Ferrando's Carema is where Alto Piemonte tugs at my hearstrings the very most. While pricing is always below top examples of Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco, it is still a wine you can argue deserves special attention and occasions.
Today, I'm happy to offer the new release of the 2015 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca & Nera, along with the value kingpin 2017 Canavese Rosso Torrazza for $25 per bottle.
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.
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.
The Etichetta Nera is only produced in vintages deemed exceptional, sourced primarily from two special parcels, the Silanc and Siei vineyards. Aging is for at least 3 years before bottling, with elévage taking place exclusively in barrique, of which a portion is new. The Black Label is regarded by many as the most age-worthy of all the wines from Alto Piemonte.
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.
If I had to pick one wine to make a case for Sangiovese's greatness it would be Montevertine's Le Pergole Torte. Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 Le Pergole Torte in 750ml, 1.5L, and 3L formats, along with a deep collection of back-vintages.2015 at Montevertine, as Antonio Galloni illustrates below, is a very exciting vintage. A warmer year for Tuscany, and in Radda's northern and higher altitude setting the wines have a definition and focus that marries perfectly to the riper crop. When I visited the region for 2 weeks of tastings in July 2017, the 2015's in cask had producers from every corner of Tuscany powerless in containing their child-like enthusiasm. It was, and is, a vintage that gave the opportunity to showcase the very best of their sites. "Montevertine is one of the most privileged spots for wine anywhere in the world. If I had to choose only one Sangiovese to cellar, it might very well be Montevertine's Le Pergole Torte."
"The 2015 Le Pergole Torte is explosive and powerful while showing a remarkable level of precision. Pliant and beautifully resonant, it captures all the best qualities of the year. The oak still needs time to fully assimilate. Even so, the wine's pedigree and potential are very much in evidence today. In a word: superb." (01/18)
"Andrea Franchetti continues to make some of the most compelling wines in Italy...The Cupole, the estate's second label, is once again one of the very best wines in its price range."
- Antonio Galloni of Vinous (3/16)
An ideal bold red to serve at Thanksgiving that delivers high quality and great value is on ALL our lists. Today I’d like to revisit an offer that’s guaranteed to wow your guests who might not be as enamored with the sans soufre amphora Poulsard from the Jura as you are!
My great fondness for the traditional wines of Tuscany is no secret, but generally I've kept Super Tuscans at arm's length. Dominated by Bordeaux variety blends, the category has overwhelmingly spoken less about place, and more about a luxury-driven, global-capitulating, one-size-fits-all model. Sassicaia is a great example of one that breaks out of this mold and is the definitive Super Tuscan Wine of Place. Finding examples I'm truly passionate about that don't start at $200+ upon release has been a challenge. That all changed with Tenuta di Trinoro's Le Cupole.
Today, I'm very happy to offer the Tenuta di Trinoro "Le Cupole" Rosso Toscana for $33 per bottle, with special 6-pack pricing down to $29.83 per bottle.Andrea Franchetti's property sits in a remote southeast corner of Tuscany. Le Cupole, the second label of Tenuta di Trinoro, is all about open accessibility with the same sophistication as their top end single vineyard wines. Cupole's blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot is planted on clay and limestone, mirroring Bordeaux's right bank.Cupole succeeds in grasping my attention due to a remarkable sense of balance, freshness, and crazy deliciousness still rooted in the variety's tell-tale characteristics.There's an abundance of black cherries, dark chocolate, tobacco, and a tarry scorched earth note - the most fascinating trait I find myself reaching for again and again. The finish persists with the sort of lingering minerality that is commonly achieved in Bordeaux, but where Super Tuscans often fall short.2015 is the best vintage of this wine I've tasted to date, with an ideal growing season that produced luscious, concentrated ripe fruit. The early hot conditions completely fell away here in August and the rest of the growing season through November harvest was quite cool. These unusual conditions made for an opulent Super Tuscan still with all of the cool-fruit tones and earthy inflections I relish in those cooler vintages.
Of all the 2,000+ wines in stock, the 2015 Le Cupole will appeal to the widest range of palates imaginable, still deeply rooted in its sense of place. With perfect conditions in Tuscany for this blend of varieties, this is the time to stock up.