Alto Piemonte’s Cantine Garrone In-Store This Monday

Join us this Monday, March 12th, from 5 to 7pm, as we welcome some of our favorite Alto Piemonte winemakers to the shop. Just like their neighbors to the south, this winery focuses on the Nebbiolo grape and all that it can do. They produce one wine that is 100% Prunent Nebbiolo, a regional clone of Nebbiolo, from vines between 60 and 80 years old. They also produce two blends, still primarily Nebbiolo but with other indigenous grapes -- Barbera and Croatina -- that add lightness and juiciness. The Ca d' Mate  is 20% Barbera, while the Munaloss is a blend of Barbera, Croatina and that beautiful Nebbiolo. These are serious wines, yet they are replete with joy and pretty red fruit. The winemakers ... Read More »

What about that cheap wine in Europe?

In New York we have a lot of European visitors. Some of them complain about our prices. Not: "Oh, I can get this same wine back home for 30% less," which would sometimes be true (though often not). Rather, it’s more of a blanket statement like: "At home wines cost just 5 or 6 euros.” I happen to be in Europe for a few weeks so I decided to investigate. You may remember Turin, a very sophisticated city in Northern Italy, from the Winter Olympics a few years back. But it’s more important to us a center for the wine trade just a few miles from the Langhe, one of the world's greatest wine regions and home, not only of (expensive, age-worthy) Barolo and Barbaresco, but also of more humble ... Read More »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 ... Read More »

Produttori del Barbaresco 2013–Better than 2010 Barbaresco?

Three years ago we offered the Produttori del Barbaresco 2010 to our newsletter friends and suggested buying it by the case: an under-$35 wine that is delicious to drink on release but that just gets better and better for year or even decades. And we took our own advice–but even at that, we didn't buy enough. Don't you wish you still had cases of the 2010 lying around now? We do! But with the release of the 2013s, nature has given us another chance. Vintages this great usually come only once in every generation or so. But this time, they're only three years apart. As Jancis Robinson puts it (in her clinical British prose), "The prognosis is for a vintage similar in quality to the ... Read More »

Vintages and Barbaresco

I’ve recently been drinking a fair bit of Barbaresco and thinking about vintages. I’ve noticed how much this region of Piedmont can teach us about vintages and what they mean. Here are five lessons: It used to be about heat. Now it’s about cold. In the not so old days, the bad vintages were the ones where it was too cold to ripen grapes. Now, with global warming and better farming, the problem is the opposite, and the “bad” vintages are the ones where the grapes get too ripe. In the 1990s, the warmest vintages were hailed as the greatest ones. In the 2000s, warm vintages like 2003 and 2009 were considered bad. Funnily, it took U.S. commentators a few years to figure out that ... Read More »