• The Great Italian White:  2015 I Clivi Brazan Collio Friulano

    The Great Italian White: 2015 I Clivi Brazan Collio Friulano

    Italy has long been maligned when the debate at a raucous dinner party turns to The Great White Wines of the World. Often, names like Miani, Gravner, Radikon, Emidio Pepe, and Valentini are quick retorts when Francophiles list off the dizzying array of top producers throughout the country. To be fair, I've long struggled in finding Italian whites that reverberate with me like the benchmarks of France, Germany, and Austria do.

    The aforementioned five Italian estates can be difficult to source, and pricing is often astronomical. Making proclamations about the great whites of Italy may be silly considering the wild diversity of varieties grown. But, after revisiting the oldest Friulano release by I Clivi I'm throwing caution to the wind: The 2015 old vine BrazanFriulano is one of the great, great whites I've ever had from Italy. At $39 per bottle this is not to be missed.


    I Clivi's Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano) comes from 70-year-old vines in the Brazan vineyard. In Collio these revered marl soils are known as Ponca. As a variety Friulano can be tricky, often succumbing to fatty and overly-glossy characteristics as acidity can drop off quickly while grapes are on the vine. Ferdinando Zanusso has fought against this by his meticulous organic work in the vineyard and in regularly sampling grapes before harvest to ensure picking occurs at the optimal moment. He also began to block malolactic fermentation in order to retain tension and verve.

    I can't overemphasize just how thrilling the Brazan is to drink. On the nose there's a massive brioche character derived from the long aging on lees. On the palate there's a seductive gossamer texture that's perfectly proportioned to the ripe fruit and laser-focused acidity. And, while creamy coconut characteristics sound like an impossible feat to execute being balanced by bright freshness, that's exactly what Brazan does that ultimately made my head spin. 

    Some wines take a moment to really pull you in and reveal their greatness, but upon first sip this Friulano's perfection is made abudnatly clear. The best of Collio can show rich textural and exotic fruit notes OR they're built on mineral drive full of mouth-coating salinity. There's only one bottling I've found that displays both, and with each year in bottle Brazan's magic is divulged even more.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • 2016 Salvo Foti Vinupetra:  The Godfather's Etna Magnum Opus

    2016 Salvo Foti Vinupetra: The Godfather's Etna Magnum Opus

    We recently focused on Salvo Foti's Mt. Etna value knockout, the I Vigneri Rosso. Today we turn to Foti's top wine, Vinupetra. With so many exciting producers today on Etna it can be hard to pick favorites, but when the discussion turns plainly to the greatest red wine from the slopes of this active volcano there's no debate in my mind.It's Vinupetra. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the brand new release, 2016 I Vigneri Vinuptra for $63 per bottle, along with a small collection of magnums.


    Vinupetra comes from just a single hectare of 100+ year-old-vines on Etna's north side. Simply put, it's a magnum opus for Nerello Mascalese. The north side is home to the most serious reds on Etna. At 2,300 feet these are some of the highest altitude vines in all of Europe. Massive mountain ranges form the back drop of the terraced vineyards, and the sea's influence is minimized as compared to Milo in the south where Foti sources his Carricante.

    The impact Salvo Foti has had on the wines, vineyards, and producers of Etna is a tough task to complete in a few paragraphs. He is the Godfather of wine on this volcanic landscape. His work was for so many years tied to other top estates likeBiondi and Benanti, serving as an oenlogist and vineyard consultant. But, in 2001 he began to focus nearly exclusively on his own project, I Vigneri - The name derives from the 1435-established Maestranzi dei Vigneri, a collective of vineyard workers who influenced the foundation of these magnificent vines atop Etna.

    At I Vigneri production is split between the white Carricante on Etna's Mediterranean-influenced south-east facing vineyards, and its very old vine Nerello Mascalese in the high altitude northern side of the volcano. Today, all wines truly set the bar for the heights now expected from Etna wine. 

    Foti's Aurora is composed of Carricante (with 10% Minella) grown in the village of Milo. It captures the brilliance and purity of the variety that's so heavily influenced by the sea breeze. At once its fleshy, honeyed, with notes of melon, pear, and almonds, but the driving vein of salinity is what ultimately defines it. All the components are in place to allow this to age beautifully, but current release is generous and seemingly holding nothing back. The exquisite balance and seamless contours of Aurora is what stands out in the end.

    Nerello Mascalese sees intense sun exposure, but the huge swing into low temperatures at night keep acidity very high and allow this to walk that tightrope between concentrated, ripe fruit and a disciplined frame of structured minerality. Vinupetra dazzles the senses with its transparency and ethereal nature on one end, and powerful concentration at the other. Wines that find a harmony between grace and power are not easy to come across. Vinupetra is more than the top example of Nerello Mascalese or a Sicilian red, it's one of the world's great wines of terroir.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings:  Barolo for the Ages

    The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings: Barolo for the Ages

    In the peak of summer I find myself longing for those cool, late fall nights complete with a big bowl of pasta and a bottle of favorite Barolo. Below is my dream list. The kind of names that may keep one up late at night, tossing and turning in bed, with images of wild boar bolognese, homemade fusilli, and a cheese plate filled with top notch Pecorino. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings:  Barolo for the Ages

    The King of Wines & The Wine of Kings: Barolo for the Ages

    In the peak of summer I find myself longing for those cool, late fall nights complete with a big bowl of pasta and a bottle of favorite Barolo. Below is my dream list. The kind of names that may keep one up late at night, tossing and turning in bed, with images of wild boar bolognese, homemade fusilli, and a cheese plate filled with top notch Pecorino. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Sangiovese's Royal Order:  2010 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva

    Sangiovese's Royal Order: 2010 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva

    During my Summer 2017 trip to Tuscany no estate garnered the same respect from winemakers and sommeliers quite like Castell'in Villa. From Rome through Florence, top restaurant wine lists all find a space for these age-worthy Chianti Classicos from vintages stretching back to the early 70's. This is where the longevity and transformative capabilities of Sangiovese is best illustrated. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2010 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva for $59 per bottle, and down to $55/btl for any order of 6 bottles or more! Also featured today are late releases direct from the estate: 1971 and 1993.

    Castell'in Villa doesn't fall into any easy category, outside of being staunchly traditional in their vinification and aging. The estate's soil in Castelnuovo Berardenga has an unusual makeup of fossilized fragments that conjure Chablis more so than Tuscany (see pictures below). The limestone-based soil is still the mother rock here as it is throughout Chianti Classico, but the ancient artifacts point to a time long ago when this specific vineyard was under a small sea.

    As you can imagine, the mineral component endowed to this wine is profound. Met with the structure from these choice old vines dedicated to the Riserva we have a magical combo that's made this arguably the most sought-after aged wine in all of Tuscany. At $59 per bottle from one of greatest vintages of the last 50 years it's no wonder why this disappeared from their importer in a flash. 

    The Greek Princess, Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa has overseen the property here for many years, residing in the 13th century tower above the winery. She keeps a healthy stock of back vintages, namely the epic 1971 Chianti Classico Riserva that's still found on top Michelin starred wine lists in Italy and offered here today.

    The 2010's from Tuscany have come and gone. Being able to source a late release like this from the most timeless estate in the original Chianti zone was an unexpected surprise. There's no doubt, in 40 years we'll be looking back on the 2010 vintage much like we are now on the revered 1971, but pricing will surely have gone up six-fold.


    Posted by Alexander Rosen