2004 Palladino Gavi del Commune di Gavi ($17.99) Okay, the grape is cortese, and this wine is from Serralunga D’Alba. One of this producer’s most popular wines. Low temperature fermentation in stainless steel and then aged for 18 months in Slovenian oak. Beautifully balanced you will find peaches, pear and minerality and a chalky finish. Will work as an aperitif or with light fish dishes and fresh cheeses. 2002 Savese Picchieri “Le Petrose” Primitivo del Taranto IGT ($15.99) Primitivo and zinfandel share the same DNA, as one Puglian put it, “They are like twins separated at birth.” This wine’s bouquet has plum and currant and the palate brings plum jam, blackberries and raspberries notes with under tones of hay and oriental spice. This full-bodied wine will show best with red meats, game and stews. Poggiarellino is one of those small boutique wineries in the town of Montalcino. Small production, HUGH values. 2003 Poggiarellino Rosso di Montalcino ($13.99) Baby Brunello at its best! This rosso is aromatic, balanced with the terroir of Montalcino. Bright fruit jumps out on the palate, raspberries and black cherries rounded off with touches of leather, spice and a cherry stone bitterness on the finish. Try with aged Pecorino or a Tri-tip steak. Yum! 2000 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino ($29.99) Yes, that’s right, $29.99 for a Brunello! Needs a couple of hours of decanting, and this baby is good to go. On this full-bodied wine you will find plum, chocolate and cherries dancing with smooth and silky tannins. This Brunello will age well for another four to five years, but no need to wait. Prefect accompaniment to hearty pork dishes or the classic accompaniment: wild boar! Salute! —Mike Parres
I have been looking for a Prosecco producer that we could import directly for a few years. Last April in Italy I met with the very young bother-and-sister team of Silvano and Alberta Follador. We didn’t even taste their wines when we first met. They just wanted to meet me before we even thought about the wine. We liked each other immediately. In today’s world of fast-paced business it was very refreshing to see that producers were more interested in who was going to take care of their wines rather than how much we were going to buy. I walked away hoping that they made wine that was at the very least good. A month later we tasted the samples and YOWSA! We were stunned by the quality; I have never tasted better Prosecco than these. Dumfounded by the quality, humbly I asked for the price list knowing the quality and the stunning package would demand some outrageous price. The prices matched their personalities, however, humble and honest. Prosecco, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is a grape, just like chardonnay or cabernet. As a grape, it can be made into sparkling, semi-sparkling, still or sweet wine. The towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are the center of the DOC production and lay about an hour to the northwest of Venice. In the Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut ($10.99), the first thing you notice is the incredibly perfumed nose. Beautifully balanced and delicate, it is followed by refined fruits with hints of yeasty complexity without being ponderous. This sparkling wine is a perfect aperitivo—long, pure and refreshing. It makes you want to drink glass after glass. The Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ($10.99) has a slightly higher dosage, and that gives this wine a slight more heft on the palate. Prosecco is generally made at the Extra Dry level, where its creamier feel gives more body to the generally slightly lower alcohol levels of 11.5%. It is truly an exceptionally versatile food wine! The Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Superiore di Cartizze” ($17.99) comes from the most famous “vineyard zone” in the region, a 266-acre slope framed by the villages of San Pietro Barbozza, Saccol and Santo Stefano (from where the Folladors hail). Cartizze traditionally has a higher dosage than the rest of the wines, but its increased power carries it off well. More complexity, broader on the palate, richer flavors, this is certainly a marvelous match for spicy cuisine. Although we weren’t originally given any samples of the Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Sui Lieviti” Frizzante ($10.99), when I saw it in their catalog I had to ask about it. Silvano said, “Oh that’s just what we drink locally here.” I said that’s what I’d like to drink here! It is Prosecco fermented in the bottle and not disgorged, so there are still some dead yeast cells in the wine that make it a little cloudy. If you are a beer drinker, it is sort of like a Hefe-Weizen Prosecco! Enjoy! —Greg St.Clair
2003 was a vintage in Burgundy unlike any in memory, thanks to the ferocious heat wave. The wines are often very different than in a typical Burgundy vintage. This left some growers in a dilemma. If their wine did not fit their style, either they had to change their style for the vintage, or they had to take a financial loss and bulk out the wine. I was most interested when Daniel Johnnes, sommelier and importer, approached me in May with an offer for a 2003 Nuits St. George, Premier Cru, at a great price. He told me that one producer in Nuits St. Georges had had several barrels of a single vineyard Premier Cru that just did not fit into their desired style, and that they were interested in selling it in bulk. Of course, it would be labeled as a negociant wine, even though it was all from a single one of their Premier Cru vineyards. When I visited Burgundy in June and tasted the wine, I was delighted to find a beautiful Nuits St. Georges. The 2003 Nuits St. Georges, 1er Cru, La Cerisière ($29.99) is big and rich, with ripe fruit and a brawny charm reminiscent of the old Jules Belin style. A fat and luscious nose is followed by rich blackberry notes on the palate and lots of grip. We grabbed all there was, both for our Signature Red Club and for our retail customers. I felt like a cherry-picker, which is fitting. After all, when you get a chance to be a cherry picker, and get the perfect thing, the next thing you want to be is a Cerisière (a cherry seller). At these prices I do not expect the wine to be around for long. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
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