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…

Antinori Solaia 2011 – Double 96 Point “Super Exotic” – The Sunny One does it again!

Thanks to terroirs.ie for the barrel shot!

2011 Antinori Solaia | Double 96pts! | “Super-Exotic”

 

Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin calls it,

“The most prestigious wine within the Antinori stable.”

Only days ago, Galloni crowned it 96 points, gushing,

“Another super-exotic, racy 2011 from Antinori, Solaia is supremely beautiful…. Ripe and flashy to the core.”

Perhaps Italy’s most revered critic, Suckling also bestowed this beauty a whopping 96 points, defining it as

“A big, rich wine [with] lots of brightness and beauty at the same time…”

The Antinori family knows how to build excitement for their prized selections, and “The Sunny One” remains their most precious commodity.

Solaia was born from Tignanello. In 1978, from the sunniest portion of the limestone and calcareous clay hillside already known as the Tignanello estate, the Antinori’s culled their first blend of 80% Cabernet and 20% Cab Franc, appropriately named Solaia – Sunny One. The blend was repeated once more, altered over subsequent vintages to suit the variations of Mother Nature, and has sense been produced exclusively in exceptional vintages.

In terms of excitement, its release tops just about any other in the collector’s realm today. The 2011 was one of the most anticipated and difficult to secure.

 

Being released this week

with a special price for those who sign up to receive the offers:

http://www.b-21.com/     thanks huffpost for the btl shots!

 

2012 Melville Sta Rita Hills Estate Pinot | “Gorgeous, Radiant Wine” says Galloni

Thanks Nancy Pastor, The Wall Street Journal for the picture

Melville Estate – Tops in 2012 for Sta Rita Hills!

If Santa Barbara isn’t squarely on your radar, it should be.

Galloni opened his July 15 review with,

“A palpable energy and the thrill of discovery accompanied my tastings in Santa Barbara this year.”

Looks like big name Pinot producers from Napa and Sonoma have some competition on their hands. Melville in particular.

A long-time favorite, Greg Brewer and his team turned in a set of 2012s that flat out stunned Mr. Galloni. From fruit grown on their estate in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, Melville’s 2012 Pinot was the best of the bunch.

Galloni dubbed it

“One of the most polished, refined and aromatically expressive wines I have tasted from Melville…”

crowning it 94 points and saying

“What a gorgeous, radiant and totally sexy wine…”

Melville’s Lompoc estate, planted on various sub soils – predominantly Lompoc dune sand, clay loam and shale – performed brilliantly in 2012. The increased hang time allowed by the lazy, foggy mornings added up to picture perfect growing conditions. Brewer was able to harvest gorgeous fruit, with acidities to balance the striking fruit profiles and stunning aromatics.

Personally, these remind me of his ’07s – bursting with pleasure, balance like none other.

Gorgeous stuff, indeed!

Best price around is here for a short while:melville-2012-estate-pinot-noir-sta-rita-hills

http://bit.ly/1qicA7I

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

 

Tolaini Valdisanti – Unanimous Critical Acclaim!

Tolaini Valdisanti

What do you get when you take Tolaini’s best fruit from the estate of San Giovanni in Castelnuovo Berardenga and place in under the attentive care of the greatest wine consultant of our generation? If the unanimous critical acclaim for the 2009 version of their Valdisanti is any indication, I’d say the answer is a formidable recipe darn near second to none. Michel Rolland (Owner of Val de Flores, and consultant to more Chateaux than space allows – including Angélus and Pavie) appears to have coaxed something VERY special from the fruit here at Pierluigi Tolaini’s estate.

Together, these two perfectionists – combining Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc – have harnessed luxuriousness in 2009 that I’ve yet to taste from any other producer of this type. There’s not just power here; there’s also this real sense that Pierluigi has come into his own. He’s not just trying to make Bordeaux (or Cabernet); the essence of his Sangiovese is shining through too. And isn’t that what makes us drink Italian wine? When it TASTES like Italian wine? BRAVO!

Rich and voluptuous, the 2009 captures the very best qualities of the year in its resonant, expansive personality. Smoke, tobacco, licorice and melted road tar add an element of darkness on the finish.  ~ Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Buy this masterpiece here

Selvapiana Bucerchiale Riserva, Chianti Rufina – Chart Topping!

Bernabei

Winemaker Extraordinaire Franco Bernabei

Now here’s one which requires virtually zero introduction and even less fanfare – in fact I may have said too much already! In vintages past, Antonio Galloni has asked – when tasting the 2004, for instance – “Why can’t more Chiantis be like this?”  The answer to that seemingly unanswerable question is quite possibly attributable to (at least) two major factors: winemaker extraordinaire Franco Bernabei (known as “Mr. Sangiovese” and the maestro of past treasures such as Flaccianello and Fontalloro from Felsina), as well as the location of Selvapiana:  within the Chianti sub-zone of Rufina.

And I’m here today to posit what may turn out to be THE most substantial declaration regarding not only one of the top vintages for Chianti this past decade, but for the very district itself. Selvapiana’s 2009 Chianti Rufina Riserva Bucerchiale takes my pick as the single greatest Chianti of the 2009 vintage! There. I said it. And the words you’ve just read were somewhat echoed by the guys at Tanzer’s IWC, “The 2009 vintage doesn’t get any better than this. An outstanding wine, and everything a Chianti ought to be.”

No other wine scored higher! A whopping 95 points!

Available here

 

2010 Pietradolce Etna Rosso “Archineri” ~ Sicily’s Hottest Wine!

Etna Rosso

Hello fellow wine lovers ~

Having now personally tasted several vintages of this truly unique and utterly engaging Sicilian beauty, I fully agree with Galloni’s recent review of the 2010:

“The 2010 Archineri Rosso is striking from start to finish. Sweet, red cherries, flowers, mint, anise and sweet spices are some of the many notes that emerge from this deceptively medium-bodied wine. Although moderately structured at first glance, the 2010 has plenty of depth and equally notable persistence in reserve, qualities that are typical of the great Etna reds. With time in the glass, the wine’s intense structure becomes increasingly apparent. Savory herbs, sage and rosemary add lift on the gracious, refined finish. The 2010 Archineri Rosso is flat-out beautiful today. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2016″
~ Galloni, Wine Advocate
, 92 points

Adding additional fuel to the fire, Italian wine guru James Suckling further praised this delicious Etna born treasure:

“This is delicate but very deep with strawberries, spices and cedar. Full body, with a dense palate, beautiful fruit and a firm tannin structure. This is really corseted with beautiful acidity. Wonderful length. Turns to plums and cedar. Wonderful. A blend of grapes from two sites: one with 40 years of age and another with 80 years of age. Latter is pre-phyloxera. Drink now or hold.”
~ James Suckling, 94 points

~ 2010 Pietradolce Etna Rosso “Archineri”
$34.99/btl + Ground Shipping included on case purchases

For more details regarding the native grape of Sicily – this Nerello grape used in today’s wine – we turn once again to Galloni for his professional review of the grape as well as the region:

 

“The most exciting region in Sicily, and perhaps Italy, is Mount Etna, where a small number of producers have re-discovered the very unique terrains that lie below this storied volcano. These are the highest-altitude vineyards in Europe. The late-ripening native Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio produce medium-bodied, aromatic reds that stylistically and texturally share much in common with Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Readers who haven’t spent time yet with the wines from the Etna owe it to themselves to do so. The top wines will challenge long-held assumptions about what Sicilian wines can be all about.
~ Antonio Galloni

To order simply reply to this post, or call me at my office number below.

 

All the best in wine & life,

Christopher Massie, CS

Wine Country Connection

510.749.0325

cepagenoir@gmail.com