New release from a Morgon master: 2016 Foillard Beaujolais-Villages

Jean Foillard Beaujolais-Villages 2016

Earlier this year we were able to announce to our Newsletter readers one of the most exciting recent developments: that starting with the 2016 vintage, Jean Foillard makes a Beaujolais-Villages.

And now we have enough to be able to put it on our website, too! (If you want to be sure to hear about wines like these even when we don’t have enough to list on the web, sign up for our newsletter here or use the pop-up, below.)

You probably know Foillard; in some people’s books, he’s the greatest producer of Cru Beaujolais. He is a member of the Kermit Lynch-dubbed “Gang of Four,” the four Morgon producers who together followed the teachings of the low-sulfur, natural-winemaking pioneer, Jules Chauvet (Lapierre, Thévenet, and Breton, of course, being the other three).

Foillard’s signature wine is from old vines on Morgon’s illustrious Côte du Py. But over the years his holdings have spread—just slightly—beyond the borders of that vineyard, and even beyond the borders of Cru Beaujolais into “Villages” territory. For a while, he made Beaujolais Nouveau from these holdings. But now he deems the vines sufficiently old—some go back 55 years—to merit the full Beaujolais treatment.

“Full Beaujolais treatment” means a wine-making process that is basically a slightly abbreviated version of his Morgons’. Macerations are a little shorter. Aging in wooden casks is a little shorter. But otherwise things are pretty much the same, including whole-cluster fermentations, minimal sulfur, and no additives or manipulations (of course).

So what’s the wine like? If you’ve tasted the Morgons, you know they’re complex wines with an extraordinary deliciousness at their core. And you know it can take a little patience, or perhaps some work to get to that core: if you haven’t cellared it for a bit you’ll probably need to decant it and serve it with the right food. However you serve it, you’ll probably want to take a minute or two to contemplate what you’re drinking. The Beaujolais-Villages imposes no prerequisites on your pleasure: you can just drink the wine, and go straight to delicious.

Stock up, as this will disappear fast:

Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages, 2016 – $23.99

Buy Now from New York

Buy Now from San Francisco

Patrick Piuze: Delicious terroir on a budget

Our old colleague (and SF man-on-the-ground), Beau Rapier, was in town and a few of us joined him for a neighborhood lunch at Maysville. We started with the hay-roasted oysters (of course) and ordered a bottle of Chablis (of course).

It was lunch, so we didn’t get anything fancy, just the new vintage of a village wine from one of our favorites, Patrick Piuze. Reasonably priced and humble in appellation. But when we opened it, holy cow—it was off the charts!

Like a top Premier Cru, it had delicious fruit, a telltale note of gun flint (so good with the oysters), and the kind of long, mineral finish that can teach a first-time taster both what a finish is, and what it means for a wine to taste mineral. It was a delicious wine, a great wine with food, and a wine with real personality. At a crazy price. How?

Piuze, we’ve noted many times before (in our newsletter, if not on the blog) is fascinated by terroir—even the “mere” village level terroirs that most producers blend together to make Chablis AC. Rather Patrick bottles the best of them on their own to show just how special their terroir can be.

Wine Map of Chablis
And that wine, the “Terroir Coteau de Fontenay,” is from special terroir . The coteau is a steep slope on the Serein’s right bank. It’s out beyond the Grand Cru hill, in a valley where the winds whip down from the north. The vines are on the west-facing side and we’re guessing nature’s balance of late sun and cool air must contribute to the wine’s tension of fruit and vibrant acidity.

Piuze’s work is non-interventionist; he wants to let Fontenay just say Fontenay. So this is village Chablis, but different from a blended village wine, or the Chablis from Courgis or the one from across the river in the village of Chablis itself (all of them Piuze wines we’ve sold before). It’s Chardonnay grown in classic kimmeridgian soils, but it has its own balance of orchard fruit, iodine, salt, and chiseled minerality.

Patrick is doing us all a tremendous favor by sharing these different corners of AC Chablis.

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2016 Chablis, scarce but delicious

2016 was a devastating year for many Chablis growers. There was terrible frost, hail, rain and disease. Growers lost tons of fruit, many of them 50% of their usual harvest. But somehow, miraculously, the best growers brought in fruit that was healthy. And now that the wines are here we’re pretty much knocked out.

They have plenty of fruit, plenty of stuffing. But most amazingly, even in their youth they are pure examples of their terroirs.

But nobody made much wine and they’re going to go fast.

Piuze is no exception on either front: the wines are straight-up delicious expressions of their terroir, but there aren’t a lot of them. We bought as much of the Coteau de Fontenay as we could, because we know we aren’t going to find a lot of wines this good at these prices.

Even so, we don’t expect to have it long. We know lots of our loyal blog readers will want to have some very special ’16 village Chablis to drink over the months ahead, so we’re offering a special blog-reader discount on 6-pack.

Patrick Piuze, Chablis “Coteau de Fontenay”, 2016 – $28.99 $24.99 *

You can take advantage of by entering PIUZE16 in the shopping cart when you add 6 or more bottles of Piuze Fontenay to your cart.

And if we’re sold out by the time you click through, please consider signing up for our newsletter here. You’ll get first crack at wines like these and with amazing, newsletter only discounts.

  • This wine is available for sale from our NYC location only.

 

 

What we learned tasting 2012 Brunellos for a wine magazine

Feature image of Salicutti Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2012

“Salicutti is without question one of the leading estates in Montalcino.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

A group of us from Flatiron recently joined a magazine panel to review 2012 Brunellos. We spent a couple of hours tasting Brunello after Brunello. It was a bit life-affirming: so many of the Brunellos were just so poor that it reminded us how important it is to have someone (like a trusted wine merchant!) find the gems among the oceans of schlock.

Kerin O’Keefe wrote: “If you love elegant, age-worthy Sangiovese, then stock your wine cellar with 2012 Brunello di Montalcino,” but personally, we’d cellar few of those bottles.

But there were some obvious gems in the lineup: Biondi-Santi and Cerbaiona, of course. And some of our favorites weren’t in the running. There was no Soldera, no Poggio di Sotto. And there was no Salicutti.

Salicutti couldn’t be further from Brunello schlock. Just consider its scale of production: with only four hectares of vines, it would be considered tiny even in Burgundy. Its farming and wine-making is the opposite of industrial. Salicutti was the first producer in Brunello to be certified organic and they take a very natural approach in both the vines and the winery.

Tasting through all those 2012s, we started to notice categories. Many wines were clearly manipulated, over-oaked, or otherwise unacceptable. But the decent wines fit roughly into one of two categories: traditional and rustic, or polished and modern. The best wines of the tasting, however—like Cerbaiona—seemed to cross these lines.

Salicutti is like that. It shares with the modern wines their precision and purity. There are none of the rough edges that you get in the more rustic wines. But it shares with the more traditional category a clear sense of place.

It’s a beautifully Tuscan wine. It radiates the red-fruited purity of Sangiovese, wild cherries and chanterelles. It is dense and concentrated, but the power comes naturally from the fruit, not from high levels of alcohol or wood tannins.

It is already drinking beautifully and it’s a natural with steaks, roasts and the like: its youth and vitality can take on a chunk of meat. But its elegance and purity give it versatility. So if your roasting fowl you’ll still be set for success.

Get extra bottles and put some in the cellar. Try it again next year, and then the year after that. Like many of the world’s top wines, this is Brunello that is great at any age.

Salicutti, Brunello di Montalcino “Piaggione”, 2012 – $74.99 or $64.99 on three or more bottles with code PIAGGIONE12 if you buy before this Monday 2/26, as a special thank you to our blog readers.  => Take advantage of this special offer now. 

Brunello not in your budget for tonight? Have no fear! We also have Salicutti’s Rosso di Montalcino, and it’s fantastic. It’s sangiovese grosso from a single vineyard that has that same Salicutti balance of intense fruit and terroir with refined elegance.

Salicutti, Rosso di Montalcino “Sorgente”, 2014 – $36.99, or $32.99 if you buy three or more bottles before Monday 2/26.  => Take advantage of this special offer now.

The Rosso won’t age as long as the Brunello, it goes without saying. But a wine with this kind of pitch-perfect balance and beautiful fruit is a great contender for a few years of evolution and a perfect wine for what we like to call the “reasonable cellar.”

And if we’re sold out by the time you click through, please consider signing up for our newsletter here. You’ll get first crack at wines like these and with amazing, newsletter only discounts.

Clusel-Roch Cote-Rotie winemaker tasting!

winemakers in the field

Gilbert and Ghuilhaume Clusel at work

Meet-the-winemaker tasting with Clusel Roch Cote Rotie’s

Cote Rotie is one of France’s great regions… and bottles of Cote Rotie are generally priced accordingly. So these aren’t wines we get to open very often.

But today is special! Not only are we opening spectacular Cote Rotie from a top vintage, we also have the winemaker in the Manhattan store to pour the wines and talk about them.

We hope you’ll join us for this rare, free Cote Rotie tasting, Friday, November 17 from 5:00-7:00 pm at our Manhattan shop on Broadway between 21st and 22nd! (If you happen to be hanging out anywhere from Chelsea to Grammercy and NoMad to Union Square we’re a short walk away and this tasting is well worth it!)

Clusel-Roch is a tiny grower in Cote Rotie that makes some of the best wines from some of the rarest, most amazing Cote Brune terroirs. They have some super-old vines in “Les Grandes Places” (going back to the ’30s) which transmit the terroir like only old vines can, and when they replant, they use only the traditional Serine clone. `The farming is biodynamic (Ecocert certified, even) and the yields are low. Vinification is relatively traditional (lots of whole clusters and aging in old oak with just some new) and the wines are do that magical thing of Cote Rotie, being both wild and elegant, intense but lithe.

Come join us to taste and hear about the magic. We will taste:

Guillaume Clusel, Coteaux du Lyonnais “Traboules”, 2016, $16.99
Cote Rotie, 2013, $59.99
Cote Rotie, Vialliere, 2013, $94.99
Cote Rotie, Les Grandes Places, 2013 $109.99

(and, anything else the winemaker fancies!)

All the wines will be 15% off for newsletter subscribers!

Winemaker tasting with Olivier Merlin–Today in New York Shop

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Man and Horse Making Great Wine

Olivier Merlin is one of the great winemakers of Burgundy.

His family vineyards aren’t centered on any of the illustrious appellations of the Cote d’Or, but on the Maconais. He’s one of the hard-working talents showing just how great the wines from this undervalued region can be: complex, mineral, ageworthy… delicious!

His whites are some of the best value white wines in the whole world.

We’re thrilled to have him in the shop today to share his wines and talk about what it takes to make top flight wines, vintage in and vintage out. Wines will be available at a discount for all newsletter subscribers.

Hope to see you there! (No RSVP required)

And please stick around because right after we’ll have more delicious wines for you (sans winemakers):

Bernhard Ott, Grüner Veltliner “Am Berg”, 2015 $18.99 $16.14
Wind Gap, North Coast “Soif,” 2015
$24.99 $21.24
Sandhi, Chardonnay “Santa Barbara County”, 2014
$26.99 $22.94
Rene Geoffroy, Champagne Brut “Empreinte”, 2009 
$62.99 $53.54 

Free Tri-State Wine Delivery to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

freeshipping
Nobody likes to pay shipping charges, so we are thrilled to be able to announce that the New York store now offers free shipping on all online orders above $129 to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut!

Yup, whether you need a case of rosé for a party, a special bottle of Cabernet for a dinner, or a special gift for a client, we will get it there for you, no extra charge.

We’re going to try to keep tweaking and expanding this program, so please let us know how you like it and what we could do to improve it here or in the note of your order.

And if you do like it, please share it with your friends!

Here are some details:

· Your online order must be over $129, before tax and after any applicable discounts.

· We will ship your order to a single address.

· We will use Fed Ex ground for most deliveries. As always, an adult signature will be required to complete delivery; an adult will need to be available during Fed Ex Grounds delivery window to receive the shipment.

· If you require a shorter delivery window than Fed Ex Ground can provide, please call the shop (212-477-1315) and we will do our best to accommodate. Additional charges may apply.

· This offer does not apply to express shipments, repeated delivery attempts or returned shipments

· This offer does not apply to Flatiron Wine clubs and may not apply to certain other offers.

· This offer has no other exchange or cash value.

· We hope to expand this offer in the future, and may need otherwise to change the terms of this offer in the future. If we do, we will update this blog post.

· Orders taking advantage of this offer are subject to our general shipping terms and terms and conditions, which you can read at the linked pages.

Flatiron’s Rose FAQs: our simple guide to the best pink wines

flatiron rose wine

Rosé myths and facts

What is rosé?

“Rosé” is French for “pink,” or “pinkish”—so rosé just means pinkish wine.

Why all the hype about rosé lately?

Cause it’s delicious and people love stuff that tastes great! Seriously.

Also, there’s a reverse-snob appeal. For a long time most of the rosé we got in America was gross: industrial wine made by mixing cheap white wine with worse red wine (more on this mixing business below) and adding sugar. That created a real snobbery against rosé.

But that’s not how they make the rosés we love. They never made them that way in France, Provence (rosés spiritual home), and it’s not how they make them here anymore either.

So when you drink rosé you get to drink something super-tasty and show that you aren’t the kind of person who’s taste is controlled by out-of-date snobbery. Win-win!

So how do you make good pink wine?
You pick red grapes, good red grapes from good terroirs! Then you press them to extract their juice, which is white (Really!) and then separate the juice from the dark skins before the skins can turn the wine red.

Some people call this “direct press” rosé.

So you don’t mix red wine and white wine?
Not normally for good wines. There’s one big exception, though: pink sparkling wines, like Rosé Champagne.

In Champagne they’re allowed to break all kinds of rules, and they get to break this one too! So lots of Rosé Champagnes are made by mixing a tiny bit of red wine into a white sparkler.

rose wine

I like dry rosés that are really light pink.
Yep, we know. Here are the two tricks to making wine like that:

1. Separate the grape juice from the dark skins ASAP, before the skins can give the juice more than that touch of color.
2. Pick your grapes a little earlier, when they have more fresh acidity and less sugar.

So to make a darker Rosé you just let the grapes and the juice mix for longer?
Pretty much.

And to make a red wine you just let the skin and the juice mix till skins have colored the wine completely red and made it tannic?
Exactly!

Any other techniques I should know about?
Well, there’s one other trick winemakers use to make a little rosé as a by-product of their red wine.

Let’s say you’ve got a tank full of red grapes and their juice hasn’t gotten fully dark yet. You can bleed off a little bit of that still pink juice and ferment it separately, as its own rosé. Of course, you can’t do very much wine like this or you’ll end up with a gross, over-extracted red wine.

Rosé as a by-product—that doesn’t sound as good…
Well, it does get looked down on in some circles. It definitely has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest difference is that the grapes you pick to red wine are usually riper than the grapes you pick for Rosé, so the flavors can be less pink-friendly.

But we’ve definitely had good examples of saignée rosé, and there are plenty of great rosés that use just a little bit of saignée juice in their blend.

Interesting, What do you call this “bleeding” technique?
It’s rosé so we get all fancy and call it by the French word for bled: “saignée.”

Is there a fancy-pants French term for a rose made by blending red wine with white?
Actually, yes: “taché.”

What’s the point of darker rosés, anyway?
They’re also delicious!

Maybe not for drinking while you’re sitting out in the sun or by the water. But if you think of them as really light red wines that you can chill down and serve with food, you’ll get the picture.

Just imagine bbq chicken with a bit of spice on a hot summer night. You want something cool and refreshing, but your super-pale, very subtle rosé may get obliterated by the dish. But a darker rosé with a touch more fruit will stand up to meal without becoming weighty, like some big, old winter-time red.

How can I learn more?
Drink the stuff!

Honestly, the best way to learn about wine is to drink some great wines. Here are [eight] great rosés that, in addition to being great drinking, make for a fascinating exploration of the world of Rosé.

Classic stuff – here are two examples of the classic, light dry stuff, one from Provence and the other from California.

Bedrock Cellars, Ode to Lulu
The most famous rosé in the world is probably Bandol, from producers like Tempier. Bedrock’s rose is an homage to Tempier’s legendary first lady, Lulu.

It’s made direct press from super-old-vine grapes (Mourvedre and Grenache) and is light and fresh and aromatic and yet, somehow, has depth of soul.

Pomponette Rosé
Karina and Guillaume Lefevre cultivate about 30 hectare of organic vineyards in beautiful, sunny Provence. Their biodynamic rosé is a classic: lean, dry and mineral with citrus notes and just a hint of wild strawberry. It’s clean, crisp and very pale, a perfect wine for the season.

Some technical details:

• A blend is 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Vermentino, 15% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre.
• The soils are clay and sandstone.

Darker rosés—Honest! Please don’t ignore the darker rosés: they are delicious and fascinating wines!

Muri Gries Lagrein
This is rosé made by monks in the Italian mountains near Austria. By monks! These guys know what they’re doing…

Some technical details:
• The organic vineyards are high up, nearly 900 feet above sea level
• Half the wine here is done direct press, but the other half is a saignée taken off the grapes after about 8 hours. Just eight hours and it gets that much color!

Chateau Simone Palette Rosé
This is one of the world’s greatest, off-the-beaten-path rosés. Palette is a tiny appellation in Provence, pretty much only occupied by the Rougier family’s little domaine. The wine is very different from its neighbors, Aix-en-Provence and Bandol.

Chateau Simone’s rosé is the darkest on this list, almost a light red. But it’s fresh and vibrant and delicious with all kinds of foods.

Some technical details:
• The 500-750 foot asl vineyards have old vines, limestone soils and are surrounded by a cool forest. This is a southern wine that preserves freshness!
• The grapes are 45% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, Castet, Manosquin, Carignan, Muscat Noir & Blanc.
• Part of the wine was made direct press, but some of it was allowed to macerate for about eight days. No wonder it’s so dark!

The Bubbly Stuff. Here are some examples of absolutely incredible sparkling rosés made pink by blending a touch of red wine into white.

Raventos Rose de nit
This family domaine was behind the creation of the Spain’s “Cava” appellation. This is a gorgeous, refined, sparkler that is one of the best values in bubbly wine, year-in and year-out.

Some technical details:
• The farming is organic
• The white grapes (Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parrellada) get color from an addition of just 7% of mourvedre—incidentally, the grape behind Bandol and Ode to Lulu

Laherte frère Ultradition Rosé
Another family domaine making spectacular sparkling wines, this one from old-vine Pinot Meunier, with a gorgeous balance of fruit, complexity, structure, freshness and straight up joy.

Some technical details:
This wine combines a bunch of the techniques. It’s a blend of:

• straight-up white champagne (60%)
• direct press pink wine (30%) and
• actual red wine.

Meet-the-winemaker-double-header: Oregon and Burgundy!

We’re getting spoiled!

We have another amazing, two-for-the-price-of-one (well, actually, it’s free) meet-the-winemaker-tasting at the New York City shop this Thursday, April 6, featuring two incredible American winemakers:

  • Ben Casteel, winemaker at Oregon’s Bethel Heights Vineyard will be pouring his family’s gorgeous, sustainably-grown Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay, and
  • Brian Sieve, the cellar master at Burgundy’s legendary Domaine de Montille, will be pouring a selection of de Montile (and Deux Montille) wines.

We are so thrilled to have these two, incredibly knowledgeable, passionate winemakers in the shop. It’s a rare opportunity to taste truly top-flight Burgundy and Oregon wines side by side and in the company of their makers. The fact that both winemakers are native English speakers, excited to share and discuss with other wine lovers makes this a truly unparalleled opportunity.

Bethel Heights

Bethel Heights makes quintessential Oregon Pinot Noirs. They have a lightness (especially compared with so much California Pinot Noir), delicious fruit and a complexity that makes you think of Burgundy without pretending to be anything but Oregon wine.

Their vineyards are in the Eola Hills at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, where cold ocean winds keep temperatures cool and the vines from over ripening. The volcanic soils there are stonier than in the more heavily planted parts of the Willamette closer to Portland. In wet years this drainage is an enormous boon, saving the wines in what otherwise could be dilute or disease-pressured vintages.

Bethel’s oldest vineyards are ungrafted. The vines, pushing forty and phyloxera-infested, produce very little­—but very concentrated—fruit. It’s a treat to get to taste wines that express their terroir so directly from root to fruit.

Ben will pour:

Chardonnay 2014 ($33/29 $25 $21.99)

Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir Estate 2013 ($36$33 $29.99) The family’s wine blended from various sites. 2013 has beautiful, small-berry fruit balanced by herbaceous notes.

Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir Aeolian (named after cold wind; cool, lithe, more mineral)

Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir Casteel a selection of the best barrels of vines dating back to 1997 and 1994, this is the most generous of the wines we’ll be tasting:

Domaine de Montille

One of the most storied domaines in Burgundy, de Montille needs no introduction. But here’s a quick one: the historical domaine dates back to pre-Revolutionary France, but the domaine we know really began post-WWII, when Hubert de Montille started to take over and, decades ahead of the times, began focusing like crazy on the family’s terroirs, quality production and, to make all of that worthwhile, bottling and selling their wines rather than shipping them off to negociants.

Today Hubert’s kids, Etienne and Alix, are in charge at the domaine, and Brian is their right hand man. Deeply involved in overseeing everything from the pressing through the bottling, Brian works with the de Montille’s to help realize their vision of making gorgeous, aromatic, long-lived, terroir-specific Burgundies.

We will taste:

Deux Montille Soeurs et Freres, Rully Blanc La Chaponniere, 2013

Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Clos du Chateau, 2013

Domaine de Montille, Bourgogne Rouge 2013

Domaine de Montille, Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds 2013

Further reading:

Here’s a great piece on Bethel Heights in World of Fine Wine

http://www.worldoffinewine.com/news/bethel-heights-the-road-less-traveled-4750424

And here’s their website, which has lots of good information (and pictures!), as well as links to plenty of reviews and other press:

http://www.bethelheights.com/

de Montille is, of course, a multi-page entry in any decent book on Burgundy. In fact, there really ought to be a book just about them! But in the meantime, you can browse the family’s webpage, which is full of historical, growing, winemaking and other interesting details.

http://www.demontille.com/en/

Bartolo Mascarello’s Dolcetto: Here Now, for a Hot second!

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We’ve been championing Piedmont’s “little grapes”–Dolcetto, Freisa, Pelaverga, etc.–for years now, both in our newsletters and in the shop. So we were psyched when Eric Asimov turned to Dolcetto for November’s New York Times Wine School. It was a great piece, as always. But it did include one wine that was a bit of a tease: Bartolo Mascarello’s Dolcetto.

Like all of Bartolo’s wines, the Dolcetto is amazing. It both exemplifies and transcends the type. Like all great Dolcetto it’s a delicious, fruit-focused taste of Piedmontese terroir when it’s young. But unlike most Dolcetto (which you should drink, as Hugh Johnson says, youngest available), it ages magically. With a few months or even a couple of years, the flavors harmonizes and integrate beautifully. And with a few more years it starts to pick up complexity without losing its fresh and fruity. We know this because we’ve been laying a few bottles down every year since we started buying the stuff from Robert Chadderdon back in the day.

But what we only learned more recently (thanks to a bottle on the list at our neighbor, Maialino) is that, if you give it twenty years or more of good storage, it transmogrifies into something altogether different, and yet still profoundly itself. Like Beaujolais, which is said to Pinot with enough age (i.e. begin to taste more like Pinot-based Burgundy) the Dolcetto had truffle and other mature notes that echoed first rate Barolo or Barbaresco. But it still had the underpinning of approachable fruit that marked it as Dolcetto.

Unfortunately, also like Bartolo’s other wines, the Dolcetto is very hard to get. So hard to get that we weren’t able to include any in our usual Wine School email offer.

But in good news, we just picked up a little stash of the 2015 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto and are thrilled to be able to offer it to our more regular blog readers!

Bartolo Mascarello 2015 Dolcetto d’Alba, $35.99

And if you want to learn more about our special email offers (Rare wines! Fascinating Stories! Special Discounts!) drop us a note here
.

Brovia’s Barolo — Not so Normale?

Single vineyard vs Blended wines in Barolo

Most of Barolo’s top wines these days are made from single vineyards. We love this micro-terroir focus, but it is actually a fairly modern trend. Traditional Barolo is a blend from a number of different vineyard sites—each contributing different elements—to make sure that the final wine has a “completeness” to it.

Of today’s top Barolos, only Bartolo Mascarello is still made in this way. The result is that many wine drinkers, even some Barolo lovers, think of the term “normale,” often used to refer to a winery’s non-vineyard-designate Barolo, as almost a pejorative.

But in the case of many of our favorite producers, like Brovia, the normale is anything but ordinary!

Brovia Barolo 2012

Beautiful Wine now, or in 10 years.

About Barolo’s Brovia

Brovia, in the village of Castiglione Falletto, is on a roll. They have been improving for many vintages now, and the winery is near the top of just about everyone’s list of favorite Barolo producers.

Stylistically, they occupy a very important place in the spectrum. Working with clean, organic fruit and shorter macerations, the wines are hardly the brooding beasts that were common in the big vintages of old. But they are still firmly structured wines that lack the softness or oakiness of many modern examples.

Simply put, the winery takes a middle approach, one that emphasizes class and purity: purity of fruit, purity of terroir. The wines do not require excessive cellaring before becoming delicious, but also give us every reason to expect that they will last for a very long time.

Brovia’s 2012 Barolos: anything but normale, top to bottom

Brovia’s top wines are all single crus, in the new tradition. But we have a soft spot for their “normale,” which blends wines from the different crus, Mascarello-style. It’s almost like they’re taking a middle approach on the question of blending vs microterroirs: the best of both worlds.

Now, it’s true that most of the grapes in Brovia’s “normale” come from the crus’ younger vines, but a substantial amount of old-vines juice also typically makes it into the blend for a simple logistical reason. To make each single-vineyard wine they fill a giant cask from the cru. But those giant casks aren’t quite giant enough, and whatever doesn’t fit into the single-vineyard cask goes into the normale!

So it’s not so “normale” at all. In fact, it’s consistently a delicious Barolo, year after year. It’s pretty tasty on the young side, especially in a fresh and charming vintage like 2012, a vintage that’s shaping up to be our favorite non-famous vintage since 2008! It also ages well. A bottle of that ’08 normale was just great when we opened it recently.

Pricing is very reasonable for the quality, at $46.99, and you can take 10% off in a mixed case discount.

You can buy it here.