The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Torta Caprese, IWM’s Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake

Posted on | December 17, 2014 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

1357_MEDIUM-300x272This lavish desert, which comes from IWM’s own kitchen, is nothing short of sinful.  The way the chocolate coats your tongue and lingers just long enough makes this dish the best end, or start, to any meal; the only way this dish can possibly be improved is by adding a taste of Ca’ dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui.  The combination of strawberries and chocolate with a slight fizz is heavenly.

Here is the simple recipe for this decadent flourless chocolate cake!

Torta Caprese

9 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 c. butter
2 tbs. cocoa powder
1 c. granulated sugar
6 eggs, room temperature

1.  Preheat an oven to 310°F and line the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper.

2.  Slowly melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.  In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk together the melted chocolate mixture, the cocoa powder, and sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, adding each egg after the first has been incorporated into the mixture.  Pour the mixture into the spring-form pan.  Make sure the mixture is level and smooth on top.

3.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.

4. Let cool and remove from spring-form. Serve to your favorite people. Expect praise and adoration interspersed among the happy sighs.

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Expert Picks: Domaine des Lambrays and…Domaine des Lambrays!

Posted on | December 17, 2014 | Written by David Gwo | No Comments

d gwoBetween the famed Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin in the Côte de Nuits rests the unsung village of Morey-St-Denis. Make no mistake: Morey-St-Denis is a formidable rival to its two marquee neighbors. The appellation has more Grand Cru acreage than Premier Cru, and its wines blend the characteristics of Chambolle and Gevrey, making them more rustic than Chambolle and less tannic than Gevrey. Morey is also much smaller than Gevrey and Chambolle, so its wines are rarer and harder to come by. Today, I want to introduce you to the historic and iconic estate Domaine de Lambrays.

Here’s the first thing you should know: Domaine de Lambrays essentially owns all of the Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru, which is composed of three distinct vineyards, Meix Rentier, Les Larrets, and Les Bouchots. In addition to this near-monopole, the domaine also owns a handful of Premier Cru and Village level vineyards. The estate uses organic viticultural techniques, which avoid the use of pesticides and anti-rot chemicals. Technicalities aside, this domaine produces stunning Burgundy, both red and white. I picked a pair of wines that any serious Burgundy enthusiast should have in his or her cellar.

Domaine des Lambrays 2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Clos du Cailleret $134.99

Although they’re known for their reds, Domaine des Lambrays makes drop-dead gorgeous whites. This comes from the benchmark village of Puligny-Montrachet, one of the greatest appellations for white Burgundy. I had the opportunity to taste this wine a few weeks ago and was floored. As soon as I stuck my nose in the glass and before I even tasted I said to my colleagues, “This is going to be incredible.” The nose exploded with a blend of tropical and stone fruits backed by waves of white flowers, honey, and minerality. These notes carried through to the palate, but the experience was so much more. The mouth-feel was both palate coating and lively, with layers and layers of flavor that unfolded, even after the wine was gone. This is one of the best white Burgundy I’ve tasted to date.

​​Domaine des Lambrays 2011 Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru $199.00

This is the domaine’s flagship wine, and it’s one of the best examples of Morey-St-Denis. This wine is fermented with the stems and stalks, and it sees about 50% new oak. This protocol explains the distinct smoky and peppery character that exists in this wine that, in combination with dark fruits and big structure, will allow it to grow immensely in complexity over time. While I have yet to have the privilege to taste a vintage example of this exemplary bottling, this one will surely impress down the road—it just requires a bit of patience.

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Graci 2012 Etna Rosso

Posted on | December 16, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

graci-etna-rosso-sicily-italy-10437225I thought I knew about wines when I first started working at Italian Wine Merchants. Even as an engineering student at Florida International University, I was greatly interested in wine. Contrary to my academic advisor’s advice, I enrolled in Wine Technology. Needless to say, the concept of drinking wine in a classroom on campus at 21 years old appealed to me. Little did I know that the course was surprisingly challenging; it was not an easy A. The business students were spending more time on this class than some of their business classes. In fact, FIU has one of the best hospitality management programs in the country; with Miami being the backyard of southern wines and spirits, the facilities were beautiful.

Nevertheless, the seed was planted. As the years went on, I kept educating myself through tastings, books, and wine travel. When I moved up to NY, my wine education kicked into a higher gear. All of a sudden all sorts of new wines became accessible to me. Then I joined IWM in 2010, and my education was put into overdrive. Some of my fondest memories in this education of beautiful Italian wines are my discoveries of how powerful and interesting the indigenous wines of Italy can be.

Today I bring you the beautiful wine of Graci Etna Rosso 2012 made with the indigenous Nerello Mascalese grape, grown on the northern slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna, where viticulture dates back thousands of years. Graci’s parcel contains two hectares of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines planted over a century ago. Graci practices viticultural techniques that require very limited intervention in the vineyards and in the in the cellar. This combination yields an amazing, pure expression of the rich volcanic island soils.

In the glass the wine is bright ruby red. The nose overwhelms with violets, roses, and peonies. The wine is crisp and firm on the palate, without being too tannic, with bright red cherry and subtle flavors. One thing I find particularly interesting about this wine is that is can be deceiving—please, allow me to explain. I once hosted a sit-down Saturday tasting at IWM, and the crowd agreed: it is soft and supple, yet it packs a punch when served with food. The wines stands up incredibly well with lamb accompanied with a mint sauce. Wine is a constant and humbling education and the Graci Etna Rosso 2012 is a welcomed addition to an ongoing education.

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Expert Picks: Domaine Trapet and Bonneau du Martray

Posted on | December 16, 2014 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

rkoWith holdings in three superb Grand Cru vineyards, Domaine Trapet Père et Fils has been one of the great Gevrey-Chambertin estates for over the last fifty years. By the late 1920s Trapet was the largest vineyard owner in Chambertin with large parcels in Chapelle-Chambertin and Latricières-Chambertin in their possession, and until the 1960s, Trapet was a top red Burgundy grower for négociants houses like Maison Joseph Drouhin and Maison Leroy. In the ‘60s Trapet began bottling significant portions of its production under its own label, becoming one of the first small producers to lead the charge in domaine bottling. For much of its existence, the domaine was known as Domaine Louis Trapet, but in 1993, the estate’s holdings were split in half and Domaine Louis Trapet was renamed Domaine Trapet Père et Fils. In 1998 the decision was made to enact biodynamic farming principles and in 2009 it became 100% certified biodynamic.

Domaine Bonneau du Martray, owned and managed by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière, is the largest single proprietor of vines within the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard, and it owns the largest area of a single Grand Cru in Burgundy. Bonneau du Martray vineyards have been family owned for almost two centuries, and Bonneau du Martray vineyard is located in the village of Pernand-Vergelesses on the hill of Corton. This incredible estate, large for Burgundy standards, has 25 continuous vineyard acres, producing some of the finest white wines in all of Burgundy. Jean-Charles, who also is royally entitled Count de La Morinière, inherited the property from his father in 1984 and employs a strong biodynamic philosophy in his viticulture management. Bonneau du Martray is the only estate in Burgundy to wholly produce wines from Grand Cru vineyards.

Domaine Trapet Gevrey Chambertin 2012 $79.99

Showing a beautiful bright ruby color with a pure nose of dark cherries, smokiness, earth notes, fresh herbs and vanilla oak scents, this ’12 Gevrey Chambertin offers a concentrated, full-bodied palate with loads of red fruit flavors, moderate tannins, and a long balanced finish. The Domaine Trapet Gevrey Chambertin 2012 blends grapes from the Gevrey vineyard sites of Deree, Champerrier, Petite Jouise and Clos de Combe, all composed of clay and limestone with a southeast exposure. After handpicking the grapes, the wine is aged in a relatively high portion of new French barriques, and Trapet crafted about 2,500 cases in 2012.This is a great steal from a top producer, and this wine easily has another 25 years of life ahead of it.

Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 $209.00

This is must-have wine for those who love great white Burgundy. The recently released Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 is a work of art, typifying why Corton-Charlemagne has the reputation for being the pinnacle of Chardonnay. Bonneau du Martray’s ‘12 Corton-Charleagne is powerful, complex and concentrated. It has amazingly deep aromas that beg for quiet cellaring to fully develop. On the palate it is rich, elegant, intense, full bodied and full of class. The wine is made in a very traditional method: soft pressing, barrel fermentation in new oak and appropriate aging. This ’12 Corton-Charlemagne is a wine that requires a little patience; cellar aging will surely reward the drinker, and typically Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne enters its best drinking window at ten years from date of harvest and will age gracefully for 25, 30, even 40 years.

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Snowy Days and Winter Whites

Posted on | December 15, 2014 | Written by Janice Cable | No Comments

gravnerLike Olivia Pope, I do not stow my whites as winter comes. I may enjoy curling up on the couch with a glass of Brunello and a plate of cinghiale salami, but I have a hard time letting go of white wines. Winter, however, calls for a heftier white than what I’ll pour on a hot summer night. This is when skin-contact wines, or orange wines, make their entrance.

Stay with me here. “Skin contact” even sounds warm, and “orange” conjure the toasty glow of a fire. Orange wine is a style that I’m very fond of for myriad reasons. These wines sit in an unusual position; they come about when winemakers treat white wine grapes with the same kind of protocol that they treat red wine grapes. In this, they’re the inverse of rosé wines, which treat red grapes like white.

It’s not merely the weirdness of so-called orange wines that draws me to them, however. Weirdness is a factor; I’m drawn to the unusual and strange and the unconventional. It’s also that orange wines confound expectations. Everything about drinking a white wine tells you to expect a certain prescriptive set of sensations and flavors—even leaving room for a range of producer styles, grape varieties, vintage variations and regional differences.

Orange wines confound those expectations. There’s white wine freshness and red wine tannins. There’s white wine fruit—citrus, tropical, white-flesh or otherwise—and there’s red wine thrumming of earth, underbrush and wildness. There’s white wine scent and red wine weight. And on top of all of that sensory confusion, there are aspects that only orange wines have, a strange oxidative, sometimes caramelly, often funky-dirty-woodsy quality.

My very favorite skin-contact wines come from Josko Gravner. His Ribolla Anfora and Anfora Breg drink like liquid kaleidoscopes, shifting at every turn to reveal unexpected nuances of spice, of wood, of wildflowers, of seawater, or of ripe fruit. I’m also deeply fond of Radikon, who makes wines that hang in the mouth with a velvety heaviness. I’ve long been a fan of Paolo Bea and Giampiero Bea’s project Monestero Suore, and both of these Umbrian producers do great work with orange wines. And I’m very excited to try the Loire Valley’s Nicolas Joly, whose super-natural Chenin Blancs approach the holy grail standard: whites that drink like reds. All these wines show best when they’re decanted, just below room temperature, and served with food—qualities that make them perform very much like red wines.

And like red wines, these skin-contact wines warm you from the inside, help conversation sparkle, and make you linger before leaving to go into the cold.

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