• Straight Outta Haro: 1968-2012 Lopez de Heredia

    Straight Outta Haro: 1968-2012 Lopez de Heredia

    On my trip to Spain in June 2019, none brought more anticipation than my drive to Haro from San Sebastián. Among the historic estates in Spain, few conjure a sense of awe like Rioja's Lopez de Heredia, and for me, they're simply the pinnacle of tradition.

    I've always found Lopez de Heredia wines stand out from the pack for their elegance and subtleness. Although not light in color, they see less extraction than many of their neighbors. In short, they are the best case made in the world today for Tempranillo's ability to transmit terroir in the most delicate framework possible.

    Traditional winemaking here relies on American oak, but the influence of new wood is minimal, if at all. The Bosconia sees five years in wood prior to additional aging in bottle, and the Tondonia is aged six years. The inherent value in this estate-aging is really without peer in the world of wine.

    Founded in 1877, the winery has maintained a level of excellence and held onto a deeply traditional winemaking philosophy that's the model for Rioja today. When Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta began his venture, he quickly realized that there was simply no way to ensure high quality by purchasing grapes. With that, the Tondoñia Vineyard was planted in 1913.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Giovanna's Chianti: 2019 Le Boncie Le Trame

    Giovanna's Chianti: 2019 Le Boncie Le Trame

    "Giovanna's wines are pure, bright, fresh and juicy, with bracing acidity and lingering flavors of red fruit and flowers." — Eric Asimov, NYT

    When I have the opportunity to prove that Chianti Classico can show grace and pristine fruit quality akin to Red Burgundy, I use Giovanna Morganti's Le Trame as my first example. I implore you to trust this will be your moment of clarity for Sangiovese.

    Importer Neal Rosenthal's Montevertine is a benchmark for the region, but his other discovery, Le Boncie, better illustrates Sangiovese's sometimes elusive, fruit-forward profile and silken tannins. Earlier this year, Eric Asimov of the New York Times included Le Trame in his top ten list of Chianti Classicos.

    Giovanna farms her fives hectares using organic and biodynamic principles. I could go down the rabbit hole on farming, fermentation, and aging specifics, but I'd like to cut this one short and say: This is a profound wine that's a joy to drink. I've lost count of the number of times I've used this bottling to convince friends that Sangiovese can be fun, approachable, and deadly serious. Below is a photo from my 2017 visit and the gorgeous color of the barrel sample that had me in love.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Arbois Arsenal: 2018 & 2020 Domaine du Pélican

    Arbois Arsenal: 2018 & 2020 Domaine du Pélican

    The Jura has remained quietly tucked in a sleepy corner of France an hour's drive east. This region certainly has its enthusiasts, but for the most part, the wines historically had been sold in France. However, one evening at a Parisian restaurant set in motion a series of events that would ultimately be a turning point for the Jura.

    It was at this Parisian restaurant that Guillaume D'Angerville of Domaine Marquis d'Angerville in Volnay asked the sommelier to blind pour him a glass of wine. The one rule Guillaume had that evening was that it couldn't be from Burgundy. The sommelier poured him Stéphane Tissot's Arbois Les Bruyères, and the rest was history.

    At first, locals in Arbois weren't thrilled about D'Angerville's arrival. However, his true fondness for the wines and the history of the small region quickly revealed itself. He made it clear that his goal was to bring worldwide awareness to the great and incredibly unique wines of the Jura. Several properties were purchased and converted to organic and biodynamic practices, including some of Jacques Puffeney's holdings.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Barolo's Royal Family: 1967-2019 Giuseppe Rinaldi

    Barolo's Royal Family: 1967-2019 Giuseppe Rinaldi

    Rinaldi is a revered traditionalist following family techniques used since the early and mid-1900s. With long macerations on the skins aging in large botti, the results are powerfully deep Baroli met with precision and aromatics that make them incomparable. They offer wild spices, gamey notes, and of course, Nebbiolo's tell-tale tar and roses.

    The Giuseppe Rinaldi wines first appeared in 1921, though, it was during Beppe's lifetime that the world's attention turned toward Piedmont—Beppe's spirit is more immortalized than the legendary wines he produced. Sadly, he passed away in 2018, but he had several years to see his daughters, Marta and Carlotta, continue to raise the bar.

    I visited the Rinaldi cantina just before harvest in 2012. It was nothing short of a privilege to meet the Rinaldi family and taste the wines, including the monumental 2010s still in botti. Finding back-vintage wines is not a common occurrence today, and I was thrilled to work with Rinaldi's US importer, Vinifera Imports, to acquire several older wines directly from the Rinaldi estate.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Volnay's Dynmaic Duo: D'Angerville & De Montille

    Volnay's Dynmaic Duo: D'Angerville & De Montille

    Volnay and its high limestone content sit in rare company with Chambolle-Musigny as one of Burgundy's most ethereal and delicate examples of Pinot Noir. While there may be no Grand Crus in the village, savvy collectors know these top Premier Crus transform and go the long haul, as nearly anything from the Côte de Nuits.

    D'Angerville and De Montille are at the apex of what's been proven possible here in Volnay for decades. Pronounced structure and tightly-coiled mineral tension make D'Angerville and De Montille perfect domaines to stash in the cellar, yet each has a more open-knit style than has been standard in the past.

    D'Angerville's protocol of excluding punch-downs and relying solely on pump-overs for fermentation gives these wines a plush and soft-fruited personality that meshes brilliantly with the chalky terroir of Volnay. This combo brings enough slight austerity to make these delicious and supremely thought-provoking.

    De Montille is associated with whole-cluster ferments. That elevated exotic spice component and stemmy crunch made these famous for their fortress-like persona during the Hubert de Montille era. As son Etienne has taken over, recent decades have moved toward rounder structure. There hasn't been a huge style shift from one generation to the next. Rather, Etienne is simply keen on allowing wines to offer more joy and expression sooner.

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    Posted by Max Kogod