The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Tuesday Wine: Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico

A lively, vivacious under $18 Italian white!

WH1883-2TFinally, some consistent white wine weather (or just spring weather for the rest of us). As the mercury rises in New York, it means only one thing: it’s the perfect time for a lively, vivacious white. I decided to enjoy my weekend with Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico.

This wine was born in a region called Castelli di Jesi, arguably the best region for Italy’s Verdicchio grape. Situated around 1,000 feet above sea level where nothing blocks the cool sea breezes coming off the coast of Ancona,  Sartarelli’s vineyards impart the estate’s wines with a rich minerality. This mineral core balances out the wines’ fruitiness and adds substantive structure. Despite the seemingly ideal landscape for Verdicchio,  the talents of winemaker Alberto Mazzoni make Sartarelli wines something special. Dedicating Sartarelli entirely to Verdicchio, Mazzoni uses his experience with the ancient grape to create wines with a silky texture.

Like most of Sartarelli’s wines, this Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico is an easy starter wine and a real crowd-pleaser. And did I mention that this wine is under $18? Yes, this white is probably one of the best value wines we offer at IWM. I shared this with my friends and heard nothing but excellent reviews as we drank it with linguine and shellfish. Although it has powerful fruity aromatics, this Verdicchio is very well balanced and goes well with almost any food as its flavor will not overpower any dish. However, I will say we particularly enjoyed it with seafood. Its minerality and almost almondy finish just seemed to lend itself perfectly to mussels, clams, and linguine. I full-heartedly recommend keeping a few bottles (or cases) of this on-hand for the warm weather ahead.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Sartarelli 2013 Verdicchio Tralivio

A $22 white that makes converts out of red wine lovers

WH1822-2When the sun is out and the sky is blue, there’s nothing like a good white wine. You hear a lot of wine drinkers say, “I’m just more of a red person. With all deference to these people, I think they haven’t been properly introduced to a great white wine. I decided to put this theory to the test this past weekend, using my roommates, avowed red wine lovers, as the test subjects. I went with the Sartarelli 2013 Verdicchio Tralivio, an excellent starter wine, and the result was just what I was looking for.

Sartarelli began its career selling its grape production every year; however, in 1972 the property starting making its own wine. Picking fruit only from the oldest vines and selecting the finest grapes in its vineyards, Sartarelli produces a unique, rustic, and full-bodied wine. Verdicchio holds a reputation as being one of Italy’s finest white grapes, lending its floral and fruity character to many beloved Italian white wines. However well known, Verdicchio reaches great heights with the talents of Sartarelli’s winemaker Alberto Mazzoni. Sartarelli grows only Verdicchio, and the estate consistently crafts excellent quality wines. By sticking to traditional cultivation methods, meticulously searching for the best low-yield grapes, and perfecting its aging protocol, Sartarelli creates an intense and complex Verdicchio that most producers can only dream about.

This Verdicchio Tralivio was a terrific starter wine, especially given the $22 price tag. As I had anticipated, the expressions on my red-wine-loving roommates’ faces changed as they were hit with notes of lemon and pineapple followed by a wave of flowers, all followed by a surprising late hint of smokiness. As it crossed the palate, this wine revealed an excellent feel and consistency, likely due to the meticulous aging process put forth by these masters of Verdicchio.  This Sartarelli Verdicchio is very food-friendly, particularly with white meat and greens, and, more importantly, its easy drinkability made white wine fans out of my red-wine friends.

Expert Picks: Billecart-Salmon and Domaine Roucas Toumba

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014When you live in the north, the longest season is not winter; it’s the bridge between winter and spring. Now that we have finally reached the finish line, what better way to celebrate than breaking out the rosé! And when I say rosé, I’m talking about serious wine.

Gone are the days when pink wine was dismissed. Sure, there are some pretty terrible examples available at the local supermarket, but I prefer to focus on the rosé wines that are more than just fruity and fun—they’re complex and cerebral, and they trigger the senses. Today I am highlighting two very different rosé expressions, one bright with bubbles from a classical Champagne producer in France, Billecart-Salmont, and another dramatic and delicious expression from Roucas Toumba in the Rhône Valley.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé $89.99

A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier, this pinky-salmon rosé offers vibrant strawberry and orange zest aromas with hints of rose, white tea and chalky minerals. On the palate, this bubbly is refreshingly tangy with bright red fruit character, impressive clarity and lingering stony finish. In my opinion, there is no wrong occasion for bubbly rosé!

Domaine Roucas Toumba 2014 Vacqueyras Rosé $27.99

Yes, this is AOC Vacqueyras! Saigné Grenache; Syrah in demi-muid; saigné Mourvèdre; Grenache and whites direct press, this wine is a vivid orange-pink. Lively red berry and citrus fruit aromas are complemented by a suave floral note and a hint of dusty minerals. This wine offers juicy raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that open up with air, picking up a touch of succulent herbs. Superbly concentrated, this is one of the biggest and most complex rosés you will ever taste. It’s a serious rosé that you can enjoy all by itself or with a variety of fuller flavored summer dishes.

How to Keep Wine Cool During Your Summertime Fun

Keep your wines–and yourself–cool as the weather heats up!

10439508_10152644621759316_3393193485606291090_nSummer is swiftly approaching and it stirs a mix of emotions. I am most excited about longer sunny days, beautiful flowers, the cool shade of a new leaves, and dining outside with friends over a slew of national holidays. However, after the cold winter and brisk spring, I haven’t forgotten about the humidity, the heat, the traffic, and the hot smells of the earth thawing out. One thing for is sure: I’ll be diving head first into the season in style.

When I’m packing for a picnic, I usually leave the $100 a bottle wine behind, opting for bottles that I can chill very cold, letting them warm on my way to the event. For my “picnic pounder” I look for a wine that’s light, refreshing, effortless, bright, and cold—even bordering arctic. Something like Adam 2013 Pinot Grigio fits the bill. Under $12, this wine has all of the flavors I desire, and it also has a screw top in the off chance that a corkscrew didn’t make it in the bag

When you head out for a picnic, often glassware falls by the wayside. It would have to be a serious engagement to convince me to bring my set of Movia Crystal glassware into Central Park for a soirée. It’s all about having the right tool for the right job. I would serve my picnic wine in small, small portions in plastic cups to ensure that the beverage stays at the proper temperature in the bottle and to ensure that the sun doesn’t heat the wine in your cup. Smaller portions consumed quickly keep you from picking up won’t a plastic flavor from the cup.

When gearing up for a summer adventure, it’s always important to keep in mind the conditions of your journey along the way. On a short trip, a hot car traveling a few short hours can create a microclimate similar to a greenhouse—especially in your trunk—and unpredictable traffic can make your destination time unknown. Now start fretting about the delicious and delicate wine sitting in your trunk.

IWM’s wine cellars sit at a constant cool dark 56 degrees Fahrenheit, 13 degrees Celsius and 60% humidity, the ideal cellar temperature. This is a stark temperature difference to the projected typical summer high temperatures of 101 degrees, before factoring in the radiating heat from the asphalt, the reflection of a dark leather interior, and the fact that your companions want the sunroof open, windows down, AC blasting.

Don’t worry, I have come prepared with a few ideas on how to keep your wine secured like a pro. Serious enthusiasts can invest in a small 12-bottle electric wine cooler and an a/c converter for the vehicle; plug these in and let your worries fly out of your sunroof. If that’s not practical, I would suggest a small cooler bag that has been slightly chilled in advance. Wrap a minimal amount of cool ice packs—fewer ice packs than wine—in a small towel to encourage a cool temperature while not allowing the packs to have any direct contact of coolness of the ice packs. This method should be checked every few hours as it might take a few tries to get the size of ice packs dialed in as to make sure the bag and wine is not too cold or too warm.

To ensure that for whatever occasion you are celebrating or whatever color or type of wine you are enjoying, have a plan, stick to it, and be prepared to use a cooler bag. It’s all about preparation when your summer fun includes wine—and, really, that’s almost always.

Inside IWM, April 27-30, 2015: People who Drink Wine with People

A look back at the week that was

IMG_2282We began the week with a blog post of Italy travel tips, and we closed with an Italian who traveled to us–Nicola Chionetti, heir apparent at the Quinto Chionetti estate in Piemonte. Matt Di Nunzio sat down with Nicola and drank a bunch of his soon-to-be-released stellar Dolcettos. In between, Emery Long was transported to Sicilia by a bottle of Agricola Punica Montessu (it’s under $30 and delicious). And David Gwo gave four hot wines to cool down your summertime–and each is super yummy and very affordable.

Our Experts were stoked to share their expertise and experiences this week. Will Di Nunzio offered up the two favorite Antinori wines from our recent event with Allegra Antinori (spoiler alert: they’re not what you’d expect). Robin Kelley O’Connor selected two of his favorite Burgundies from two of his favorite Burgundy makers, Maison Louis Jadot and Bouchard Père & Fils. Francesco Vigorito focused on one wine from one producer, choosing two vintages of Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis. And like Francesco, John Camacho Vidal couldn’t help but give Barolo some love, opting for bottles from Massolino and Domenico Clerico.

Cheers to you and the people with whom you enjoy your wine. They are indeed the luckiest people.

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