Today I want to write something from one Biondi-Santi lover to another, as I share the magnificent experience that thirty-two other people and I had the Friday before last at IWM’s incredible Biondi-Santi vintage wine dinner. Accompanied by dishes prepared in IWM’s own kitchen, we enjoyed some very, very special wines from Biondi-Santi.
You’ve heard of, read about, or have had the pleasure of meeting our Founder and CEO, Sergio Esposito. He is the one who knows, finds and selects IWM’s amazing wines. While this is always true, the incredible line-up we enjoyed from Biondi-Santi on Friday night illustrates Sergio’s amazing abilities. Comprising seven Biondi-Santi Brunello Riserva vintages, this is one collection that will go down in history as one of the most intelligent buys a wine lover could make.
We set long table for our guests, Sergio and myself. Before everyone sat an array of open bottles of Biondi-Santi Brunello Riserva—1955, 1964, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1975, each bottle pristine and immaculate. We all sat down and I introduced Sergio as our host for the evening. He gave a very straight and simple speech around these perfect bottles. “The wines are part of Italian history,” he said, and added that no one else has them.
Sergio called the collection, “the legacy of Tancredi and Franco Biondi-Santi.” Sergio knew Franco well. Their great relationship allowed him access to this selection just months before Franco’s passing. It was destiny.
We began with the first pasta course and enjoyed the 1969 and the 1968, two wines that you would think would be over the hill, but no—these two wines were round, balanced and showed sweet fruit. The 1968 in particular had very good acidity and really nice complexity. As with all of the wines that night, opinions differed greatly; people went back and forth, liking the ‘69 over the ‘68 and then vice versa—it was a fun start.
With the second pasta course, we enjoyed the 1975, 1971 and 1970. These wines were off the charts. The ‘75 and ‘71 were still young, bold, dark in color and showed loads of fruit. The ‘75 had great tannins and nice acidity; I could not believe this was a 40-year-old wine—just incredible. The ‘71 felt a little more austere at first; it’s a thinking wine that’s layered with delicious notes of earth, dark fruits, and a touch of tar—a very cool wine and impressive, to say the least. 1970 was a perfect bridge between the two decades of ‘60s and ‘70s, showing tar, smoke, and earth. Dark at the center with lighter garnet hues, dark red fruits and a smooth finish, this wine was unique and stood out on its own.
Although we had the ‘55 next with a beautiful roasted quail, I want to talk about the ‘64 first. The ‘64 was an impossible bottle of wine, and I say that with plenty of passion and love. This wine was young—younger and fresher than the ‘75, just beautiful, with powerful tannins, great acidity, bright red fruits and glorious structure. This is a wine that will age for another 20-30 years at least. What a killer wine! Wow!
Finally, let me talk about the legendary Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino 1955 Riserva. This is the kind of wine that makes a wine lover like me want to cry. How can you have a perfect drinking Italian wine that is 60 years old? How many producers are there that could accomplish something like this? There really aren’t many, if any. This wine was smokin’. It was a symphony of dark fruits, delicate earth, and slight tobacco; there was so much balance, integrated tannins and silkiness to die for. Hands down, this ’55 is the best wine I have ever had. It took the gold as favorite wine of the evening, with ‘64 as a very close runner up, and ‘75 got the bronze.
Not only was this a rare and historical event, but it also gave a panoramic view of Biondi-Santi, with wines made by both father and son (‘55, ‘64, ‘68, ‘69 by Tancredi and ‘70, ‘71, ‘75 by Franco). Sergio was able to get a number of bottles from each of the seven vintages and they have been moving quickly, finding homes with our loyal IWM customers.
Visit our event page for a full listing of upcoming IWM NYC wine tasting events.
Nothing like you have ever tasted or tried, Antonio Ferrari’s Il Barone is unique, rare and absolutely thrilling. I enjoy finding wines that are off the grid, wines that are unique, and wines that simply defy logic or explanation. With that in mind, I decided to highlight some of my recent favorites from Puglia. Antonio Ferrari’s “wild” wines are slightly rustic but breathtakingly beautiful. All wine tells a story, but these bottles spin quite the tale! Each bottle a time capsule, they offer a rare taste of history and an experience you will not forget.
The late Antonio Ferrari was Piemontese, but his heart lay to the south in Puglia. There he harvested Primitivo di Manduria grapes from nearly century-old vines and began their vintification. However, before fermentation was complete, he transported the must to his cellars in Galliate in the Novara hills. Something about the change in elevation, or perhaps it was the cooler temperatures, arrested fermentation, leaving some residual sugar. The wine then went into large old casks for ten years, and from there into large cement tanks for another 35 years. After Antonio’s death, his children decided to bottle the wine kept for decades in cement tanks, checking the goodness of the father’s intuition.
Virtually unknown, these rare and ineffable, fairytale wines of Antonio Ferrari are irrationally gorgeous. Both vintages offer nuances reminiscent of Amarone and Madiera, two beverages I find very enjoyable. When it comes to food matches, you can pair anything from braised lamb shank or Peking duck to firm cheeses and dried figs. Go nuts!
Antonio Ferrari Il Barone 1949 $119.00
In the glass, the Il Barone ‘49 shows a blackish ruby that glints with garnet highlights. It’s shockingly fresh, however, with just a touch of oxidation on its notes of black cherries, sweet Asian spices, tamarind, chocolate and espresso. There’s a mellifluous silkiness in this Primitivo’s mouth that’s cut interestingly with a lingering bittersweet finish.
Despite sitting in cement tanks for decades, the Madeira-like Il Barone ‘54 , a mono-varietal Primitivo, is an assertive wine that evolves with exquisite deliberation, revealing layers of fig, coffee and rich spices, it’s the piquant acidity complementing this deep, dark decadence that makes this wine otherworldly.
We began the week with a blog post of Italy travel tips, and we closed with an Italian who traveled to us–Nicola Chionetti, heir apparent at the Quinto Chionetti estate in Piemonte. Matt Di Nunzio sat down with Nicola and drank a bunch of his soon-to-be-released stellar Dolcettos. In between, Emery Long was transported to Sicilia by a bottle of Agricola Punica Montessu (it’s under $30 and delicious). And David Gwo gave four hot wines to cool down your summertime–and each is super yummy and very affordable.
Our Experts were stoked to share their expertise and experiences this week. Will Di Nunzio offered up the two favorite Antinori wines from our recent event with Allegra Antinori (spoiler alert: they’re not what you’d expect). Robin Kelley O’Connor selected two of his favorite Burgundies from two of his favorite Burgundy makers, Maison Louis Jadot and Bouchard Père & Fils. Francesco Vigorito focused on one wine from one producer, choosing two vintages of Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis. And like Francesco, John Camacho Vidal couldn’t help but give Barolo some love, opting for bottles from Massolino and Domenico Clerico.
Cheers to you and the people with whom you enjoy your wine. They are indeed the luckiest people.
Last week, IWM had a chance to meet with Nicola Chionetti, grandson of esteemed wine-producing pioneer Quinto Chionetti, and future owner of and winemaker for the famed Dolcetto producing estate.
You don’t often get the opportunity to see how tradition and heritage transfer from grandfather to grandson, in the absence of a father. As ambassador to his grandfather’s estate, Nicola is meticulous and confident, yet he shows humility and gives you an idea of his familial legacy. He is attentive to who and what surrounds him.
Nicola poured some of his new vintages for us, and I must say that we are all in for a treat when these are released. Each wine from the Chionetti estate portrays its land, its character, and its purpose.
I asked Nicola what his family’s winemaking philosophy is, and he replied, “My grandfather use to say: ‘It’s a question of truth.’ The truth is in how the wine reflects the soil while portraying the personality of its maker – we believe that our wine is true to both and hope that it reflects some elegance as well.”
Tasting through the estate’s line-up, I have to agree that Chionetti wines are elegant and honest expressions of land, grape, tradition and the tight-knit family who makes them. Plus, they’re delicious and affordable!
Luciano Sandrone is master at his trade. Bridging the line between modern and classic production, his wines are undeniably sublime, no matter how you look at them. From his Le Vinge Barolo to the flagship single-vineyard Cannubi Boschis, Sandrone makes wines that thrill Barolo aficionados and wine-lovers new to Nebbiolo. Today, I picked a pair of Sandrone’s Cannubi Boschis bottlings, four years apart. There’s no question that these are two of the best expressions of Nebbiolo you can find in Piemonte. Now that that the 2001 and 1997 have reached a certain maturity, they are both firing and ready to go!
Sandrone 2001 Barolo Cannubi Boschis $249.00
2001 is one of the finest vintages in Piemonte ever and now with 14 years of age, its finally ready to start strutting its stuff! Still structured and intense this wine has long legs—you can continue to lay this down for another ten years or so—but there are so many qualities to enjoy more immediately. The fruit is still secondary and very lively but the tannins have finally begun to integrate creating a killer drinking experience right now.
1997 was much hotter than the 2001 vintage in Piedmont, so this wine shows a more advanced, mature and open style of Barolo. Full-bodied, lush and ripe, this 1997 offers more tertiary notes of prunes, dark fruit, tobacco, game and earth. Tannins have subsided, but this wine has the stuffing to last for another 5-10 years.
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