• Barolo Nostalgia:  Vietti's Ultra-Classic 2014 Crus

    Barolo Nostalgia: Vietti's Ultra-Classic 2014 Crus

    "This is an absolutely phenomenal set of wines from Vietti. The 2014's are every bit as magnificent as they have always been from barrel...readers will want to snap up these Barolos before they disappear."
    - Antonio Galloni of Vinous (February 2018)

    Vietti is as elite as Barolo gets, but somehow Luca Currado continues to find a way to raise the bar each vintage. 2014 marks one of the most unusual growing seasons in many years, but without a doubt Vietti's atop the list again with their signature suave texture converging with the mind-bending transparency of the year. 2014 is as classic as they come, reminding Luca of the Barolos produced from his father's generation and calling to mind classic standouts like 1964 and 1971.

    Today's offering features the limited release of these stellar 2014's, as well as back-vintage gems including rarities like 1989 Rabajá, 1997 Riserva Villero, and 2001 Rocche.

    *Due to hail damage there was no Brunate bottled in 2014

    6x 2014 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito
    $183 per bottle.

    3x 2014 Vietti Barolo Rocche
    $183 per bottle.

    6x 2014 Vietti Barolo Ravera
    $183 per bottle.

    1x 2014 Vietti Barolo Ravera 1.5L
    $499 per bottle.

    Also available:

    1x 1989 Vietti Barbaresco Rabaja
    $199 per bottle.

    1x 1997 Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero
    $455 per bottle.

    1x 1998 Vietti Barolo Rocche
    $182 per bottle.

    1x 2000 Vietti Barolo Ravera
    $189 per bottle. (September arrival)

    8x 2001 Vietti Barolo Rocche
    $229 per bottle. (September arrival)

    1x 2008 Vietti Barolo Brunate 3.0L
    $769 per bottle.

    2x 2008 Vietti Barolo Rocche
    $196 per bottle.

    1x 2010 Vietti Barolo Brunate
    $226 per bottle.

    2x 2011 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito 
    $157 per bottle.

    6x 2013 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito
    $183 per bottle.

    12x 2013 Vietti Barolo Brunate
    $179 per bottle.

    36x 2013 Vietti Barolo Castiglione
    $53 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Alto Piemonte's One & Only: Ferrando Carema

    Alto Piemonte's One & Only: Ferrando Carema

    Two years ago the idea of doing an offer on Ferrando Carema seemed impossible given the small allocations. And today, offering the 2014 vintage supplemented with the 1990 and 1964 is, well, extraordinarily exciting for me. Ferrando chose not to bottle Etichetta Nera (black label) in 2014, so all of the estate's prime parcels were added to this overachieving Etichetta Bianca.

    Over the last 50 vintages in Piedmont we will find that 1990 and 1964 represent the absolute pinnacles in production. The quantities today are very limited, but they are being made availble now to our mailing list and will not be available on the website

    For me, there is no single estate that defines Alto Piemonte like Ferrando Carema.In the region of Canavese, sitting at the foot of Monte Bianco, these terraced vineyards of Carema are planted to Nebbiolo. Here the variety is portrayed with an alpine inflection different from Barolo and Barbaresco, but with a track record of aging that's completely on par.

    2014 is a vintage that highlights the alpine freshness of Nebbiolo, giving a clarity and more pure red-fruited quality that captures precisely why Ferrando is the region's benchmark. Etichetta Bianca always drinks well early, but make no mistake, these wines have a backbone that will carry them on for decades without compromising an ounce of vitality.

    Ferrando's vines sit in a south-facing amphitheater of slate soils overlooking the Dora Baltea river that runs through the Valle d'Aosta into northewestern Piedmont. Unlike their more famous southern neighbors, vines here are trained high up on pergola, or "Tupin", to harness maximum sunlight. The entirety of the Carema appellation reaches only 16 hectares of plantings, with Ferrando controlling just 2.5.

    Ferrando's Etichetta Bianca is comprised of 100% Nebbiolo and is produced each year with aging taking place in large and small barrels, bottling is after 30-36 months aging. Nebbiolo here is more translucent in color than we find further south, but still displaying the variety's inherent tar and roses note, with a brisk alpine streak throughout. The sensation of minerality here is more pronounced because of the alpine elements, but certainly the slate soils conjure that unmistakable finely-crushed rock quality that comes through vividly in regions like the Mosel.

    I work with a wide range of importers, but Neal Rosenthal's selections sit in rare company at the top of the list. Neal is famous for his work with producers like Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, Paolo Bea, and Cappellano but his words on Ferrando have always stuck with me, once declaring that if he was given only one wine to drink, it would be Carema. Bottles going back to the late 70's are renowned for their freshness and unparalleled clarity that belie the underlying power.

    When Neal began to import European wines to the US in 1980, Ferrando was his very first. At that time Carema was unknown here, and although the following in still relatively small vs. that of Barolo, those who line their cellars with Conterno and Mascarello all know the secret of Alto Piemonte.

    Ferrando's Carema bottlings always represent a special occasion for me when opened. They are ethereal, and at the same time deep and saturating on the palate. Looking throughout the images of this alpine appellation I'm reminded this wine can come from nowhere else on earth. It is Nebbiolo is its most singularly delicate and awe-inspiring.

    36x 2014 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 
    $83 per bottle.

    1x 2013 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 1.5L
    $189 per bottle.  

    1x 2010 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 
    $119 per bottle.

    3x 1990 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 
    $249 per bottle.

    1x 1964 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Nera 3.78L 
    $699 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Ready to Rock: 2014 Cascina Roccalini Barbaresco Roccalini

    Ready to Rock: 2014 Cascina Roccalini Barbaresco Roccalini

    Finding satin-textured Nebbiolo in Barbaresco that calls to mind Jean Foillard's Morgon Cuvée Corcelette was certainly a surprise. The story here started when a favorite Burgundy producer spread the word our way that this relative newcomer demanded an immediate look. And today, Paolo Veglio's arrival into our Piedmont selection simlply makes me giddy.

    Paolo Veglio's story meanders through the cellars of Bruno Giacosa where Paolo's father, an architect, took him as a young boy. Years later in 1991, Paolo returned to Giacosa and asked if he might be interested in purchasing grapes that he was now tending on his home property.

    Giacosa asked, "Which vineyard is this?"

    Paolo told him it was Roccalini.

    Giacosa said, "I'll see you in the morning."

    The surprisingly fresh, approachable  and remarkably seamless Barbaresco from Roccalini is undoubtedly derived from Paolo's natural approach. Living above the cellar and vines, Paolo knew early on that organic farming was not only necessary for producing the best possible wine, but also for a healthy family life on this estate.

    Paolo's insistence on taking the road less traveled in Piedmont leads him to question conventional thinking. He says, 
    "Every time I see something that's too easy, something's not right, something we don't know yet." And, his philosophy at every stage is to take the longer path, one that requires more time, effort, and patience. And, I promise you, what you will find in this bottle will be a revelation unlike any you've had from Piedmont.

    Roccalini is a special vineyard, just as Bruno Giacosa knew. It was 10 years of trials before Paolo finally chose to bottle his own family label. Any trepidation about drinking current release Barbaresco can be tossed aside right now. This wine is ready to go and will open your eyes to a very unique spirit in Barbaresco.

    2014 Cascina Roccalini Barbaresco Roccalini
    $53 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Old Vine Bussia Sweet Spot: A & G Fantino 2013 Barolo

    Old Vine Bussia Sweet Spot: A & G Fantino 2013 Barolo "Vigne Vecchie"

    Secret cantinas hidden under the treacherously steep roads atop Monforte d'Alba don't really exist these days. Though still gaining more recognition across the globe, Barolo is a historic landscape whose heroes are clearly marked in the record books. Giacomo Conterno, Giuseppe Rinaldi, and Bartolo Mascarello are among the core of every traditional-leaning cellar. From 1978-1997 Alessandro Fantino served as enologist and vineyard manager for Bartolo Mascarello, affording him the opportunity to learn from a master of Nebbiolo. When Bartolo's daughter, Maria Theresa took a more active role in the estate in 1998 Alessandro joined with his brother full time at the family domaine across the valley in Monforte d'Alba.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer the new 2013 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi 
    "Vigne Vecchie", complete with special mixed 3-pack pricing.

    Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino's cellar is perhaps the smallest in all of Monforte. The estate had gone through philosophical shifts over the years as they were finding their true voice. After the 2007 vintage they began to turn away from French barrique for aging, with 2008 marking a shift where the more traditional use of large Slavonian oak endowed the wines with striking clarity, energy, and poise.

    The top wine from the Fantinos comes from the famed Bussia vineyard of Monforte. Though generally regarded as one of the most powerful and tannic villages for Barolo due to its high sandstone content, Monforte's northern side and its Bussia Cru has an elegance that has always captivated. In the hands of the Fantinos the style is one where power meets finesse flawlessly. 

    Their parcels within the great Bussia come from the center of the cru, a sweet spot named Cascina Dardi. From here they craft a Barolo and Barolo Riserva from vines planted as far back as 1946. It's truly thrilling and rare today to be able to offer a wine from each the 2013, 2010, and 2008 vintages - stylistically, these are exactly the years I crave the most. 

    2008 captured Nebbiolo at its most graceful, perfumed, and ethereal. The wines drank well upon release, but clearly had a regal structure that would allow them to unfold for decades to come. Aromatically this is as sexy as Nebbiolo can get.

    2010 is simply a perfect vintage. A hot and dry July drove up ripeness and was met with cool nights throughout the summer. These conditions ensured a vintage with plenty of power and force was held in perfect check with bright acidity and verve.

    2013 is truly a perfect mix of both above. There's the transparency that 2008 articulates so well, and the added depth and structure that 2010 is so heralded for.

    2013 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi 
    "Vigne Vecchie"
    $55 per bottle.

    2010 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi
    $59 per bottle.

    2008 A & G Fantino Barolo Bussia - Cascina Dardi Riserva
    $59 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2010 Alto Piemonte Culmination: Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso Dei Pomi

    2010 Alto Piemonte Culmination: Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso Dei Pomi

    2010 throughout Piedmont is now firmly cemented as one of the truly standout vintages over the last 50 years. While most wines have been released, and quantities long gone, those from Alto Piemonte's Rovellotti family in Ghemme are finally here. The extended aging at the estate has fixed my eyes on the calendar for a long time. Each vintage I'm all-in on this alpine Nebbiolo-based star, but 2010 has a magic that's understandably on another level.

    Today, I'm very happy to offer the flaghip wine from Rovellotti, the 2010 Ghemme Chiosi dei Pomi for $44 per bottle, complete with special 4-Pack and 2-Pack Magnum pricing.

    Rovellotti was introduced to importer, Neal Rosenthal by the Ferrando family of Carema. When you taste Rovellotti it's clear these two estates are cut from the same cloth. Chiosi dei Pomi is a prime three hectare vineyard located in the center of Ghemme's 
    Baraggiola zone on red clay. Comprised of 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina, this traditional blend lets the latter variety provide some softness in this cooler, high altitude zone.

    I find a huge range of styles in Ghemme (and Alto Piemonte as a whole), with many examples showing grippy tannins that call to mind the tar rather than roses. What I love about the wines from Rovellotti (and Ferrando) is the softness of the fruit and elegance of the structure both still completely driven by its sense of place. Rovellotti's exclusive protocol of pumping over during fermentation and avoiding puchdowns of the cap plays a huge role in this more sensual and graceful texture. Each vintage tasting Rovellotti it's their light-handed touch and supreme drinkability that stand out so much from the pack.

    Chiosi dei Pomi sees traditional vinification and aging in large Slavonian oak for 12 months, then racked into smaller (but still quite large!) five hectoliter barrels for 18 months. And then, of course, the wine is aged in bottle for an extended period of time at the estate prior to release. In the 2010 edition, notes of dried black cherries, cinnamon, and orange peel jump out of the glass. And the famous floral rose quality of Nebbiolo melds with an alpine mint inflection that lingers on the long finish.

    Introducting Rovellotti to customers who love Barolo and Barbaresco has given me a huge sense of gratification. In every circumstance there's a mix of joy and revelation, as the extended aging means this release is always so easy to drink from day one. Pricing for the 2010 vintage at $44 is one of the great values in all of Italy, and with special pricing on bottles and magnums this is an Alto Piemonte moment where value is crystal clear.

    2010 Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso dei Pomi
    $44 per bottle.
    Special E-mail 4-Pack Pricing: $165 ($41.25 per bottle)

    2010 Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso dei Pomi 1.5L
    $93 per bottle.
    Special E-mail 2-Pack Pricing: $174 ($87 per magnum)
    Posted by Max Kogod