• Giacomo Conterno 1964 Through 2016:  Barbera, Barolo, & Monfortino

    Giacomo Conterno 1964 Through 2016: Barbera, Barolo, & Monfortino

    With recent additions of Giacomo Conterno's Cascina Francia Barbera d'Alba in stock, I thought today would be a great day to focus on the entire range. There's no producer in Piedmont that demands more attention or reverence than Roberto Conterno. Visiting with him in November 2012 offered a small glimpse into the genius behind the quiet and reserved exterior.

    Conterno's immaculate cellar and eye for detail, specifically with cleanliness, is unlike anything I've seen in person. The wines from the Cascina Francia vineyard (Barbera, Barolo, and Barolo Riserva Monfortino) are each benchmarks of the region. While deeply traditional methods in the cellar are applied, the sophistication and suave character of the wines in glass stand apart from his contemporaries.

    Vineyard practices have been called modern, in their focus on coaxing maximum ripeness from vines. I find this to be a huge element in why the customarily dark and tannic Nebbiolo of Serralunga's terroir exudes so much charm when poured.

     
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The Queen of Chambolle Musigny:  Ghislaine Barthod

    The Queen of Chambolle Musigny: Ghislaine Barthod

    Discussions have arose with some customers who love red Burgundy, but tend to prefer bottles on the younger side. While the tertiary notes that develop with age may speak to you, or not, it's undeniable some producers are known for the most glacial of aging. Ghislaine Barthod of Chambolle Musigny is at the top of that list.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer a range from Barthod covering 1989 through 2016. 


    I vividly remember Becky Wasserman's 10-Year-On retrospective of the 2002 vintage held at her home in Burgundy in 2012. Elite domaine's top Premier and Grand Cru bottlings filled tables for the walk-around tasting. When all was said and done, it was the wines of Ghislaine Barthod that held a level of freshness and verve that was in a world of its own at this tasting of vintage past.

    There's a piano string-like tension to these Chambolle-Musigny wines that, in many ways, illustrate the personality of the village the best. This high proportion of active limestone separates Chambolle from just about every village in the Côte d'Or, save for Volnay. Barthod's eye toward transparency and grace have always put these atop my personal Burgundy wish list.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Straight Outta Haro:  Lopez de Heredia Back-Vintage Treasures

    Straight Outta Haro: Lopez de Heredia Back-Vintage Treasures

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

    Today's offer also coincides withe one of the most long-awaited events of the year, when Lopez de Heredia's California importer announces small allocations of back-vintage Rioja wines sourced directly from the region.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a small collection that has just arrived. In addition, today's list features other Rioja estates, all bottles coming directly from Spain through the same California importer.

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

    * While the aged wines listed below are, no doubt, expensive, I implore you to consider the 2010 Rioja Crianza at $28 per bottle to see the magic of this historic Rioja estate from one of the most heralded vintages over the last many decades.

    Viña Bosconia comes from the clay and limestone "El Bosque" vineyard located under a mile from the winery. The name "Bosconia" ia a bit of an ode to a style of wine made generations ago here called, “Rioja Cepa Borgoña” which contained a high portion of Pinot Noir (hence the rare Burgundy shaped bottle). Today, this cuvée is comprised of about 75% Tempranillo, 7% Garnacha, with the rest divided by Mazuelo and Graciano.

    Viña Tondonia is also on clay and limestone, but planted with slightly more Garnacha. It is the most famed vineyard of Haro with its iconic position on the banks of the Ebro river. Tondonia is the more structured of the two wines, although both cuvées have proved they can age gracefully for many, many decades.

    Traditional winemaking here relies on American oak, of course. But, the influence of new wood is minimal, if at all. Both the 2005 Bosconia Reserva and Tondonia Reserva are current releases from Lopez de Heredia's California importer. The Bosconia sees 5 years in wood prior to additional aging in bottle, and the Tondonia is aged 6 years in wood.

    Where does Lopez de Heredia diverge from the other great traditional Rioja estates? I have always found an elegance and subtlely to both wines that stands out from the pack. Although not light in color, they both 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. 

    The inherent value in this estate-aging is really without peer in the world of wine. Not only are both vineyards regarded as Grand Crus of Spain, but they also offer a massive window of continued aging and development should you choose to cellar. And, at the same time, both wines are released to be enjoyed tonight without the need for significant decanting. Do not miss the two wines that personify Spain's traditional foundation like no other.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Mosel Lace at its Finest:  Willi Schaefer Domprobst & Himmelreich

    Mosel Lace at its Finest: Willi Schaefer Domprobst & Himmelreich

    Visiting with Christoph Schaefer seven years ago at his family's cellar at the foot of the wickedly steep Domprobst vineyard of Graach (pictured above) was an unforgettable experience. The wines have long impressed me for their featherweight lightness and mineral spring purity of fruit. The balance found throughout the wines coming from the Mosel River Valley captivate us at every turn, but, for me, those from Willi Schaefer sit in a select category. Along with J.J. Prüm, this is where the Mosel reaches its crescendo.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the full range of in-stock Willi Schaefer Rieslings. 

    The list covers current releases as well as extreme rarities. Value can be found with age, now at 15 years the 2004 Riesling QBA at $34/btl is a great example of the magic capable of developing in bottle. And, several Auction (Grosser Ring) bottlings with a big emphasis on the epic 2001 vintage certainly marks the highlight of this group.

    Schaefer's minute holding of 4.2 hectares almost exclusively focuses on two vineyards in the village of Graach, the Himmelreich and Domprobst - both comprised of Devonian slate soils. 

    The Himmelreich, in its youth, is the more approachable, fruity, and silky. Lots of citrus and white peach tend to dominate. There's an agility and sense of weightlessness to Himmelreich that personifies the magic of the Mosel.

    The Domprobst is the more deep, spicy, and powerful. Earthy characteristics reveal themselves here in wines with slightly higher acidity. Flavor profile tends to push further away from the citrus register and into yellow and red orchard fruit notes.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Barolo's Royal Family:  The Wines of Giuseppe Rinaldi

    Barolo's Royal Family: The Wines of Giuseppe Rinaldi

    An epic retrospective tasting of the wines from Giuseppe Rinaldi were featured by Antonio Galloni in Vinous in May of 2017. This dinner in London was complete with vintages spanning 1990-2010. Looking back at these notes recently was the impetus for today's offer. A visit just before harvest in 2012 to the cantina was one of my very fondest memories of travels on the wine route. It was a true privilege to meet the family and taste the wines, including the monumental 2010's still in botti.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a wide range from Giuseppe Rinaldi stretching back to the epic 1967 Brunate Riserva. 

    The first wines labeled under Giuseppe Rinaldi came in 1921 (pictured below). Battista Rinaldi continued the tradition at the estate in 1945, and after his passing his son Beppe returned home in 1992. Beppe's spirit over the last decades has been even more immortalized than the legendary wines he's produced. It was over this span that worldwide attention on Piedmont had gradually increased, and even in the last 15 years pricing and scarcity of the wines has drastically changed. In 2010 Beppe's daughter's Marta and Carlotta began making the wines, continuing in the same traditional fashion.

    Along with drinking the wines of Bartolo Mascarello and Giacomo Conterno, Rinaldis are among the most memorable I've had in Barolo. They appeal to every aspect of the senses and continually remind me that no matter how articulate experiences can be conveyed the true magic of them is a deeply personal one.

    As noted by Galloni, most of the production from this cantina had been sold to private customers. Finding back-vintage wines is not a common occurrence today. I was thrilled to be able to work over the last year with Rinaldi's US importer, Vinifera Imports, to acquire several older wines directly from the Rinaldi estate. 

    Rinaldi is a revered traditionalist, following the techniques Battista and Giuseppe had employed in the early and mid 1900's. Wines are macerated on their skins for a long time, and aging takes place large botti. The results are powerful, deep Barolos that are met with the precision and aromatics that make them incomparable. They offer wild spices, gamey notes, and of course Nebbiolo's tell-tale tar and roses.

    Essentially two Barolos were made, the Brunate-Le Coste and the Cannubi (San Lorenzo)-Ravera. Laws recently changed and now multiple crus aren't permitted on labels. Starting in 2010 the Brunate-Le Coste was bottled with a higher 85% Brunate and just 15% Le Coste (the maximum legal addition). The Cannubi (San Lorenzo)-Ravera began to implement wine from Le Coste and the new name for the bottling is "Tre Tine" (three vats).
    Posted by Alexander Rosen