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At Chambers Street we have been incredibly lucky because we can indulge our tastes and preferences, and we only sell wine that we actually like, or love. From everything I read and hear about the wine business in most places in the US, this is an unusual and very privileged position to be in, and it’s entirely thanks to our customers.
One unintended side effect of all the indulging is that we are not very good at the game of earning “allocated” wines. If you’ve been visiting us for many years you will remember when Montee-de-Tonnere or Clos-Saint-Jacques or Ploussard or Monvigliero were sitting on the shelf, but the market has changed dramatically for those wines. We used to be able to buy more-or-less as much as we wanted, and now we’re down to allocations of a few bottles (if any) of the world’s most famous and most lusted-after wines. From the perspective of the importer/distributors involved, we just don’t buy enough of the rest of their products to merit generous allocations (the “game” referred to above); most of them are larger companies, and they don’t work with many wines we want to sell.
Pricing can also be an issue: often there’s a discount offered if we buy multiple cases, but if we are allocated 3 bottles, then of course the discount isn’t available to us. Some wines cost less in other states. So I regret to say that if you’re looking for a famous allocated wine, you might have to shop around – you might find it, and it might even be at a better price. Fortunately there are many fine alternatives to allocated wines, some offered in this email - and here or there some allocated bottles do show up… Jamie Wolff
One of the standouts of the fabulous Brovia 2013s is the Barolo; that is, the Barolo Classico; the ‘straight’ Barolo; the Barolo Normale (a term that producers don’t care for). In the classic manner, Brovia’s Barolo is a blend of 5 sites, each of which brings its character and thus complexity to what is a particularly good bottle of wine. The development of single-vineyard bottlings in Piedmont has been hugely important for our appreciation and understanding of the individual vineyards, but we sometimes miss out because we are distracted by their prestige, while there are blended wines that are every bit as good – and in the case of this wine – better than most other producers top wines. This one is very fine, with great lift, lovely subtle fruit, and ripe tannins. It’s medium to full-bodied and showing quite rich; like the other 2013s it’s a wine for the cellar. Jamie Wolff
Last May we tried a ton of Dolcetto in the company of two distinguished tasters who kept saying they didn’t like Dolcetto, which tends to put a damper on the experience. Sandri’s, however, made them sit up and take notice, so I give them credit for staying alert and flexible enough to change their minds. It’s bracingly juicy with wild brambly fruit that’s balanced with savoury herbs and chalky stone. Medium-bodied, very lively and lifted, it’s long and complete. I happen to like Dolcetto, but if they were all half as good as this one I might say I love it. Jamie Wolff
Allowing for the fact that wine is a very subjective experience, I like to think that I call it as I see it. So I believe I’d know if it was a disaster, but otherwise I’m irrational and unreliable on the subject of G. Rinaldi. When I’m there, I wander around in a kind of stupor of infatuation with the wines. My penetrating notes (for 2013 Tre Tine, for example) say things like “super-great” [full stop]. I suppose if I have to have a wine crush, it might as well be on one of the best wineries in the world. Jamie Wolff PS: Please don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t make the prices (neither, so far as I can tell, do the Rinaldis, because the wines leave the cellar at very reasonable prices). We’re well into the world of luxury goods here, and all I can do is sigh and make puppy dog eyes at the bottles while they’re in the shop. I do think it’s an objective fact that these are great wines and even if it’s a gratuitous comparison, they are the superior of many far more expensive wines.
Allowing for the fact that wine is a very subjective experience, I like to think that I call it as I see it. So I believe I’d know if it was a disaster, but otherwise I’m irrational and unreliable on the subject of G. Rinaldi. When I’m there, I wander around in a kind of stupor of infatuation with the wines. My penetrating notes (for 2013 Tre Tine, for example) say things like “super-great” [full stop]. I suppose if I have to have a wine crush, it might as well be on one of the best wineries in the world. Jamie Wolff
PS: Please don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t make the prices (neither, so far as I can tell, do the Rinaldis, because the wines leave the cellar at very reasonable prices). We’re well into the world of luxury goods here, and all I can do is sigh and make puppy dog eyes at the bottles while they’re in the shop. I do think it’s an objective fact that these are great wines and even if it’s a gratuitous comparison, they are the superior of many far more expensive wines.
If your child was born in 2013, or if you were married in 2013, or if you can think of any other plausible excuse to buy the Brea Ca’Mia, AND if you can cellar it for years to come, then don’t hesitate. It’s a very impressive wine. Jamie Wolff
This is my favorite Garblet-Sue to date – I thought the wine showed more transparency and lift than my memory of previous vintages. It’s very much a piece with the Brovia 2013s – dark and fairly full-bodied but energetic, and with very appealing strawberry fruit, mint and lots of savory character. Jamie Wolff
My friend Gregory calls Villero “Barolo with training wheels”, by which I think he means that Villero produces wines that are both classic and easy to understand – thus, a good introductory wine. I’m a fan of Villero in general (see also G. Fenocchio, G. Mascarello, Oddero) so I’m sometimes a little embarrassed that perhaps my fandom reveals my training wheels tastes… But in any case I’m not so sure that the Brovia 2013 Villero fits Gregory’s bill. It’s got some real density that carries through to the finish, balanced with bright raspberry fruit. Tasted just last week at Barolo Night, it was showing structured and austere, with the dark, savoury core that’s present in all of the Brovia 2013s. Jamie Wolff
The current release from Sandri, and stellar. Jamie Wolff
Ferdinando Principiano is part of the next generation in Barolo who are guaranteeing that our kids and grandkids are ensured a supply of brilliant wines (some of the others on my short list are the Brovia family, Mario Fontana, Giacomo Fenocchio, Elio Sandri, Fabio Alessandria at Burlotto, Gianni Canonica – not kids, but experienced wine makers in their prime). I’ve told the story before about how around 2008 Ferdinando completely changed course from making full-on modern style wine to full-on traditional wines, which is a courageous move under any circumstance, and one which is yielding beautiful wines. And beautiful vines: his vineyards are also gorgeous.
The Barolo is a blend of fruit from Boscaretto, Baudana, and Leirano – all Serralunga vineyards. It’s very good indeed, harmonious and balanced, with lovely fruit, fine tannin, and surprisingly accessible (when tasted in May 2017). Jamie Wolff
The Ravera 2013 is very aromatic with great balance between fruit and savory / floral / herbal. It has pronounced grip, but the tannins are elegant. Another excellent wine for the cellar. Jamie Wolff