Cleaning Up in the Cellar

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We’ve found some nice bottles in our cellar that hadn’t been added to inventory until today. In addition, a few special wines have just arrived, courtesy of a private cellar in northern Italy (so far north that from nearby vantage points you can see Switzerland). We are in love with the old-style labels!

By the way: we drank two wines over Xmas that you would have poured down the sink if you had to judge them based on how they showed when first opened. One was 1958 Nervi Gattinara (Her Majesty’s birth year, and a fine vintage – any excuse will do); the other was 1970 Massolino Barolo Rotondo (an alternate name for Rionda).  The wines were shrill and volatile and super-funky after decanting – fairly nasty, and not at all promising. They had at least 5 hours to breath after having been double-decanted, and then both were absolutely delicious; the knowledgeable tasters with us were thrilled with the wines - and until I told them, they had no idea how the bottles had started out earlier that day. JW

For up-to-the-minute inventory, please view (and refresh) this article on our website (and please note that the store opens at 12 on Sunday – so first come, first served).

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Ar.Pe.Pe 2001 Valtelina Riserva Sassella Vigna Regina

*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.* Ar.Pe.Pe works with longish fermentations (20-25 days) and 3 years in botte of oak and chestnut for the Riservas. The Valtellina doesn’t generally produce the intense tannin and high acid of Barolo and Barbaresco (sadly most winemakers there choose to use barriques to make up for the relatively delicate structure of Valtellina fruit), but Sassella tends to produce somewhat firmer wines. This shows a bit more structure than the Grumello, with lovely richness and velvety tannins, and a very Barolo-like presence – if your Barolo was about 25 years old. Kirsch/cherry, spices, a bit saline, with orange and iron on the finish. A real achievement and a great wine.

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Bea, Paolo 2005 Montefalco Vigneto Pagliaro Sagrantino Secco

In 2005 Bea's Vigneto Pagliaro achieved a balance and richness of fruit that Sagrantino enthusiasts should take notice of. Bea works over the tannic quality of the variety by harvesting at a very high phenological ripeness, and allowing for a long fermentation. The results are an inviting scent of cherry liquor, and a complex textured mouth-feel with mature svelte structure. A detailed wine that is a blast to drink now, but will need some time in the cellar to show its full depth. JR

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Bea, Paolo 2006 Montefalco Rosso Vigna San Valentino

In 2006 Bea made a delicious blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Sagrantino. This wine is usually labeled as his "Montefalco Rosso," but the powers at the DOC complained that the wine lacked color and showed signs of oxidation. In a recent tasting I can assure you that this wine is innocent on both counts. After a maceration of 42 days and élevage in stainless steel we are left with an honest and expressive wine with plenty of interesting texture. The best part is that the price is a steal for the quality, and an unheard of value for a Bea Rosso. JR

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Cappellano 2004 Barolo Gabutti Rupestris

Classic Nebbiolo nose — earthy, mineral, wild red fruit — raspberry — strawberry, a little violet; this is actually delicate and refined; old fashioned wine but clean and pure; very fine tannins, medium bodied, plenty of fruit and LONG.

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Dettori, A 2007 Romangia Chimbanta Bianco

On Dettori’s web site there is a very interesting argument stating that Vermentino originated in Sardinia as opposed to Liguria. Whether or not Vermentino was born in Sardinia, this bottle is a strong case for its continued cultivation. Dettori subscribes to a very hands off approach in the cellar with no material contacting the wine besides cement and glass, and only a minimal amount of sulphur and manure added in the vineyard. The Vermentino comes out bold and roasted with both nutty and herbaceous flavors. Bottles do tend to be cloudy and have sediment. JR

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Galardi 2007 Campania Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina

A blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso grown in volcanic soils in the hills of northwestern Campania, Fattoria Galardi's Terra di Lavora (land of labor) is a intended to be a vin de garde. The wines seldom express overt fruit and tend towards the savory and mineral. Quite dark in the glass-nearly black-and still youthful appearing despite its age. Aromatically it is somewhat reticent, wild blackberry, smoke, plums, violets, graphite, loam, anise, and saddle leather reveal themselves with vigorous decanting. Initially on the palate the tannins are ripe, but still very much present. Over time more dark fruits emerge, leaning toward hedge fruits, along with savory sense of earthiness. There is a great deal of mineral complexity coiled within. The finish is quite long and savory. We'd decant for a few hours and serve with lamb ragu or dry-aged beef now or cellar for another 10-15 years for a detailed expression of the volcanic terroir to emerge. JCM

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Pepe, Emidio 1978 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Holy hell this is beautiful wine; exhibiting gorgeous notes of black truffle, sun-dried tomatoes, dried herbs, and soil, all strung together along a core of morello cherry. The palate is broad and alive with lingering tobacco notes in the finish. Exceptional. CB At least as good as the sought-after 1975, maybe better. JW

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Pepe, Emidio 1985 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Deep levels of complexity here, coffee & chocolate (mochaccino?!), with that rich, full, rustic Pepe style. Nearly mature and delicious to drink, it nonetheless will flourish in your cellar for decades to come. SH

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Pepe, Emidio 2001 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

With enough air you might get this to come around for current drinking, but it’s clearly intended to cellar for ages. When opened, the wine is very dense, dark, rich chocolaty fruit, a bit of herbs – thyme, rosemary, grainy ripe tannins, very long. A couple of hours later the structure has intensified, more of everything, very tannic, and higher-toned, with nice berry fruit showing. All in all, a fabulous effort from the brilliant Pepe family, especially if you can put it away for a long time. JW

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Roagna 1995 Barolo La Rocca e La Pira 375 ml

Tightly wound upon opening but classic tar, cherry and underbrush notes reveal themselves over time, along with a striking mineral core and deep earthiness. At first very grippy and austere with subdued, dusty fruit, this wine blossoms with aeration to reveal floral, lilting flavors, delicate red fruits and a hint of smokiness. A perfect Barolo for fans of older Carema, Valtellina or Ghemme and one that will be drinking beautifully for quite some time, even from half bottle. -jfr

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