• Maestro of Veneto: Quintarelli Back to 2010

    Maestro of Veneto: Quintarelli Back to 2010

    The driving force behind Quintarelli’s wines is a superhuman dose of patience. Kermit Lynch has imported these wines from the hillsides above Verona for nearly a decade now. "Every release is a masterpiece, a testament to time, tradition, skill, and passion, the creations of a master artisan," he says. "You can’t compare these wines to any other in the region, or anywhere else in the world." Powerful structure and dazzling complexity are the hallmarks of capable producers in Veneto. However, only a true master such as Quintarelli achieves the levels of finesse and grace that allow their wines to transcend even the greatest expectations of their region.

    During harvest, Quintarelli makes multiple passes through each vineyard section, only selecting fully ripe clusters. At least half of the grapes lay out to dry on straw mats for months before fermenting at a glacial pace and resting in barrel. Two years of aging are required for Amarone (4 years for Amarone Riserva), and Quintarelli goes above and beyond, as they elect to age most of their wines for seven years or more in oak. The wild berry preserves, dusky florals, and rich spice notes are a common thread in these wines, but the extra care and aging found nowhere else give them a gear of finesse and grace that only Quintarelli knows how to access.

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    Posted by Nathan Sneller
  • Barbaresco Benchmark: 2017 Produttori del Barbaresco

    Barbaresco Benchmark: 2017 Produttori del Barbaresco

    There's no winery in Piedmont, or perhaps the world, which exemplifies the spirit of collective contribution quite like Produttori del Barbaresco. While the single-vineyard Barbarescos garner much of the fame, the blended Barbaresco has proven to be one of the world's great values in cellar-worthy wine.

    51 growers are behind the production here, covering nine great single-vineyard Barbarescos: Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajè, Montefico, Muncagota, and Rio Sordo. These prized Barbarescos are only produced when each one meets the highest standards, truly reflecting this band of brothers. Should one vineyard not make the cut, then no single-vineyard wines are produced that year.

    The Langhe Nebbiolo is the entry-level wine offering immediate accessibility, and the straight Barbaresco is made each year comprised of grapes within the DOCG zone. For me, the latter is the benchmark bottling of the region, offering a value that consistently delivers well above its price point. The rigorous standards are as strong as ever.

    Headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba, Domizio Cavazza, first created the cooperative in 1894, pulling together nine vineyard owners and bottling their wines in his castle. Before then, their grapes had been sold off to Barolo producers or labeled "Nebbiolo di Barbaresco." The Cantine Sociali closed in the 1930s due to the economic restrictions of fascism. Then, in 1958, Barbaresco's priest regathered nineteen growers, knowing the only chance at prosperity was to form as one, and the Produttori del Barbaresco as we know it was founded.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Barolo Bullseye: 2016 Poderi Colla

    Barolo Bullseye: 2016 Poderi Colla

    You may know how special 2016 was in Piedmont, but the Colla family name is still flying under the radar. Antonio Galloni's La Festa del Barolo shined a spotlight on Poderi Colla's legendary Bussia bottling, and my chance to taste the 2013 was a "wow" moment. Since then, the wines from Colla have become more refined and transparent. While Monforte d'Alba has some of the most structured and authoritative Barolos in the region, its famed Bussia cru is revered for an atypical finesse.

    The style at Colla relays this as I've never quite seen it before - There's a combo of featherweight power and sappiness, the perfume meeting notes of licorice, mint, orange peel, and dried cherry, and a seamless mineral finish. Traditional Barolo, no matter how in vogue, often requires hearty food when young, but there's a lift and transparency to Colla's Bussia that make this so appealing today despite the banner year's structure, which denotes a long life ahead—think Bartolo Mascarello via Monforte d'Alba.

    Beppe Colla was the first to label Monforte's Bussia cru on bottles in 1961. The Colla family owned the famous Prunotto estate for decades, and in 1994, they sold and started their eponymous winery. The first initiative was to buy the storied Dardi parcel within Bussia, a section of vines planted in 1970.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Radiant Radda: Montevertine Back to 1978

    Radiant Radda: Montevertine Back to 1978

    It's easy to look at Le Pergole Torte as the more powerful site expression compared to Montevertine's Rosso and Pian del Ciampolo, but I think that misses the point. Sergio Manetti believed in the greatness of Sangiovese from this hillside, and Le Pergole Torte always shows its class in this stable through its level of precision and delineation.

    The 18-hectare estate rests high at 425 meters in Radda, one of the coolest zones in Chianti Classico, and Le Pergole Torte is sourced from the estate's oldest vines and highest elevation plantings. These wines from limestone soils coupled with unique climate have a sense of transparency and grace that stands out immediately. The deft use of French barrique (15% new oak at most) is impressive, adding concentration and texture while still harnessing the pure, lithe qualities inherent in this site.

    There is much confusion about the origin of the name Le Pergole Torte. When Sergio bought the property, his neighbor named Bruno had just planted three rows of vines trained in the old pergola fashion. The wine he produced was so mesmerizing that it became the impetus for Sergio to plant two hectares at this property in 1967. The first vintage (1971) received such a glowing response that Sergio began focusing on winemaking exclusively.

    Due to Chianti Classico laws, which required the addition of Trebbiano in the blend, Manetti chose to leave the consortium in 1981. This was a radical move, and even though the law changed in 1995 to allow 100% Sangiovese in Chianti Classico, today, they still opt for IGT status. The estate has gained a loyal following at home and abroad. Sergio's son, Martino, played an active role starting in 1989, and Martino took over upon his father's passing in 2000.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Langhe Smart Buy: 2019 Fratelli Alessandria Prinsiòt

    Langhe Smart Buy: 2019 Fratelli Alessandria Prinsiòt

    “Fratelli Alessandria is one of Piedmont’s under-the-radar jewels.” — Antonio Galloni, Vinous

    Fratelli Alessandria has become a house favorite in no time, and to no surprise, the 2019 "Prinsiòt" Nebbiolo ($30) has me a little more than enthusiastic. In Verduno, locals refer to the soil as Marne di Sant'Agata, a combination of sand, clay, and deep veins of limestone. There's no wonder why this northern commune of Barolo has an extra lift with with snappy acidity and crisp red fruits.

    2019 will likely be one of the best vintages of the decade. With heat spells only in June and July, the rest of the season had good diurnal shifts that have led to my favorite vintages firmly in the classic and traditional realm (2010, 2013, and 2016, for example).We have made many crucial discoveries in Piedmont, but Alessandria stands out among the great value wines, also producing Barbera, Dolcetto, and Pelaverga.

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    Posted by Max Kogod