is to keep a bottle or two of your simple table wines around—you may find that they are not so simple after all! IWM may be sold out of the 2003 that Bix and I enjoyed, but put some of these 2010 beauties in your cellar and forget about them for a few years. You’ll thank me.
We put it in a decanter and after two hours it started to blossom. Dark concentrated fruits with plenty of structure but with a fine elegance and balance that tells you that although it’s delicious now, this wine will be around evolving for another 15-20 years, no doubt! This tasting further illustrated how great the Sangiovese from Montevertine really is on all levels. Montevertine is truly one of the finest estates in Tuscany.
Two expert selections from Francesco Vigorito
Sangiovese is not only my favorite grape, but it’s also a grape with many faces. It can appear in lighter, palate-friendly and easy-going styles fit for everyday consumption or it can appear in very well structured, intense and age-worthy Sangiovese that can stand the test of time. Today, I am showing you favorite examples of both styles.
Everyone is raving about how incredible the 2010 Montalicino vintage is going to be for Brunello, so this Rosso will give you insight into the hype surrounding this blockbuster vintage. Intensely perfumed with classic notes of bright cherries, licorice and flowers, this Rosso also offers very fine and delicate tannins that yearn to be paired with meats, cheeses, or spaghetti alla pomodoro.
Now here is a Super Tuscan composed solely of Sangiovese. “Elegant” is always the word I use to describe the wines of Montevertine, no matter the vintage. 2008 Le Pegole Torte is a wine with a more feminine touch, but the underlying fine structure of this wine will make it evolve over the next ten years or so.
In praise of Sangiovese
Sangiovese is the greatest grape in the world. I realize that’s a pretty bold statement. In Italy alone there are thousands of different grape varieties, not to mention everything that’s growing in France, Spain, Germany, North and South America, the various lands down under, and everywhere else. Still, I stand behind my assertion. Sangiovese is a remarkably flexible grape. It can be made into precocious styles like Chianti (though one of my favorite wineslast year was a serious vintage Chianti) or more cellar-worthy wines like Brunello. Some of the best vintage wine I have had has been made with the Sangiovese grape, and this variety can hang with the best. Let’s take a look at some popular varieties and see why they aren’t as special as Sangiovese. Cab, Merlot, Pinot, Syrah, Grenache, Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Chenin Blanc can essentially be planted anywhere. From New Zealand to Cali, Germany, and South Africa, these varieties exist abundantly. Even though these grapes find their homeland in France, they can grow very well in many different countries–these grapes essentially act as blank canvases so that the winemaker can paint his or her picture. This is not the case for Sangiovese. Sangiovese, like many other indigenous Italian grape varieties, can really only be grown in their place of origin; for Sangiovese that would be Tuscany. Unlike Cab and Merlot and other popular grapes, Sangiovese is an extremely difficult grape to grow correctly. It grows prolifically, buds early, ripens late, and it possesses a thin skin, a light body, rough tannins and high acidity. This will normally spell disaster for most wines. Trying to manage all of these deficiencies is quite difficult—for the winemaker, it’s like juggling a kitten, a chainsaw, a raw egg and a bowling ball and not ending up with a mess.
Not only do you need an accomplished winemaker, you also need the right terroir. Somewhere with nice elevation, poor soils and ventilation combined with a variances between day and night temperatures is ideal. Elevation provides warm days and cool nights and higher climes will also mean more breeze. A good breeze both gives good air circulation and prevents mold and rot. Poor soils work to counteract the fecundity of Sangiovese, and they lend character to the fruit. Sunshine gives enough heat for the tannins never ripen and the sugars to develop, while the acidity remains high. It’s tough to find all of these points holding hands and working together—except in Tuscany. Now don’t get me wrong; you can find outcrops of Sangiovese in America, but they are few and far between. The climate isn’t the same (too hot) and the soils just don’t do this grape justice. You will never see Sangiovese grown in France, Germany, Spain and the rest, which is why it is so special. That and the fact that it makes an incredibly delicious wine that marries fruit with structure, age-worthiness with immediate satisfaction, and fun with finesse. Here are some Sangiovese varietal wines that I’m really enjoying right now: 2008 Fontodi Chianti Classico 2006 San Giusto a Rentanano Chianti Classico “Baroncole” 2004 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2006 Il Macchione Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
enjoying the unexpected
Every Tuesday, we’ll be highlighting a value-conscious wine from IWM’s recent releases. Uncomplicated, enjoyable, and good for everyday drinking, Today’s pick is Castello Fageto’s 2008 Rosso Piceno.
Last night, after spending a glorious holiday weekend relaxing under abundant sun and cloudless blue skies with friends and family, I felt a sudden change. The Brooklyn sky turned an odd shade of gray-green, streaked with lightning, and marble-sized hail began to pelt against my window. As the storm passed, I climbed out onto my fire escape to stand and watch a river of ice flowing down the streets of Park Slope. Weather phenomenon never ceases to amaze me.
I like to be surprised, to be caught off-guard, and to be reminded of nature’s ability to defy expectation. I like it in weather, and I like it in wine. One case in point is Castello Fageto’s 2008 Rosso Piceno that bursts from the bottle much like hail from the sky—or the sunshine that comes after. The 50/50 Sangiovese-Montepulciano blend is a bright red, firmly structured wine with soft but noticeable tannins and jaunty acidity. Best of all, at $16.70, it’s a bargain wine for everyday drinking that will surprise you, unless of course, you already expect the unexpected.
Le Marche’s Castello Fageto is nestled between the counties of Campofilone and Pedaso along the Adriatic Sea. Respect for the land is an essential part of the estate’s family values, and in the winery business, they are primary objectives. The use of friendly agricultural methods and alternative energy sources (the winery is self sufficient in its energy needs through solar power) guarantee the quality of the product as well as the preservation of the environment. Equal care and attention is paid to the work that follows both during harvest and again in the winery where the Di Ruscio family works together with winemaker Pierluigi Lorenzetti.
Value wines can be surprising—in a good way. Color me pleasantly surprised by this one.
Looking at why wine can make you tired
Here is question that I often get asked, being the only wine nerd in my family: I sometimes drink a glass of wine and get pretty sleepy afterward. What is it about wine that makes you tired?
This question, in some ways, stands for everything that wine represents, and its simplest response also answers all wine questions: wine affects everyone differently. It makes a lot of people tired, but many people also feel invigorated, those like me, for instance. Drinking a glass of wine, be it cheap jug wine or high-end juice, creates a personal experience for your mind, palate and body.
Of course, simple answers rarely give satisfaction, and thus we look to the more complex. Alcohol—all alcohol—is a depressant. Ethanol, the principal alcohol in wine, inhibits the activity of the central nervous system pure and simple. This in turn, makes you feel “down” and sleepy.
Some other people blame their wine-related sleepiness on sulfites. While sulfites are sometimes added to wine to help preserve it, they’re also added to cold cuts, hot dogs and other preserved meats. Sulfites in wine also occur naturally; they’re just there, a byproduct of fermenting grapes. Many people blame the sulfites in wine for a host of woes like headaches, allergies, hangovers and sleepiness. It may or may not be the sulfites that make you tired because, as I said before, everyone is different. Maybe hot dogs make you sleepy too.
There may be additional research that suggests wine’s role as a soporific. Recently, Italian scientists tested eight varieties of grapes for melatonin, the sleep hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in your brain. These scientists found large levels of this hormone, or a possible melatonin-like compound, in the skins of the grapes. Nebbiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese had the highest amounts. However, there is skepticism from other scientists that the compound found may not actually be melatonin. Clearly, more testing is in order.
If you find yourself getting tired because of wine, try to eat something before you drink as to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Or just drink near your bed. There are worse things than drinking a glass of wine and taking a nap.keep looking »