• 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
  • Soulful Serralunga: 2016 Cappellano Barolo

    Soulful Serralunga: 2016 Cappellano Barolo

    The wines of Augusto Cappellano need little introduction yet deserve as much text and praise as we shower Barolo's other heroes like Roberto Conterno, Beppe Rinaldi, and Maria Theresa Mascarello.

    These are among the top Barolo produced in Piedmont each year, though you'll never see any ratings. Augusto insists that critics who taste at the cantina do not publish scores for the wines—another philosophy I greatly admire about this estate. Antonio Galloni wrote this about Cappellano's latest releases: "The 2016s are every bit as magnificent as they were last year... with the Franco showing more power and the Rupestris leaning towards the ethereal side."

    Cappellano is best known for crafting ultra-traditional and soulful Barolo with a natural focus, situated on the western slopes of Serralunga d'Alba. Here in the Gabutti Cru, we see the darker side of Nebbiolo within the Barolo zone. However, Augusto Cappellano's organic approach and low sulfur regimen instill these wines with a delicacy and sensualness that stands apart from his contemporaries.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Nebbiolo in Flight: 2016 Antoniolo Gattinara

    Nebbiolo in Flight: 2016 Antoniolo Gattinara

    High in the hills above Barolo and Barbaresco, Alberto and Lorella Antoniolo personify the grace and wisp of Alto Piemonte. Antoniolo was the first estate to bottle single Cru wines in 1948 and is the beacon of Gattinara, drawing in the savviest of traditional Nebbiolo collectors.

    Gattinara sits on volcanic rock instead of the limestone and clay soils of Barolo and Barbaresco an hour south. The prime vineyards share a common trait of white, dusty, and sandy soil above the mother rock, and the cooler climate in the hills plays a major factor in how these wines are distinguished. The profile is one of high-toned red and black fruits, menthol, and a finely woven streak of minerality.

    Planted in the early 1960s, Osso San Grato is the more powerful, concentrated wine in the lineup. Grapes like Bonarda and Vespolina are legally permitted to use for blending, but Lorella's family has always vinified 100% Nebbiolo. The wine ages for one year in a 500-liter neutral barrel, followed by 18 months in large botti and one year in bottle.

    Finding top single-vineyard wines from Piedmont's most revered producers is becoming more of a challenge each year—to say nothing of rising prices. Antoniolo is a perfect example of why searching a bit further north can land you with brilliant, age-worthy Nebbiolo that still represents terrific value.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Return of the Glou: 2020 Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

    Return of the Glou: 2020 Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

    Of all the glou-glou wines in France, Lapierre's Raisins Gaulois perfectly suits this funny badge. Glou-glou is the sound of wine leaving the bottleneck when poured rapidly, and also for the sound of one's gulping. Lapierre may turn out dead serious Morgon, but this Beaujolais from young vines is released early to harness all of the plump and delicious Gamay fruit with pricing that makes it easy to stock up on.

    Nearly all of the vines tapped for Raisins Gaulois comes from within the esteemed cru of Morgon, with small amounts of fruit from the larger Beaujolais appellation. Like all Lapierre wines, this is from organically farmed land, fermented with native yeasts and whole clusters. These young vines provide that fruit-forward, rambunctious, and unctuous Gamay grapey personality (Yes, that's an apt descriptor).

    Marcel took over his father's domaine in 1973. Then, his encounter with Jules Chauvet in 1981 launched a shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. Along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four's practices spread quickly, yielding wines of authenticity and joie de vivre. Since 2010, Marcel's children Matthieu and Camille have carried on the natural approach that placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Giovanna's Chianti: 2018 Le Boncie Toscana Rosso

    Giovanna's Chianti: 2018 Le Boncie Toscana Rosso

    "Giovanna's wines are pure, bright, fresh and juicy, with bracing acidity and lingering flavors of red fruit and flowers." — Eric Asimov, NYT

    When I have the opportunity to prove that 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 is a benchmark for the region, but his other discovery, Le Boncie, better illustrates Sangiovese's sometimes elusive, fruit-forward profile and silken tannins. Earlier this year, Eric Asimov of the New York Times included Le Trame in his top ten list of Chianti Classicos. Giovanna farms her fives hectares using organic and biodynamic principles. I could go down the rabbit hole on farming, fermentation, and aging specifics, but I'd like to cut this one short and say: This is a profound wine that's a joy to drink. I've lost count of the number of times I've used this bottling to convince friends that Sangiovese can be fun, approachable, and deadly serious.

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    Posted by Max Kogod