2020 NERVI-CONTERNO Il ROSATO IS MIND BOGGLING July 2021
2020 Cantine Nevri-Conterno, Il Rosato (RT94) With its glowing terracotta hue this beautiful, benchmark rose’ sets a standard of excellence in the category. This style is classic Conterno: abundant elegance, oozing with finesse and a deft winemaking touch. Ethereal notes of raspberry, strawberry, hints of rose hips and sweet floral notes fill the glass. The palate is precisely measured in perfect syncopation: light and sophisticated in precise proportions. It is truly a wine of magnificence. Don’t serve this too cold or you’re miss the all-important details. Superb, as fine a Nebbiolo Rosato as has ever graced my lips! Drink now-2024+
PIANCORNELLO’s LATEST RELEASES ARE IMPRESSIVE July 2021
Piancornello – Talented Winemaking in Spades
2018 Piancornello, Rosso di Montalcino (RT92+) Translucent light ruby, this tasty wine is currently on the young side showing primary and secondary development on the evolution curve. The capable winemaking shines through with delicate notes of Marasca cherry, dusty red berries, a hint of Tuscan scruff and a pinch of savory spice. The palate balances on a thin rope of weightlessness, lithe with fresh acidity and ripe, clean tannins. Drinking beautifully now, I look forward to a few years of cellaring to see what tertiary evolution brings out of the shadows. A light, ethereal, elegant rosso. Drink now-2028
2016 Piancornello, Brunello di Montalcino (RT95+) The recently released 2016 Brunello is a power packed, gorgeously crafted, masterpiece of winemaking. Translucent medium ruby, the aromatics are compact and brooding with notes of black cherry, red currants, hints of saddle leather, spice, dried herbs and crushed stones. The palate shows regal balance with airy fruit, shaping mineral-acid thrust, and sweet, sultry tannins. Already drinking well, but the best is yet to come for this magnificent wine. An additional 5-10 years of cellaring should bring it to early peak drinking allowing the magnificence of the vintage and impressive attention to detail to shine. Drink now (with plenty of air)-2040+
LA MARCA di SAN MICHELE CRAFTS STAGGERINGLY GORGEOUS VERDICCHIO July 2021
2017 La Marca di San Michele, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Classico Superiore, Capovolto (RT92+) A stunningly pure and elegant Verdicchio crafted using organic farming with some biodynamic practices integrated. This is the work of a small winemaker producing a mere 2000 cases total wine per vintage. Whole cluster fermentation followed by 7 months on lees in stainless and finished with 4 months in bottle. The combination of a perfect vineyard site and deft winemaking result in pure magic. The bouquet is rich and decadent, with hints of soft citrus, white flowers, hazelnuts, and hints of limestone minerality. The texture is mouthcoating and rich leading to an extended finish that’s packed with perfectly ripe fruit. With time in the glass a notable salinity emerges. A rock star that outperforms its price point in a meaningful way! Drink now-2026
HOT FROM SARDEGNA – TASTY VERMENTINO July 2021
2020 Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, Vermentino di Sardegna, Aragosta (RT91) Sourced from the northwest corner of the island of Sardegna where premium quality Vermentino is cultivated. It’s pale straw hue leads to a salty bouquet laced with white flowers, lemon zest, honey suckle and hint of grapefruit pith. The palate shows bright fresh fruit and refreshing acidity. A terrific food wine – especially for seafood – that overdelivers for the price. Screw cap, a well-crafted artisan vermentino. Drink now-2024. Available in the low $20s
SCHIAVENZA BAROLO VIGNETO BROGLIO July, 2021
2001 Schiavenza, Barolo, Vigneto Brolio (Flawed, not rated) Bought a few bottles on release and cellared them, where it’s been since. I’ve checked out two bottles over the last 5 years. As it approaches 20 years of age, it is now fully mature and not likely to blossom further. This bottle shows consistent with the previous one: dirty winemaking notes dominate the bouquet, a characteristic I never find attractive. The is juxtaposed with marked weightlessness yet lacking the structure and finesse of a great Barolo from an age-worthy vintage like 2001, no less from this legendary Serralunga vineyard. If you’ve got some of this I suggest digging in sooner or later. Better yet, use it to make some reduction sauce!
ARGENTIERA’S DYNAMIC BOLGHERI GINEPRI updated May 2021
2017 Tenuta Argentiera, Bolgheri DOC, Poggio al Ginepri (RT91+) This is very young and tight upon pulling the cork, but with just an hour of sitting in the glass it unwound beautifully. Dark cherry, blackberry, hints of chocolate, coffee and a whiff of white flowers create and attractive ambiance. The mouthfeel is rich and round, the acidity enough to keep it interesting, the tannins soft and pliable. A couple years of cellaring will undoubtedly benefit it, but its hard not to enjoy it now. A blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot rounding out the blend. Half aged in used French and Hungarian oak, the other half in stainless steel. Drink now-2025
2018 Tenuta Argentiera, Bolgheri DOC, Poggio al Ginepri (RT92) Another excellent vintage of Ginepri, the 2018 is a bit more forward and easier going than the 2017 with its ripe fruit and ambiance of the vintage. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot adding some structure, this is a pretty vintage for this work horse red. Ginepri is a delicious food wine, or one to drink on its own, either way an all-around winner. Bright red berries, a hint of Tuscan scruff and some spice leads to a caressing mouth texture. Aged in used French and Hungarian oak, it reveals very little evidence of oak. Drink now-2026+
MAURO SEBASTE 2017 & 2015 BAROLOs March 2021
2017 Mauro Sebaste, Barolo, Trèsüri (RT93) This classic wine reflects the house style of Mauro Sebaste – one I like to refer to as “enlightened winemaking” embracing a combination of winemaking styles. Here the grapes are aged for 36 months in a combination of 1600 liter French oak combined with some smaller 400-liter tonneaux. The result is a gorgeous fruit-driven style that focuses on the Nebbiolo grape. The ripeness of this vintage shows with deep, rich, luxurious black cherry, cranberry, lavender, and menthol accented by a pinch of minerality. The mouthfeel is succulent, round, and delicious with supple acidity and sweet ripe tannins. This currently benefits from time in the glass where its exposure to oxygen brings out much more than a pop n’ pour approach. Drink 2024-2037+
2017 Mauro Sebaste, Barolo, Ceretta (RT94+) Crafted with fruit sourced from the legendary Serralunga Cerretta Cru, this beauty reveals the power and fortitude of this mineral driven site. Sporting an attractive, lifted bouquet marked by bright red cherry, raspberry, hints of red currant, anise, Asian spice, and that tell-tale streak of crushed rock Cerretta is renowned for. The potent, alluring aromatics bring you back again and again. The palate shows a linear, focused, structured profile of brilliantly ripe fruit, delicious acidity and sumptuous ripe tannin. This will age magnificently. Drink 2027-2042+
2015 Mauro Sebaste, Barolo Riserva, Ghè (RT96+) This power punching Riserva is built on a masculine physique, one that reveals its beefiness with time in the glass. Crafted from grapes grown in a small Serralunga Cru that is essentially a monopol. A stark contrast to the Cerretta is immediately drawn as this wine reveals a deep soul built on dark fruits of black cherry, plum, black berry, anise, lilacs, minerals, and hints of goudron, leather and bark. Elegant and rich with delicious, seductively smooth fruit, bright acidity that keeps it fresh and inviting, and impressively clean, perfectly ripe tannins. This is a real beauty, one for the cellar! I can’t wait to taste the 2016 of this magnificent wine. Drink 2027-2045+
A PAIR OF BEAUTIES FROM TANARO IMPORTS March 2021
2017 Azienda Agricola Valfaccenda, Roero Rosso (RT 92) A relatively recent bottling, the first vintage for this wine was 2010. Crafted from grapes grown in the Canale and Santo Stefano Roero municipalities from vines of varying ages. Here the soils tend to be sandy with some interspersed clay and the vineyards are relatively steep. This wine is aged for 6 months in barrel followed by one year in bottle consistent with Roero regulations. Takes on a deep red cherry, cranberry and mentholated pomegranate bouquet showing deep, ripe fruit. With time in the glass mineral notes emerge. The mouth coating fruit lends way to extended freshness with tasty acidity and soft, sweet tannins. While this is a bit one dimensional, the sweet, ripe fruit more than makes up for it. Drink now-2027+ Approximately $50 in the US market.
2013 Gostolai, Oliena, Nepente di Oliena Classico (RT93) A decidedly serious expression of Cannonau di Sardegna (Garnacha), this wine uses only natural yeasts and is aged in tonneaux for one year followed by two years in neutral Slavonian oak botti. The bouquet shows dried raspberry, maraschino cherry liqueur, saddle leather and a splash of eucalyptus and a punctuation mark of rosemary. The mouthfeel is lush, succulent and reveals just a hint of sweetness, with fresh zip and ripe tannins. A revisit exposes its mouthcoating sweetness. This is an excellent, top quality Cannonau that reveals the greatness of the variety and the winery! Drink now-2028+ Approximately $45 in the US market.
MIND BLOWING TAURASI RISERVA February 2021
2008 Mastroberardino, Taurasi Riserva, Radici, Antonio (RT96+) Pulled from my cellar, this was the first bottle of a sixpack acquired on release. This bottling is a tribute to Piero Mastroberardino’s father Antonio. At age 12 this remains a youthful Taurasi Riserva, yet the profound magnificence of this bottling is already showing itself in spades. Sourced from grapes grown in the Montemerano vineyard at 500 meters elevation, this wine displays amazing finesse and delicacy as notes of sweet morello cherry, rosada plums, dried red raspberry, cured meats, and hints of ash. The overall bouquet embodies masterful winemaking with its delicacy. The palate is equally delicate, dare I characterize it as Burgundian, with layers of ripe, subtle fruit, beautiful fresh acidity, and ultra-sweet, ripe tannins. This is not a bruising, power-driven Taurasi, rather one of the most virtuoso elegance. Drink now-2038+
I’ve followed Taurasi for decades and have had Mastroberardino’s back to the legendary 1968 Riservas. This is undoubtedly the finest, most finesse-driven Taurasi I’ve ever tasted. With proper cellaring this should move into the 97-98 point range.
POGGIO DEL MORO – TOP VALUE EARLY DRINKING CLASSICS February 2021
Located approximately 15 miles west of Montalcino and just south of Montepulciano in the Chianti Colli Sensi appellation. Here they have built a stunning, new winery with all the modern twists and practice meticulous cleanliness and inspired winemaking. The house style leans toward enlightened, bridging between modern and traditional, and the wines show a delicious, balanced enjoyment factor that makes them highly delightful and a wonderful pairing with many foods.
2015 Poggio del Moro, IGP, Rosso Toscana (RT91) An attractive blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah, aged in various sized barrels from barrique to 5 HL for one year, then stainless for 6 months followed by 6 months in bottle. The result is a soft, approachably styled day drinker that reveals red cherry, tobacco, sweet Tuscan minerality and hints of dusty spice. The palate is soft, supple, and very enjoyable with accents of gentle acidity and easy-going tannins. Nicely done! Drink now-2025
2015 Poggio del Moro, Colli Senesi DOCG, Chianti Riserva (RT92) This is styled with a slightly international twist given its blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah. The result is a soft, food friendly Riserva, one that pairs wonderfully with hearty pastas, grilled meats and wild game. Seductive notes of sour cherry, Tuscan scruff, spice and a hint of porcini dominates the bouquet. The palate is generously soft, rich, and mature, making this a Riserva that’s best enjoyed in its early days. Easy-going fruit, round acidity, and ripe gentle tannins mark this nicely! Drink now and over the coming 5-8 years.
IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD January 2021
2007 Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva, Asili (RT96+) This was Slow Oxygenated for more than 8 hours and still not giving up much at all, so we waited until day two. It was worth the wait as it rose to towering heights showing a classic Giacosa, translucent ruby garnet hue with notes of red cherries, raspberries, ripe pomegranate, rose hips, cedar and hints of marzipan. Impressive in its complexity with a power packed mouth character perfectly proportioned doses of fruit, acid and sweet ripe tannin make this a thing of considerable beauty. This will no doubt increase in complexity as it develops in the coming years. Drink 2027-2047
1978 Fontanafedda, Barolo, Vigna Gattinara (RT92) At 43 years of age this classic Barolo is now fading as late fall notes dominate it. The cork was removed with the Durand as it was falling to pieces, and it was then Slow O’d to allow the bottle funk to blow off. Followed over three days and surprisingly it kept improving, ever so slightly. Every aspect of it is resolved and fall notes layered with dried cherry, crunchy forest floor, wild game, and porcinis abound. With time in the glass notes of tar, animal musk and wild herbs emerge. The fruit however, is a touch overwhelmed by the acidity and the tannins are all but gone. Drink now and over the next few years to catch it while there’s still some fruit remaining.
STUNNING NERO D’AVOLA FROM BENCHMARK ORGANIC PRODUCER GULFI January 2021
2008 Cantina Gulfi, Sicilia Rosso IGT, Nerobaronj (RT94) From this terrific organic producer in southern Sicilia near the village of Chiaramonte Gulfi comes this lovely, full bodied red. This wine, along with three other Nero d’Avola cru bottlings, come from seaside vineyards at the southeastern tip of Sicily. At age 13 this delicious bottle has moved into its prime drinking window. Showing a deep russet hue, almost impenetrable with only the slightest hint of dark garnet at the rim. Notes of dusty blackberries and ripe plums accentuated with savory herbs and underbrush lead to a round, muscular palate pleasing character. Soft acidity and sweet, ripe tannin bring up the finish in a punctuating manner. Utterly delicious! Drink now-2028+
Stellar Ghemme January 2021
2007 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme, Collis Carellae (RT94) With its relatively deep brick hue, this 14-year-old 100% Nebbiolo reveals a spicy, richly nuanced bouquet showing red cherries, dried fall fruit, hazels nuts and rose petal potpourri with hints of spiciness. The palate shows elegance, finesse and is wonderfully balanced, revealing the more feminine side of the variety. Magnificent wine making! Drink now-2030+
MORE FROM MAURO SEBASTE January 2021
2018 Mauro Sebaste, Langhe Bianco, Cento Bricchi (RT 92) This distinctively unusual white is an expressive, tasty wine from the Team at Mauro Sebaste. Crafted from 100% Viognier, it expresses a delicious, smoky bouquet built on sweet apricot fruit, crushed rock, hints of toasted almond and orange blossom. Full, rich, and round in the mouthfeel with a lovely textural character, delicious fruit, and soft acidity, this is a pretty white that satisfies the soul. Drink now-2026ish
NV Mauro Sebaste, Vino Rosso, 6 Volte 10 (RT 93) A rare, small production bottling with a mere 1550 bottles filled. Deep, dark, and nearly impenetrable, it reveals a sumptuous, soft, and highly approachable persona with notes of black berry, dusty dried currants, hints of leather, musk, porcini’s, and tilled earth. Beautiful balance of ripe fruit, hints of soft spicy ripe tannins and gentle acidity complete the mouthfeel. This is a super-delicious wine that’s drinking exceptionally well right now and over the coming years. Drink now-2028+
2013 Mauro Sebaste, Barolo, Prapo(RT 95) This has long been one of my favorite Sebaste bottlings and in this great vintage it truly excelled. Medium ruby with a hint of garnet around the rim, it expresses a captivating bouquet built on a spicy, soaring character as notes of fresh strawberry, cranberry, cinnamon, brown sugar and Asian spices waft from the glass. With time in the glasses it becomes more complex. The mouthfeel is perfectly balanced with slightly sweet, succulent fruit, beautiful bright and fresh acidity, and ripe tannin providing the punctuation mark. A magnificent wine that expresses itself right out of the bottle and only improves with time in the glass. Followed over the course of three days, this just kept getting better. Drink 2025-2040
ROCCOLO GRASSI CLASSIC WINES FROM THE VENETO January 2021
2015 Roccolo Grassi, Soave, La Broia (RT92) The pale, straw hued Grassi Soave is a beautiful wine that show cases its fine terroir in spades. Buttressed with fresh, vibrant Garganega fruit, it is aged 80% in cask, 20% in stainless steel. The palate is precise, elegant, and bright with unctuous fruit and delicious acidity. Drink now-2026
2013 Roccolo Grassi, Valpolicella Superiore (RT93) This premium Valpolicella Superiore is structured, powerful, smoky, and downright awesome. Crafted from 50% fresh fruit and 50% fruit dried for 20 days, then aged in mostly botti for 20 months, the immediacy of it hits the palate with designed intention. Many valpolicella’s are mis-characterized as “Baby Amarone”, but with this wine it is truly the case. A veritable cornucopia of smoky late harvest fruit, a beautiful rich palate texture, and a long, impressive finish define this classic wine as it soars with finesse. Fabulous! Drink now-2028
A TASTING OF MAGNIFICENCE December 24, 2020
In classic Mount Nebbiolo style I picked some cellar beauties this year, but this season to celebrate a challenging year battling Covid and to give thanks to all making it through alive. All the wines were followed over the course of a few days and showed their magnificence on the latter part of the journey, i.e. day two and even day three! The highlight was clearly the Tale of Two Masterpieces: Gaja meets Giacosa. Yet, all were world class examples of the heights great winemaking can reach. Everything was paired with fabulous food, from charcuterie and cheese plates to grilled Montana Wagyu filets. Yummy as it should be during the holidays!
2006 Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Cicala (RT95+) Dark fresh ruby garnet with zero bricking. This was not surprisingly wound-up on day one, but really blossomed on day two showing its inner beauty in spades. Soaring mentholated notes of ripe and rich dark red cherry, hints of balsam and cedar and coated with steely minerality, this remains fresh and undeveloped. Decidedly on the young side at age 14. The mouthfeel is sumptuous, round, and delicious with layers of bright fruit, neatly integrated acidity, and beautifully ripe, sweet tannins. While this can be enjoyed now with ample air, it will deliver far more with an additional 5-6 years of cellaring. Drink 2026-2046+
1997 Gaja, Langhe, Sperss (RT100) A study in magnificence, Angelo Gaja’s 1997 Sperss has developed in a profound way revealing all the details that place this wine in the hierarchy of world class wines. On day one this showed a sous bois dominated bouquet, but on day two the forest floor had receded allowing the perfectly ripe fruit to shine through. Deeply nuanced notes of black cherry, dried raspberry compote, gently spiced plums, hints of balsam, Christmas spice and white Alba truffles play a symphonic rhapsody. The palate is extraordinarily balanced showing perfection in ripe fruit, magical soft acidity, and supple, sumptuous sweet ripe tannins. Utterly magnificent, hats off to everyone at Gaja who contributed to crafting this benchmark wine. Drink now-2030+
1999 Giacosa, Barolo, Le Rocche del Falletto (RT98) A perfect contrast to the 1997 Gaja Sperss, juxtaposed in style with its clear contrast of precise elegance, fresh fruit, and the utmost in winemaking focus. Those who are familiar with this wine will recall the rumors around the lack of producing a Red Label Riserva in this superb vintage not being a lack of quality fruit, but rather the need for Bruno Giacosa to generate cash quickly, as he was acquiring cash-draining vineyards at the time. Thus, this wine was produced as a White Label Classico rather than his longer aged Red Label Riserva. Yet the premier quality remains spellbinding with its bright notes of focused red raspberry, red cherry, soaring menthol and notes of dried lavender, cedar and penetrating minerality. The palate is gorgeous, packed with power-driven ripe fruit, bright fresh acidity, and sweet, structured tannins. I’ve followed this wine since it was released, and this is by far the best bottle yet. Yet I can’t help but wonder if there’s still a bit more to give with continued cellaring? Only time will tell. Drink now-2039+
BEST EVER VINTAGE OF MONTEPELOSO ENEO December 2020
2010 Montepeloso, Toscana IGT, Eneo (RT96) I’ve followed this overachieving bottling since it was first released in 2000 and the 2010 rises above every preceding vintage. Here everything comes together with style, elegance, and grace. Showing a deep, impenetrable hue, rich thumping notes of blackberries, dark plums, wet loam and highlights of Tuscan spice and minerals set the stage. The mouthfeel is full and beautifully balanced with gorgeously ripe fruit, while the finesse of this wine is what sets it apart from previous vintages as it takes on a near weightlessness. It finishes with fresh, vivid acidity and perfectly ripe, supple tannins. The oak management is impeccable. Absolutely a benchmark vintage of this great wine. Drink now-2030
AMARONE FLASHBACK December 2020
As much as I adore Amarone della Valpolicella, and for that matter Recioto della Valpolicella, I just don’t drink it with the frequency of other appellations. It strikes me as a wine style best suited for cooler weather and optimally when paired with wild game and red meat dishes. It was January 2020, the temps were perfect for these huge wines, and a small group of Italiaphiles gathered to peek at a handful of sample bottlings from this great appellation.
Prior to the tasting, all the bottles except for the Quintarelli, were SO’d for the day. Wine was then served directly from bottle, but with slow, gentle pours as there was significant sediment in all of the wines. If you’re not skilled on pouring gently I highly suggest decanting immediately prior to serving. Nothing is worse than a sediment filled glass. Note: the Quintarelli was popped and poured. The results were most impressive, although I remind readers that these were the “best of the best”, a sampling of Veneto’s finest producers on display in terms of quality and top bottlings. Yes, there are other topnotch producers, but we wanted to focus this evening a just a few great wines.
The Bussola ended up being my favorite wine of the night, but make no mistake, they were all world class wines. Note to self: I need to drink more Amarone!
Note: these wines were consumed at a dinner I hosted with friends in early December 2020, while the 2000 Bussola was drunk for New Year’s Eve 2020 and was added here for completeness.
2005 Bussola, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, TB Vigneto Alto (RT 97+). With its whopping 17.5% alcohol, it reveals supple magnificence. Dark, dense and deeply hued, this ruby dominated monster shows a penetrating cornucopia of fall nuances with notes of dried cherry, dried red raspberry, cinnamon, leather and energized late season florals. There is a decided freshness that plays counterpoint to the bouquet and the palate is bright and layered with clean fruit sandwiched between beautiful acidity and endless, super ripe tannins. The finish goes on and on. An incredible showing for this single vineyard bottling, the flagship wine of Bussola that will cellar seamlessly for many decades. Drink now-2045+
2000 Bussola, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, TB Vigneto Alto (RT 95) Like the 2005, the Bussola 2000 Vigneto Alto is deep, dark and intensely pigmented, showing little sign of age as it edges past 19 years. The bouquet revealing an alluring composition of fall nuances with a sweet, blue fruit core. Everything is singing in harmony as notes of apassimento-dried berries, spiced fruit cake, roasted chestnuts and dried figs play center stage. The palate is magnificently balanced with heavy weight fruit, bright acidity and beautiful sweet tannins. A fabulous showing for this world class Amarone with the polish and precision that makes it a wine to seek out! Drink now-2040+
1998 Giuseppi Quintarelli, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (RT 96) A modest 16.5% alcohol provides a slightly more subtle profile than the Bussola. Showing a slight bit more age with its ruby garnet hue, but still dark and dense, refined focused aromas of late Fall emerge with a blanket of sous bois (forest floor), dried smoky berries, charcuterie, and damp earth creating a centerstage on which subtle late harvest notes play in the background. The palate is exceptionally pure and finessed, balanced with an alluring fruit component that’s accented with mineral notes, sweet ripe tannins and a long, long finish. A gorgeous, traditionally crafted Amarone from the acknowledged master, powerful, yet sublime. Magnificent at age 21, this is just now moving into its peak drinking window. Drink now-2042+
1990 Masi, Amarone di Valpollicella, Campolongo di Torbe (RT 97) 9980 bottles produced and showed a declared 16% alcohol (could be higher?), as it approaches age 30 this wine has developed a captivating golden garnet hue yet remains amazingly youthful. Dried plum, orange peel, pomegranate and desiccated rose petal create a delicate fabric on which wild game and Thanksgiving spice adds dimension and depth. The palate is superbly balanced as it teeters between fresh and aged. This has evolved like royalty. The fruit, acid and sweet tannin keep you coming back for another sip. A stunning Amarone that is beautiful beyond measure, bravo Masi! Drink now-2035+
2006 Bussola, Recioto della Valpolicella, TB (RT 95+) We wrapped up the evening with one of the all-time great Veneto dessert wines and this did not disappoint in any way. With a mere 12/5% alcohol, the dark, dense nearly impenetrable hue wafts up multi-strata of sweet blue berries, blackberries and spice as background notes of dried figs and dates create a captivating bouquet. The palate is slightly sweet resembling nectar of the gods displaying perfect balance and exquisite elegance. This is a magical wine and one of my favorite red dessert wines. Bravo Bussola! In a word, wowzah! Drink now-2046+
ANOTHER AMAZING GIACOSA BOTTLING December 2020
2005 Giacosa, Barolo, Falletto (RT95) Despite the challenging 2005 vintage this is Giacosa in classic form. Showing a ruby-garnet translucent hue with a garnet rim. The first-class presentation initially shows enormous freshness, but with time in the glass dried fruit begins to emerge with notes of dried red cherry, rose petal potpourri, early fall fruits and hints of marzipan and Christmas spice. The power in both the bouquet and palate is impressive as the mouthfeel leaves little doubt this is Serralunga Barolo! Perfectly balanced acidity and sweet, ripe tannins bring closure to this wonderful wine. Another classic Giacosa! Drink now-2035+
MASTROJANNI – MEGA MONTALCINO PRODUCER December 2020
2017 Mastrojanni, Rosso di Montalcino (RT92+) Revealing its deep red cherry dominated bouquet, its overall sumptuous character is accented with notes of sweet tobacco and succulent strawberry, enhanced with a smattering of spicy herbs. The mouthfeel is lush, packed with ripe fruit and finishes with well-balanced acidity and sweet tannins. Aged 6-7 months in 54 HL Allier oak botti, then aged for 3 months in bottle prior to release, this is a delicious Rosso di Montalcino that rises tall in a relatively challenging vintage. Drink now-2027+
2014 Mastrojanni, Brunello di Montalcino (RT93) Showing deeper, more serious aromatics than its Rosso brethren, dark ripe Marasco cherry layered with Tuscan spice, hints of porcini, dried fruits, fall forest floor and a smattering of cedar create the highlights. Light and elegantly fruited with a serious construct, soft acidity and slightly austere tannins mark the finish. This is a nicely done Brunello in a vintage when many declassified their Brunello juice. Aged 3 years in 16,33 & 54 HL botti crafted of Allier oak, then bottled for at least 6 months prior to release. Not the most long-lived Brunello, but damn tasty! The grapes from the Crus Vigna Loreto and Vinga Scheina d’Asino were used for the vinfication of this Brunello in 2014, which has helped its quality. Drink now-2030+
2010 Mastrojanni, Brunello di Montalcino (RT96+) The 2010 speaks with powerful, structured authority, built on a convincing style layered with black cherry, damson plums, purple violets and hints of cinnamon and Tuscan spices. The rich fruit is decadent and profound, focused and present in spades. Exceptional purity is the name of the game! The palate is equally convincing echoing the theme of gorgeous fruit, stratified in its presentation, the acidity hidden behind the massive wall of sexy, ripe fruit. Sweet, succulent tannins provide a compelling finish. Simply fabulous! Drink now-2040+
ETNA ROSSO October 2020
2019 Calabretta, Vino Rosso, Gaio Gaio (RT89) Showing a slightly imbalanced, high toned notes of ripe strawberry, raspberry, hints of dried rose petal, and a smattering of wild herbs, the bouquet leads to a slightly sappy, mouthcoating mouthfeel. This wine is ripe, but a bit lean on the fruit. Still, a value priced Etna red that delivers the goods. Drink now-2024
TERRA DI LAVORO – HOW’S THE 2003 DEVELOPING? September, 2020
2003 Galardi, Roccamonfina IGT, Terra di Lavoro (RT94) With its deep russet, almost opaque hue, the 2003 Terra di Lavoro shows a mineral-laden bouquet of black cherry, brambly wild berries, smoky mushrooms and dried tobacco. With time in the glass notes of ash and dried figs emerge. It shows a smooth palate texture and is elegant, and polished by the French oak aging. The character is ripe, a product of the hot 2003 growing season, but the fruit is fresh, and the tannins ripe. An excellent, but not exemplary vintage for Terra di Lavoro. My extensive experience with this wine going back to the inaugural 1994 vintage is that it develops very slowly over time, requiring extensive cellaring if your goal is to experience an evolved TdL. Drink now-2033+
IMPRESSIVE – 1999 CORTESE BARBARESCO RABAJA July 2020
1999 Giuseppe Cortese, Barbaresco, Rabaja (RT 93) Given its age this shows a deceptively dark garnet/russet hue. The strength here lies in its spectacular masculine bouquet packed with notes of spiced plums, black cherry, sous bois, cedar and hints of tar and spice. As it opens the classic Rabaja spice shows its unique magnificence, building momentum with time in the glass. The palate is rich and decadent with soft, broad shouldered fruit, medium acidity and sweet, ripe tannins. This is a fabulous showing for this great wine, I can’t wait to see how the 1999 Riserva is showing. I followed this over the course of five evening, and even on day four and five it was showing very well. Drink now-2029+
AVIGNONESI – A NEW AMPORAE VINIFIED RED July 2020
2018 Avignonesi, Rosso Biologico, Da-Di (RT91+) Da-Di is vinified in terracotta vessels – aka amphora – crafted from indigenous Tuscan clay with 1/3 whole clusters and 2/3 hand selected whole berries. Aged for 5 months prior to bottling, this beautiful expression of 100% Sangiovese is Certified Organic, Certified Vegan and Certified Biodyvin. A seductive, freshly styled expression of Sangiovese, this lovely, translucent wine wafts up notes of red cherry, dried strawberry and hints of cinnamon and clove. Lush and delicious in its mouthfeel, a tasty glass of vino! Drink now-2023(?)
2019 Avignonesi, Rosso Biologico, Da-Di (RT92) This new vintage is even more profound than the inaugural 2018 with seductive, freshly styled expression of Sangiovese. Aged for 5 months prior to bottling, this beautiful expression of 100% Sangiovese is Certified Organic, Certified Vegan and Certified Biodyvin. A lovely, translucent wine that wafts-up notes of red cherry, dried strawberry and hints of cinnamon and clove. Lush and delicious in its mouthfeel, a tasty glass of vino! Drink now – 2026+
Note: I’m not entirely convinced of the age-worthiness of many of the newer amphora-aged wines that are now becoming fashionable and consider them best drunk young while the fruit is fresh and bright. At least until we see what the effects of aging are.
MASTROBERARDINO – THE ICONIC CAMPANIAN PRODUCER June 2020
2019 Mastroberardino, Falanghina del Sannio DOC (RT91) A bit more femininely styled than the Fiano or Greco, this is another classic Campanian white variety. Its attractive light straw hue leads to floral notes, succulent yellow stone fruits, and wisps of bright minerality. This is a bit lighter in overall body weight than the other two single grape varieties but maintains classic Campanian character. Drink now-2024
2019 Mastroberardino, Fiano di Avellino DOCG (RT92) Pale straw yellow, the terroir-layered bouquet shows pear, apple, lemon and a briny, mineral-driven character. The palate is soft, seductive, and attractive with generous balance of fruit and bright, fresh acidity. This is a classic food wine, perfect with seafood, light pasta dishes featuring chicken or shrimp, or pasta primavera. Drink now-2024
2019 Mastroberardino, Greco di Tufo DOCG (RT92) The 2019 Greco di Tufo shows a young pale straw hue with a penetrating, firm and focused bouquet that expresses notes of saline infused white flowers, white stone fruits, hints of honeysuckle and crushed stones. The palate is oh-so-inviting with a round, supple palate character and soft, but fresh acidity. This is a super tasty, not to be missed Campanian white. Drink through 2026
2019 Mastroberardino, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, DOC Rosso (RT90) Medium ruby with a slight purple cast. This is a gentle, soft, and round expression of 100% Piedirosso with notes of dried cranberry, porcini brother, brambles, and cured meats. The palate displays soft fruit and fresh acidity with gentle tannins. This is a lovely, value priced food wine that delivers easy, fruit forward drinking. Drink now-2024+
2018 Mastroberardino, Irpinia Aglianico, DOC (RT90) Translucent medium ruby, the Irpinia Aglianico serves up penetrating notes of black cherry, raspberry, espresso and cedar. This has a lovely palate with powerful fruit, bright and vibrant acidity that leads to an easy-going finish with tannins that are surprising soft given the structure of the Aglianico grape. Drink now-2026+
2014 Mastroberardino, Taurasi Riserva, Ridici (RT94) Mastroberardino did exceptionally well with this wine in the challenging 2014 vintage. Deep, dark ruby with an impenetrable appearance, this brooding beast belts out thunderous bass notes built on a foundation of blackberry, black cherry, hints of tar, bramble brush and classic ash elements. The palate is full figured with deeply ripe fruit, wonderful acidity, and mouth coating ripe tannins. This power-packed beast is made for long term aging. If you’re drinking it in the near term give it plenty of air. Drink 2028-2045
PAITIN – FULL COVERAGE OF THEIR 2020 RELEASES June 2020
This lineup of Paitin wines is exceptional in every way and displays the direction of this brilliant winery. I’ve been a big fan of Paitin going back to the 80s, but since Dante Scaglione – Bruno Giascosa’s vigneron/wnemaker – consulted here a decade ago, the change in direction has set their wines on fire, taking them to the highest level! If you’re a fan of magical Piedmontese wines this is one of the up and coming finest wineries in the region and their 2015 and 2016 Barbaresco’s are utterly captivating.
2018 Paitin, Langhe, Arneis, Elisa (RT 90) With a pale-yellow hue, the 2018 Arneis shows a lovely ripe and rich bouquet staying clearly on the optimal ripe side of the equation. Fresh and vibrant with delicious stone fruits and hints of white flowers, this is a tasty Arneis that reflects excellent expression of terroir and will drink well now and over the next 4-5 years. Not intended to be cellared, enjoy this while its fresh and delicious. Drink now-2023
2018 Paitin, Freisa Langhe, Bonina (RT89) Pale translucent and almost rose in hue, notes of cranberry, candied raspberry and a pungent spicy overall character rise from the glass. Light weight in the palate, but with nice fruit concentration and ripeness. Crisp and somewhat angular, light rose petals emerge with time in the glass. A fine refreshing summer sipper that I prefer over Beaujolais or Lambrusco. Serve with a slight chill. Drink now-2023
2018 Paitin, Dolcetto d’Alba, Rivoli (RT 91) The fruit for this estate grown dolcetto is from the southwest slopes of the Serra Boella vineyard. Showing a medium ruby hue with a purple tinge, spiced plums, hints of cracked peppercorns, tea and a slice of thin charcuterie leads to a soft and savory mouthfeel with bright acidity and ripe sweet tannins. This has “pair with food” written all over it. A lovely style built on transparency, not power. Drink now-2028+
2018 Paitin, Barbera d’Alba, Serra (RT 91) Grown on the east-facing side of the ridge where the Serraboella vineyard is composed of sandy, iron rich soils. Aged for one year in Slavonian Botti. Notes of purple berries, hints of soft new leather and a splash of lilacs and herbs dominate the bouquet. The palate is sumptuous and soft with tasty fruit, refreshing acidity and supple tannins. Nice medium cellaring potential. Drink now-2026+
2016 Paitin, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Campolive (RT 92+) Here lower yields and longer aging in Botti have paid off as this takes a big step up from the Serra in terms of revealing a darker, denser hue, a more pronounced bouquet and more chutzpah on the palate. Notes of masculine dark cherry, red currant and saddle leather lead to a rich, mouth coating palate with refreshing acidity and perfectly ripe tannins. Delicious in every way! Drink now-2028+
2018 Paitin, Nebbiolo Langhe, Starda (RT 91) Starda is one of best value Langhe Nebbiolo’s I know of in the market today. Aged for one year in Slavonian Botti, Starda has undergone several elevage changes since it was introduced nearly a decade ago. This vintage is in my opinion the finest Starda yet! An elevated bouquet of zesty strawberry and red raspberry fruit leads to a light, elegant style of Nebbiolo that pairs beautifully with food. Soft acidity and round tannins bring up the finish in a conclusive manner! This is a terrific value! Drink now-2025+
2016 Paitin, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Ca Veja (RT 92) Ca Veja translates to “old house” and this vineyard site dates back to the 1500s. Showing a deeper ruby hue than its brethren Starda, Ca Veja reveals a robust, masculine aromatic profile with notes of red cherry, pomegranate, currants and a hint of cinnamon-laced balsam. The balance of fruit, acid and tannin creates a round, delicious character, making this a wonderful wine for enjoying with food or on its own. Baby Barbaresco is all but the name from a stunning vintage! Drink now-2025+
2016 Paitin, Barbaresco, Serraboella (RT 93+) The 2016 Serraboella Barbaresco is the finest vintage yet! Aged for 20 months in Slavonian Botti and crafted from young vines currently a quarter century old. With its lifted, penetrating bouquet and delightful mouthfeel, this is a finesse driven style built with elegance. Pure, linear candied red fruit with hints of Morello cherry, spiced raspberry and cedar lead to a beautiful, supple mouthfeel punctuated by perfectly ripe, sweet tannin. Offers perfect midterm cellaring opportunities and available at an amazingly affordable price, this wine outperforms the Produttori del Barbaresco Torre in a measurable way. Very impressive! Drink 2020-2032+
2016 Paitin, Barbaresco, Sori’ Paitin (RT 95+) Impressive in all regards, the deeply nuanced 2016 Sori Paitin may be the finest expression of this bottling I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve had it back to the 1980s. Crafted in the transparent style that Dante Scaglione (former winemaker at Bruno Giacosa) brought to this winery with the 2010, this mind blowing wine expresses layers of dark red and black cherry, anise, roses and minerality. The mouthfeel is deep, delicious and coating, centering on perfectly ripe fruit and tannins with magnificent weightlessness. It will age effortlessly for 3 decades or more but is showing so expressively today. Simply superb! Drink 2024-2044+
2007 Paitin, Barbaresco Riserva, Sori’ Paitin Vecchie Vigne (RT 93+) The visual impression of this pre-Scaglione wine is one of deeper, darker concentration and in this vintage the wine is dominated by super ripe fruit. Stratification of black cherry, dark berries, sous bois, a hint of goudron and violets leads to a rich, succulent mouthfeel, with tasty fruit and acidity. Come off almost Bussia-like in its presentation. The tannins are soft, supple and ripe, with no drying effect. There is a slight amount of brett on this bottle, not enough to distract from a clear view of what the wine would be without it, but I suspect other bottles won’t show this. Drink now-2032+
2008 Paitin, Barbaresco Riserva, Sori’ Paitin Vecchie Vigne (RT 94) A tad bit lighter in hue than the 2007 Vecchie Vigne, the 2008 presents a highly classic style of Barbaresco with a great amount of tension in the fruit and floral aspects on display. Intriguing notes of brooding dark pitted red fruit, sappy cedar, umami and wild herbs lead to a firm, gorgeously structured mouthfeel. A constructive balance of fresh fruit, acid and ripe tannin create a beautifully crafted wine with enormous aging potential. This is a classic vintage is all aspects, lay this one down in the cellar and savor it over the coming couple decades. Drink now-2038+
2015 Paitin, Barbaresco Riserva, Sori’ Paitin Vecchie Vigne (RT 96+) Undoubtedly one of the finest vintages of this superb bottling ever produced, the 2015 exemplifies the convincing direction of Paitin since Dante Scaglione consulted here and retooled their winemaking style a decade ago. The focus is extraordinary with an elegant style that to rises to the highest levels of Nebbiolo. Light-to-pale in its ruby garnet hue, soaring notes of lively red cherry and raspberry, freshly picked roses, sweet herbs, pine sap and an accent of minerals create a stunning bouquet. The mouthfeel is exceptionally balanced and refined with pin-point ripe fruit, exhilarating acidity and as perfectly ripe tannins as one can imagine. In a few words, this is mind blowing! Can’t wait to taste the 2016 next year! Drink 2025-2045+
CASTELFEDER – A LINEUP OF REMARKABLE RISERVAS June 2020
2015 Castelfeder, Chardonnay Riserva, Burgum Novum (RT93+) Showing a classic Chardonnay profile with a slight modernist twist, this is a real beauty with wonderfully ripe fruit, artful oak integration and is slightly creamy in its mouthfeel. Notes of yellow peach, pie crust, Meyer lemon and a hint of chalk lead to a balanced, elegant palate where its karma reaches out to you. This is a lovely expression of Alto Adige that in my view feels more like Willamette Valley than northern Italy. Gorgeous and so delicious! Drink now-2027+
2014 Castelfeder, Lagrein Riserva, Burgum Novum (RT93) Dark, dense and brooding, this power-packed red displays the potential of the variety. Crafty, artful winemaking has created this masterpiece with its terroir driven elegance. Packed with dark cherry, blackberry, hints of bark, minerality and forest floor. Soft and supple on the palate, while maintaining its authority, this is a beautiful example of the variety as it maintains its elegance and sophistication to a tasty finish. Drink now-2026+
2015 Castelfeder, Pinot Nero Riserva, Burgum Novum (RT94) One of the finest Pinot Nero’s to have ever graced my lips from Alto Adige, this beauty expression of the variety commonly known as Pinot Noir smacks of a premier Willamette Valley bottling. Expressing a level of concentration rarely seen in Pinot Nero from this region, its convincing focus, depth and dimension and a hint of French oak polish pull it together in a complete, broad shouldered manner. Ripe strawberry, red raspberry, forest floor and hints of cinnamon round out the bouquet, while the palate remains deliciously taunting, with lovely, soft tannins on the finish. This wine is hard to find due to limited production and high demand making it one to seek out. Drink now-2028+
MORE FROM CASTELFEDER June 2020
2018 Castelfeder, Lagrein Rosato (RT88+) Crafted from 100% destemmed Lagrein, it reveals a deep shade of rose, with a classic Alto Adige profile of sweet strawberry, raspberry, honey suckle and citrus notes. The palate is light and refreshing with tasty fruit and fresh acidity. Drink now
2018 Castelfeder, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Pertico (RT90) Pale straw hued with sweet notes of white peach, nectarine, white flowers and hints of minerality from its Dolomite Mountain fruit source. Fresh, bright and authentically tasty, an impressive value! This delicious easy drinker makes a perfect pairing with year-around farm-to-table fare. Drink now
2019 Castelfeder, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Pertico (RT90+) Another stellar vintage for this tasty Pinot Grigio!Pastel yellow with alluring notes of white stone fruits, alpine floral notes and hints of Dolomite Mountain minerality and herbs. Crafted in a fresh, drink now style with authentic, tasty fruit! A bona fide thirst quencher! Drink now
2019 Castelfeder, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Pertico (RT90+) Another stellar vintage for this tasty Pinot Grigio! Pastel yellow with alluring notes of white stone fruits, alpine floral notes and hints of Dolomite Mountain minerality and herbs. Crafted in a fresh, drink now style with authentic, tasty fruit! A bona fide thirst quencher! Drink now
2018 Castelfeder, Kerner, Lahn (RT91) Sourced from one of the region’s highest vineyards at 900 meters, its impressively charged aromatics jump from the glass revealing pungent notes of yellow plum, honeydew and apple blossom layered on a foundation of minerality made this very attractive. A tasty mouth texture with generous fruit and food-friendly acidity add dimension to this food friendly wine. A really excellent vintage for this delicious Kerner, get it while its fresh! Drink now-2024
2017 Castelfeder, Dolomiti IGT Pinot Nero, Mont Mes (RT89+) Pale ruby and highly translucent, the Mont Mes is a lovely destemmed Pinot Noir with notes of ripe red raspberry, hints of strawberry and background terroir notes of forest floor, cranberries and a smattering of cinnamon. This refreshing red shows a soft supple fruitiness, with lovely bright acidity on the finish and very soft tannins on the finish. Drink now-2022
2018 Castelfeder, Pinot Nero, Glener (RT91) Glen is an historically important vineyard for the winery, ranging from 450 to 790 meters and is located directly above the grand Cru Mazon vineyard. Because of its high elevation it is perfect for the Pinot Nero variety. It shows a medium ruby hue, but remains highly translucent, showing striking aromatics layered with sappy cranberry, strawberry, allspice and clove. With time in the glass notes of dried leaves and hints of smoke emerge. Amply delicious, this is a terrific food wine. Drink now-2025
2018 Castelfeder, Schiava, Alte Reben (RT90) Vernatsch is a unique native grape from South Tyrol. This wine is harvested from pergola raised vines. Resembling a light Dolcetto sans tannins, this translucent ruby red wine shows note of plum compote, blackberry, dark cherry and an attractive background of terroir laced sous bois. With air delicious fresh fruit emerges making it a lovely food wine. Drink now-2023
2017 Castelfeder, Lagrein, Rieder (RT91) Harvested from another indigenous grape to the South Tyrol, Lagrein prospers in the lower elevation valley floor vineyards of the region where it can bask in the sun and mature slowly. It is aged for 10 months in used barrique, lending additional structure to the wine. This lovely, ruby garnet hued wine wafts up notes of black cherry, smoke, crushed gravel and hints of purple flowers with a peppery spiciness. It is quite tasty on the palate, with charismatic fruit, soft tannin and bright acidity. A lovely every-day drinking expression of the variety. Drink now-2025
Giulia Negri – Rising Piedmont Barolo Star from La Morra
From the highest vineyards in all of Barolo comes this true “garagiste” wine. With her vineyards known as Serradenari rising as high as 536 meters, they descend to 450 meters at the Pian delle Mole plot. She produces Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes with small production wines that embrace highly traditional methods and character. In some vintages she also crafts a gorgeous Barbera. While her family has worked the estate lands producing wine for the past 150 years, her recent foray has brought new focus on the estate. Total production is less than 40,000 bottles and the house style leans toward a highly transparent and traditionally styled wines, featuring soaring aromatics and exotic nuances. Keep an eye on this emerging estate!
2016 Giulia Negi, Langhe Nebbiolo, Pian delle Mole (RT92) This delicious Langhe Nebbiolo reveals a shockingly pale, highly translucent garnet hue with alluring notes of cranberry, cherry syrup, mentholated cedar and spice cake. With time in the glass the aromatics build momentum as succulent, candied strawberry and hibiscus emerge. The palate is lush and delicious with sweet fruit, soft acidity and ripe tannins. A Langhe of great beauty and character! Drink now-2025+
2015 Giulia Negri, Barolo, La Tartufaia (RT94) Pale ruby garnet, the aromatic life is elevated and captivating, pinned with a powerful bouquet of ripe morello cherry, raspberry, balsam and hints of green tea, charcuterie and crowned with notes of crushed stone. The mouthfeel is packed with delicious, sweet ripe fruit, mouth watering acidity and superbly ripe tannins. This is a real gem of a classico Barolo from a fabulous vintage. Looking forward to tasting the 2016! Drink 2022-2037+
A DELICIOUS CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA AND A TOP VALUE CHIANTI CLASSICO June 2020
2010 Cafaggio, Chianto Classico Riserva, Basilica Solitio (RT93) This medium ruby, 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico Riserva wafts up a powerfull spiced bouquet of Morello cherry, dried strawberry, plums, marjorum and accents of cinamon and clove. It’s medium bodied character shows great elegance with taught fruit, refreshing acidity and soft, but ripe tannin. A really beautiful wine that’s just now coming into its prime drinking window at age 10. Drinking beautifully with pasta and red meat dishes and reveals the elegance of lighter styled Chianti Classico Riserva. Drink now-2030+
2018 Il Palagio, Chianti Classico (RT90+) This delicious Chianti Classico, crafted from 100% Sangiovese, offers a fabulous, price conscious value for lovers of Italian red wine. Aged for 10 months in French and Slavonian barrique, it over-delivers in every way at a highly affordable price. Not to be missed! Classic is style, a very tasty Chianti Classico. Drink now-2028
MIND BLOWING BARBERA – 2010 ELIO ALTARE LARIGI May 2020
2010 Altare, Langhe, Larigi (RT 96) Among the finest Barbera’s to have ever crossed my lips, the 2010 transcends all expectations taking elegance and finesse to unexpected levels for such an ordinarily humble grape. The vines for this wine were planted in 1948 and it is produced in miniscule quantities with a mere 1800-2000 bottles in each vintage. Deep, dark and showing an almost opaque hue, soft notes of ripe black berries, black cherries, brambles and minerals lead pinch of spice. The barrique management is superb and the palate is extraordinarily finessed with flawless balance of fruit and acidity that coats the mouth. This is an emotionally moving Barbera, hovering on the gates of perfection. The Gift of Grace! Drink now-2030+
A PAIR OF SPELLBINDING BAROLOS April 2020
A status check on two of the benchmark bottlings of the profound 1999 Barolo vintage. This impressive mini-tasting to help mellow the Corona Virus stay at home order in Colorado.
1999 Bruno Giacosa, Barolo, Le Rocche del Falletto (RT 98) SO’d for the day and showing a bit of sediment so I poured ever-so slowly, but directly from the bottle since I was savoring this alone. Clearly in its early prime drinking window, its world class status makes a convincing statement balancing finesse and power. Its light garnet hue gives way to soaring aromatics built on black cherry, rose petal, marzipan and an abundance of spice. The palate is sublime and magnificent, showing the magical touch of Bruno Giacosa with perfect balance of fruit, acidity and super ripe, sweet tannin. This was crafted during Bruno Giacosa’s peak and continues to be what I consider his greatest classico (non riserva) bottling ever. An emotionally moving experience that brings an ear to ear grin on my face and keeps drinking better with each sip. Drink now-2034+
1999 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva, Monfortino (RT 99) Also SO’d for the day, there was less sediment in this bottle, making serving a far easier task. This behemoth has rounded out and the tannins have integrated and softened as it turns the corner of age 20. A juxt opposed style from Giacosa’s Le Rocche del Falletto, here the scale is intimidatingly massive, a requisite example of the “iron fist in a velvet glove” characterization. It hovers with weightlessness. The aromatics are bruising and masculine with dark notes of black stone fruit, sous bois, goudron and hints of anise. The palate is formidable, rich and decadent, showing a lushness that few Nebbiolo can ever achieve. A benchmark Barolo that with a few more years of cellaring should reach perfection. In two words: mind blowing! Drink now-2039+
BENCHMARK TAURASI RISERVA April 2020
2006 Molettieri, Taurasi Riserva, Cinque Querce (RT94+) At age 15 this beautiful wine is beginning to show early signs of tertiary evolution. Its deep, dense garnet-tinged hue – nearly impenetrable and classic for Aglianico – leads to a powerful bouquet that shows the structure of the vintage. Ripe notes of black cherry, plum, dried raspberry and volcanic ash build to a chorus of smoked meats and hints of brown tobacco. The oak elevage is artfully executed with perfect orchestration, the mouthfeel caressing, yet powerful. This is a magnificent heavyweight red that will develop over the long haul. Drink 2022-2036+
PREMIER SICILIAN FARO PRODUCER April 2020
2007 Azienda Agricola Palari, Faro DOC (RT94) A blend of local native varietals followed for more than a century. The dominant varietals are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio with dollops of Nocera, Cappuccio Tignolino, Acitana, Galatena and Calabrese. This wonderful Sicilian wine has come together over the last few years, cellaring is paying off. Dark red fruit and strawberry, dusty hints of truffle, and an overall gorgeous freshness. This is a clean, bright, and fresh red with a lovely mouthfeel, soft tasty defining tannin, and checks in on the ripe and round side of things. A dusting of volcanic ash and a note of sous bois emerge with time in the glass, this is simply delicious! Drink now-2032
WHAT HAPPENS TO MODERNISTA WINE WHEN THERE’S TOO MUCH BARREL CHAR? CHECK THIS OUT! April 2020
1999 Boroli, Barolo, Villero (RT88) From the late “Modernista” movement with superb vineyard sourcing, the combination of which is no replacement for great winemaking. Here the wine is dominated by high char toasted oak, which does soften with time, but still rears its ugly head. Dark, mineral infused fruit emerges with accents of black licorice, goudron and hints of cedar. Rich round and delicious in its palate texture, the acidity is soft, the tannins supple. Soft for this magnificent vintage, I only wish it showed far less high char oak, which for my palate is intensely distracting. As already proven by its more than two decades of cellaring, the oak will not integrate. If you’re of the oak tolerant persuasion, you’ll like this more than I did. Drink now-2029
MAURO SEBASTE – TOP FLIGHT PIEDMONT WINEMAKER’s 2020 RELEASES April 2020
With 30 hectares of production, the Mauro Sebaste winery continues to be one of the hidden gems amoung Piedmont producers, crafting stellar, small production wines. The winery produces just over 120,000 bottles and the winemaking style leans toward progressive with a classic bent. One of the most trend setting moves by the winery is this year’s start of the transition away from traditional cork closure to the use of Diam corks in a couple of the 2016 Barolo’s. I’ve reviewed two for this article. I’m duly impressed by this move and hope it continues to grow among Sebaste’s line up. If it plays out as intended, it will benefit the wines visa vie bottle-to-bottle consistency and also for long term aging not being flawed by TCA contaminated cork closures. From the winery, we have this:
In recent vintages we are transitioning cork selection little by little from the classic natural cork to the DIAM cork. This is because even though we have always invested a lot in natural cork (1.20 euro per cork!!) we found some little cork defects, sometimes a lack of homogeneity in the bottles. So, by using DIAM we can grant homogeneity, so all the bottles are the same and there are no cork defects. On the other side the DIAM close the bottles tightly and need to breathe a little more in the glass before expressing itself. You know the DIAM corks, they are crafted from all-natural cork that is first reduced to particles, then treated to exclude the TCA molecule. They are then reassembled with beeswax, so they are totally natural product. The model we use is called “Origine”.
My observation is that the Diam corks are more compact and firmer in texture than a tradition cork, thus harder to remove from the bottle as a result. They appear to be a well thought out solution to the problem. Time will tell in terms of how the wines age with long term cellaring, but I’m in favor of this move rather than going to screw caps, which create a reduction atmosphere in the bottle. I look forward to seeing how this decision progresses in the future and hope this is a long-term solution to a nagging problem for all wineries from around the world. One that embraces the sex appeal of the classic cork closure while avoiding the modernist blandness of screw caps.
I embrace this wineries’ closure developments as they move to make TCA flaws a thing of the past, while preserving the classic cork closure. Enjoy these fabulous bottlings, they represent the finest of the Modernist/Progressive movement with a decidedly classic twist. Bravo Mauro!
2017 Sebaste, Nizza DOCG, Costemonghisio (RT 92+) A new project for Sebaste which was released first in 2015, thus this is their third vintage produced. Here we are in the village of Vinchio in the area of Monghisio, one between the most esteemed areas for Barbera. The soil is sandy in the first 40-50 cm then transitions to tuff, so it bears excellent characteristics of the Barbera grape. This vintage is a mix of 60-70-year-old plants blended with some newer plantings with the newer ones are clonal selections for highest quality and lowest yields. This is dark and dense revealing loads of class and an alluring bouquet of deep raspberry, leather, hints of underbrush and a smattering of brown tobacco. With time indications of minerality emerge. Lovely balance with delicious fruit, soft tannin and an accent of acidity make this a terrific food wine. I find the tonneaux treatment particularly attractive as it adds an excellent amount of tannin for midterm cellaring, while not overdoing the toast aspect. A fine bottling in the $25 price range, this is a not to be missed baller bottling. Seriously delicious! Drink now-2027
2016 Sebaste, Barolo, Trèsüri (RT 94) A classic example of Barolo blending, this wine is sourced from estate-grown fruit from three Cru vineyards: Verduno’s Cru Breri, which is near Monvigliero (utilized for the fruit’s floral, fleshier aspect), La Morra’s Cru Roncaglie (added for its elegant, fine grained, sophisticated tannin) and Cerretta in Serralunga (added for structure and depth). Trèsüri Barolo is aged for three years in mostly second and third passage 1600-liter French oak barrels with a small amount in 400-500-liter tonneaux. The slight modern polish fades quickly in the glass, revealing the power, ripeness and firmness of the 2016 vintage. Notes of perfectly ripe morello cherry, rose water, sweet herbs and the slightest hint of green tea lead to a rich, full figured mouth coating ripeness. Wonderfully balanced acidity and sweet, ripe tannins combine for a perfect finish. This is beautiful and a wonderfully complete Barolo. Drink 2024-2040+
2016 Sebaste, Barolo Cerretta (RT 95) Sourced from estate-grown fruit from the exceptional Serralunga Cru Cerretta, this fabulous bottle is aged for three years in French oak, 400-500 liter tonneaux, employing mixed new and mostly used barrels. 2016 is the first vintage in which they have partially bottled with the DIAM cork, closing 20% of the production with it. While the hue here is similar to the Trèsüri, the aromatics are ramped up and more high toned with penetrating notes of mentholated cherry, cranberry, licorice and fresh rose petal. The mouthfeel is taught and firm, showing an almost 1996-ish character with firm fruit, acid and perfectly ripe tannin. With time in the glass notes of goudron and violets emerge. The palate is exceptionally endowed with a delicious balance of fruit, acidity and fine grained, ripe tannin. A real gem with outstanding aging potential, drink 2026-2046+
2014 Sebaste, Barolo Riserva. Ghé (RT 95+) Barolo Ghé, harvested from a sub plot of the Cerretta Cru, is their Riserva. It is a bottling only produced in worthy vintages and in limited quantity with a miniscule 800-1,000 bottles total production. In 2014 it was produced as a challenge to see what results it might yield. A combination of soil, clonal selection (only the michet clone is used) and low yields results in a premier quality bottling, even in the challenging vintage like 2014. Crafted from a mere one cluster of grapes per branch (3 clusters per vine) they trim the extremities of the cluster for the highest quality. The results are remarkably different than their classic Cerretta bottling, which shows power and purity of fruit. Here the result reveals a sensual earth-driven bouquet rich with ripe dark spicy plums, black cherry, pan iron minerality and sous bois. This is a burly, masculine wine that shows delicious, broad scaled fruit and a power-packed, mouth coating texture. I can’t wait to taste the 2015 and 2016 of this wine. A truly prolific bottling, drink 2014-2044+
RIVETTO – PIEDMONT’S FIRST EVER CERTIFIED BIODYNAMIC WINERY March 2020
Rivetto was the very first certified Organic and Biodynamic producer in the Piedmont, declaring the hard-earned certification in January, 2020. Gaining certification is no small task, taking many years to work through the process. In Rivetto’s case it even meant sacrificing some vineyards to replant them with forest. The result is only now beginning to be felt, but make no mistake, the wines are exceptional and full of detail and Piedmont authenticism. Based on this declaration, wines going forward will have the proper stamps on the rear label.
2018 Rivetto, Langhe Nebbiolo (RT91+) From the first ever Certified Biodynamic winery in all of Barolo, this lightly hued garnet, 100% Nebbiolo, delivers a delicious, fruity bouquet with notes of sweet strawberry, bright raspberries and hints of minerally terroir with accents cedar and balsam. Packed with attractive fruit in the mouth, it finishes with bright acidity and soft, munchable tannins. Fabulous with a variety of food pairings or on its own. Drink now-2026
2016 Rivetto, Barbera d’Alba, Zio Nando (RT92+) Crafted from destemmed Barbera grapes, 30% of which were planted in 1944 and grown in the west-facing Zio Nando plot of this Serralunga vineyard. With its dense, nearly opaque ruby-purple hue, notes of cranberry, menthol, balsam and hints of spice and new leather emerge. A luxurious mouthfeel with a tangy punctuation mark and round tannins leads to a zesty finish. Quite lovely, despite it improving a touch with cellaring it begs to be drunk now! Drink now-2030+
2014 Rivetto, Barolo, Del Commune di Serralunga (RT92+) Crafted from entirely estate grown fruit from the Serra, Mancino and San Bernardo vineyards, this is a traditional wine aged for Slavonian casks. This translucent ruby Barolo shows high pitched, mineral driven tones for this relatively soft vintage. Mineral layered notes of dark red cherry, raspberry, violets and punctuated with notes of balsam and menthol lead to a vibrant, seductive palate built on ripe, delicious fruit, nice acidity and soft tannins. Very much a product of the vintage, this is a wine that works very well with food and will age for the midterm very well. Drink 2022-2032+
SCACCIADIOVOLI – ROCKSTAR MONTEFALCO VALUES March 2020
2018 Scacciadiovoli, Grechetto Montefalco (RT90) This tasty Grechetto opens with easy mineral tones, sumptuous citrus and uplifting Spring aromas! It’s a cheerful, food-friendly option to pair with vegetable pot stickers or barbecued shrimp cocktail. Pretty notes of freshly squeezed citrus appear on the delightful finish. Drink now and over the next few years!
2016 Scacciadiavoli, Rosso Montefalco (RT90+) This tasty blend of 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% Merlot, is aged for 12 months in a combination of barriques and large tanks crafted from French oak. The result is a wonderfully enjoyable weekday drinker that expresses the terroir of the region in a first-class manner. Lush red fruit with fresh acidity and soft tannins over deliver for the price. Drink now-2025
2018 Scacciadiavoli, Rosso Montefalco (RT91) A blend of 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% Merlot, aged for 12 months in a combination of barriques and large tanks crafted from French oak. This is a delicious, easy going style that makes for lovely mid-week drinking and is built on expressing the terroir of the Montefalco soils with style. Ripe fruit, refreshing acidity and soft tannins frame the style of this bottling, it certainly delivers maximum value. Drink now-2028”
2015 Scacciadiavoli, Sagrantino (RT92+) Having followed this producer for many years, over time their vinification has improved dramatically. Today they have throttled back on the new oak aspect noticeably and the wines now show a more transparent style for this bruiser of a grape. Evidence is in the elevage: 50% aged in barrels, of which a mere 15% is new, and the other 50% in large tanks made of untoasted French oak, for 20 months. Dark with a deep, impenetrable hue, the bouquet delivers bright red cherries, brambles, minerality and a hint of forest floor. The palate reveals a taught, structured character, with notable minerality and a soft tannic finish. Drink 2020-2030+
PIO CESARE – NEW RELEASES 2015, 2016 & 2017 March 2020
2017 Pio Cesare, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Fides – Vigna Mosconi (RT 92+) This vineyard was planted in 1971, the old vines create a delicious Barbera! With its 30 days maceration followed by 12 months in mostly Botti with a small amount of used barriques, it shows exceptional class and dimension, revealing a soft, supple mouthfeel and a delicate bouquet. Notes of aged red cherry, soft saddle leather and hints of minerality dominate. Absolutely delicious and a perfect food wine. Bravo! Drink now-2027+
2016 Pio Cesare, Nebbiolo Langhe (RT 90) Crafted from a blend of young vines harvested in Diano d’Alba along with some from both Barolo and Barbaresco estate owned vineyards, then aged for 24 months in Botti, with a modest amount in barrique. Slightly subdued aromatics show hints of spice and clean Nebbiolo fruit. Light in body, but very well made, this is a candidate for near-to-midterm cellaring. Drink now and over the next 6-8 years.
2016 Pio Cesare, Barbaresco (RT 94) This Barbaresco is an integral part of Pio Cesare’s storied history. Crafted from estate owned cru’s in Treiso (Bongiovanni, Il Bricco & San Stefanetto) and San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, after 25-30 days of skin contact, it is aged for 30 months is French oak Botti and a small amount of barrique. Showing a captivating classic bouquet built of rose petal, cherry, balsam and herbs, it shows a gorgeous mouthfeel balancing perfect acidity and a long, ripe tannic finish. Great aging potential, this is a real beauty! Drink now-2036+
2015 Pio Cesare, Barbaresco (RT 93) Coming on the heels of the 2016, this shows all the class and character of Cesare’s Barbaresco from a great vintage, but with softer, riper and rounder aromatics and a wonderfully rich, delicious mouthfeel. Absolutely wonderful in every way, this too will age very well and shows the class and pedigree of this great wine. Drink now-2035+
2016 Pio Cesare, Barolo (RT 95) Wowsah, this exceptional Barolo will light up the night! Crafted from estate grown fruit from the great Serralunga vineyards of Ornato, La Serra & Briccolina, Grizane Cavour’s Gustava e Garretti, La Morra’s Roncaglie and Novello’s Ravera, this is a magically classic Barolo that embodies the textural variety of the region. Far more than the sum of its parts, like the Barbaresco it is also macerated for 25-30 days then aged for 30 months in French Botti with a small amount of barrique. Soaring aromatics rise tall, with notes of cherry, menthol, pomegranate and balsam that lead to a firm, but elegant mouthfeel that buttresses fresh acidity against sweet ripe tannin. Masterful winemaking that will age for decades. Drink now-2046+
2015 Pio Cesare, Barolo (RT 93+) The 2015 Barolo shows the classicism of the Cesare winery and their world class winemaking. The blend of vineyards – no less than seven from four different municipalities – accentuates the depth and dimension of the bottling as notes of red stone fruit, plums, red currant and licorice ebb and flow from the glass. With time a decided mineral streak rises out of the glass like a rock formation. The mouthfeel is a ripe and round, yet remains taught with acidity, the finish is long and sumptuous with excellent tannin definition. Drink 2022-2035+
2015 Pio Cesare, Barbaresco, Il Bricco (RT 94+) Crafted from a precise selection of superbly ripe, estate grown fruit from three different plots in Il Bricco Cru, positioned high in Treiso. Like it’s Classico sister Barbaresco, this too is macerated for 30 days and then aged for 30 months in mostly French Botti with a small amount in barrique. This wine is all about the premium quality of fruit from this superb cru, that sets it firmly apart. Beautifully defined notes of morello cherry, white flowers, nutmeg and violets waft from the glass leading to a mouthfeel that satisfies the soul with its perfect tension, grippy tannins and perfect fruit. Power, masterful tannin and fresh acidity make this a wine to own and cellar! A most delicious vintage of this great, small production Cru bottling. Drink 2025-2045+
2015 Pio Cesare, Barolo, Ornato (RT 96+) What a powerhouse Barolo that epitomizes Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove! The fruit for this masterpiece is sourced from the legendary Ornato Cru located near the southern tip of Serralunga. Dating back to its first vintage in 1985, this has been the flagship Barolo of the Cesare estate for decades. This small production wine is harvested from the finest fruit selection in what I consider the finest vineyard plots of the entire estate. The winemaking is classic Pio Cesare: 30 days maceration followed by 30 months in French oak botti with a small amount of barrique, but in this case the barriques are used for just the first 12 months. An alluring bouquet of Serralunga minerality and structure lead the change as its power and heft become immediately evident. Dark cherry, anise, plum and spice create the center from which this wine unwinds to reveal enormous complexity. The mouthfeel is powerful, rich and long as it coats the entirety of your mouth. Stunningly impressive, age this for many decades. Drink 2027-2050+
2015 Pio Cesare, Barolo, Mosconi (RT 95+) This is the first vintage of Cru vineyard Mosconi produced by Cesare and the wait has been worth it! Like the Ornato bottling, this wine sees classic Pio Cesare fermentation and elevage with the barriques only being used for the first 12 months. A bit more-high toned in its aromatics, it also reveals more notable minerality than the Ornato, showing its Monforte d’Alba heritage. Notes of deep, ripe black cherry, spiced plums, hints of hazelnuts and dust layer the bouquet. The mouthfeel is decadently rich and luxurious, the ripe tannins and acidity playing perfect counterpoint. While this is but the first vintage of this wine, the masterful winemaking of Pio Cesare has already moved it into a respected, top bottling. I can’t wait to taste the 2016! Drink 2025-2050+
LE COLTURE – SUPERB PROSECCO February, 2020
NV Le Colture, Prosecco, Sylvoz (RT91) Pale straw. Precise, pure aromas of white stone fruit with hints of green apple, fresh apricot and minerals accentuated by a smattering of white flowers. Clean, fresh and very pretty in both its mouthfeel and finish, this is juicy, and the delicious stone fruit is pure and compelling with hints of crisp granny smith apple bringing up the finish. A superb effort from one of the masters of Prosecco at revealing the intricacies of the Glener variety and expressing their terroir superbly. Drink now
NV Le Colture, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Cruner (RT92) Similar in hue to its brethren Sylvoz, here the subtle intricacies are notched up a step with note of bright white peach, unripe apricots, crushed dolomite and distinct terroir-driven yeasty note. The palate is complex and fresh, with delicious fruit, bright acids and a long, crisp finish. This is a beautiful expression of the Glener grape from one of the top terroir sites in Prosecco. Drink now-2024
NV Le Colture, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Cartizze (RT93+) Crafted from fruit grown in the Cartizze Grand Cru, this tiny production prosecco delivers the very pinnacle of quality and finesse in the category. Fine bubbles – unusual given its production method – mark this wine its entire time in the glass as mineral-driven notes of white peach, musk melon and white flowers lead to a sensationally pure, beautifully balanced mouthfeel. This is world-class prosecco. Drink now-2025
ETTORE GERMANO- SERRALUNGA PRODUCER February 2020
While the winery dates to 1856, the more modern rendition started in the mid-1980s. By 1993 they were producing 100% estate fruit which all went into their wines. Buying vineyards over time, they acquired some prime parcels in Prapo and Lazzarito. Their focus is on small production, top quality wines, a category they excel in, while maintaining affordable prices.
2016 Germano, Langhe Chardonnay (RT91+) A generous expression that binds hints of oak with the crisp freshness of ripe pear, melon and orchard fruit. The wine reveals a luminous golden color and an enriched texture with glycerin that feels smooth and creamy. The full-bodied texture of this wine could stand up to spicy pork or white meat, or even an appetizer platter of oysters or raw shellfish. Ideal for those who ride the fence between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay. Drink now-2024.
2018 Germano, Langhe Nebbiolo (RT89+) Pale, flippantly hued garnet, this light bodied Nebbiolo shows an appealing, fruit-driven bouquet with notes of sweet red stone fruit, raspberries & strawberries. Reminiscent of village red Burgundy in its palate weight and fruit density, it coats the mouth with soft, tasty fruit, fresh acidity and gentle tannins. This is a yummy pizza and pasta wine! Drink now-2023+
2016 Germano, Barbera d’Alba (RT90) This crimson hued Barbera with a light purple tinge, shows leather, red raspberry, hints of minerals and a smoke accent that lead to a soft, round mouthfeel. Gentle in its palate expression and finish, this is another completely delicious food wine. Crafted very much in the Germano house style, which means “so tasty”. Drink now-2024+
2014 Germano, Barolo, Serralunga (RT93) Shows on the lighter, paler side of Barolo revealing its spicy, bright bouquet with notes of morello cherry, cranberry, savory zing and hints of umami. With its soft, pliant fruit driven palate, the cherries deliver a foundation leading to a mouthcoating, palate with fresh acidity and soft tannins, all things considered for the vintage. Crafted in the tasty Germano house style. Drink now-2028+
2014 Germano, Barolo, Ceretto (RT94) Medium ruby with a translucent garnet halo, the bouquet exudes a sense of structured Barolo with firm notes of red cherry, steely minerality, cedar and a hint of truffle. Smooth, clean and elegant in the mouth, with ample acidity and lovely, ripe tannins on the finish. A very tasty Nebbiolo, the structure out-shows vintage expectations with potential for early long-term cellaring. Drink 2022-2034+
DANIEL CONTERNO: 2016 & 2018 RELEASES February 2020
2018 Daniel Conterno, Barbera d’Alba Superiore (RT92) Crafted from fruit grown in a variety of municipalities mainly in Barolo on steep vineyards lands that are rich in clay and tuff. Aged 12 months in a combination of casks and barrels. Carrying on its tradition of excellence, this medium ruby wine is translucent and pure with fresh notes of bright, ripe blueberry, fresh plum, hints of herbs and finished with a mineral punctuation mark. The mouthfeel is fresh, bright, and delicately styled, this is an elegant Barbera. Fresh acidity and soft tannins wrap up this food friendly, delicious glass full! Stylish and finesse driven! Drink now-2026+
2018 Daniele Conterno, Nebbiolo, Langhe (RT91) Blended from young vines grown in various vineyards where the soils are high in a combination of clay and sand and aged for 8-12 months in cask. Classically groomed, this Nebbiolo is pale garnet with a light ruby tinge. Sweet, succulent ripe fruit lend ripe raspberry, strawberry, and cranberry to the forefront of the mix, as notes of rose water and hints of almond bring up the rear. Packed with ripe, mouthcoating Nebbiolo fruit, soft acidity and sweet, soft, drink-now tannins provide a soft punctuation mark. Delicious, overachieving and terrific with pizza and a variety of pasta dishes! Drink now-2026
2016 Daniele Conterno, Barolo (RT91+) A blend of fruit from single vineyards in three different municipalities: Bussia (Monforte d’Alba), Pugnane (Castiglione Falletto) and Panerole (Novello), and using both Michet and Lampia clones, this is aged for 24 months in Slavonian casks. Crafted in an early drinking style, its medium ruby garnet hue gives way to soft notes of ripe Marasca cherry, spiced plum, forest floor and Asian spice. With time in the glass the palate softens showing notes of balsam and porcino mushroom. The palate is rich, savory and mouthcoating with soft acidity and sweet tannins. This won’t age for long haul but is sumptuous and delicious not given is velvety richness and accessibility. A perfect drink now Barolo!
2016 Daniele Conterno, Barolo, Panerole (RT94) Crafted from both Michet and Lampia clones, this single vineyard selection is macerated in wood vats for 30 days prior to aging for 30 months in large Slavonian casks. This is soft and accessible considering the structured vintage, making it a delicious, early drinking option. A big step up from the classico Barolo, this shows deeply ripe notes of black cherry, anise, sweet plums and hints of hazelnut and menthol. The palate is rich and luxurious, layered with ripe fruit, soft acidity, and perfectly ripe sweet tannins. This is a tasty 2016 with a promising future but remains highly accessible. Drink 2024-2036+
RINALDI LE BRUNATE ON FIRE! January 2020
2006 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo, Le Brunate (RT95) Pale, crystal clear ruby with a garnet halo at the rim. The power, focus, and clarity of the highly structured 2006 vintage shine through with laser precision as notes of sour cherry, red currant, lavender, and hints of classic Brunate sous bois are just starting to emerge. This is still very young and mostly secondary in its bouquet development, but the mouthfeel is refined, elegant, beautifully balanced and long on the finish as perfectly ripe tannins go on and on and on. Magnificence in the making! Since the Paola Rinaldi took the reins of this winery the quality has been consistently on the rise. Drink 2024-2040+
MOUNT ETNA ROSSO January 2020
2014 Ciro Biondi, Etna Rosso, Outis Nessuno (RT91+) A blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Capuccio, aged in a combination of stainless and neutral barrels. Medium translucent ruby with a bouquet built on a cornucopia of red fruits; cherry, strawberry and cranberry, high pitched balsam, and a pinch of spice. Fresh, bright and fruit-driven while it maintains its soft, supple palate feel with gentle acidity and soft tannins. Delicious now and in the near term with no detectable oak. This is crafted in a lovely easy to enjoy style. Enjoy now-2028+
DANIELE CONTERNO – CURRENT RELEASES January 2020
Based in the legendary Bussia Cru, the Daniele Conterno winery is a star on the rise. Coming from Barolo nobility, Daniele’s father is Franco Conterno and his grandfather was superstar Giacomo Conterno. The winery produces a variety of bottlings and has plots in a number of Barolo Crus including Pugnane (Castiglione Falletto), Panerole (Novello) and Bussia (Monforte d’Alba). These sites vary considerably in the way they express their unique terroir in the wines with Bussia producing the most ageworthy wines layered with sweet, ripe tannin.
Starting in 2015 the winery has been a certified organic producer, dedicating its focus on the production of natural vineyard cultivation. No synthetic chemical or genetically modified organisms are used in the growing of their vines and vinification is carried out using exclusively oenological products and processes that are approved under European Regulation 203/2012. This approach ensures the terroir driven character of the Langhe predominantly appears in our wines.
I characterize their winemaking style as progressive, embodying both traditional and modern techniques, which captures the essence of the Piedmont region. Total production is approximately 72,000 bottles. All the wines were tasted multiple times.
2017 Daniele Conterno, Barbera d’Alba Superiore (RT 92) 25,00 bottle production. Crafted from fruit sourced from Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, Novello, aged for one year in Slavonian botti. Showing a medium ruby hue with a purplish tinge, bright notes of sweet red raspberry, mentholated cherry, herbs and hints of lavender dominate. The palate is rich, ripe and well balanced with tasty fresh acidity that maintains its food-friendly character. A beautifully crafted expression of the grape and a terrific food wine. This should be an excellent mid-term ageworthy bottling. The previous vintage was a “Hot Pick” on my website and this vintage is even tastier! Drink now-2029+
2017 Daniele Conterno, Nebbiolo d’Alba (RT 90) Production 15,000 bottles. From fruit grown in Monforte d’Alba and Madonna di Como, it is barrel aged for 10-12 months in Slavonian oak. Pale translucent ruby, the bouquet is fruity and fresh with inviting strawberry, red raspberry, cinnamon and hints of spiced plum. The palate shows a lighter aspect with fresh acidity and soft, supple tannins. Drink now-2023+
2014 Daniele Conterno, Barolo (RT 91+) Production 12,000 bottles. Coming from Bussia, Panerole and Pugnane crus from a combination of Michet and Lampia clones, aged 24 months in Slavonian botti. Reveals a classic translucent medium ruby hue with a copper/garnet cast. The vintage leverages the supple, early drinking side of Barolo with notes of dried cherry, cranberry, anise and rose petal. Hints of cardamom and truffle emerge with time in the glass. The palate is soft and approachable in its delivery with easy going tannin and gentle acidity. This is a great, “restaurant” vintage, perfect for near term enjoyment. Drink now-2029+
2013 Daniele Conterno, Barolo, Panerole (RT 93+) Production 10,000 bottles. Coming from the Panerole cru in Novello, aged for 30 months in Slavonian botti. Medium ruby garnet, the terrific vintage characteristics shine through with lifted notes of menthol, red cherry, balsam, minerals and white flowers. This is firm, structured and wound up tightly in the mouthfeel, packed with fresh red berries, black cherries and reveals wonderful tannin management combined with brisk acidity. Its huge curb appeal keeps you returning for another sip. Excellent aging potential but drinking very well now with a good, oxygenating decant. Drink 2023-2035+
2013 Daniele Conterno, Barolo Riserva, Bussia (RT 95) Production 7,000 bottles. Sourced from the superb Bussia cru, this is aged for 48 months in large, 45-50HL French oak botti (think Bruno Giacosa). Showing a darker, deeper ruby hue than the Panerole, the Bussia terroir shines through in spades with dark, ripe cherry, sous bois, steely minerality and hints of truffle and mushroom. This is a big, broad shouldered wine packed with power and muscle. In the mouth its elegance takes center stage as succulent, rich fruit intertwines with magnificently balanced acidity and ripe, sweet tannin. Stunning in every dimension. Drink 2023-2040+
2010 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO SNAPSHOT TASTING December 2019
The 2010 vintage in Brunello di Montalcino stands as one of the benchmark vintages of the last 30 years for this ever-evolving, growing appellation. A near perfect growing season across the widely varying elevations with relatively warm temps during the maturation phase and ideal diurnal swings created incredibly ripe fruit with impressive phenolic maturation. As the wines approach age nine I thought it an ideal time to check in on a sampling of the wines to see how they are developing in the cellar. Among the initial sample set, two of the six bottles were sadly flawed with TCA (also known as “corked”): La Poderina and Pian dell’Orino Versante. I replaced the La Poderina and substituted a Gianni Brunelli for the Pian dell’Orino. Still, a disappointing start to what was slated to be a fabulous evening, but the replacements pulled through.
Prior to the tasting the bottles were SO’d for the day, then double decanted five hours prior to the start of the tasting. The results were uniform across the sample set, evidence of a truly profound vintage with impressive aging potential. Those who own these wines will be amply satisfied with your purchases, this is a vintage to own in spades. There may still be some 2010’s available in the market, so if you find some, buy them el pronto. This was an impressive showing for 2010 Brunello di Montalcino!
2010 Le Ragnaie, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 95+) The most high-toned, feminine wine of the night showing a light translucent ruby/garnet hue. With its gorgeous, spicy nose, a foundation of ripe red cherry layered with vibrant white flowers and hints of Tuscan underbrush lead to mentholated smoky notes. The palate shows sweet, round fruit with bright acidity and ripe, round tannins punctuate the long finish. Built for the long haul, this was one of the most taught wines of the night. Drink 2024-2040+
2010 La Poderina, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 94) Showing a medium ruby/garnet, notes of dark cherry, hints of truffle and ripe scrub berries and underbrush underpin its terroir-driven bouquet. The palate is rich, full figured and decadently ripe with a chocolatey richness, excellent palate texture and ripe, firm tannins. A luxurious, traditionally crafted Brunello, I’m a long-time fan of this producer and love the house style. Drink 2022-2035+
2010 Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 95) With its medium-light ruby/garnet hue, the Constanti reveals their classic house style showing dark ripe brooding fruit centered on masculine black cherry, hints of goudron, sous bois and an accent of violets. The palate is beautifully sublime with soft, round spicy fruit, excellent fresh acidity and ripe sweet tannin to bring out the long finish. A highly enjoyable vintage for this iconic winery. Drink 2022-2037+
2010 Biondi-Santi Tenuta Greppo, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 94+) This classic wine from the iconic Biondi-Santi winery shows a medium-light ruby/garnet hue, with a captivating bouquet built on exquisitely balanced mentholated red cherry, cedar, high tone florals and a streak of minerality. With time in the glass a sublime umami character finishing with a hint of salinity emerges. The plate delivers elegant, finesse-driven fruit with a succulent, sappy finish, artful acidity and sweet, ripe tannin. A superb, classy expression of Sangiovese Grosso. Drink 2022-2040+
2010 Il Marroneto, Brunello di Montalcino (RT 96+) An outstanding showing for Il Marroneto, the multi-dimensional bouquet soars from the glass showing depth and dimension with complex notes of mentholated black cherry, black truffle, underbrush, leather and a spicy punctuation mark! The palate shows magnificent balance with rich, ripe fruit, fresh acidity and perfectly ripe tannins leading to an impressive, long finish. Everything aspect of this wine is perfectly executed! An extremely motivational bottle, this is a study in magnificence! Drink 2025-2045+
TWO TOP WINES OF THEIR RESPECTIVE VINTAGES January 2019
2006 Montepeloso, Toscana IGT, Gabbro (RT97) Crafted from 100% Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, this is quintessential Tuscan Cabernet with a Coastal twist. At age 15 it is turning the corning and showing exceptionally well. Brooding, impenetrable dark, it reveals a complex bouquet built on ripe blackberries, blueberry compote, Tuscan herbs, scrub brush, minerals, and a hint of smoke. This palate is rich, almost decadently so, with prefect balance of fruit, acid, and sweet, ripe tannins. The wine personifies what makes Tuscan Cabernet such an incredibly unique variety, that’s so different than the same variety grown in other locales like Napa Valley and Bordeaux. In another decade this will be in its full glory, showing its ultimate magnificence. Drink now-2036+
2001 Sandrone, Barolo, Cannubi Boschis (RT96+) Wound up on pulling the cork and very shy on night one. But with 24 hours of being opened it reveals full throttle aromatics and gustatory goodness. Deep and dark with impressively powerful notes of black cherry, ripe plums, anise, and hints of balsam. The fruit is impressively fresh, even as it approaches age 20. There is almost zero tertiary development, but it certainly has come into its own on its cellaring journey. The mouthfeel is rich and savory with beautiful balance, layered with sweet, ripe tannin as waves of acidity maintain its freshness. This has many years of prime drinking ahead. If drinking now I suggest giving it some air. Art in a glass! Drink to 2036+
FATTORIA POGGERINO – WORLD CLASS SANGIOVESE 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 releases November 2019 and more recent dates
This modest sized winery is in central Chianti Classico, just north of Radda. The winery’s focus, it’s heart and soul, is the Sangiovese grape, although it does produce a modest amount of Merlot. There are roughly 29 acres of vineyard on the estate, where owner Piero Lanza, who also serves as oenologist and agronomist, focuses on organic farming practices. It is his deep commitment to the Sangiovese grape combined with organic farming, that produces fruit of exceptional quality. He uses no fertilizer, herbicides or fungicides.
The estates vineyards are located at 400-500 meters with optimal exposure to the south and southwest. The rocky, galestro soil provide perfect growing conditions for the Sangiovese grape. More recent plantings have favored clonal selections, which results in smaller berries and bunches. This creates more concentration and sweetness in the wines.
What I find most attractive about Poggerino’s winery is the house style, which I define as progressive, elegant and embodying an almost Burgundian style of transparency. The Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva are the stand out wines, crafted from pure Sangiovese that have been destemmed and then fermented and macerated in concrete. The Riserva is then aged in large Slavonian botti, while the Chianti Classico is aged in a combination of botti and large, neutral tonneaux. The result is a sense of place and a commitment to the Sangiovese grape, communicated through the transparency and purity of the winemaking. Total winery production is roughly 50,000 bottles per vintage.
These wines offer exceptional value, I strongly suggest sourcing them and savoring their exceptional character. All the wines were tasted multiple times.
2016 Poggerino, Toscana Rosso, Il Labirinto (RT 91) This pure expression of Sangiovese is aged in concrete for 10 months. A delicious wine that shows a translucent ruby hue with a soft Tuscan bouquet that’s framed with spicy notes. The palate is filled with ripe fruit, soft acidity and is easy drinking, displaying enormous curb appeal. Utterly delicious, a perfect pizza, pasta and everyday wine. Drink now-2024+
2017 Poggerino, Toscana Rosso, Il Labirinto (RT 90+) This is a beautiful vintage for this wine, which is punching above its belt. A pure expression of Sangiovese that’s aged in concrete for 10 months, allowing the Sangio to shine like a twinkling star. A translucent ruby hue reveals a soft Tuscan bouquet, with delicious red berry fruit packed with enormous authenticity. Bright acidity and soft tannins bring up the finish. Drink now-2024
2016 Poggerino, Chianti Classico (RT 93) With production of roughly 40,000 bottles, the 2016 over-delivers in nearly every way. The house style is on glorious display as notes of red cherry, Tuscan spice and brambles dominate. The palate is seductively weightless, showing enormous elegance and sophistication leading to a beautifully balanced mouthfeel that delivers pleasant fruit and sweet ripe tannins. A total bargain that I recommend buying in quantity! Terrific for early to midterm cellaring. Drink now-2028+
2017 Poggerino, Chianti Classico (RT 91) This challenging vintage was handled as well as can be expected at Poggerino. It’s pure Sangiovese, that is both forward and soft, yet amply delicious with excellent ripe fruit, spice and a sumptuous style. Showing tasty red cherry, balsam and dried white flowers with soft notes of underbrush and hints of spice, it reveals a round mouthfeel with soft acidity and supple tannins. This should be tasty over the next few years and is a delicious food wine. Drink now-2024+
2015 Poggerino, Chianti Classico Riserva, Bugialla (RT 95+) A magnificent Chianti Classico Riserva crafted from 45-year-old, low density vines. Showing a dark, brooding ruby garnet hue, the bouquet wafts up dark Morello cherry, super ripe strawberry, dust and hints of saddle leather. With time its bouquet becomes more complex, showing floral notes, hints of dry, fall fruit and Tuscan spice. The palate is equally complex and beautiful, with superb delicious fruit, wonderful acidity and perfectly ripe, sweet tannin. Masterful in every way! Drink now-2035+
2017 Poggerino, Chianti Classico Riserva, Bugialla (RT95+) This is another stellar effort by Poggerinos’ Piero Lanza, head agronomist and oenologist, the man impassioned with Sangiovese! In this tougher vintage than either 2015 or 2016, Bugialla twinkles like a star with superb vinification, no detail being overlooked in the vineyard or in the winery. Translucent, medium ruby with a garnet tinge, it echoes thunderous deep notes of black cherry, plum, dusty spices, and sweet tobacco with its powerful, fruit driven bouquet. But it’s the palate where the magic really comes through with its amazing weightlessness, silky texture, and super fine tannins that lead to the long finish. This is a mind-blowing wine for such a challenging vintage. Drink now-2037+ (tasted May, 2021)
REDS FROM AROUND ITALY October 2019
2015 De Vescovi Ulbach, Teroldego Rotaliano (RT91+)Crafted from the hefty, broad shouldered Teroldego grape, this highly representative wine originates from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy. It shows what the heart and soul of this variety is about with its dark plum, blackberry, red cherry, minerals and crushed stone. This is a beautiful food wine, with lovely acidity to counterbalance the richness of the cuisine. Drink now-2025+
2017 Fabio Motta, Bolgheri Rosso, Pievi (RT91) A blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Sangiovese from young vines along the Bolgheri Coast. Fermented in Stainless, then finished in large casks. Showing a firm structure with super ripe fruit, the wine is artfully assembled with a beautiful, smooth texture and lovely fruit. An excellent value in Bolgheri blends! Drink now-2025
2015 Recchia, Valpolicella Ripasso, Le Muraie (RT91) A uniquely styled Ripasso crafted from a second fermentation of Valpolicella juice, the result delivering an Amarone-ish styled wine, but lighter and easier going. Layered with notes of dried red fruits, figs, spice cake, and hints of smoke and minerality, the mouthfeel is soft, round and delicious. This is a fabulous value, offering all the gifts of fall, and is sumptuous at a highly affordable price. Do not miss it! Drink now-2024+”
IL BORGHETTO – WORLD CLASS WINERY ON THE RISE October 2019
Il Borghetto Winery is among my favorite new wineries in Chianti Classico, producing a selection of superbly crafted wines with a delicate, iron fist in a velvet glove transparent Burgundian style. The winery is small, focusing mostly on handcrafted Sangiovese from organic and biodynamic grapes. The winery was founded just 20 years ago by Cavallini Family and is located near the small village of Montefiridolfi, in San Casciano VP, a short 20-minute jaunt south of Florence.
The estate produces approximately 10,000 bottles per year focusing on four reds that are all 100% Sangiovese: Clante, Bilaccio, Monte de Sassi and Montigiano. They also produce two red blends: Collina 21, crafted from mostly Sangiovese with the balance Merlot & Cab Sauvignon, and Rosie, a blend of Merlot & Cab Sauvignon. They also craft a lovely passito, Paz 2011, which is pure Sangiovese and only produced in special vintages. The first edition was a mere 600-375 ml. bottles.
The winemaking is executed by Tim Manning, a first-class winemaker from the UK. He began learning his craft in New Zealand where he focused on Pinot Noir. His approach is now reflected in these Sangiovese-based wines. Wild yeast, whole clusters and hand plunging (as opposed to pump-overs) are among his preferred techniques. The wines are aged in a combination of burgundy barrels from coopers intended to match the specific plots the grapes are sourced from, and cement. No detail is overlooked, this is world class winemaking.
This is a winery to watch as they continue to gain more recognition with their world class winemaking. The following broken-vertical reflects a marked evolution in the winery’s direction, initially focusing on the same wine, which as you can see from the labels transformed from Chianti Classico to Chianti Classico Riserva to Toscana IGP in just three consecutive vintages. My understanding is that they pulled away from declaring the wine as Chianti Classico in the 2007 vintage because they prefer burgundy bottles, which I am told are not in accordance with Consorzio regulations. Thus, it is now an IGP bottling. The 2013 comes from a different vineyard plot than the Bilaccio.
2013 Il Borghetto, Toscana IGP, Monte de Sassi (RT 94) 100% Sangiovese, aged 20 months in barrel, 5,000 bottles produced. With its classic, pale ruby/garnet hue it reveals notes of red cherry, white flowers, hints of new saddle leather and a streak of minerality. The proud mouthfeel is seductive and sappy, revealing a wonderful balance of fruit, acid and super ripe tannin. An exceptional showing of world class Sangiovese, the direction of this winery is moving increasingly toward Burgundy. Very impressive! Drink now-2033+
2007 Il Borghetto, Toscana IGP, Bilaccio (RT 93) With the same purity and elevage as the 2013 Monte de Sassi, the 2007 reveals a darker, riper and deeper expression of the grape. The warm vintage characteristics are evident, and the bouquet is a bit more subdued than the other vintages showing black cherry, menthol, black tea and hints of sous bois. While the fruit is ripe and rich, the mouthfeel remains restrained with a surprising degree of elegance and finesse. Delicious stuff! Drink now-2027+
2006 Il Borghetto, Chianti Classico Riserva, Bilaccio (RT 94) .100% Sangiovese, aged 18 months in barrel, 7,000 bottles produced. From the highly structured 2006 vintage, this shows an expected tautness and hardened frame, as a hint of barrel still shows. Bright red cherry, strawberry and bilberry lead to a luscious, weightless mouthfeel. Here the house style shows in spades as sweet, succulent ripe tannins coat the palate. This has many years of excellent drinking ahead and will outlive the 2007. Drink now-2032+
2005 Il Borghetto, Chianti Classico, Bilaccio (RT 94+) Another pure Sangiovese bottling, aged 16 months in barrel, 4300 bottles produced. Revealing the most evolved character of the tasting, while the hue is like the 2006 and 2007, it shows a much deeper, ripe bouquet of black cherry, Tuscan spice, porcini and forest floor. The house style is again evident with its transparent fruit, lovely acidity and sweet, ripe tannin. This wine outperformed expectations and by all accounts was on fire for this tasting, especially considering a more difficult vintage. Drink now-2025+
LATEST RELEASES FROM CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO October 2019
2018 Cordero di Montezemolo, Langhe, Arneis (RT 90) Cordero crafts a beautiful Arneis year after year, making it one of my favorite Arneis of the Barolo municipalities. With a pale straw hue, it delivers a soft, round aromatic profile with notes of lemon zest, honeydew, white peach, white grapefruit and a smattering of light tropical fruit notes. The palate is ripe and delicious, with ample acidity and a pleasing mouthfeel. This is a fine food wine that overdelivers for the price point and should be able to be had for around $20. Drink now-2023
2017 Cordero di Montezemolo, Langhe, Nebbiolo (RT 89) Showing a highly translucent ruby garnet hue, this is a light, ethereal wine with notes of fresh strawberry, red raspberry and white floral notes. A slightly sappy character emerges with time in the glass. Bright acidity and medium tannins emerge on the finish. Available in the mid-to-upper $20s. Drink 2020-2025+
2016 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Funtani (RT 92) Crafted from 50-year-old vines and aged in various age barriques for a year followed by a year in bottle, the total production is close to 10,000 bottles. The 2016 Funtani shows ripe notes of plum, red cherry, dried herbs and hints of new saddle leather. The palate is delicious with an attractive richness, ripe fruit, refreshing but not dominant acidity and soft tannin. Hints of minerality come through as it opens in the glass. This will benefit from a couple more years of bottle age and will drink well for another 8-10 years. Funtani is a premium Barbera that traded in the mid-to-upper $40s. Drink 2020-2030+
2014 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Monfalletto (RT 91) From estate grown grapes grown in the Monfalletto Cru of La Morra, this is aged for approximately 20 months in a combination of Slavonian botti and French barrique with about 20% new. This is a large production wine – 40,000 plus bottles – of excellent provenance and the quality is high. Showing a dark ruby hue, the bouquet expresses morello cherry, plum and hints of mineral driven anise. It enters the mouth with soft, luxurious texture showing the approachability of the vintage. This is a vintage for early drinking, one that is perfect for restaurants. An enchanting expression of the vintage. Trades in the upper $30s-upper $40s. Drink 2019-2034+
2015 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Monfalletto (RT 93) Showing a deep ruby russet hue, the bouquet emerges with thunderous ripe cherry, anise, red licorice and notes of black tea and fresh plum. The balance is excellent showing a richness and ripeness I often associate with lower elevation Barolo vineyards. Decidedly dense and full in the mouth, the ripeness of the fruit teeters against its excellent acidity and ripe tannin making this an excellent early drinking Barolo, but one that will also develop in a positive direction. Very well done, Monfalletto presents an exceptional Barolo value and trades in the upper $30s-upper $40s. Drink 2022-2045+
2015 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Gattera (RT 94) This Cru bottling is crafted from fruit from the Gattera vineyard in La Morra and shows grand class and loads of finesse. Small production with just over 5,000 bottles produced annually, Gattera is aged for 19-21 months in a combination of botti and barrique, about 20% new. With a full ruby hue, it presents a captivating bouquet built on a frame of red cherry, plum, licorice, menthol and balsam. The mouthfeel is full, mouthcoating and the acids and tannins balanced extremely well. Based on my drinking window, I suggest giving this some cellar time to come together and express its finest. 2015 is another beautiful vintage of Gattera, it can be found in the low $70-upper$80s. Drink 2025-2045+
2013 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Enrico VI (RT 95) The second of Cordero’s Cru bottlings – Enrico VI – comes from a long-owned, 2.2 hectare plot in Castiglione del Falletto’s Villero Cru, where many superb bottlings are sourced. This is sacred ground and a world class source for mind blowing wines. Aged 20 months in a combination of botti and barrique, 20% is new. The 2013 Enrico VI shows a full ruby hue as the aromatics takes a step up from the Gattera bottling with notes of red cherry, cedar, dust and background details of dried herbs and salumi. With time in the glass its minerality comes out of the shadows, reinforcing its serious structure. The mouthfeel takes on an exceptional character, showing richness, firm acidity and sublime, ripe tannins, yet all the while showing the austerity of great Barolo. This wine centers around its structure and will benefit from another 4-5 years of cellaring for it to fully come together. It will drink well for decades, a wine for cellaring, but with ample O2 can be enjoyed at a younger age. Available in the $90-100 price range. Drink 2024-2044+
2015 Cordero di Montezemolo, Barolo, Enrico VI (RT 95+) The 2015 shows a full, dark ruby hue with soaring notes of mentholated red cherry, violet, sappy balsam and hints of spice. Its serious structure emerges as it opens in the glass. The mouthfeel expresses a seriously structured expression of Nebbiolo with a structured, firm ripeness, strong acidity and ripe, sweet tannins, all the while revealing its classic Barolo sternness. This is a wine for long term cellaring, one that will take some time to come together and show its true inner beauty. Give it another 5-7 years of cellaring and follow it for decades. Available in the $90-100 price range. Drink 2025-2050+
FELSINA September 2019
2016 Felsina Berardenga, Chardonnay di Toscana IGT, I Sistri (RT 91) Felsina has grown Chardonnay all the way back to 1987, and this wine continues to show great class with a Tuscan twist. Revealing a medium golden straw hue, the bouquet reveals notes of ripe lemon, apricot, hints of gravel and a cap of yellow apple. The mouthfeel shows a generous, full figure with nicely ripened fruit, soft acidity and a clean finish. Excellent winemaking shows off the French clones as well the small barrel oak aging in a convincing way, this should drink well for the next 6-8 years, but likely won’t make for old bones. Drink now-2024+
2011 Felsina, Pinot Nero di Toscana IGT, Nero di Nubi (RT 91) Yes, 2011 is the current vintage. This is a newer wine from Felsina that receives long aging prior to release, but they’re rising to the challenge cool climate Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir) presents in the hot microclimate of Chianti Classico. Tiny production, with a mere 3,000 bottles produced. This wine shows its potential nicely, but this is NOT Burgundy and should not be compared as it is a unique expression of the grape. Revealing a medium ruby hue, notes of ripe strawberry, dried herbs, wild scrub cherry and a hint of Tuscan underbrush rise from the glass. The palate is mid weight, with rich ripe fruit, decent acidity and finishes with sweet, ripe tannin. Drink now-2026+
2016 Castello di Farnetella, Toscana IGT, Lucilla (RT 88) An alluring blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is aged for 8-10 months in botti followed by 4-6 months in bottle prior to release. The medium ruby red hue gives way to a terroir-driven bouquet of red pit fruit, black cherry, hints of forest floor and hints of red current. The palate is impressively rich for the price point with a hint of sour cherry on the core, this shows bright acidity and soft tannins. Drink now-2024
2016 Castello di Farnatella, Chianti Colli Senesi (RT 89) Here the winemakers at Fèlsina move toward their fascination with the Sangiovese grape blending 92% Sangiovese with 8% Merlot to add some richness to the blend. Aged for 8-12 months in various sized botti and then aged 4 months in bottle. Showing a slightly lighter hue than the Lucilla, the red fruit aspects shine through with notes of Morello cherry, balsam, white flowers and hints of sage. The palate also shows a brighter, more vibrant character with fresher fruit, acidity and a touch more tannin. The is an excellent value in the “affordable” price rage. Drink 2020-2026+
2016 Fèlsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico (RT 90) First released all the way back in the 1967 vintage, this benchmark wine represents a stellar value for the Sangiovese aficionado. Crafted with 100% Castelnuovo Berardenga grown Sangiovese, which is home to extraordinary Sangiovese vineyards, this wine reveals superb attention to detail, even for Fèlsina’s base Chianti Classico. Aged in medium sized Slavonian barrels with a smattering of used oak casks, then aged in bottle for 3+ months prior to release. With a darker ruby hue, the balance on the bouquet is attractive, showing a dark, full richness with notes of red berries, terroir-driven soil elements, dried flowers and hints of espresso. With time in the glass a decided mineral-driven aspect emerges. The mouthfeel is lifted and bright, while it maintains beautiful balance and tension leading to a clean, savory finish. Seriously delicious for an under $20 wine and excellent for mid-term cellaring. Drink 2020-2030+
2015 Fèlsina Berardenga Riserva, Chianti Classico Riserva (RT 92) Like its brethren Chianti Classico, this was also first released in 1967. Crafted from 100% Sangiovese and also grown in Castelnuovo Berardenga, here the playing level is noticeably higher than the CC as the selection of fruit is better, and the aging in cask longer (12-16 months) with some 2nd and 3rd passage barriques being used. While the hue is similar to the CC, it wafts up a far more serious bouquet as the fabulous 2015 growing season shines through. Notes of mentholated red and black cherry, red currant, mocha and soaring balsam lead to a beautiful palate fraught with tension and intrigue as it toys with your mouth. The acidity and tannin show a decided beautiful character. Another excellent vintage for the CCR, this is a lovely wine at an incredibly affordable price! Not to be missed. Drink 2020-2035+
2015 Fèlsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva, Rancia (RT 96) A drop dead gorgeous vintage for this utterly beautiful expression of Sangiovese! First bottled in 1983, this single cru bottling is sourced from the Poggio a Rancia area, is 100% Sangiovese and is sourced from one of the truly profound vineyards in all of Chianti Classico. Despite being aged exclusively in new French oak barrels for 18-20 months, not the slightest amount of oak is present. Over the past two decades this wine has been on fire and this vintage it lives up to expectations from this excellent growing season. With its captivating translucent ruby garnet hue, subtle notes of ripe red cherry, sandalwood, plum, blackberry and accents of dried white flower and Tuscan underbrush emerge. With time its expected spiciness emerges. The palate is sensationally finessed with every little detail in perfect orchestration. A masterpiece of winemaking, the 2015 Rancia is a thing of utter beauty. This is one of the stand out wines for the price point from the region. Drink 2025-2040+ but be aware this may shut down for a few years.
2015 Fèlsina Berardenga, Toscana IGT, Fontalloro (RT 94+) Like Rancia, this wine was also introduced to the world in 1983. While it too is 100% Sangiovese, the source vineyards straddle the Chianti Classico/Chianti Colli Senesi border, thus its IGT classification. It is aged in a combination of new and first passage French oak barrels for 18-22 months, thus it shows a slightly less polished character than its brethren Rancia. Showing a typical Felsina ruby hue, the bouquet reveals ripe notes of black cherry, red currant, thyme, leather and hints of spice. The mouthfeel is delicious and round punctuated with uplifting acidity and ripe, round tannin. This drinks very well now but needs some oxygen to open-up, i.e. – decant it! A truly fine vintage for this wine, although it doesn’t quite rise to the level of the 2016 Rancia. As a pop n’ pour I would suggest giving this a few more years to round out and come together, cellar time that will pay off in a big way! Drink 2022-2040+
2016 Felsina Berardenga, Cabernet Sauvignon di Toscana IGT, Maestro Raro (RT 94) Tuscan Cabernet has always had a strong following, yet remains controversial as some say “why grow international varieties when indigenous ones excel”? My response, because it reveals a highly unique character built on a foundation of minerality in the soils. I’m a fan of Italian Cabernet! This bottling is aged for 18-20 months in new French oak followed by 8-10 months in bottle prior to release. Showing the deep dense hue normally associated with Cabernet Sauvignon, it needs some time in the glass for unfurl is inner beauty. Once it’s arrived it reveals notes of black currant, black cherry, violet, coffee and classic Tuscan minerality. The palate is seamless, pure and terroir laden with beautiful balance, finesse and a large tannic heft that will need time to soften and round out. Drink 2024-2036+
2007 Felsina, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico (RT 95) Felsina has long produced one of the finest Vin Santo’s in Italy, a blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and Sangiovese dried until Jan/Feb following harvest, destemmed and pressed, then aged in small 100-liter barrels for seven years. While some producers sell their Vin Santo at very high prices due to the costs associated with producing it, Felsina practically gives theirs away, making it one of the great bargains in the Italian dessert wine market. Showing a youthful copper hue, the bouquet exudes a cornucopia of Fall scents and tropical fruits as notes of dried peach and apricot, orange zest, hazelnut and toasted almond shine through. The palate is exceptionally well balanced with mouthcoating fruit, beautiful acidity, and a long enduring finish. This is classic Vin Santo! Drink now-2037+
LATEST RELEASES FROM CANTINA MAURO SEBASTE August 2019
2017 Sebaste, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Parigi (RT 89) An interesting bottling, this 100% Nebbiolo grown in vineyards located in villages in Alba and Diano d’Alba and aged in a combination of 400-liter tonneaux of 60% American and 40% French oak for 12-14 months. I don’t the level of macaroon I often associate with American oak aging, which is nice! Translucent ruby in hue with notes of light Morello (sour) cherry, ripe strawberry, raspberry and balsam lead to a delicious palate feel with tasty fresh fruit and a mid-length finish. A fine bottling in the low $20 price range. Drink now-2024+
2016 Sebaste, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Centobricchi (RT 91) From the same vineyards as the Parigi comes this Barbera, which is aged for 12-14 months in new French oak tonneaux. Here the quality of fruit shines through as its deep ruby hue leads to notes of black cherry, sous bois, anise and new leather. The palate is built on a firm layer of minerality as it delivers delicious fruit, tasty acidity and a lovely, softly tannic finish. This should be a nice mid-term age-worthy wine for under $30. Drink 2020-2030+
2015 Sebaste, Barolo, Trèsüri (RT 92) Sourced from estate grown fruit from three excellent vineyards – – the Trèsüri Barolo is aged for three years in mostly 1600 liter French oak barrels with a small amount in 400 liter tonneaux. It reveals a deep garnet hue that reveals notes of mentholated cherry, balsam, rose petal and a hint of truffle. The mouthfeel is a thing of beauty, with lovely fruit, balance acidity and tannin and should age very well for the coming few decades. An exceptionally well-priced Barolo under $40. Drink 2025-2040+
2015 Sebaste, Barolo Cerretta (RT 94) Sourced from estate grown fruit from the exceptional Serralunga Cru Cerretta, this fabulous bottle is aged for three years in 1600 liter French oak barrels with a small amount in 400 liter tonneaux. While the hue here is similar to the Trèsüri, the aromatics are ramped up significantly with penetrating notes of mentholated cherry, cranberry, licorice, fresh rose petal. With time in the glass notes of goudron and violets emerge. The palate is exceptionally endowed with a firm balance of fruit, acidity and fine grained, ripe tannin. A real gem that runs in the $70-80 range and is worth every penny! Drink 2025-2045+
PAITIN – 2019 RELEASES FROM THIS GREAT PIEDMONTESE PRODUCER June 2019
2017 Paitin, Langhe, Arneis, Elisa (RT 90) With a straw hue, the 2017 Arneis shows a lovely ripe and rich bouquet with notes of white stone fruits, pear, a whiff of jasmine and a hint of salinity. The mouthfeel is relatively full for Arneis with ripe fruit and fresh acidity. A lovely Arneis that offers great quaffing at an affordable price. Drink now-2023
2017 Paitin, Nebbiolo Langhe, Starda (RT 89) Starda offers a superb value in the world of Nebbiolo. Crafted from young vines grown in a cooler (read less-warm than Serraboella) part Barbaresco, it is aged for one year in large Slavonian cask. Showing a light translucent ruby garnet hue, notes of ripe strawberry and red raspberry, smoke and rose hips waft from the glass. The mouthfeel is light and easy drinking with a well-balanced combination of fruit, acidity and soft tannin. Drink now-2025+
2015 Paitin, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Ca Veja (RT 91) This vineyard site dates back to the 1500s. Ca Veja translates to “old house”. Contrasting to the lighter hued Starda, here the visual are a bit darker and larger scaled. Deeply nuanced notes of dark red cherry, cranberry, hibiscus with a slight twang lead to a tasty mouthfeel with a traditional bent, showing firm acidity and a soft but ripe tannic finish. Another tasty treat, Paitin has hit its mark with this affordable Nebbiolo. A lovely food wine. Drink now-2025+
2017 Paitin, Dolcetto d’Alba, Sori’ Paitin (RT 90) The fruit for this dolcetto is grown in the southwest-facing slopes of the Serra Boella vineyard and is aged for five months in large Slavonian cask. Its medium ruby hue leads way to deep notes of black cherry, ripe plum, spice, new leather and hints of minerality. The mouthfeel is fruit-driven and layered with bright acidity and firm tannin that will cut through fatty foods beautifully. A terrific pizza wine! Drink now-2026+
2016 Paitin, Barbera d’Alba, Serra (RT 91) Grown on the east-facing slopes of the Serraboella vineyard where more sandy soils exist, this is aged for one year in Slavonian botti (cask). Revealing a deep ruby hue, notes of dark cherry, plum, new saddle leather and licorice emerge. With time in the glass hints of mulberry and a light chocolate note come out. The mouthfeel is excellent and full, with generous ripe fruit, soft acidity and round, lush tannin. Drink now-2026+
2015 Paitin, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Campolive (RT 92) Lower yields and longer aging – 18 months in Slavonian botti – have delivered a beautifully delicious Barbera. Slightly more dense and deeper in hue than the Serra, here notes of ripe dark cherry, saddle leather, cured meat and dried herbs leads to an attractive mouthfeel layered with ripe fruit, soft acidity and a punctuated tannic finish. A really lovely Barbera, this is perfect for mid-term cellaring. Drink now-2028+
2014 Paitin, Barbaresco, Serraboella (RT 92+) The Serraboella cru vineyard – home to the Paitin winery – is the only hill in Barbaresco that combines Serravalliano and Tortoniano soils, an unusual combination that is accentuated by its perfect, south-west exposure. Aged for 20 months in Slavonian botti, this base Barbaresco is crafted from young vines currently 24 years of age. Showing a light ruby garnet hue, it shows notes of red cherry, rose petal, balsam, cedar and a hint of white flowers. The palate is focused like a laser with a beautiful balance of elegant fruit, acidity and ripe tannin on the finish. This is a killer buy for a base Barbaresco that in my view rivals the go-to Produttori del Barbaresco normale’ with style and grace. Drink 2020-2032+
2014 Paitin, Barbaresco, Sori’ Paitin (RT 94+) Paitin’s fabulous Barbaresco Sori Paitin is aged for 36 months in Slavonian botti and is sourced from older vines averaging 45 years of age near the sunny hilltop, thus the name. Here the hue is light ruby with a garnet tinge, and the bouquet is utterly seducing with mentholated notes of morello cherry, ripe red raspberry, fresh rose petal and a mineral driven punctuation mark. The mouthfeel is so exquisite, with a beam of focus that only great winemaking can produce. Balanced and elegant on the palate displaying a captivating weightlessness, gorgeous fruit, refreshing acidity and a long silky ripe finish. Superb! Patin has crafted another masterpiece! Drink 2024-2044+
2014 Paitin, Barbaresco Riserva, Sori’ Paitin Vecchie Vigne (RT 95+) Crafted from old vine fruit planted 66 years ago by Giovanni and Silvano’s father. This is aged for 36 months in Austrian oak botti and for good reason is the wineries’ flagship bottling. Here the wine displays a slightly deeper, fuller ruby garnet hue and the bouquet echoes this display with rich, alluring mentholated notes of dark red cherry, a smattering of violets, and pinch of balsam and a punctuation mark layered in minerality and white floral notes. The Austrian oak lends a beautiful influence on the wine, as the mouthfeel is decadently rich and sappy, the fruit well balanced with the acids and superbly ripe tannins that keep luring you back for another sip. This is artful in every way, I can’t wait to see how this evolves with cellaring. Drink 2024-2044+
A LOVELY EVENING AT A GREAT FRIEND’S TASTING May 2019
A lovely evening at my dear friend Suzy’s with many of the attendees working on the MS training program. This night provided some lovely wines, with the whites mostly leaning toward early drinkers and the reds showing some quite profound bottlings.
NV Ricci Curbastro, Franciacorta, Brut (RT 89) A blend of60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc & 10% Pinot Noir with 8 grams/liter dosage, aged for 30 months. Bright, energized and crisp with white stone fruit and a hint of yellow peach. Drink now-2021+
2017 Bruno Giacosa, Roero, Arneis (RT 91) A lovely showing for this Arneis, crafted from a warm vintage! I’ve followed Giacosa’s Arneis for many years now, and I love this bottling from warmer vintages when hints of ripe tropical fruit shine through, as opposed to the many acid searing versions of this grape from cooler vintages. Bravo to the Team at Giacosa! I recently had a bottle of 2005 that was drinking incredibly well at age 13, very impressive! Follow your hearts’ desire when it comes to vintage style. Drink now-2027+
2003 Ronco del Gnemiz, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Sauvignon Sol (RT 92) Showing a beautiful golden hue, this aged Sauvignon Blanc reveals fresh notes of lemon, white melon and yellow stone fruits. Beautifully mature, but in no thread of sliding over the hill anytime soon. Drink now-2025+
2015 Orsi Vigneto San Vito, Vigna del Grotto (RT 89) Crafted from 100% Grechetto Gentile grown in the hills around the town of Bologna, this shows a slightly maderized (oxidized) character with notes of hazelnut and old barrel smells. Certainly unique, and perhaps popular with natural movement aficionados, but in my view could be better with a less rustic winemaking approach. Drink now -2022
2016 Edi Kerber, Collio (RT 90) A blend from the border of Italy and Slovenia of Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friuliano & Malvasia Istriana. This is a lovely fresh white that reveals a core of yellow stone fruits, fresh white flowers and and a hint of terroir. Excellent acidity, but not too much, this delivers a lovely sumptuous mouthfeel. 20% of the wine was aged in concrete egg, the balance in stainless. An excellent wine that will drink well for the coming near term. Drink now-2026
2017 Pra, Soave Classico, Monte Grande (RT 91) A blend of 70% Garganega, 30% Trebbiano di Soave aged in large French oak casks for 10 months, lending a decided richness to the wine. Round and voluptuous with a pungent bouquet of yellow peach, an alluring floral aspect and notes of wheat grass that brings you back for another sip. Showing the slightest caramel aspect as it unwinds in the glass. Drink now-2025+
2015 Livio Felluga, Terre Alte (RT 93) A wonderful blend of Friuliano, Pinot Bianco & Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks, where they matured for ten months. The Friulano fermented and aged in small casks of French oak, then the grapes are blended. This is lush, rich wine with notes of yellow melon and jasmine with a hint of tropical fruit. Totally digging this great bottling, a go to white wine! Drink now -2025+
2014 Roberto Voerzio, Barbera d’Alba, Il Cerreta (RT 89) I found myself measurably disappointed in this bottle as the overall impression was one of thin, dilute and overly acidic, despite Voerzio’s obsession with minimal harvest yields and crafting concentrated wines. Not sure what happened here, but it’s not a typical showing for Voerzio. Showing red cherry, and a bit of leather with a hint of smokiness, it offers fresh acidity but soft tannins. Drink now-2024
2015 Vietti, Barbera d’Alba, Vigna Scarrone (RT 92) A benchmark bottling for this famed Piedmont producer, this and the Scarrone Vigna Vecchia are their top two Barbera bottlings. Showing notes of black cherry, new leather, coffee and spice, it reveals a lovely level of acidity which keeps it fresh, and a soft tannic finish. Drink 2022-2030+
2013 Castiglion del Bosco, Brunello di Montalcino, Campo del Drago (RT 92) The single vineyard bottling from Castiglion del Bosco and a step up from their normale’ Brunello bottling. Tis could have used some more breathing time but showed well enough. With a hint of modern polish and no dominant oak showing through, at age 5+ this reveals hints of dark red cherry, Tuscan spice and dark floral notes, but remains on the young side. Made in a well-balanced style, this could grow in its curb appeal with proper cellaring. Drink 2023-2038+
2009 Ronchi di Cialla, Schioppettino di Cialla (RT 91) Friuli Venezia Giulia is home to the Schioppettino grape, which has a long history, but has never really risen to a highly heralded variety and remains sparely planted today. This wine is staunchly traditional in its style, but aged in older French oak barrique. Served from a 375ml., this shows a ruby hue with spicy, peppery notes of red fruits, terroir-driven earthy notes and hints of orange peel. The balance of fruit, tannin and acidity shows excellent wine making, but I’m not sure the 375ml bottling did this justice as it seems a bit advanced. Drink now-2029 from larger formats
2014 La Tena, Valtellina Superiore, Ca Bianche (RT 87) A value priced Nebbiolo that shows sour red cherry with a decided twangy character due to its high acidity. Not terribly enticing with its imbalanced acid dominated character. Drink now
2012 Luigi Nervi, Gattinara (RT 93) From the oldest winery in Gattinara in Alto Piedmont comes this most excellent Nebbiolo, which is aged for 3 years in Slovonian cask. While the DOCG rules allow for blending of up to 10% Vespolina, this wine is 100% Nebbiolo. It shows a delicious, elegant approachable character. Notes of sweet ripe red raspberry and strawberry display how elegant Gattinara can be, the mouthfeel is light on its feet, the acidity and tannin bringing a lovely finish to the wine. A beautiful wine from pre-Roberto Conterno ownership of Nervi. Drink now-2032+
2011 Brovia, Barolo, Rocche di Castiglione (RT 95) Showing the elegance of this fabulous cru vineyard, the 2011 Rocche reveals an enchanting, feminine side of the equation. The lighter translucent ruby garnet hue matches its grace perfectly as it shows fresh, light notes of red raspberry, Morello cherry, balsam and fresh roses. The palate is equally elegant with lovely lift, fruit concentration and balanced acid and tannin. One of the two Wines of the Night. Drink 2023-2036
2004 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo, Le Brunate (RT 95) Another stunning showing for the 2004 Le Brunate, it shows a broad shouldered, masculine side of Barolo, juxta opposed from the Brovia Rocche. Deep dark notes of black cherry, forest floor and minerality emerge and the mouthfeel is equally impressive showing a depth of fruit I associate with this seriously structured vintage. This remains on the young side of tertiary development but is drinking beautifully with sufficient oxygenation The other Wine of the Night for me. Drink now-2034+
1999 Aldo Rainoldi, Valtellina, Sfursat, Fruttaio Ca’ Rizzieri (RT 94) I picked up this one off bottling many years ago and its been in my cellar since. A superb showing for this late harvest, Amarone-styled Nebbiolo, with its deep ruby hue. Showing superbly ripe red fruit with hints of smoke and a wisp of VA to add punctuation to the package. Delicious mouthfeel with brilliant acidity and sweet, ripe tannin. A mind-blowing delicious late harvest Nebbiolo! Drink now-2029+
2010 Allegrini, Monovitigno Corvina Veronese IGT, La Poja (RT 93) Crafted from 100% Corvina Veronese and aged for four years prior to release, this wine shows a darker, denser side of the equation, with rich, ripe notes of dark red fruit, meats and a beautiful smokiness. The palate is lush yet buttressed with lovely refreshing acidity and a smooth tannic finish. This will age gorgeously and is a serious and structured wine. Drink now-2030+
April 29, 2019
2015 Miani, Friuli Colli Orientali, Sauvignon (RT 94) Miani is a cult producer with limited production, so sourcing the wines can be tricky. This was popped and poured, then followed over two days. It was another stunning showing for Miani Sauvignon revealing a deep yellowish straw hue. The pungent bouquet wafts up notes of classic gooseberry, yellow stone fruits, jasmine and hints of herbs. The mouth feel is generous and broad showing the ripeness of the vintage and the balance between fruit and acidity is a thing of beauty. A truly magnificent wine, this will mature gracefully for many years to come. Drink now – 2035+. Currently trading in the $80-90 range.
*See FROM THE CELLAR for the Tasting Note on the 1997 Prunotto Bussia
APRIL 2019 – A PAIR OF ANTONIOLO GATTINARAs FROM THE BENCHMARK 2010 VINTAGE!
2010 Antoniolo, Gattinara (RT 91) This is the second bottle I’ve had, the first showed very well as a pop n’ pour (with decant) at a Boulder, Colorado restaurant. This bottle was also decanted and followed over a couple evenings. I love the wines of Gattinara for their early drinking potential given their clean, polished tannins, especially from a top-class winery like Antoniolo. That said, don’t underestimate their cellaring potential; they can age for decades, especially from a solid vintage. Showing a pale ruby garnet hue, the bouquet is bright and focused with notes of red berries, morello cheery, rose petal and high toned minerality. The palate is elegant and focused, with beautiful acidity and elegant, ripe tannin. Compared to the Produttori del Barbaresco’s normale’ bottling, which is similarly priced, I prefer this wine. Drink now – 2030+. The 2010 is available in just a few shops nationally in the low $30s, the current vintages – 2012 & 2013 – are trading in the mid $30s-mid $40s.
2010 Antoniolo, Gattinara, Le Castelle (RT 94+) One of three single vineyard bottlings from Antoniolo, the other two being San Francesco & Osso San Grato. SO’d for the day prior to pouring the first glass, it initially showed a lighter shade of Nebbiolo, but with time in the glass darkened considerably. The bouquet started out fresh, bright and highly floral, layered with red cherry, balsam, anise and smoke. On the palate the balance is extraordinarily focused and linear, showing a degree of elegance not often experienced in Alto Piedmont nebbiolo. I followed this over the course of the next 2 days and while it darkened and became more brooding, its focus and clarity never budged an iota, yet the tannins remained clean, elegant and perfectly ripe, buttressed with bright fresh acidity. A fabulous showing for a winery which in my view is the finest Gattinara producer today. Drink 2020 – 2035+. Current vintages range from the mid $40s – 60.
LATEST RELEASES FROM ANTONIOLO & BRAIDA March 2019
2014 Antoniolo, Gattinara (RT 90) Like all the Gattinara’s produced by Antoniolo, this wine is 100% Nebbiolo. In this vintage the normalé bottling – production of approx. 10,000 bottles – shows a round softness and more gentle structure, making it very approachable and drinking well early. Red cherries, a hint of earthiness and floral high notes lead to a generous expression of Nebbiolo with good balance and acidity. This wine should drink well now -2030+
2014 Antoniolo, Gattinara, Osso San Grato (RT 94) 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a 3-hectare vineyard that was planted in the 1940s and 50s, this bottling is fermented for 20 days followed by aging for 36 months in 35 HL old casks. Showing a crystalline, ruby translucence, a core of red berries and white flowers crowned with a penetrating minerality waft out of the glass. The palate reveals a beautiful weightlessness punctuated with a tangy sour cherry note. Lovely fresh acidity and elegant tannins provide an excellent punctuation mark. 2014 was a tough, low production vintage in Gattinara, yet Lorella Antoniolo and her team did a fine job crafting elegant, aging worthy wines. This is a beautiful Cru Gattinara worth laying down in your cellar, but the cooler micro climate in these Dolomiti foothills creates an ideal climate for creating smooth, ripe tannins and this wine can be drunk now with proper oxygenation. A top-quality bottling and highly recommended. Drink 2024 – 2039+
2017 Serra dei Fiori, La Regina Langhe, Nascetta (RT 91) A blend of 70% Nascetta and 30% Chardonnay, this is a rich, broad shouldered blend showing the Piedmont climate where it hails from. Aged in stainless steel, but you’d never know it, this is meant to be drunk at a young age. With its pale straw hue, it shows bright notes of honeydew melon, white peach, honey suckle and crushed gravel. The palate is round and relatively rich with a charismatic balance of fruit, tannin and acidity. A fine value in the white wine market. Drink now-2025+
2016 Braida, Monferrato Rosso, Il Bacialè (RT 91) A unique blend of 60% Barbera, 20% Pinot Nero, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, aged for a year in a combination of large and small barrels. This shows ripe, round fruit with notes of black cherry, Damson plum, menthol and hints of minerality. The palate is lush, broad shouldered and leaning toward the masculine side of the equation, with bright, fresh acidity and relatively soft tannins. A tasty value in the $20-25+ price range. Drink now-2026+
UNIQUE TOSCANA IGT March 2019
2011 Podere Il Palazzino, Toscana IGT, Stagi (RT 93) Third bottle from a case bought on release, this bottle was in terrific condition with a perfect cork. An unusual bottling comprised of 100% Colorino, which is typically a blending grape in Tuscany and mostly used in small quantities. Here the pure expression of the variety is revealed in a dense, nearly opaque deep ruby hue. At age seven the wine has barely evolved, showing a youthful expression of fresh red raspberries and blackberry, hints of currants and florals, with a liqueur-like profile. Mouth filling and broad shouldered, it is nicely figured, offering a satisfying mouthfeel with good balance and fine tannins. There’s a bright, long future for this wine, but I think it won’t turn the corner toward tertiary maturity until the 2022 or beyond. Drink now – 2030+. A top value and highly recommended.
2010 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo, Le Brunate (RT 95) This was popped and poured, then followed over the course of three days. Showing a translucent, medium ruby hue, it is forthcoming on the bouquet showing perfectly ripe fruit with notes of dark ripe cherry, sous bois, liquorice and hints of violets. The mouthfeel is utterly sublime, coating your taste buds with exquisitely ripe fruits, perfectly balanced acid and soft, sublimely ripe tannin leading to a rich, long finish. Over the following days it never closed in on itself or shut down, continuing to exemplify the character of perfectly ripe fruit and tannins, so magnificently conveyed in this superb vintage. Rinaldi’s 2010 Le Brunate may just be his best-ever effort from this legendary vineyard, bravo! Back up the truck!