• Giovanna's Chianti Classico

    Giovanna's Chianti Classico

    Making the case for why pockets of Chianti warrant the same attention as Brunello di Montalcino or even Burgundy is a challenge for me. The blame can fall squarely at the feet of those infamous straw-covered fiasco bottles or with higher-priced examples where sharp acidity may mesh with the marinara but not much else.

    But when I have the opportunity to prove that Sangiovese from 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 and its Le Pergole Torte is a benchmark for the region. But in many aspects, Rosenthal's other discovery, Le Trame, is better suited to illustrate how Sangiovese's sometimes illusive fruit-forward profile and silken tannins can lead the charge in calling to mind those traits I personally adore about Red Burgundy.

    All the technical information clearly outlines how Giovanna's Chianti Classico is one-of-a-kind, but it doesn't do a fair job of referencing what will end up in your glass. Farming her fives hectares using organic and biodynamic principles, you know the raw material is going to be pristine. But what stands out for me is that each vintage, no matter how challenging, the wines are just perfectly composed. Purity of fruit is what I look for above all else, and Giovanna is making a strong case now as the prime address for the best value Sangiovese in all of Tuscany.

    I'd like to cut this one short and say this is a profound wine that's simply a joy to drink. The number of times I've used this bottling to convince friends that Sangiovese can be fun, approachable, and deadly serious is innumerable. I recommend you take the dive to see what this small gem of an estate in Chianti Classico is all about!

    Click here to shop Podere Le Boncie wines

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    With only 1,000 cases produced annually, Famille Levet is one of Côte Rôtie's most fervent traditionalists and smallest domaines. While my love of Northern Rhone Syrah veers heavily toward the most old-school and authentic interpretations of terroir, Levet is almost in a category unto itself.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Famille Levet Les Journaries and La Chavaroche Côte Rôties.

    Levet has been the standard-bearer for ultra-traditional Côte Rôtie since Neal Rosenthal began importing the wines in the early '80s. Rosenthal's words on Bernard and Nicole Levet have always stuck with me, declaring these the best and most carefully tended to vines in his iconic portfolio, one filled with names like Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, and Paolo Bea.

    Indeed, the magic of Levet is derived from the unadulterated raw material from these treacherously steep terraced granite slopes. Levet works with the oval-shaped Serine, a genetic variation of Syrah more common in Côte Rôtie; it's known for its vivid, explosive violet tones, bacon fat, smoke, black pepper, with a pulverized granitic streak that carries through the long finish.

    Levet offers the best opportunity for long, slow evolution in bottle of any Côte Rôtie traditionalist. Levet's Cote Roties are fermented with 100% whole clusters and go through a three-year aging regimen in foudre, demi-muid, and smaller barrels.

    At the cooler, northernmost stretches of the Rhone Valley, Côte Rôtie is where we find Syrah at its most hauntingly pure and precise. It's these characteristics that have long turned the eyes of Burgundy collectors south with this kinship. And for those who favor Burgundy, the wines of Bernard Levet are the first stop on the stylistic shift into the Northern Rhone.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    The 2017 Hubert Lignier will likely mark the last arrival of Burgundy allocations from this beautifully classic and terroir-driven vintage.

    One new Lignier cuvée you will see below is the 2017 Clos de la Roche MCMLV. This is the first vintage for the production of this wine. MCMLV comes from a special parcel of 1955-planted vines in the Monts Luissants portion of the larger Grand Cru. Just 0.25 hectares in size, the old vines here producing "millerandes" grapes, meaning the grapes are very small and concentrated. 30% whole clusters were used for this inaugural cuvée. Only 433 bottles were produced.

    Lignier has been imported by Neal Rosenthal (Barthod, Fourrier, and Jacques Carillon) since the 1978 vintage, marking one of Neal's earliest and greatest successes. The style of the domaine has always been one that emphasized structure and distinct terroir-driven soil expression. Located in Morey-Saint-Denis, Lignier's wines all display that gorgeous rusted earth, black cherry, and hoisin note that the village is often associated with.

    Each cuvée is unique from the next, and modest levels of new oak keep the focus squarely on site. 20-30% new wood for Villages and Premiers, and 50% for the Grand Crus. All grapes are destemmed, receive a five-day cold soak, and then a relatively long fermentation of 15-20 days. The Villages wines are raised in barrel for 18 months, with Premier and Grand Crus receiving a 24-month elévage.

    Posted by Max Kogod