The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: La Maialina 2010 Chianti Classico

A cheery, complex, and classic under $19 Chianti Classico

RD8749-2We all have that favorite little wine that drinks nicely and sates the wine craving any night of the week. It’s always disappointing when you finish a bottle, go to restock, and find the wine is sold out. Now you will have you to wait for the next vintage to be released.

One of those go-to wines in my house is La Maialina Chianti Classico. La Maialina is all about Tuscan history, culture and cuisine. Wine has been made in Chianti since the thirteenth century, and the Chianti Classico region was settled by Etruscans, followed by the Romans, and the area has been prized since antiquity for its rich soil and favorable growing conditions for the cultivation of grapes and olives. The name La Maialina translates to little pig, and it’s a reference to a breed of pig, the Cinta Senese, that originated in the Siena area during the 1300’s; it’s the only Tuscan native pig to survive extinction.

Recently, I got very excited when I saw that more of La Maialina Chianti Classico had arrived in the showroom. La Maialina 2010 Chianti Classico shocks with its complexity, finesse and structure. The nose is full of ripe cherry, violets and a slight hint of eucalyptus followed by hints of smoke and earth. The palate is full with well-blended acidity and tannins, and the finish lingers nicely with lots of tart fruit. This is very classically styled Chianti that offers great quality for its $19 price tag; it’s a perfect wine for everyday drinking. Giving the price point and quality of this Chianti Classico, I plan on always being stocked.

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!

Expert Picks: Villa Sant’Anna and Talenti

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15We love Sangiovese here at IWM. While no one is sure whether its name derives from the Latin latin words Sanguis Jovis, or blood of Jove, we do know that Sangiovese is characterized by a medium body, soft, velvety tannins and its telltale aromas of red fruits, dried flowers and herbs. From the humblest Tuesday-night Chianti to the most lavish, compelling Brunello or Super Tuscan, Sangiovese offers pleasure at many levels of quality and production, and it’s universally enjoyable with just about any meal you could think of. And in addition to its versatility on the dinner table, it’s equally as versatile in your cellar, for it’s usually enjoyable upon release yet also quite age-worthy. In short, no matter what the occasion, you can find an appropriate Sangiovese to match it. Today, I’m focusing on two outstanding and affordable bottles of Sangiovese that rise above their humble price points and deliver the goods for a song.

Villa Sant’Anna 2012 Rosso di Montepulciano $19.99

Not to be confused with the grape named Montepulciano, which is native to Italy’s Abruzzo region, Montepulciano is also the name of a small hilltop town in southern Tuscany near Siena that produces some killer Sangiovese-based wines, most notably the world-renowned DOC of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Similar to the way that Montalcino producers craft a Rosso di Montalcino as a companion to their Brunello, so too do the estates in Montepulciano make their second wine, Rosso di Montepulciano, to drink while they wait for their Vino Nobile wines mature. This Villa Sant’Anna 2012 Rosso is predominantly Sangiovese (locally called Prugnolo Gentile), with smaller amounts of some other minor indigenous blending varietals. Aromatic and floral on the nose, this Rosso is soft yet round and generous on the palate, with silky tannins and a long, juicy finish. Bright, genial and very easy to enjoy, this wine almost pulls you back to the glass.

Talenti 2010 Brunello di Montalcino $49.99

You probably know by now that 2010 was a phenomenal vintage in Montalcino and that the 2010 Brunellos offer incredible power, age-worthiness and complexity. Many producers raised their prices for this benchmark vintage, but it’s still possible to find an amazing 2010 Brunello that won’t totally devastate your bankroll. Talenti has always been one of my go-to Brunellos, and this dynamite 2010 will redefine your understanding of how good a $50 bottle can be. With the majority of Brunellos priced above $75, Talenti’s Brunello offers unparalleled value in the category and easily outperforms a great many of its more expensive competitors. An inky reddish purple in the glass, this ‘10 Brunello is a massively powerful, scintillating wine that is approachable now for fans of big, intense reds but it really need several years in the cellar before it reaches its optimal drinking window. With time in the glass, this wine opens up to reveal a wide range of floral, herbal and earthy aromas along with notes of espresso, leather and cigar wrapper, all on a foundation of dense, chewy red and black fruits. The ‘10 Talenti is an absolute steal under $50; buy this one by the case and enjoy it over the next 20 years!

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