Lunae Bosoni Vermentino “Eticheta Nera” – Multi Tre Bicchieri – You’ve Never Had it so Good

2016 Lunae Bosoni Vermentino “Eticheta Nera”

2016 Lunae Bosoni Vermentino “Eticheta Nera”

 

Genova, the seaside port city and capital of northwest Italy’s Liguria region, is the best – and for many folks the only – place to find authentic calamari, gambretti, sarago, and delicate bianchetti. As high noon approaches on a given spring day, the maze of streets and narrow alleys of this ancient city are filled with the aroma of hot olive oil – tiny fry shops known as friggitorie sizzling to life. You’re elbow to elbow with crowds of hungry locals and tourists, everyone seemingly addicted to the crispy, tender, juicy – but never greasy – specialties piled high on one counter after another.

This is the city where I discovered the magic of those intoxicating, addictive fritti and it’s also where my adventures with Liguria’s greatest white wine began. As maritime rival to Venice, Genova has a culture – a soul – about it that is unique in so many ways, but it’s only the beginning. It’s when you venture to the rugged Italian coastline, to the centuries-old Cinque Terre – 5 towns where vineyards as well as homes defy gravity, clinging to steep terraces – that you (and your palate) are whisked away.

Pesto was born here. And as you traverse the extremely inhospitable yet dramatic landscapes of the eastern inland foothills and hillsides of Liguria – midway between Cinque Terre and the Tuscan border – you suddenly reach the Colli di Luni DOC. Here, between the hills of Castelnuovo Magra (55 miles southeast of Genova, as removed from coastal city living as you’ll ever be) and the

Lunae Vermentino Vineyard

Lunae Vermentino Vineyard

ancient, walled Roman village of Luni (the easternmost edge of Liguria and its most important, historical commune) are the most important Vermentino vineyards in Italy – perhaps the world.

I cannot recall the first vintage I tasted of Diego Bosoni’s spine tingling Vermentino, but I will assure you that each subsequent vintage has only proved his vast superiority over every other producer of this varietal I have ever encountered. So perfect is this Bosoni Vermentino – I’m speaking specifically of their L’Etichetta Nera (Black Label) – that the estate has now recorded EIGHT (count ‘em: 8) Tre Bicchieri; including for this most recent version, the 2016.

This accomplishment is nothing short of miraculous, especially considering the superhuman feats required to plant, cultivate, tend and harvest in these wild conditions. Moreover, Bosoni’s estate vineyard is small, battling for acreage against the far more easy to cultivate – thus popular with local farmers – olive trees. Yet what this family has achieved at this estate – established from the ground up in 1966 – will blow you away with your first sip.

You’ve never had it so good. Unless folks have tried THIS Vermentino, they’ve never truly had Vermentino.

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Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie 2009 – Stefano Cesari’s Best Ever

Aerial View of Brigaldara

Aerial View of Brigaldara

“The impressive 2009 Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie is a protagonist of the vintage… an object of real beauty.” Wine Advocate (ML)

With those words – and the highest score for any 2009 Amarone published up to that point – Wine Advocate used issued #217 to place Brigaldara on a pedestal reserved for the singular names in Amarone and the Veneto. For Stefano Cesari, it would be a proper recognition of a life’s work.

Perfectly situated on an incline above the Marano Valley (one of the four valleys which comprise the Valpolicella Classico zone) to the north of Verona and just outside San Floriano, Bigaldara’s 125 acre estate includes vineyards within the most important communes of the DOC. In particular, their “Case Vecie” vineyard – in the commune of Grezzana – is one of their most important holdings.

The estate bottled wines from Brigaldara began to gain recognition in the 1980s and Stefano Cesari recognized the importance of augmenting the family’s “Case Vecie” holding with additional parcels at higher elevations. Through rental agreements, the family began planting additional parcels to the “Case Vecie” vineyard in the early 1990s. The fruit from this new plot – 1,500 feet in elevation – has added phenomenal depth to the Amarone Case Vecie bottling.

For 2009, Brigaldara bottled their single greatest version of this intense, full bodied, ultra-complex yet elegant, velvety and flat out sexy wine to date. Gambero Rosso: Tre Bicchieri; Bibenda Wine Guide: 5 GRAPPOLI; and of course, our beloved Wine Advocate: 95 points!

2009 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie

The impressive 2009 Amarone della Valpolicella Case Vecie is a protagonist of the vintage thanks to the immense clarity and purity of fruit that is put on proud display. One step beyond those pretty fruit tones are more evolved and elaborate tones of leather, tar, resin, licorice and grilled herb. The wine is aged for four years in both barrique and botte grande and the oak has positively impacted the smooth, luscious texture of the mouthfeel. This is an object of real beauty.

95 points – Wine Advocate (ML)

For Amarone lovers and purists, this is a must-have …

Emidio Pepe, Godfather of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Emidio & Granddaughter Chiara, hard at work

Emidio & Granddaughter Chiara, hard at work

There’s Montepulciano, and then there’s Emidio Pepe’s Montepulciano. Much the same as there’s Valpolicella, and then there’s Giuseppe “Bepi” Quintarelli. I know there are many out there familiar with this sentiment; Emidio Pepe’s 2007 tops wine-searcher for popularity among all Montepulciano d’Abruzzo’s for the vintage. Price? Makes absolutely no difference.

It all began for this incredibly famous family in 1899. That was the year of discovery for the “original” Emidio, grandfather to current generation Emidio. In the far northeastern reaches of Abruzzo – very near the border with Marche, within 50km of the Adriatic Sea – Emidio Pepe discovered that the Torano hills offered the perfect terroir and microclimate for Abruzzo varietals. It would seem that no other place on earth would prove as perfect for the production of such ethereal Montepulciano.

For several generations – from grandfather Emidio on down – the Pepe family farmed their famous hills, producing the most sought after grapes in the zone. Content to sell their production, estate bottling would not enter the Pepe family business until the 1960s. Enter the “new” Emidio Pepe, grandson of the “original”.

Beginning with a single hectare of land in 1964, Emidio Pepe began completely replanting, rebuilding a family legacy dating to the 19th century. Steadfastly he honored strictly traditional methods; new wood never entered his cellars, cement vats his exclusive choice – even as the locals and press of the time derided his methods. As his estate expanded – now at a healthy 15 hectares – Emidio slowly, but surely became the envy of the zone. International press lauded him; vintages from the 1970s ‘till current releases have flirted with perfect scores.

Celebrating his 50th year of independent production – his wife, daughters and granddaughter all now working at his side – Emidio Pepe has secured a legacy for the wines from his estate near Torano Nuovo. He tells of his first adventure to Manhattan, attempting to sell his Montepulciano while speaking no English. He beams, recalling that in 1970 his first placement was at Felidia, Lidia Bastianich’s beloved eatery. Today, his 2007 marks another incredible high mark for the man from Abruzzo.

2007 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo  

Nearly impenetrable inky ruby color. Deep, brooding aromas of black cherry, violet, tar, shoe polish and botanical herbs. Sweet/sour flavors of black cherry, blueberry juicy, minerals and ink are complicated by a dusting of botanical herbs. This multilayered knockout of a wine finishes very bright and long, with repeating floral lift. Very clean and precise, and devoid of any funky animal aromas or flavors, it’s one of the best red wines from Pepe in years and a testament to the potential greatness of the Montepulciano grape.

96 points – Vinous (ID)

Precious few bottles make their way to retail of this great family’s heavenly Montepulciano. I’ve found mine, I hope your search is as successful…

Brunello di Montalcino 2010 & The “Best Ever” Wines of Mastrojanni

Brunelli 2010 - "Vintage of A Lifetime" JS

Brunelli 2010 – “Vintage of A Lifetime” JS

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino hosted the Benvenuto Brunello event this year on January 22 in San Francisco at The Fairmont – an indispensible opportunity to taste (first hand) roughly 40 producers and more than 80 bottlings. The most important offers by far were the 2010 Brunelli, Rossos and older Riservas went virtually unnoticed. With much anticipation, I made my way through the crowd, tasting diligently and critically – determined to build the case for (or against) these much-hyped Sangiovese beauties.

In the end: I was floored! These are quite possibly even better than originally billed. And the top wines? So much perfection… Allocations are going to dwindle; prices will soar… What was the recipe for so many successes?

More than one winemaker I spoke to echoed the sentiments of Francesco Ripaccioli the young winemaker of the historic Canalicchio di Sopra estate:

“2010 is a success as a result of the rare combination of power and elegance, which are two qualities that are seldom found in a single vintage of Brunello.”

Of all those tasted, one of the most sought after, nearly impossible to acquire wines of the 2010 Brunelli campaign, Mastrojanni took my breath away. Offering multiple crus – all stellar – Mastrojanni has long been the darling of classicists. Perfectionists to their core, Mastrojanni will declassify a vintage (sending it to the distillery) if conditions fail to meet their standards. The 2002 vintage, with its universally green tannins and under-ripe conditions is an example. Mastrojanni maintains their enviable placement and reputation, willing to sacrifice harvests in their search for perfection.

Two 2010 crus – unique, individual – topped the charts (professionally and for yours truly) Chez Mastrojanni :

  • Brunello – Traditional barrel aging for 36 months (larger barrels: Allier oak barrels of 16-33-54 hl). Finished in bottle for 6-8 months.
  • Brunello “Vigna Loreto” – Cement fermentation before traditional barrel and bottle aging as with the Brunello. The newest (ca 2007) Cru for Mastrojanni. Built to age.

2010 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino

What a tightly knit wine this is with so much fabulous character of dried meat, orange peel, berry and spice. Dried and dusty earth too. Full body, sweet fruit character and ripe tannins but loads of structure and intensity. Structurally intense and dry at the finish. It goes on for minutes. Best ever. Better in 2018. ~ 98 points – James Suckling

2010 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto

I love the savory character and silky texture to this wine. Full body, chewy tannins and a juicy and delicious finish. A baby still. Needs three to four years to soften. Better in 2017 ~ 97 points – James Suckling

These are among several darlings of the vintage, their scarcity speaks to the trend for 2010…

Silvia Imparato’s Montevetrano – “Explosive, Utterly Breathtaking”

montevetrano

Just outside the quiet town of Salerno – overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea – the Campanian vineyards of Silvia Imparato’s Montevetrano have become the stuff of legend.

Her grandparents purchased the property in the 1940s, producing various crops and wines for the family and their friends. But Montevetrano was only about sharing, says Silvia – no one ever thought it would become so famous.

After dabbling in fine wine on her own for awhile – attending various tastings throughout Europe – Silvia had a dream: to rebuild her grandparent’s property. She asked her dear friend Riccardo Cotarella (the “Wizard”; Falesco, Terra di Lavoro, Galardi) to join her on her journey. Together they replanted the vineyards, completing the task by 1985. Aglianico, Cabernet and Merlot were planted to the southwest facing hillsides that surround the estate, Cabernet and Merlot planted on the vineyard’s original Aglianico rootstocks.

By 1991 the first bottles of Montevetrano were bottled and shared – again, mostly among family and friends. They built a modern cellar for storage – keeping the beautiful, ancient family villa for private use.

As for this 2007, from a long, warm and unique vintage, it absolutely overflows with buckets of radiant fruit. I can’t get enough of this wine – it’s one of Silvia’s greatest achievements.

And I know it’s going to be a treasure in your collection.

 

Available for a short while – at a fraction of its original price – here:

 

http://bit.ly/V4kB7Kmontevetrano ii

 

Massolino Barolo | A Towering 2009 from the Family who Lit the Way

Serralunga d’Alba

Serralunga d’Alba

At the end of the 19th century, the tiny hamlet of Serralunga d’Alba needed a spark, quite literally. Electricity had yet to find this corner of Italy. It would be Great-grandfather Massolino, Giovanni Massolino, who would not only establish a family estate but light the village, as well.

Giovanni Massolino’s accomplishments in 1896 established his progeny as the founders of the village; torchbearers for Barolo. His son established the wine-grower’s consortium in the 1930’s, ensuring quality, control and an identity for Baroli. Serralunga d’Alba owes its very history to these pioneers – true vanguards – without the Massolino family, who knows what Barolo might be today.

The founder’s Great-grandson bought the family’s first single Cru, but today’s generation remains focused on the family’s true jewel, their “simple” or “straight” Barolo.

Specially blended from hand selected plots within each single Cru, this DOCG Barolo outshines even the most illustrious single Crus in top vintages.

Massolino Barolo

2009 Massolino Barolo

For 2009, it took my breath away! I simply adore it.

With Spectator’s 95 point endorsement, you can’t go wrong. An amazing wine; from the family who lit the way.

 

Available for a very special price for a short while here

Tabarrini – The Family Who Placed Montefalco on the Map!

Tabarrini

Tabarrini – “If I Look Back I See the Future”

Umbria – il cuor verde d’Italia – bordering Tuscany and literally the center of Italy, overflows with historical significance. This is the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi, the land upon which the breathtaking commune of Assisi was built 1000 years BC by Umbrians settling here along the Tiber Valley.

Fast-forward to the turn of the 20th century and we meet the family who would eventually – rightfully – place Montefalco (Umbria’s world famous DOCG) on the map. They are the Tabarrinis, and those in Umbria know them well, for they’ve been supplying coveted wine crops for four generations; grape growers extraordinaire in the mold of Giorgio Rivetti and Angelo Gaja in Piedmont.

This is meticulously farmed land, tended vineyard by vineyard, vine by vine, all by hand. The grape is Sagrantino – the Tabarrini’s mono-varietal, raison d’être. A Rosso too is offered; a field blend of mostly Sangiovese along with their younger pickings of Sagrantino and such. Prior to 1990, only the well connected locals could access the bounty from these tranquil sites.

But then Giampaolo Tabarrini – the driving passion behind the family’s modernization – stepped into the future and elected to estate bottle and export his family’s monumental vinous treasures. The rest, as they say, became history.

The Wine Advocate now urges,

“Readers who haven’t checked the Tabarrini wines out in a while will want to take a close look at these fabulous new releases.”

Tabarrini's Beauties

Tabarrini’s Beauties

The future has indeed arrived!

Their treasures await you here