Maybe it was talking to Joe Z about an April Fool’s prank he’s playing or perhaps it is that after 110 times of writing this column I’ve got a feeling of hmmmmmmmm, what should I write about? Why would I have this malaise with all of the great Italian wine available today? I do have a bunch of incredible projects I’m working on to bring you starting (hopefully arriving in June) with Rocca di Montegrossi. One of Chianti Classico’s best producers is now going to be a direct import for us. Wait until you taste these wines! Or the new producer Mike and I visited, Ca’ Berti and their Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, hillside vineyards and hand picked Lambrusco. Wow, you won’t believe them. Or all of the wonderful new vintage wines from Ermacora, Silvano Follador, Blason and Ruggeri Corsini, and several other projects that are in the works all tremendously exciting but I can’t write about those yet… Well here is the big news I can tell you: I’m going to rename my column once again because I’m moving to Hollywood! No, I’m not going to hang out in Schwab’s Drug Store waiting to be discovered. I’m going to be bringing K&L’s Italian wines to the southland sometime late this summer! Meanwhile, we still have a great selection of Brunello on the way! Here are a few: The 2001 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99) is full of the classic Montosoli nose, black cherry, cinnamon, anise cardamom and leather. The power of this vintage really shines through, and Sangiovese’s linear nature stretches the frame of this feminine wine to Amazonian proportions. The wine’s sophisticated temperament is inviting, and its supple feel relaxes you as it eases from the glass onto on your palate. Its focus, complexity, structure and finish stand out immediately while ripe layers of spicy black cherry and plum are deposited on your tongue. Vital, lithe, colorful, smooth all rolled into one, the 2001 is the best Baricci for me since the 1985. It must be something for your cellar. The 2001 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino ($34.99) has a warm, sweet ripeness that is full of intense plum and dark cherry aromatics that seem poised to jump out of the glass. The thick, lush, yet dazzlingly fresh fruit character is accented with hints of earth, spice and mineral that is wrapped around a powerful foundation. While profoundly concentrated, the silky nature of this wine sends waves of smooth, unctuous texture across your palate. Powerful, complex, drinkable and age-worthy, this luscious Brunello shows the great balance inherent in this 2001 vintage. It will age well for another decade plus. The 1999 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino ($59.99) is a truly stunning wine. Mike and I drank (no spitting here) a bottle with Vincenzo Abbruzzese the owner/winemaker over lunch in February side by side with the 98-point 2001. We finished both, and there isn’t much difference. Maybe the 2001 is a little bigger, but WOW both are absolutely sensational wines. You need to have this in your cellar! Trust me! —Greg St. Clair
2004 Garlider Sylvaner ($19.99) Born in 1974, Christian Kerschbaumer is a rising star in Valle Isarco and Alto Adige viticulture, with about 5 acres of vineyards (15% red and 85% white grapes). We are proud to introduce you to his wines. The Sylvaner has a rich bouquet and shows a juicy palate with green apples, citrus and minerals and almost a little saltiness on the vibrant finish. Try with hard cheeses or a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad. 2004 Garlider Muller-Thurgau ($18.99) Both of this and the Sylvaner above received 2 Full Glasses in the 2006 Gambero Rosso. The Muller-Thurgau is probably one of the best I’ve tasted in a long time. Spicy, with a white peppercorn, flint and slate mingling with white fruit and herbs. This is a very dynamic wine that will marry well with a cold tomato and garlic soup or dishes featuring avocado. 2004 Dorigo Pinot Grigio ($17.95) This wine was made in all stainless steel, and extended contact with the lees gives this a richness few Pinot Grigios have. The palate will bring you that classic Friulian terroir with green apples, a touch of almond and that great 2004 acidity. The perfect wine for your Mother’s day brunch. 2004 Dorigo Cabernet Franc ($15.99) Yes cab franc from Italy! It has been grown in Fruili for centuries. Forget about this grape varietal from France or California! This is a GREAT example of what cabernet franc is all about: spicy, blackberries, blueberries and cassis with black pepper and a hint of mint on the finish. Throw a steak on the barbeque. —Mike Parres
As I write this, I am just back from two weeks in Burgundy. It was a good trip, where I had the chance to taste hundreds of 2004 Burgundies, both white and red. The 2004 White Burgundies are less variable and easier to evaluate. They are charming wines, with a clear sense of place. Perhaps not the perfect vintage for aging for more than a decade, but that long a time frame is hardly a problem for most whites (or for most of us). The vintage has a sense of sweetness on the palate, even for those wines with no hint of residual sugar, which makes them delightful. 2004 Red Burgundies are more variable, and the skill of the winegrower and careful cellar work are critical. I tasted some wonderful wines in Volnay, as well as Chambolle, so there is no generalization about Cote de Beaune versus Cote de Nuits that I can see. However, this is a vintage to talk to your wine merchant about how individual producers fared, and pick your wines well. If you do, there are some wonderful things to be found, and you will be delighted to have them in your cellar. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
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