The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To Wine Tuesday: Collemattoni 2013 Rosso di Montalcino

A delicious, ripe, harmonious Rosso that’s under $25

2013-ROSSO-DI-MONTALCINO-Collemattoni.240x700.13301Rosso di Montalcino is often called a “baby” Brunello, but that doesn’t do justice to the wine, which is among the best Sangiovese wines made in Tuscany. As winter temperatures finally arrive, and you are looking for a rich and rustic wine to pair with your warm Lasagna, Ragu, or grilled meat—without breaking the bank. Priced at just $25 a bottle, Collemattoni 2013 Rosso di Montalcino would be one of my top picks!

The Collemattoni estate is situated on the hill of the south side of the Montalcino, near the “medieval suburb” Sant’Angelo in Colle. The estate is run by Marcello Bucci, whose family has been in Montalcino since 1798. The Bucci use protocol that sits halfway between traditional and modern winemaking, and they use a light touch of technology to make wines that show their passion for the grapes and their terroir. The Bucci family cultivates the land as their ancestors did, producing wine and olive oil (also honey, but just for the passion, not for sale). The estate received the official organic certification in 2012.

This wonderful 2013 Rosso from Collemattoni is dense, rich and suave, with creamy flavors of very ripe red and black fruits, pepper and sweet spices that are given shape and lift by a bright, harmonious acidity. It finishes with very fine tannins and outstanding persistence. I was very impressed the first time I had it, especially for the price! Very concentrated, sappy and rich, this wine offers a rare blend of power and elegance for a Rosso di Montalcino—it’s definitely not a baby! Winter is coming, and if you want my recipe for ragu, please have a look at my previous post where I give my own personal favorite. It’ll warm you through the cold winter nights.

Expert Picks: The Donnas and Giacomo Conterno

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Nebbiolo can vary greatly depending on where it grows and how it’s made. However variable, there is one constant: when placed in capable hands, it is always delicious. I’ve chosen two of my favorite Nebbiolo bottlings, one is an entry-level gem and the other one is of the most universally beloved and collected Italian wines.

Donnas ‘11 Valle d’Aosta Rosso comes from the bilingual French-Italian region of Vallee d’Aosta, way up north above Piemonte in the Alps, where the local name for Nebbiolo is Picotendro. This rugged, high-altitude region requires that vines grow on precarious terraces that have been cut into the granite and quartz soils of the mountainside. This dramatic landscape yields incredibly interesting wines that will surprise you with their outstanding quality-to-price ratio. At just $25, this wine really over-delivers.

In contrast to Donnas’ everyday wine stands 2009 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia, presented in magnum. Giacomo Conterno rests at the apex of Barolo production; the estate crafts some of the world’s very best and most age-worthy wines using only the most traditional methods, and it is dearly beloved by Italian wine aficionados everywhere. When it comes to collector Barolo intended for long-term aging, Giacomo Conterno is the alpha and omega.

Donnas 2011 Vallee d’Aosta Rosso $24.99

Dark and powerful but not dense or weighty, the ‘11 Donnas Valle d’Aosta Rosso offers a gorgeous nose of black fruit, minerals, roses and wood, all echoed on its medium-bodied, chewy palate. Velvety tannins grip the corners of your mouth before being softened by a pleasant and refreshing acidity. This is a wine made for immediate consumption and it greatly rewards its drinker. Pair it with just about anything—antipasti, cured meats and cheeses, pasta dishes, or roast game.

Giacomo Conterno 2009 Barolo Cascina Francia 1.5L $499.00

Serious wine-lovers know that it doesn’t get any better than a big bottle of Giacomo Conterno Barolo. This ‘09 Barolo Cascina Francia needs some time in the cellar in order to unleash its full potential, but it will continue to dazzle for another twenty to thirty years. Deeply complex, ethereal aromas of earth, truffle, rose petals, spice, dark berries and minerals wrap around this wine’s dense, tannic structure; it is an incredibly impressive wine, one that could only come from the iconic Giacomo Conterno estate. Serve it with anything involving truffles, and let yourself be carried away to flavor heaven!

Expert Picks: Domaine Barat and Christian Moreau

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Chablis is one of my favorite appellations for white Burgundy because of its zippy crispness, ultra-refreshing acidity, and beguiling complexity. In addition to being food-friendly, it’s also often an incredible value, in part because of the way Chablis was marketed in the States for so many years. Those of you who enjoy a cleaner style of Chardonnay that’s less influenced by oak and more focused on minerality and bright citrus notes need to revisit Chablis. You’ll likely fall in love, as I have.

The two Chablis wines I’ve chosen differ greatly in many ways, yet while these two producers have very different artistic intentions, they both do a fantastic job. Along with a small selection of premier cru bottlings, Domaine Barat makes an exceptional entry-level AOC Chablis that’s incredibly affordable and consistently high quality. Domaine Christian Moreau, on the other hand, is one of my top three favorite makers of white Burgundies, and that’s not an exaggeration. Moreau’s wines are delicate yet powerful; mind-bendingly complex and delicious, Moreau’s wines impress me with their precise and artful representations of their respective terroirs. I cannot recommend Christian Moreau’s wines highly enough to fans of serious white Burgundy!

Domaine Barat 2013 Chablis $22.99

Clean, bright and very crisp, Domaine Barat’s ‘13 Chablis is an outstanding white Burgundy that will win you over with its incredible depth and complexity. Mid-weight and quite aromatic, it’s perfect complement for your holiday table, but it has enough stuffing to be the kind of white that you’ll want to drink year-round. Flavors of lemon and tart green apple mingle with steely mineral notes and a pleasant, refreshing acidity that keeps your mouth watering long after your glass is empty. Look no further for your go-to everyday white Burg!

C. Moreau 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Clos des Hospices Les Clos $119.99

Deriving from a walled vineyard plot at the bottom of the hill sitting close to the village of Chablis, Christian Moreau’s Chablis ‘12 Clos des Hospices is a powerful, muscular Chardonnay that will benefit immensely from another five or more years in the cellar. Clos des Hospices sees time in oak, but this is not an oaky wine in any way—the oak is there to provide structure, depth and complexity, playing a very minor role in the wine’s flavor profile. This is an insanely complex and delicious Chardonnay and one that easily holds its weight against the great masters in Puligny, Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. The domaine is currently transitioning between generations of the Moreau family, with father Christian passing the torch to his son Fabien, who has already demonstrated his unique ability to make some of the world’s very best Chardonnay in Chablis.

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Castello di Selvole 2012 Chianti Classico  

A tasty under $25 Sangiovese Chianti Classico that’s anything but ordinary!

RD9047-2When you think about Tuscany, you probably think of Chianti, one of the most famous wines in the world. The beautiful Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico 2012 is not your ordinary Chianti. A historic producer whose roots stretch back to 1070, Castello di Selvole embodies the role that Chianti Classico has had in shaping Tuscan identity. This Chianti Classico, which is among my personal favorites, is crafted in a mix of traditional and international protocol; this wine ages in barrique before bottling, where it rests for three months before release. It’s a delicious, evocative Chianti Classico that makes food sing.

As fall is unfolding with its beautiful light and colors, I wanted to make a comforting dish that would be ideal for the crisp weather. The ragù Toscano that I chose to cook is actually the first Italian recipe I learned how to prepare. When I first moved to Italy, one of my good friends named Giovanni was an apprentice chef and shared with me this recipe he originally got from his Tuscan grandmother.

I highly recommend opening the beautiful Castello di Selvole Chianti Classico a couple hours before tasting. The high acidity of the Sangiovese grape is perfect for the tomato-based ragù, and it pairs perfectly. This ’12 Chianti Classico has great balance, and after aerating for a couple of hours, it shows beautifully. Open a couple of bottles of this $25 Chianti Classico, invite a bunch of your friends, and celebrate the fall with my friend Giovanni’s recipe for ragù Toscano.

Ingredients for fettuccine al ragù for 8-10 people:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

2 carrots, finely diced

4 celery sticks, finely diced

One bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley

Three sprigs of thyme

One sprig of rosemary

A few fresh basil leaves

2 bay leaves

2 bottles of Castello selvole Chianti Classico

3 Pounds of ground meat (ideally 50% beef and 50% veal)

2 classic Italian sausages.

Canned peeled San Marzano DOP tomatoes (approximately 70 oz)

3 teaspoons of tomato concentrate

Salt and pepper to taste

soffrittoFinely dice the onion, carrots, and celery and mix them together.

In a very large pot gently heat some extra virgin olive oil and add the vegetables, let cook this soffritto for 5 min at medium heat or until the vegetables have softened.

ragu meatIn the meantime, open up the sausages and mix together with the ground meat in a very large bowl.

Add some olive oil, salt, pepper, minced parsley, thyme and rosemary to the meat. Mix well.

ragu meat cookingAdd the meat and the garlic cloves to the vegetables in the pot; increase the heat to HIGH and stir well. Once the water released by the meat evaporates, add ¾ of bottle of Chianti Classico. Keep the heat on HIGH to let the alcohol evaporate for approximately 7 minutes.

tomato cookingOnce the alcohol has evaporated, add the peeled tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of tomato concentrate and a cup of water. Adjust the salt level. Mix well and bring to a boil.

ragu near finishedLower the heat to LOW and cover. Let cook for 3 hours.

You can stir gently every 45 minutes. For the last 45 minutes of cooking, you can take the lid off and let your ragù evaporate a little bit to reach desired consistency.

Toss the pasta in a 5-quart pot filled with salted water. Once the pasta is cooked, put it in a large plate, cover with the ragu sauce and add some leaves of fresh basil. You can use long pasta like pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghetti, or you can use short pasta like paccheri, or rigatoni.

Tm6aWg0MS1vV5TNA2ZWPlEKRr26KMmBMNC-zKftjoLGKMGUlh5Purs3VC1HOE21H-tbtSg=s2048Then settle back and enjoy the warmth of friendship, home cooking, and Chianti Classico!

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Valle Dell’Acate 2014 Il Frappato Vittoria

A joyful, fresh and delicate Sicilian wine to drink right now

RD8758-2One wine that I’ve always enjoyed is the Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato Vittoria. I had a bottle of the 2014 that I had not tasted yet, so I thought I would open it. I love Frappato, an indigenous Sicilian grape. It has nice, delicate floral and cherry notes, and while it’s light enough to enjoy in warm weather, its supple tannins make it hold up when there is a slight chill in the air, and it pairs well with an array of foods.

Founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Valle dell’Acate has a long history; today it’s considered one of the top estates in Sicily. What makes this estate’s Frappato so unique is the soil composition of its vineyard. It’s located approximately 360 feet above sea level south of the winery and near the coast. The soil in this area is called “Milaro” by the locals, and it sports calcareous sandstone and layers of clay, which allow the vines to produce high quality grapes and gives the wine a distinct profile. Made with 100% Frappato, this wine ferments for 15 days in stainless steel tank with indigenous yeasts, and then ages six months (also in steel tank) with an additional three months in bottle before release.

A beautiful, bright red color in the glass, this wine’s nose is full of violet, sour cherry, spice, licorice, mineral and crushed red berries. With some twirling of the glass, I could smell the sandstone and clay soils that lie beneath the vineyard. On the palate, it is silky with noticeable red fruit and delicate herbal notes; the acidity is fresh and juicy. The tannins kick in mid point to mingle and balance with the fruit, and it finishes with spice, and tangy, savory black cherry. This Valle dell’Acate is a joyful easy wine to drink that has depth and layers and the price point, under $22, makes it easy to keep a case for when you are in the mood.

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