• Dolomiti Crescendo: 2019 Foradori Teroldego

    Dolomiti Crescendo: 2019 Foradori Teroldego

    The magical wines from the Foradori estate in Trentino's Dolomite Mountains have been well-documented here before, and I find an added layer of refinement and precision with each release. If you're curious about Italy's extreme alpine setting, Foradori is where I recommend you turn first.

    Teroldego is an esoteric variety that opens with dark plum and licorice, followed by softer floral and herbaceous qualities, and finishes with a finely pronounced minerality. From the first sip to the last, Elisabetta's wines are constantly changing and fascinating to no end. The entry-level teroldego ages in neutral barrels and cement tanks while the old-vine, riserva-level "Granato ages in old foudres.

    Elisabetta's father unexpectedly passed away while she was still in enology school, and after graduating, in 1984, she was thrust into harvest and production thereafter. Though her winemaking garnered awards in the 90s, the wines came into their own when she adopted biodynamic principles, eliminated lab yeasts, lowered sulfur additions, and included riper stems in the ferments. Visits with Giusto Occhipinti of COS introduced her to the use of clay amphora for aging.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Beaujolais in Blue: 2021 Château Thivin

    Beaujolais in Blue: 2021 Château Thivin

    Thivin's Côte de Brouilly has been a staple in our Cru Beaujolais category since day one. The value at $32 per bottle is always refreshing, as top producers in the region continue to climb. These 50-year-old vines are situated on blue volcanic soil and an unusually steep 48% grade slope. There's a blue-fruited quality to the Gamay that leads one to believe terroir can impart an undeniable sense of place.

    Château Thivin’s roots date back to the 15th century, though it was in 1877 when Zaccharie Geoffrey purchased the two-hectare estate at auction that it began as we know it today. Geoffrey's grandson, Claude, was pivotal in creating the Côte de Brouilly appellation during the great depression, and the family has continued the production of this benchmark Côte de Brouilly. Kermit Lynch visited the domaine during his first trip on the wine route with Richard Olney in 1976.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Piedmont's Wild Side: Fabio Gea Barbaresco

    Piedmont's Wild Side: Fabio Gea Barbaresco

    I am always searching for the rebels in traditional wine regions and, better yet, those doing it well. Arguably the most stick it to the Man producer in Piedmont, Fabio Gea’s approach is both thoughtful and unconventional, from pét-nats made from Barbaresco-designated fruit to vinifying specific wines submerged in water (like DNAss). The wines speak to Barbaresco from a completely different lens.

    Gea farms just 1.8 hectares of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto in and around Barbaresco, from which he produces 18 different wines. DNAss is one in a three-part series (The others, Back Grin and Cul Otte, sold out earlier this year). Made from 100% Nebbiolo, DNAss ferments and ages in homemade porcelain amphora and stoneware vessels without any sulfur, then is bottled in old Travaglini Gattinara bottles. Barbaresco is known for its more approachable Nebbiolos, and Gea's are some of the wildest yet pure expressions to encounter.

    Of course, the Barbaresco designates are the most traditional. We tasted the 2014 Notu Seguiva Le Gocce D'Acqua, which shows classic notes of ripe cherry fruit and rose aromatics, and the structure and tannins are just beginning to soften. It's fermented in concrete, aged in barrel for three years, and bottled with minimal sulfur. Barolo was hit hard by heavy rainfall and hail storms in 2014, so this is a particular vintage where Piedmont lovers should veer toward Barbaresco!

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    Posted by Sydney Love
  • Rutherford Bench Whisperer: Cathy Corison

    Rutherford Bench Whisperer: Cathy Corison

    When asked to name my favorite Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, my mind instantly goes to two places: Cathy Corison in the valley and Philip Togni on the mountain. Not to take away from the brilliant wines produced elsewhere in Napa, but these two heroes sit at a different table. If Togni is famous for his rugged and dark fruit-inflected Spring Mountain wines, then Cathy Corison is the standard-bearer for Napa's most restrained and finessed style.

    The Corison Cabernets strike me for their ethereal yet still defined, concentrated black cherry, violets, cigar box, and graphite tones. The most surprising feature is how beautifully the wines age despite being lauded for their grace and elegance. Experiences tasting Cathy's bottlings back to the 1990 vintage are great reminders of how well these age and hold their structure and fruit.

    Corison's Napa Valley bottling comes from vineyards spanning Rutherford Bench, and Kronos Vineyard is at Kathy's home winery in St. Helena, from old vines planted on phylloxera-resistant St. George rootstock. The Kronos bottling may not be dubbed "Cult California" like some of the behemoth 100-pointers, but it is still among the rarest and, as far as I'm concerned, one of the greatest wines in America.

    Terroir-driven Napa Cabernet has become a selling point over the last decade, but Cathy has been on this path since founding her winery in 1987. Of course, the story began many years before. After graduating with a master's degree in enology from UC Davis, Cathy worked at Freemark Abbey in 1978 and was the winemaker at Chappellet throughout the '80s. As styles shifted in Napa, she was resolute in telling her own story, emphasizing a sense of place without artifice. Corison Winery sources grapes from the famed seven-mile-long Rutherford bench, just west of Highway 29.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Dreamers of Vittoria: COS

    Dreamers of Vittoria: COS

    The drive from Mt. Etna to Vittoria reminded me just how varied the landscape and terroir of Sicily were. Temperatures rose, and the climate turns arid. It was hard to believe the place I was heading was beloved for the freshness and clarity of its wines. Still, there's no better introduction to Vittoria than the dream project brewed up by Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano (COS) in 1980.

    There's a constant breeze going through the Hyblaean mountains, and the vines here are on red clay and sand over a deep bedrock of limestone. The wind helps moderate the inland temperatures, the red sand cooling immediately after sunset, and the limestone is responsible for low pH levels in the wine, giving high acidity and nervy minerality.

    I met with Giusto Occhipinti just as they were starting to bottle a new vintage. The wines we tasted were fermented in cement and aged in large Slavonian oak casks, similar to one's used for traditional Barolo and Brunello. This technique ensures the wines accentuate crisp, refreshing notes that make the wines a joy to drink. COS has put the region's once obscure Frappato and Nero d'Avola on the world map!

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    Posted by Max Kogod