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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
This lovely Pecorino is named after the Papilio machaon butterfly that lives in Abruzzo meadows and forests. The wine is made from biodynamic grapes, grown on limestone and clay, and fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel. Aromas of melon, pineapple, and lemon zest mingle with salty, briny notes and a touch of dried flowers and anise. The palate is refreshing and mineral with bright acidity and juicy tropical and citrus fruits, lemon zest, a touch of mint and anise with a tangy finish. This is a perfect sipping wine that can easily be enjoyed on its own or paired with crunchy salads, fish dishes or white meats. Anna DeBeer
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
From vines grown in Flysch di Cormons (mixed sandstone and marls), fermented and aged in barrel. Pale gold robe. A touch shy aromatically upon opening, but with a quick decant, the aromatic palette expands: scents of white flowers, golden delicious apple, orange oil, and honey vie with notes of wet stone and iron for prominence. On the multi-layered palate it displays flavors of stone fruit, acacia, Mirabelle plum, with a steely mineral character and a fine zesty acidity on the long, detailed finish. As with other bottles of Borgo del Tiglio from this era, decanting the wine and following it over an afternoon reveals a surprising amount of aromatic detail and textural complexity. Decanted and served a bit cooler than cellar temperature, this pairs beautifully with the local Prosciutto San Danielle, sea food, and fresh cheeses. John McIlwain
Vermentino is one of the only varieties that is widely planted on both Sardinia and the mainland of Italy, though Sardinian examples tend to be more intense and full-bodied. The Vermentino from Cardedu is produced from dry-farmed vineyards, tended without herbicides or pesticides, and fermented with native yeasts, with a few hours of skin contact in steel tanks. It is an intense white wine showing tones of wild mint and rosemary on the nose over orange rind, ripe yellow peaches, and hot sea air. The palate is quite full and dry, with mouthwatering acidity, juicy stone fruit, and a salty finish. This is a Vermentino well suited to fatty fish like sardines, cured cheese, spinach pie, gyro pitas with tzatziki, or herbed chicken. Andy Paynter
Loris Follador is from a long line of farmers in Valdobbiadene. Thanks to his father and grandfather, Loris and his two sons have never had to plant a vine. Their vineyards, featuring 60+ year old vines, are absurdly steep and the soil is very shallow, hitting solid limestone or sandstone rock in a few centimeters. No herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers are used. The harvesting is, of course, by hand and would seem, especially in the steepest spots, near impossible. Most importantly, the focus on the vinification and the cellar work is to express, as simply and directly as possible, the potential minerality and the terroir of these vines. The grapes are immediately pressed using a pneumatic press. The must is then partially fermented and the lees and juice are separated and the lees cleaned through filtration. The cleaned juice and filtered lees are reintroduced together in bottle in the late winter and re-ferment by early to mid-summer, creating its own bead and a carbon dioxide environment that prevents oxidation without the use of sulfur. There is no disgorgement, so the expired lees remain in the bottle adding further complexity, but also some cloudiness. The wine can be decanted off of the deposit or poured as is. Either way, the flavor is unchanged and the minerality unmistakable.
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
Since releasing her first vintage at the age of 24 in 2006, Arianna Occhipinti has been a champion of Sicilian viticulture – through organic practices, cooperative work with other winemakers, and raising the profile of her island’s indigenous grapes. The SP68 Bianco is a bright, easy blend of 60% Zibbibo (or Muscat de Alessandria) and 40% Albanello meant for everyday drinking – SP68 is the name of the road that runs along her parents’ farm. After 15 days of skin contact, fermentation with native yeasts, and bottling with filtration, however, this offers complexity far beyond that of most weekday whites! The nose is lively and floral, leading into a clean palate of stone fruits with glimmers of sage. I couldn’t stop thinking of a seafood pairing when we tasted it – fish tacos drizzled with lime crema or a grilled sea bass topped with mango-peach salsa.
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
Terraquilia makes this delicious sparkling white using the ancestral method and releases them with the wine remaining on the lees, or col fondo. The grapes are a blend of Pignoletto (known as Grechetto in other parts of Italy) and Trebbiano, which are grown on a mix of clay and silt soils. The robe is a hazy straw yellow in the glass (the haze being due to the fondo) and the nose exhibits rich aromas of golden apple, pineapple, citrus zest, honeysuckle, and a touch of fresh herbs. The palate is medium-bodied, dry and refreshing with fruity and savory notes of Bosc pear, dried peach, fresh lemon, lime pith, and an almondy finish with bright acidity. This easy-drinking white is a great alternative to prosecco and is deliciously enjoyed on its own or paired with a cheese and salumi plate. Anna DeBeer
This gorgeous sparkling red is made from Lambrusco Grasparossa, which produces a rich and velvety wine, owing to its thicker skins and more pronounced tannins than other Lambrusco varieties. Grasparossa grows best in hilly sites, like those where Terraquilia is located, in Guiglia, just south of Modena. Grapes are grown organically, harvested by hand, and made into wines with very low added sulfites. The wines are made col fondo, with the sediment from the lees remaining in bottle, giving the wines a lovely texture and a slight haze in the glass. The nose is very aromatic with fruity and floral notes of fresh cherry, violet, blackberry, and sweet spices. The palate is full and dry with flavors of cassis, black cherry, rhubarb, a refreshing mineral core and an earthy finish. This wine has enough weight and acidity to be paired with pastas, tomato-based sauces, or perfectly with pizza. Anna DeBeer
I'm a huge fan of orange wines and I think that Trebbiano Terre Degli Osci from Vinica is stellar. It is produced from a single vineyard interplanted with 85% Trebbiano Toscano and 15% Garganega at 750 meters above sea level, the highest vineyard at the estate. The grapes are foot-trod, destemmed by hand, and fermented in open top containers on the skins for 8 days with daily punch downs. The wine is gently pressed and then held in contact with the lees for 10 months in steel tanks. What I particularly enjoy is that the wine manages to be both unctuous with flavors of honey, rich stone fruit, and lemon curd, but also has bright acidity and a really delicate texture with only 10.5% Alcohol. A slight note of pine resin pervades the wine and gives it a pleasant earthy dimension. I served it with a simple risotto, but it would be a great match for pork and fennel sausage, speck, or sheeps milk cheese. Andy Paynter