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
Please permit me to throw my hat into the already frantic discussion of what to drink with your Thanksgiving meal, the most over thought wine/food pairing in history. Every major wine publication will feature their experts on why an aged Merlot goes best with farm-raised chestnut-fed turkey stuffed with morel mushrooms slowly roasted, covered, uncovered, basted, brined and beaten… or most definitely it is Pinot Noir you want to drink to encompass the entire meal and its myriad flavors. But wait! Not just any Pinot Noir; it must be from Oregon and from a cool vintage to better enhance the subtle earthy flavors the pecans add to the stuffing. My advice as a certifiable wine person is to order Thai food, tell them you want it real hot and open a few bottles of Riesling, then wait till the next day and visit your friends for those turkey sandwiches that always seem to be so much more satisfying. Wait wrong article… So what you want to do is drink wines from the Loire Valley with your holiday meal or Alsace for that matter because these are the perfect wines to match the complexities of your now featherless friend. Listen equally featherless friends, there is no need to stress (funny it is me saying that). The straight deal is this: Turkey is a bland bird, not much flavor, a bit like chardonnay in the sense that it takes well to adornment, hence all the fine recipies to dress it up. Turkey as it is most often cooked—roasted—goes best with white wines with clean flavors and not too much oak. Second best is light to medium bodied juicy reds with low tannin levels and again clean flavors and not too much oak. Now, unless you are me or the three or four other people who actually read this column each month and say “yeah man, that’s it” then you should drink what you like. Since you know what? You have to drink it. If you were like me, or you want to be like me, you would drink these: To start- Jean-Louis Denois Brut Rosé Pinot Noir ($12.99), not from the Loire, but I just love it. 100% pinot noir rosé made by skin contact, bright juicy and darn fine. Then the 2002 Domaine Vincent Ogereau Anjou Blanc ($12.99), 100% hand-harvested chenin blanc from a parcel of schist-laden soil in the commune of Saint Lambert. It is vinified in 500 liter Tonnes on its lees until bottling in May. The wine is saturated with wet stone flavors with hints of stone fruits, ginger and sweet herbs and is possibly the most versatile and friendly chenin blanc I have tasted. For the reds I suggest two: the 2004 Domaine de la Pépière Cuvee Granit Rouge ($10.99), from our friend Marc Ollivier in Muscadet, is his take on cheery red wine, though not without substance. It fits the bill (or beak) with its juicy, supple personality. A blend of côt, gamay and merlot (Oh no). Or if you are flush, the 2003 Château du Hureau Saumur Champigny Cuvée Lisagathe ($24.99), a great cab franc from a hot vintage that is seething with rich luscious fruit and minerals that will satisfy even the “big” wine drinkers. No more room - Gobble, Gobble. —Jeff Vierra
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