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This is a fantastic straw hued Soave (Garganega) from the mother-daughter team at Adalia in the Veneto. Crisp and dry with a hint of grassy texture and a long mineral finish. Eben Lillie
Falanghina seems to be one of the great success stories of southern Italy, emerging from relative obscurity despite being a truly ancient variety into a nearly ubiquitous staple on the market. That has lead regrettably (and predictably) to any number of wines that fail to show the real virtues of the grape. Agnanum Falanghina is anything but predictable; produced from terraced vineyards of own-rooted vines ranging in age from 10 to 60 years old, possible only because of the particular soil of the area, the wine is pure and piercingly mineral. The nose is tart, showing pithy lemon and orange with delicate white florals, notes of mint and lemon balm and a characteristic hint of peach pit. The wine is almost airy on the palate with a fairly soft texture and fresh acidity showing a more deliberately stone fruit character of yellow peach and fresh apricot with a delicate saline finish. it is an obvious match to simple fish dishes but would be equally suited to a wide range of food: try it with goats milk cheese, olives, chicken, or egg dishes. Andy Paynter
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
Contra Soarda consistently produces excellent Vespaiolo wines in the Veneto, and the 2017 vintage is the best I’ve tasted yet. Vespaiolo derives its name from the wasps (vespa) that feed on the grapes as sugar accumulates later in the season. The wines are often made into a passito style sweet wine but this wine shines as a rich, dry wine with bountiful aromatics. The vines are planted on a decomposed volcanic soil at high density to limit yields, and are fermented with native yeast in steel. The nose is quite effusive with scents of apple blossom, white peach, orchard fruit, and ripe citrus. Fairly full on the palate with a rich texture, the initial flavors of juicy apple and peach give the impression of sweetness which is lifted away by high acidity and a mineral finish. Intense and refreshing, this wine would pair well with asparagus and egg dishes, scallops, shrimp, washed-rind or fresh cheese, or with a vegetable risotto. Andy Paynter
I am an unabashed fan of the wines coming from Fongoli, especially the fantastic Trebbiano Spoletino orange wine they make. The 2017 Vintage shows verve and freshness despite the the fact that it is one of the warmest vintages on record. The grapes are macerated in open top fermenters for 2 weeks with soft punch downs, and then rested in bottle. It is a hazy golden color in the glass, with aromas of ripe apple, delicate white flowers, and autumnal notes of fallen leaves and cut hay. Delicate tannins come through on the palate, with flavors of fresh apricot and ripe citrus with a crisp finish. Despite being bottle without any added sulfur this wine maintained freshness for days in my refrigerator. Andy Paynter
La Staffa is an estate founded in 1994 by the Baldi family and has embraced biodynamic farming under the direction of Riccardo Baldi. The 2017 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a beautiful example of the fresh and easy style of Verdicchio I love. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, cold settled over the winter, and rested on lees only briefly before being bottled in the spring following the vintage. The nose shows crisp stone fruit and notes of clementines and almond flowers. The palate is light and juicy, with tart white peaches, orange citrus and a dry, mineral finish. An easy match for fish it would also be suited to rich cheese, slightly bitter veggies like broccoli rabe, or served as a refreshing summer quaffer. Andy Paynter
Passerina is a grape that I have little experience with beyond the wines of La Visciola in Lazio, which is a real shame given the depth of flavor a lifted texture the wines show. An obscure variety native to Lazio (and possible distinct from a grape also named Passerina that grows along Italy’s Adriatic coast) the 2014 Donna Rosa shows spiced golden apples on the nose with autumnal notes of cut hay and sagebrush. The palate is fairly full with great acidity and a soft almost honeyed texture lifted by crisp orchard fruit with a dry finish. Really lovely on its own, I think that it would be well suited to baked fish, green salads with apples and lemon vinaigrette, fresh cheese especially goats milk cheese, or chicken salad. Andy Paynter
Passerina is a grape that I have little experience with beyond the wines of La Visciola in Lazio, which is a real shame given the depth of flavor a lifted texture the wines show. An obscure variety native to Lazio (and possible distinct from a grape also named Passerina that grows along Italy’s Adriatic coast) The 2015 shows a more lifted character than the 2014. The nose is fairly tight on opening, giving notes of tart apple and pear leading into thyme and white flowers after a few minutes in the glass. Medium body with a soft texture and crisp acidity the flavors show more candied lemon peel, green apple, and tart pear. Try it with grilled fish, potato or white pizza, soft cheese, or cured pork. Andy Paynter
The ‘Tin’ cuvées are the most innovative wines being made at Montesecondo. The name is an homage to Silvio’s North African heritage (“Tin” means clay in Arabic); the ‘Tin’ wines are fermented and aged in clay amphora. The white 'Tin' is produced from a parcel that is primarily Trebbiano Toscano interplanted with a bit of Malvasia. The grapes are destemmed and placed in 250 to 350-liter unlined amphora to ferment for six months, and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is a rich, hazy gold in the glass and shows aromas of ripe stone fruit, orange zest, honeycomb, and wildflowers, with a spicy cut of cinnamon and cloves. The palate is more lifted than many orange wines made with extended skin contact, perhaps due to the relatively tame personality of Trebbiano Toscano. The texture is soft rather than rugged with crisp acidity and delicate tannins showing flavors of tart white peach and fresh citrus fruit. Fascinating on its own I think that it would be an easy match for all kinds of food: try it with rich pasta dishes, olives and cheese, white fish, with grilled chicken or artichokes. Andy Paynter
In the realm of obscure Italian grape varieties, Blatterle takes the cake for rarity. With a total of three producers and no more than 1.5 hectares planted, the variety isn't even recognized by the Italian government and therefore can’t be listed anywhere on the label. Nusserhof is the largest producer of Blatterle in the world, making around 40 hectoliters annually of the stunning B….... cuvée. Vinified with native yeast on the skins, gently pressed, and then rested in steel, the winemaking is intentionally straight forward to better showcase the variety. The nose is complex, with layers of yellow flowers, chlorophyll, fresh green herbs, yellow peaches, and lemon verbena. The palate has some density but is lifted by bright acidity and crisp flavors of citrus and pithy stone fruit with a very dry finish. I think it is a perfect match for spring vegetables prepared simply; think asparagus dressed in lemon and olive oil or a salad of pea shoots and goat cheese. Andy Paynter
Oltretorrente has produced a wonderful Timorasso since they were founded in 2010 by Chiara Penati and Michele Conoscenti. The vines, planted in 1996, are tended organically with biodynamic practices and the grapes are vinified simply: the bunches are pressed whole-cluster and fermented with native yeasts in steel, resting on the lees for 8 months to lend texture and complexity. A touch golden in the glass, the wine shows strong aromas of ripe peach, honey, beeswax, and yellow flowers. The palate has some weight with a smooth texture, plenty of acidity, and rich stone fruit over a chalky mineral backbone. Simultaneously rich and crisp this wine would be a great match for more assertive dishes; try it with asparagus and hollandaise, cured cheese, risotto Milanese, honey-basted chicken, or white pizza. Andy Paynter
Our colleague Anna DeBeer has joined us in sales and we are very happy about it! Here are her first published words of wisdom: Timorasso, once the most commonly grown white grape in Piedmont, fell into decline after phylloxera ravaged the area in the late 19th century and it was replaced mostly with the much easier to grow Cortese grape. It has been only in the last few decades that the finicky (as it is prone to a number of diseases, thin skinned and low yielding) Timorasso has resurfaced, and this example from Principiano is absolutely one of the tastiest and most complex examples I have tried. Bright and pale lemon in color, it looks and smells as fresh and crisp as the mountain air from where it is grown. A pronounced herbal nose with salty and stony undertones leads into light white floral, white peach and almond aromas. On the palate its racy acidity cuts through first, followed by herbal notes of anise, chervil and hay, chased by zesty citrus and stone fruit flavors. The finish is exceptionally long and nutty and slightly bitter, yet stony and refreshing. I enjoyed this with a simple salad of cherry tomatoes and cucumber (from my tiny garden), tossed with feta, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs, which were fantastic together, but I can imagine this pairing with an endless array of dishes from pasta to chicken to vegetables, or of course, savored on its own, letting the Timorasso speak for itself. Anna DeBeer I went crazy over this wine when I tasted the newly released 2016 in May in Monforte d’Alba. The wine seems absolutely typical of Timorasso, one of the more interesting and serious of the zillion Italian grapes you may not have heard of, or heard of until recently. If you told me that the 720 SLM was from Timorasso’s classic home in the Colli Tortonesi (about 100km east of Barolo) I’d believe it. The best Colli Tortonesi wines are fairly rich and full-bodied but remain elegant if the alcohol levels are in check. That’s a challenging if, and it certainly helps Principiano that his Timorasso vines are at 720 meters above sea level, or 2-3 times higher than Colli Tortonesi vineyards. There are some wines from there that I really like, even love (Oltretorrente, Ricci), but I have yet to taste anything this good. Number One Fact: 12% alcohol! And obviously fully-ripe fruit, and very obviously pure and not manipulated. The wine is on the savory side aromatically, and the same saline and stony structure combined with nuts, hay, herbs, peach and pear, all carry through on the palate. It starts as tart and crisp and then grows and expands and is unusually complex, long and intense – rich and full, but just when most wines of this type would deliver heat, it’s ethereal and effortless, entirely refreshing and fascinating. There’s tons of material in balance – it reminds me a bit of good Chenin Blanc in profile, but very Italian with its almond-skin, delicately bitter tang on the finish. Made in stainless with indigenous yeasts, no clarification or filtration, and it goes through malolactic. A serious wine, seriously delicious; 2000 bottles made, of which we have reserved a greedy portion. Speaking of greedy: Since spending the month of May in Italy with no-holds-barred at the table, we’ve been having an all-vegetable summer – vegan actually. As the cook in the family I think I’d find it pretty difficult to sustain in the cold months, but I’ve been shopping at the Union Square greenmarket 2-3 times a week and the choice and quality is amazing. Above you can see last night’s dinner (a rare pasta indulgence): grilled eggplant, chopped tomato and cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh red chili, basil, and mint. Normally I’d Norma-ize it with mozzarella, or at least some ricotta salata, and certainly parmigiano, but it was very satisfying without, and quite perfect with the Timorasso, amplifying the herbal side of the dish and the nutty side of the wine. Jamie Wolff
Ronchi di Cialla is most famous for their role in reviving the grape Schioppettino, and rightfully so, but the Ribolla Gialla will always be my favorite. It is a distinctive expression of Ribolla from 30-year-old vines exposed to the south west that shows a delicate fruit character and crunchy minerality. The wine is vinified in stainless steel, held in contact with the lees for three months with frequent batonnage, and then bottled unfiltered. Quite pale in the glass, the nose shows a mix of lemon pith and clementines over ripe golden apples, white flowers with a woodsy note of sage and underbrush. Medium bodied with crisp acidity, it has a light texture with juicy citrus fruit and has a sharply mineral finish. A lovely wine it would pair beautifully with pan seared scallops, fried flounder, or skate dressed with herbs and served with fresh spring peas. Andy Paynter