The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, January 26-29, 2015: Wine and Romance Edition

Posted on | January 30, 2015 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

The hands of Josko Gravner

The hands of Josko Gravner

Valentine’s Day may be weeks away, but we let our passions show this week on our blog. We began with “Romancing the Wine,” a response to a piece by NY Times wine critic Eric Asimov that said that “Great wine is…mysterious, unpredictable and perhaps ultimately unknowable, and we ended with John Camacho Vidal’s love of Bruno Giacosa’s wines, from both of his estates. In between, Garrett gave an impassioned look at one of those wines, an under $30 Dolcetto from Casa Vinacola Giacosa. Finally, David Bertot loves football and he loves wine; naturally, he puts the two together, picking some special wines for Super Bowl Sunday.

Our Experts also let love be their guides. Crystal selected a pair of Louis Jadot in celebration of this Burgundy producer in general and its way with Clos de Vougeot in specific, and RKO selected wines from Domaine Faiveley and La Rioja Alta just because he really, really likes them.

You can’t go wrong when you let love rule, no matter when, even in January.

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Tasting Bruno Giacosa, Estate-Bottled and Négociant

Posted on | January 29, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

A label from Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa

A label from Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa

I know I am partial, but you really can’t beat IWM wine tastings. This past Saturday was one of those sorry-you-missed-it events. The theme was Bruno Giacosa, and we tasted wines from the estate’s négociant arm Casa Vinicola Giacosa as well as wines from Bruno Giacosa’s legendary vineyard Falletto.

Most of our clients already know and love Bruno Giacosa, but let me give some background. Born in Neive in 1929, Bruno crafts some of the most prestigious Barolo and Barbaresco wines in Piemonte and holds the rank of one of the world’s most respected wine producers. One major point to know about Bruno Giacosa is that he never studied enology; he dropped out of school after the war at the age of 13 to work with his father Mario and grandfather Carlo, who had been making wine since the 1890’s.

Bruno spent his youth learning from both his father and grandfather in the vineyards, and the most important talent they passed down to him was how to select great fruit. This was very important as the Giacosas didn’t own any vineyards; instead, they purchased grapes from select network of growers. By being familiar with each of the cru vineyards in the region, Bruno was able to “cherry-pick” the finest grapes. With time, Giacosa noticed he had less and less fruit to choose from, and in 1982, he decided to purchase the Falletto vineyard in Barolo, and in 1996, he added the Rabajá and Asili vineyards in Barbaresco.

Starting in 1996, Giacosa has divided the estate into two winery names—Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa and Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa. Azienda Agricola Falletto di Bruno Giacosa is located on top of the Falletto Vinyard approximately 400 meters above sea level and makes wines only from estate vineyards or from vineyards he owns. These are Barolo Falletto, Barolo Rocche del Falletto, Barbaresco Asili and Barbaresco Rabajà. Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa, on the other hand, is located in the town of Neive near Barbaresco and makes wines using grapes purchased from selected growers including Barbaresco Santo Stefano, Barbaresco Gallina and Barolo Villero.

A label from Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa

A label from Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa

The best way to distinguish the difference between the two is by the crest on the front of the label. Wines from the Azienda Agricola Falletto have the word FALLETTO in gold letters as well as a crest with a gold F on it. In addition the labels also feature a drawing of the vineyard and winery. The vineyard name on single-vineyard wines is always listed below the type of wine and above the vintage. The single vineyard wines are also numbered. As opposed to the estate-bottled wines, labels from Casa Vinicola Giacosa say Casa Vinicula and have a crest with a crown on it and feature a drawing of the old castle of Neive on it. (This past Tuesday, Garrett wrote about the under $28 Casa Vinicola Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba!)

Bruno Giacosa wines are a treat. Super elegant, marvelously perfumed, and full-bodied on the palate, Bruno Giacosa’s wines require time and patience, but they will reward you with a spectacular experience. I had some leftover Barolo Falletto that I drank over the course of three days. This wine was like the every-ready bunny because it kept going and going. With each sip I experienced a new aroma or flavor: earth, fruit, minirality, cassis, tobacco, and crushed stone all mingled with elegant red fruit in the background. The only bad thing about it was when I tried to pour more and the bottle was empty.

Fortunately, I have next Saturday’s tasting to console myself.

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What to Pour on Super Bowl Sunday

Posted on | January 28, 2015 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

imgresIt’s no surprise to those who are close to me that I love football. The game is a giant chess match of skill and strategy yielding hundreds of decisions to be made on the field every single play. It’s also fascinating to see the various different types of athletes on the field at once, from a skill player who is 5’9” and 180 pounds to the behemoth lineman who is 6’7” and can weigh more than a Smartcar.

But more important than the Xs and Os, Super Bowl Sunday is all about spending time with friends and family in a comfortable environment.  As I sometimes take my work home with me, I much prefer to enjoy wine and homemade food, rather than junk food and draft beer at a sports bar. This year I am all about simplicity.  I like to have a few dishes spread out at room temperature even before the guests arrive with their Super Bowl Sunday favorites. This is smart because if the guests need to reheat one or more of their own dishes, they can use the kitchen to do so.

One of my favorite and easy recipes for just this occasion is a white bean bruschetta, recipe below. It’s delicious, easy and pretty healthy. I also think it is wise to have a spread of cheeses (goat, sheep, cow, and blends are all welcome additions) and cured meats.  I absolutely love white anchovies with a light squeeze of lemon juice and a few red pepper flakes.  These to me are game-day staples and not only do these dishes pair beautifully with wine, but are easy to put out before the guests arrive.

The trick for Super Bowl wine pairings is to have wines that have a broad reach to please many people. This year I am trying a variety of things. For starters, I am serving a slightly chilled Rosato from Raffaele Palma on the Amalfi Coast; it’s a steely, savory rosé, and it’s delicious with a range of aperitivi.  I will also be serving the Poderi Aldo Conterno Il Masante Dolcetto Langhe 2011. This Dolcetto from the Piemonte almost over-delivers with some spice, blueberries, and an unmistakable Aldo Conterno signature flair. Lastly, no party is complete without a little dessert wine; my choice is the Ca dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui 2012.  As with the other wines, this very pleasant dessert wine goes with a variety of things. And the fact that these wines range between $13 and $25 means that everyone can enjoy them and I won’t break the bank.

However you decide to spend Super Bowl Sunday, whether it be following the game’s complexity, or laughing at commercials, do it with family and some fantastic wines.

White Bean Bruschetta

  • Open up 2 cans of white cannelloni beans, rinse with water, and shake off excess water in a colander.

  • Place beans in a glass dish, and barely cover with extra virgin olive oil.

  • Add fresh chopped herbs, 2 teaspoons each: thyme, rosemary, and parsley.

  • Add about 6 to 8 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced as thin as possible.

  • Add a pinch of chili flakes and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

  • Let sit 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator, then serve at room temperature over grilled bread.

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Expert Picks: La Rioja Alta and Domaine Faiveley

Posted on | January 28, 2015 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

rkoThe American wine-loving public has come to realize just how good Spanish wines can be. To see the reason why, you only have to recognize the efforts of the historic Bodega La Rioja Alta. This world-class bodega has been a tireless ambassador promoting the wines of their native Rioja, spotlighting the greatness of Rioja and Spanish wines. La Rioja Alta was founded in 1890 in the tiny wine town of Haro—Haro is to Rioja what Barolo and Barbaresco are to Piemonte or Beaune is to Burgundy—located in the heart La Rioja, right in front of the Haro train. Wine pundits, connoisseurs, collectors and wine-lovers alike agree that not only is La Rioja Alta producing some of the finest wines in the Rioja region, but also in all of Spain and, indeed, in the world. Today, I’m excited to present the exceptional La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ 2001, a wine produced only in exceptional vintages and just a few times a decade.

Domaine Faiveley is one of my favorite producers in Burgundy. A classic négociant house located in the Nuits-Saint-Georges in the southern tier of the Côte de Nuits just north of Beaune, Domaine Faively is also one of the top vineyard owners, with holdings that include the monopoles of Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts, Beaune 1er Cru Clos de l’Ecu, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru and superb vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Volnay, Puligny-Montrachet, and Mercurey. These wonderfully manicured vineyards average around one hectare per appellation with the production for each wine being very limited. Family-owned-and-operated, the domaine is under the watchful eye Erwan Faiveley, who embraces the modern principles of oenology while holding fast to a dedication to tradition. Faiveley makes over 75 different wines annually and has a near fanatical attention to detail for each terroir and respective cuvées.

La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ 2001 $185.00

A blend of 95% Tempranillo from parcels in Briñas, Labastida and Villalba, 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo from the Melchorón I and II vineyards in Rodezno, the 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva ‘890’ derives from vines that average over 40 years of age. This ‘890’ has a bright deep red ruby color with a hint of garnet orange on the rim. Its intense nose bursts with an extraordinary spicy bouquet—indeed a Rioja classic, concentrated and complex nose with very fruity notes, balsamic, vanilla, cocoa, and coconut. The palate offers a silky texture, replete with fruits of dark plum, fig, dates and wild strawberries. This exceptionally complex wine wraps the palate with elegance and finesse. At fourteen years old, it is only beginning its journey into greatness. A wine for the ages, this ’01 Rioja is a must-have wine for those who are intent on having a serious collection.

Domaine Faiveley Corton Charlemagne 2012 $315.00

This magnificent Domaine Faiveley Corton Charlemagne 2012 is world class. One of the single greatest expressions of the Chardonnay grape, this ’12 Corton-Charlemagne shows a bright greenish yellow in the glass with a developing nose of Granny Smith apples, pear, fresh herbs, spice, vanilla and integrated oakiness. Its powerful, dry palate coats the mouth with tons of extract; this robust, super-flavorful wine shows great density, incredible balance, and a finish that last forever. This ’12 is a wine that will be drinking beautifully for the next three decades.

 

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Go-to-Wine Tuesday: Vinicola Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba 2013

Posted on | January 27, 2015 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

dolcettoIf you live in the Northeast, I hope you are safe and that the aftermath of the storm that swept through yesterday is minimal. To everyone else across the nation, enjoy living in places where you don’t have to survive a “snowmageddon.” Last night the people of the East Coast collectively hunkered down, some with family other with friends. Fortunately I thought to pick up a few bottles of wine from IWM before heading back to my house, so my friends and I were well equipped. One of those bottles was the Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba 2013.

Many of you are likely familiar with the name Bruno Giacosa. Both the estate and the man are revered worldwide for crafting the finest Barbarescos and exquisite Barolos. But what you may not know is that this iconic producer makes some everyday selections that are more approachable both in style and price, for example the delightful Dolcetto that I enjoyed last evening.

Dolcetto translates roughly to “little sweet one.” However, this is by no means a sweet wine. It is a fruit-driven bottling that bursts from the glass with fruit and spice, all balanced by a bright acidity. People often call Dolcetto the perfect “pizza wine,” so I would also like to throw a shout out to Saks Pizza in Astoria for supplying the meal that so perfectly complemented this Giacosa wine.

Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa is the name under which Giacosa bottles its négociant wine. In other words, the Giacosa estate does not own these vineyards, but it does hand select the grape bunches from vines grown by farmers whom they contract year after year. If you understand the history of the estate, this négociant arm is no surprise. Giacosa made wine long before he could afford his own property, and he still carries on this tradition decades later, despite having his own holdings.

This Dolcetto is nothing but a joy, and while I would not wish being “snowed in” on anyone, you might want this wine on hand the next time it happens. We have three cases left at $28.99 per bottle; do not miss out!

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