Monday, April 27, 2009

Back in Stock: great new vintages on Pasolini CCR "Sicelle" and Rubini Friulano

Just arrived at the end of last week, the new '08 vintage of Villa Rubini Friulano and the '04 vintage Pasolini dall' Onda Chianti Classico Riserva "Sicelle".

Both were very good vintages in their respective regions generally, but let me give a brief tasting impression here.

The '08 Rubini Friulano is just a baby, and it shows.  It's focused and urgent on the palate, with not as much detailing--at this point--as it's predecessor ('07), but will surely get there, and quickly, if the gorgeous, open aromatics are any indication.  The fruit is ripe and crisp, with the characteristic mineral core that gives this wine such range and appeal.  This is ready to roll out for the summer weather, and will reward some aging... if it doesn't all get drunk!

Pasolini dall' Onda gave us a bit of a surprise with their last-minute pullout from Vinitaly this year due to some family turmoil, but the '04 Chianti Classico Riserva from the Sicelle vineyard arrived to us safe and sound as scheduled.  Apparently winery staff are still on their game, although I suspect we're on the verge of one of the typical, European familial succession schisms.

The good news is that Sicelle is better than ever!  Whereas '03 was touch soft, this vintage brings the same sweet, ripe berry but with a firmer, more savory core and a little more raciness.  It's a great combination, giving freshness and richness together, ergo it remains (in my not-so-humble-opinion) probably the best value CCR available in the state today.

In other news, we're expecting the next container loaded with new goodies, to be arriving the first week of June, and we'll be in touch shortly to announce an arrival tasting.

It's going to be a great summer for wine.  Drink well!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vinitaly '09 recap

Well, Jon and I are just back from a tiring week of work at the world's largest wine show, Vinitaly, held in Verona.  In addition to reaffirming our existing relationships with wineries and tasting their new vintages, we also did some hunting for new producers, and came away with a few great buys.

First, we revisited with a producer that I'd met and vi
sited with several months ago at a show in Bologna, Folesano.  Carla Cavara and her husband make great sangiovese and merlot based wines on a tiny, 1000 year old estate in the Colli Bolognese zone, in miniscule quantities.  Their dedication to quality will surely propel this new winery to fame in the years to come, so bookmark this page to remind yourself that you saw 'em here first!

The aromatics of the '07 Folesano sangiovese are gorgeous, and the supple
 texture and great fruit will make this irresistible in the $13 range.  It's a Chianti killer!

Their prestige bottling is a pure merlot called Guidesco, and the '06 vintage were bringing in will present a distinctive interpretation of a classic European style of merlot.  It's dense and luxuriously oaked in French barriques, and has the stuffing to cellar for years of development, yet, there's a lot to enjoy in it now.  Again, because we are their first reach into the USA market, they helped us present great pricing to consumers, so tons of value here for about $25.

From Campania, a gregarious guy who simply goes by the name Romeo, works with his brother and sister to produce wines from an estate called Terra
 di Briganti, or "rebel land," in homage to an area that, at the time of Italy's unification, was famous fo
r its fierce landowners who were suspicious of ceding control to strangers.

Working with the indigenous varieties of falanghina and aglianico, we're bringing in two examples of each, all of which are tremendously expressive and respectful of the terroir and tradition.

The white Falanghina '08 is electric and savory, with all of the white blossom and citrus lashes that make this intense white one of my personal favorites.  We're also bringing in a passito, or dried, version of this grape that is absolutely stunning!  It's loaded with sweet fruit like pineapple, honey, and nut.  I'm going to go ahead and say that you're not going to get a better dessert wine for the money (about $15/375ml)!

Aglianico is one of Italy's most noble reds, famously structured, complex and ageworthy.  Two '07 vintage aglianicos are coming from Briganti, their base Sannio Aglianico which is bright, racy, and finely tannic, and an exotically spicy, barriqued version called Martumm√©, after one of the most famous historic briganti.  Again, 
this will prove to be benchmarks at their respective pricepoints.

Finally, from Puglia, L'Astore.  This is the winery that I wrote about earlier, and whose fantastic wines we're sure will stand at the top of their category.  Jon sussed them out at a show in Lecce just a couple of months ago, and after visiting the estate, shipped back a slew of samples that we tasted through.  Vinitaly, then, was the third round with L'Astore, and reaffirmed the strength of these wines.
Krita is a rich, chardonnay and malvasia blend; Massaro a mineral negroamaro rosato; Filimei their detailed and balanced red from negroamaro; Argentieri a modern expression of negroamaro blended with cabernet sauvigon; L'Astore, an utterly unique and powerful red from aglianico and petite verdot.  

Taken together, these make L'Astore one of Puglia's finest wineries; top three, for sure. Factoring in the quality-price ratio-- i.e. value-- it is the finest.  You'll be pleased!

Other new wines will be coming in as well, expanding offerings from existing wineries in the portfolio, so look for lots of new stuff in two and six weeks time!