Brezza’s Barolo

“Brezza remains one of Piedmont’s great undiscovered gems. The estate’s Barolos, made in a rigorously traditional style, show tons of vintage and vineyard character in the classic, mid-weight style that is the signature of traditionally- made Barolos.” –Antonio Galloni If Brezza remains undiscovered, it's in part because until the middle part of the last decade the wines did not live up to their potential. But then the current owner, Enzo, took over and guess where he learned to make wine? Across the street with his cousin Bartolo Mascarello!  Located in the center of the village of Barolo, since their founding in 1885 Brezza has owned and operated their winery and vineyards ... Read More »

Merkelbach’s (Nearly) Timeless Wines

Every time you open a good bottle of wine it's an opportunity to travel, usually to that special place where the grapes were grown and the wine was made. But sometimes the wine will take you on a trip through time. There are a few estates that haven't changed for decades. But not many—López de Heredia comes to mind, and Lafarge in Volnay. When you taste their wines, you experience something ancient and beautiful. Time travel. In the case of the Merkelbachs, that time is the 1950s. Nothing has changed since then: for all those decades the same two brothers have made wines from the same terroirs, over and over again, using the same ancient methods on their beautiful, old, ungrafted vines. ... Read More »

Sauvignon Blanc: An FAQ

What is Sauvignon Blanc? It is a white wine grape variety. It's "home" is in the Loire Valley, but it is one of the French grapes, like Chardonnay, that has become a widely planted and widely consumed "international" grape variety. As many consumers decided that Chardonnay was too "oaky and buttery", many of them moved to Sauvignon Blanc, which is typically crisper, more fruit forward, and more herbaceous. Where is it grown? The most famous Sauvignon Blancs continue to be produced in the Loire Valley, mostly in the AOCs of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It also make popular varietal wines in California, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Austria, Northern Italy ... Read More »

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 ... Read More »

Fucci: One of Italy’s Greatest Wines? Or the World’s?

"Aglianico del Vulture is potentially one of the world’s—not just Italy’s—greatest wines and no single bottling demonstrates its quality better than the Titolo" - Ian D'Agata, Vinous If you love the great Nebbiolos of Piedmont, then you are also certain to love the red wines of Campania and Basilicata made from the Aglianico grape. Like Nebbiolo, it has naturally high acidities, good structure, and superb aromatics. In fact, many experienced blind tasters (and us!) have been known to confuse top examples with great Barolo. Xarel-lo may have been our Fall obsession; this winter we worship Aglianico. So our ears perked up when a friend of the shop talked about how much he loved ... Read More »

Boulay Vertical

For years, we have been advising that Sancerre should be added to your list of must-cellar categories. I recently had the privilege of attending a vertical tasting of Gerard Boulay's single vineyard Sancerre "Clos de Beaujeu", going back almost 60 years, including the last bottle of 1959 in Gerard Boulay's personal cellar. It was truly gratifying to experience such stunning confirmation of our advice. It's funny, but followers of Boulay have a tendency to overlook the wine from this Clos. Of Boulay's three single vineyards, it has the least name recognition. This is surely because his other vineyards, Mont Damnes and Le Grand Cote, are also made by the famous Cotat cousins. And let's face ... Read More »

Barbaresco & Barolo: What’s the Difference?

They are both made 100% from Nebbiolo grown in the Langhe. But Barolo and Barbaresco are clearly not the same wine. What's the difference? The easy answer is the legal one: Barolo and Barbaresco are two different DOCs. They are located in slightly different parts of the Langhe (see the map below). There are slightly different rules that they have to follow -- for example Barolos have to be aged for 38 months, of which at least 18 months are in barrel, while Barbaresco only requires 26 months, of which 9 must be in barrel. Barolos have to hit 13% alcohol and Barbarescos only 12.5%   I guess that sort of thing is great to know for your WSET exam, but it doesn't get you into the heart and soul ... Read More »

The Reasonable Cellar: Fontodi Chianti Classico

Fontodi's Chianti Classico is a remarkably fine and elegant expression of Sangiovese for a very reasonable price that will drink well for years to come. It's the kind of wine you should have in any reasonable cellar, and when we visited Fontodi in the fall we tasted examples that went back decades and were still delicious and full of life. 2013 is already considered to be a spectacular and classic vintage by both Tuscan wine-makers and the critics; and we agree that this is a wine and vintage you don't want to miss! Fontodi is not a "new" name to fans of great Tuscan wine. In fact they have been known and celebrated for decades. But there was some concern among Chianti purists that the wines ... Read More »

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

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 ... Read More »

2014 White Burgundies from Lafouge

Auxey-Duresses has always been in the shadow of its better-known neighbors, Volnay and Meursault. We like to talk about the "Edges of Burgundy"—places just off the beaten track of famous villages. These Edges provide tremendous value. Auxey-Duresses, quite literally at the edge of one of the most famous white wine villages in the world, may provide the greatest value of all. Auxey-Duresses, flush up by Meursault, is one of those magic places in Burgundy that grows both great red and white grapes. White is the focus on the Meursault side of the village. Wines made by Auxey's top growers can rival great Meursault, and we think Lafouge is at the very top of the heap. (D'Auvenay does make some ... Read More »