In 1967 the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino was formed by a small band of producers. The Consorzio guided producers in marketing, production and the legal requirements in a region that was not the leading edge of wine in Italy or anywhere else, for sure. Amongst the first group of producers hardly any even had a label, so the Consorzio made a label showing the building in which the Consorzio is housed in “downtown” Montalcino, and many of the wineries inserted their name. Today there are 204 members and about 10% of those don’t bottle their wines. Instead, these 28 or so wineries sell their grapes. Two of these are now directly imported by K&L: Baricci “Colombaio di Montosoli” and Podere La Fortuna. Nello Baricci’s small parcel of land sits on a hill called Montosoli and is one of Montalcino’s most prized and renowned vineyards. Nello is a man of the earth, his body shows the years of effort spent working his estate yet when you look in his eyes it is like gazing into a moonless night sky with thousands of stars shining towards you. There is something magical about this humble man. Mike P and I visited the estate, tasted through the different botte (wooden tanks). One after another, Brunello and Rosso, all left the same signature of Montosoli on our palates. It starts out as a mixture of black cherry, soft leather, plum, cinnamon and earth and weaves these flavors together changing textures as the wine airs. While drinking the 2001 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99) at dinner with his family, I asked if we could taste something older. I was thinking the 1998 or 1996. Nello’s son Graziano took off for the cellar returning with the 1985, perhaps the greatest vintage in 30 years. The wine had an uncanny resemblance to the 2001. The genesis of both years started with harsh cold snaps. Nello said the 1985 tasted the same way when it was young. Stock up with the 2001; it will reward your efforts. Gioberto Zannoni’s 2001 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino ($36.99) (1.5L $66.99) has just been awarded Gambero Rosso’s 3 Glass Award as one of Italy’s top wines of the year! We’ve long believed in the quality at this winery and thought that their unique blend of ripe plumy fruit accented with hints of earth, spice and mineral would be an instant hit here in America. The supple textures that Gioberto’s wines have allow the wine’s powerful structure to blend in and not dominate on your palate. La Fortuna is situated on the eastern slope of Montalcino, bordered by Fuligni and Siro Pacenti, a couple of super famous names in Montalcino. The 1999 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ($44.99) , 92 points Wine Spectator, is a glorious wine capable of aging another 10-20 years showing the impeccable balance of this astonishing vintage. The 2004 vintage is fantastic, and the wines are sensational! Try the 2004 Baricci Rosso di Montalcino ($18.99) or the 2004 La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino ($17.99) and see the quality now! —Greg St. Clair
And now, for something completely different for your Thanksgiving holidays. On March 1 Greg and I were in the Emilia Romagna, looking to find a Lambrusco producer to bring in for K&L. We found one, and this winery ROCKS! Ca Berti Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Tipico” Dry ($8.99) 85% lambrusco grasparossa and 15% fortana. On the palate you will find cherry cola and wild berries and plums. Dry and light on the alcohol, good acid and low tannins. Buy two bottles as it will go fast. Ca Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Classico” semi-dry ($8.99) This wine starts off a little sweeter. Fragrant and fruity, richer and fuller on the palate, which brings you blackberries and maraschino cherries, wonderful effervescent with a long and dry finish. Trust me, cheese tortellini and this go so well together! Ca Berti Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Robusco” semi-dry ($10.99) Jim Barr gave this 8 tail wags! The purple froth on this is really amazing to watch rise in your glass. A little more intense perfume on the nose, and the palate has more spice. Black cherries, red currants and a hint of dustiness add to its complexity. Prefect with the antipasti!! Ca Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Amabile” sweet ($8.99) Last but not least, I give this three stars! Cherry vanilla cola, blackberries and a touch of cassis. This is not a cloyingly sweet, but is wonderfully dolce. Try this wine as an alterative to port or sauternes with dessert. Salute! —Mike Parres
The official menu is in! Reception: Passed Hors d’- Franck Bonville Cuvee Belles Voyes Champagne First Course: Agnolotti with Pecorino Toscano and Sage 1999 Almaviva Second Course: Seared Sonoma Duck Breast with Cumin Scented Carrots and Pomegranate Glaze (1) 2000 Almaviva (2) 2001 Almaviva Third Course: Grilled Cote de Beouf with Braised Celery Root and Sauce “Bordelaise” (3) 1996 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (4) 1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild Fourth Course: Roblechon and Comte (5) 2004 Almaviva Fifth Course: Glazed Fuji Apple Tart with Caramel-Vanilla Swirled Ice Cream 1990 Chateau Coutet, Sauternes
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