Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Friday, June 27, 2014

Diversity is key to a good import portfolio

Diversity is the key.  Italy has thousands of grape varieties so to try to get them all would be madness . . . but we can all dream, can't we?

Here are all the grape varieties I currently have from Italy.

Nebbiolo - G.D. Vajra, Luigi Baudana, Favaro and Davide Carlone
Dolcetto - G.D. Vajra and Favaro
Barbera - G.D. Vajra and Favaro
Freisa - G.D. Vajra and Favaro
Pinot Nero - G.D. Vajra
Chardonnay - Luigi Baudana
Riesling - G.D. Vajra and Luigi Baudana
Nascetta - Luigi Baudana
Moscato Bianco - G.D. Vajra and Musto Carmelitano
Erbaluce - Favaro
Croatina - Davide Carlone
Vespolina - Davide Carlone
Corvina - Monte Santoccio
Rondinella - Monte Santoccio
Molinara - Monte Santoccio
Corvinone - Monte Santoccio
Pinot Grigio - Ronco Severo
Sauvignon - Ronco Severo
Friulano - Ronco Severo
Ribolla Gialla - Ronco Severo
Refosco - Ronco Severo
Schioppettino - Ronco Severo
Merlot - Ronco Severo
Vermentino - Santa Caterina
Ciliegiolo - Santa Caterina
Canaiolo - Santa Caterina
Cabernet Sauvignon - Santa Caterina
Albana di Romagna - Tre Monti
Sangiovese di Romagna - Tre Monti
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Cirelli
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - Cirelli
Pecorino - Abbazia di Propezzano
Passerina - Abbazia di Propezzano
Aglianico - Musto Carmelitano

Arriving on next container:


Monday, June 23, 2014

Vini Praesidium from the Abruzzo . . . coming to our shores . . .

I tasted these wines first five or more years ago or so at ViniVeri, one of the shadow conventions that take place the same time as VinItaly in Verona.  ViniVeri producers are usually practicing organic or biodynamic but aren't dogmatic about it like the producers at some of the other upstart fairs.  

At the time, I was just starting to import Italian wine and these wines caught my taste buds because they weren't like any other wine I had tried before . . .  or since.  But at the time, I just couldn't swing a brand like this and I was already selling the famous and respected wines from Emidio Pepe through another portfolio I represented, so it just didn't make sense.  And I only had tasted their current vintages at that time and not any of the older vintages.

I stopped by this year to taste their wines again, fully expecting that someone else would have picked them up by now, and to my surprise, they were still free on the West Coast, and they had their current selections, 2009 Montepulciano and 2013 Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo . . . but even more fascinating, they had some older vintages, the 2006 and the 2001.

And they blew my mind.  

The 2006 was as fresh as most wines straight after the harvest.  The flavors were so strong and so primal that I thought I was tasting a wine that was much younger. It all started to make sense.  This is what Montepulciano can be . . . a certain style to be sure, and not the last word on it, but wow!

The 2001 vintage had so much balance and so much finesse but at the same time power.  The expression "the iron fist in the velvet glove" sprang to mind and I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth. It lingered on my tongue and in my soul.

The next day, I had the pleasure of crashing a retrospective tasting of Emedio Pepe wines to celebrate his 50th year making his iconic Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.  We tasted: 1967, 1975, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2007. The wines were lovely. Some, of course, better than others. The 1967 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was the highlight.  A wine that had aged perfectly. 

Emidio Pepe- truly a lion of the wine business
But I must say, I couldn't get the Praesidium wines out of my mind.

Sometime your first instinct is the best instinct and I knew then that I had to have these wines for my portfolio.  Totally different from the wines of Francesco Cirelli which are made on the coast and are what I would call almost an avant garde representation of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, the wines from Praesidium are the exact opposite.  They need years to become accessible.  Years to open up and show their true character.  Years to blossom from something shy and awkward into something shining and true and good.

So here they are:

2013 Praesidium Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo                             
2009 Praesidium Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva
2006 Praesidium Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva
2001 Praesidium Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva 
1998 Praesidium Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva

The 1998 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva, the 2001 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva  and the 2006 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva, are older vintages, always kept in their cellar, hewn from rock in the mountains.  The 2009 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva is their current vintage, just released.  "Riserva" because it stays in the winery for five years before being released in the world. Two years in tank, two years plus in a mix of old slavonian botte and older barrique and then a year in bottle.

And of course, they make a Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo to rival all other Cerasuolos.  Bled off the fermenting Montepulciano after two days on the skins, it is almost too intense, more like a red wine than a rose` and will also reward a few years in the cellar.

From the winery: “We aim to create a true expression of the wine of this unique area using traditional and artisan methods in the vineyard and the cellar. We think that the wine, being a cultural product, born from the interaction between man and nature, has its own unique personality and it is necessary to allow the wine to express itself in the most spontaneous and natural manner. Our philosophy originates from the lifestyle led by our family since the beginning and passed down through the decades of farming work. In the vineyard, we have always tried to understand the needs of the land, by work that is aimed to assist nature, without forcing or manipulating it, and definitely without the use of synthetic chemical products. From having both the utmost respect of an area of land particularly appropriate for growing the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo vines, and the continuous research into the quality of the grapes, we reinforced the idea that the quality and the healthiness of the wine are strictly related. The artisan work in the cellar consists of reducing the operations to its essentials, which allows us to pursue our objective: produce, from the vinification of a single vine variety, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine that is the most authentic expression of its native land.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tre Monti!

"The heart of the winery lies in the center of the farm estate in Imola, where only estate-grown grapes are vinified. All of the vineyards are managed according the principles of sustainable viticulture, which mandates inter-row cover-cropping and the lowest possible use of chemicals. In addition, recent years have witnessed surprising gains as a result of considering the phases of the moon in relation to certain vineyard management practices (one of the doctrines in biodynamic agriculture), such as hedging, planting new vines, and, in some cases, the harvest itself. The winemaking operations too, watched over painstakingly by the experienced and talented Vittorio Navacchia, are animated by a philosophy of minimal intervention. Every step is carried out with full respect not only for the integrity of the fruit, but above all for the unique character of each growing year, so that Vittorio can ensure that the final wines fully expresses all of the conditions that gave it birth."

I met Vittorio and David (and their father Sergio) this year at VinItaly and we vowed to try to work together in some way as soon as possible.  And here we are.

I have been looking for a great Sangiovese based wine for the portoflio for by the glass placements and have been combing all of Tuscany to find an older style of wine that is more pointed towards sharing with food then as a beverage to be drunk on its own and it seems like all I needed to do was to look a little to the North!  Tre Monti Campo di Mezzo Sangiovese di Romagna is everything I was looking for; light bodied but with a long finish and true Sangiovese character of bloody iron and smoky meat.

And when I first tasted the Albana di Romagna, a varietal of wine I had never experienced before, I was blown away.  It has a taste I more associate with Chenin Blanc from the Loire than anything else.

We have limited stock on this first installment but will be getting more in the fall.

2012 Albana di Romagna „Vigna Rocca“
2012 Sangiovese di Romagna „Campo di Mezzo“
2010 Sangiovese di Romagna Riserva „Petrignone“
2010 Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva  „Thea“

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...