The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: De Conciliis and Renzo Seghesio

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiWe wine-lovers are always looking for value—those wines that give us the most bang for our bucks, or those superb bottles that should cost more than they do. I get asked about value a lot. Sometimes value is a wine that over-delivers on a relatively expensive price point, but other times it’s a wine doesn’t cost much yet still explodes on the palate.

Regardless of whether you’re a big-time collector or an enthusiastic novice, chances are you’ll sometimes want to drink a wine that’s easy and delicious. This kind of wine, the bottles that don’t require much thought often fit most neatly into the value category. Last week, I enjoyed two wines that fall into this easy-going value category: a Fiano from De Conciliis and a Nebbiolo from Renzo Seghesio. I expect these wines, favorites of IWM founder Sergio Esposito, will become your favorites too, once you give them a shot.

De Conciliis 2013 Donnaluna Fiano $24.99

De Conciliis has long been an IWM staple. This estate produces a superb lineup of wines that includes a sparkler, whites and reds from Campania in the South of Italy. This Fiano offering is a bright, golden and complex white from along the Campania coast. Fiano, an ancient grape that for many years teetered on extinction, has made a resurgence thanks to producers like De Conciliis; this complex ’13 Fiano feels ready to burst with citrus fruits, honey, minerals, nuts and fresh, palate-cleansing acidity. Drink to 2020.

Renzo Seghesio 2011 Ruri Langhe Nebbiolo $36.99

The Seghesio family has been producing wines in the Barolo region for more than a century—with a 100 years of experience I am not surprised that this estate has nailed down the intricacies of the Nebbiolo grape to produce some stellar wines. Seghesio’s Barolos are traditional, elegant and long lived, but they can be difficult to approach in their youth. That is why this Nebbiolo Langhe, sourced from the younger vines and refined in steel as opposed to oak, is such an important play. This Ruri Langhe Nebbiolo allows you a chance to appreciate the freshness and cherry fruit that Nebbiolo offers, but without the overwhelming tannins. It’s definitely a reward for those on a budget and for those without patience. Drink to 2022.


Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Pojer & Sandri 2013 Vin dei Molino Rosato

This beautiful $23 rosato bridges the worlds of red and white wines

WH1606-2Spring has come, but last weekend’s weather didn’t seem to get the memo.  I couldn’t decide if the weather called for a red or a white, so I went with something with the qualities of both. With the dark berry color of a red and the easy drinkability of a white, Pojer & Sandri 2013 Vin dei Molino Rosato seemed like my best bet. Being from the multicultural region Trentino Alto-Adige, this rosato derives from the admittedly not very Italian-sounding Rotberger grape. However, once you see Trentino Alto-Adige on a map, the name begins to make sense. This Italian region is a unique cultural nexus that borrows language, style and traditions from its Swiss and Austrian neighbors. Not surprisingly, this Alto-Adige rosé is influenced by its interesting background, which gives it characteristics unlike just about any wine I’ve ever tasted. It’s certainly something worth trying, especially given the $23 price tag.

Since 1975, longtime friends Mario Pojer and Fiorentino Sandri have been cultivating excellent grapes from the mountainous Trentino Alto-Adige. Back when they started, the friendly duo, armed only with youthful optimism and winemaking know-how, set out to show that their hometown of Faedo could produce high quality wine. Aided by an Italian wine craze in the 1970s, their vineyard proved successful, and its wines became known for their uniqueness and aromatics. Fast-forward to 2013 and Pojer & Sandri’s Rosato is no exception; it combines the refreshing qualities of a white with the dryness and satisfaction of a red. Though certainly more red-like, this wine has mass appeal for both white and red lovers, making it an ideal any-time wine for entertaining guests or just relaxing at home.

The light and approachable Vin dei Molino Rosato would go great with any light meal, but I enjoyed it with bread and assorted cheeses. This rosé has a red wine’s elegance and acidity, but it finishes with a fun, lively fruity tang that’s reminiscent of a white. The ’13 Vin Dei Molino Rosato appears darker than most rosé wines, though it’s still smooth and easy on the palate. The nose is filled with rich berries and flowers, and the finish leaves you with black currants, almond, and a hint of spice. Best of all, its flexibility is perfect for dealing with the ups and downs of this month’s weather until spring really arrives.

Expert Picks: Mas de Gourgonnier and Château Pradeaux

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Drinking Provençal rosé always makes me happy. In addition to being universally delicious and food-friendly, these wines transport me to the region’s country roads and gorgeous coast, studded with rocky “calanques,” or inlets. Every sip brings back fond memories that are as fresh as the juice in my glass. Provence has earned its place as France’s go-to region for blush wines, for the wines tend to exhibit a greater degree of complexity and saline mineral nuance than the rosés from just about any other region. And unlike many other regions in France, you can find hundreds of amazing wines for less than $40 that will make you very, very happy. I’ve chosen two for you to enjoy now, this spring, and all summer long.

Mas de Gourgonnier 2014 Rosé $18.99

An organic estate located midway between Avignon and Marseilles in the heart of Provence, Mas de Gourgonnier produces excellent wines and offers one of the best values in quality rosé on the market today. Mas de Gourgonnier harvests its 47 acres of vines by hand, and its vinification protocol is equally traditional. Juicy raspberries and strawberries mingle with fresh-cut grass and mineral notes in this wine that will surprise you with its complexity and delicacy for the price. Drink early and often!

Château Pradeaux 2014 Bandol Rosé $33.99

In addition to making killer wines in Bandol, Château Pradeaux, located midway between Marseille and Toulon, is steeped in French history. A domaine since 1752, the estate was ravaged during the French Revolution and again during WWII; in 1985, Cyrille Portalis, whose family has owned the property for generations, rescued the estate and brought it back to health and prominence. Mostly Mourvedre, this spicy, mineral-driven rosé bursts with juice red fruit flavors and a hint of salinity that persists through the long, lingering finish. Be prepared to be transported!

Inside IWM, March 21-24, 2016: It’s Spring (and Easter)!

A look back at the week that was

IMG_2225This weekend is Easter Sunday, which is preoccupying much, although not all, of IWM’s staff. We finished the week with Garrett Kowalsky’s ode to pork and his picks for pairing with ham (there’s even a poem from a lauded poet). Our go-to wine, coincidentally, would be a find suggestion for this Sunday’s feast; Sean Collins wrote about a$22 Sartarelli Verdicchio so good it makes converts out of red wine lovers.

John Camacho Vidal offered a brief history lesson before picking two Italian Cabernet Franc wines, both from Antinori. Michael Adler looks forward to 2014 Burgundies by selecting a pair of beloved 2013 Chassagne-Montrachet bottles. When it comes to pairing with spring’s tender bounty, Crystal Edgar turns to Umbria’s Castello della Sala, another Antinori holding, for her selections. And Francesco Vigorito has your value Burgundy needs covered with two lovely Pinot Noir bottles, both under $40.

Cheers to you, your family and to spring, however you’re celebrating it!

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.


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

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