Ferrando’s Erbaluce

If you've traveled around Italy, you know things change fast. The ragù in one town is nothing like the ragù two towns over. The cheese in one valley is completely unknown on the other side of the hills. Perhaps only Japan can rival Italy in its incredible tapestry of hyper-local specialties. It's what makes Italy such a fascinating place for eating, drinking, and exploring. Today's exploring brings us north of the Langhe, past Turin and into the mountains. We're still in Piedmont, but only just. If we went any farther we'd be in the truly Alpine country of the Vallée d'Aoste. This is Caluso and Carema, where our friend Luigi Ferrando makes some of the most beautiful Nebbiolos of Alto Piemonte—or ... Read More »

Minière Champagne

“If I hadn't met Anselme [Selosse] I would not be making the wines I make today.” - Fred Minière So many of today's great Champagne growers trace their roots back to Anselme Selosse. It's amazing that some of them still fly under the radar. But it's likely the case that you haven't heard of Fred Minière, who worked for Selosse in the 1990s before deciding, with his brother Rodolphe, to convert the family domaine into an all-organic grower-producer working in Selosse's Burgundian style. You are not to blame for your ignorance. It was only after their father retired in 2007 that the brothers could take over and run things like they wanted. And it's only recently that their wines ... Read More »

The Twilight of Small Family Owned Domaines in Burgundy?

It's a story that has been told again and again in France ever since Napoleon l.  The head of a successful family dies and the estate is divided equally between all of the children.  It used to be that the eldest son got everything, the second son joined the military, the third the priesthood, the daughters were married off.  If you were the fourth son, well - you might have to work for a local landowner tending his vineyards. So to this day in Burgundy the vineyards are divided equally between the heirs.  Not everyone wants to be a country winegrower, the work is relentless, unforgiving and at the mercy of capricious weather.  What's more, almost every successful family want their sons ... Read More »

The Crazy Market in Bordeaux and How to Take Advantage

As we've explained before in our newsletter, the market in Bordeaux is upside down. New releases are expensive and often over-priced. But mature bottles -- bottles that are actually ready to drink -- represent some of the best values in the world of wine today. I'm not talking about First Growths, Cheval Blanc and the like. Those wines have powerful brands and you will always have to pay for that. However, look beyond the famous names and you find plenty of great Bordeaux that are just, well, great. And many of them are superbly priced. We are finding more and more opportunities working with negociant partners in Bordeaux itself. Because release prices for Bordeaux are so high, it is rare that ... Read More »

La Torre 2012

"If you love elegant, age-worthy Sangiovese, then stock your wine cellar with 2012 Brunello di Montalcino." - Kerin O'Keefe We've had a few Brunellos from the classic 2012 vintage and by now you've hopefully had a chance to try a bottle. If so, you see why we (and Kerin O'Keefe and other Brunello experts) are so excited about the vintage. It's not a massive vintage like glories past—2010 or 2001. It's not a ripe vintage like 2007 or 1997. Instead, it is utterly classic in just the way that Sangiovese wants to be, interweaving Brunello's generous fruit with nervosity, ethereality, and savory notes. It's surprisingly approachable (the acidity really helps), but also with the structure ... Read More »

Top Five Steak Wines

Grilling season is now upon us, and a good grilled steak is just about the only excuse you need in warmer weather to open up a big red wine. But some red wines work with steak better than others.  Here is a top 5 list, in no particular order: 1.  Brunello di Montalcino.  Anyone who has had Steak Florentine in Tuscany knows that Sangiovese is the perfect partner for steak, and Brunello is the grandest and noblest Sangiovese. Keep it on the young side, to ensure good fruit vigor and lively tannins. Consider giving your steak full Tuscan treatment: cook it rare but with a crusty exterior (which should be coated in salt, pepper and if you like some minced rosemary or sage), and then dress ... Read More »

Amiot-Servelle

Amiot-Servelle has great holdings in Chambolle-Musigny, including some lovely village plots and vines in Les Charmes and Les Amoureuses. (not to mention Clos St. Denis). We recently had the chance to taste some ‘13s, ‘14s and as-yet-unreleased 2015s. Our lesson? The Domaine is doing great work! The wines are fresh and pure with beautiful fruit and terroir-specific aromatics. Their plot of Bourgogne Rouge is just across the RN from the heart of Chambolle-Musigny. It has seductive aromatics that, like all great baby-Chambolles, hint at the village’s classic perfume and elegance. But the soils are deeper and the wine is already a pleasure to drink, more fruit-focused than the village ... Read More »

Musso

Piedmont is still, slowly, climbing its way into the ranks of great wine regions. It's a fun moment. There are still plenty of discoveries to be made. This is especially true in Barbaresco, a DOC with a remarkable number of small producers who make fabulous wines that only intermittently make their way over to the U.S. Why bother with exporting when you can sell everything you make to local restaurants? An example is Musso. Small and off-the-radar, Musso has only six hectares of vineyards in the DOC of Barbaresco. What they do have are well situated, as they lie entirely within the Crus of Rio Sordo and Pora. They have been bottling their own Barbarescos since the 1930s. One of our ... Read More »

The Terroir of Oregon Pinot Noir

It’s no secret that Oregon, and specifically the Willamette Valley, is great terroir for growing Pinot Noir, but the reason behind that may come as a surprise. Willamette Valley has been home to arguably the best domestically produced Pinot Noirs since growers started planting vines there in the late 1960s-- most notably David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards. Stretching from Portland south to Eugene, the region covers roughly 150 miles and encompasses several recognized sub-AVAs (American Viticultural Area), from the renowned red-soiled Dundee Hills to McMinville. A bit inland from the coast, the valley is bordered on the west by the Coastal mountain range and to the east by the Cascade mountain ... Read More »

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

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 ... Read More »