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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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Entries in Arneis (3)

Monday
Feb042013

The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Merchants

The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

Last Thursday night, K&L Redwood City was treated to a visit from three great producers from the northwest of Italy, Piedmont. They all make very different styles of wine from this high quality, diverse region but have one thing in common: very strong value for the money. Oliver McCrum brings all of the wines in, and he is an importer I look up to for his integrity, palate and belief in value wines.

Marco Porello

We started the tasting with Marco Porello’s excellent  2011“Camestri” Arneis from Roero ($16.99). This bright, aromatic white wine was light enough to make a great aperitif, but had enough stuffing in it to keep the interest of the most demanding wine fan. It is entirely from the small Camestri vineyard in Vezza d’Alba planted in 1980 at an altitude of almost 1000 feet on limestone and sand. High quality Arneis like this gives those looking for a Viognier like aromatic experience a basket of exotic fruit on the nose, but finishes dry and long because of the good acidity.

Marco PorelloHe also showed the elegant 2010 Marco Porello Nebbiolo d’Alba ($16.99) that is produced from two vineyards, one in Canale and one in Vezza d’Alba. The vines were planted between 1980 and 1985 at an altitude of 980 feet. This wine is vinified in giant 800-gallon Slovenian oak botti for one year. The wine shows the rose petal side of Nebbiolo more than the tar side, and is quite delicious to drink right now. It has plenty of perfume, a seamless texture and a nice finish that has grip with out being chalky. I need some of this for my cellar- I’ll start drinking it right away and hold onto a few for the next five years or so.

Maria Abbona in Dogliani

We were also honored by the presence of Federico Schellino from one of the best Dolcetto producers in the world, Maria Abbona in Dogliani. These Dolcettos have been favorites of mine for years, and getting a chance to meet the man behind them was a real treat for me. He showed the 2011 Anna Maria Abbona “Sori dij But” Dolcetto di Dogliani ($16.99) first. This rich Dolcetto comes from a selection of seven and a half acres of vineyards that average 45 years old. The 1600 to 1700 foot elevation of these sites explains the excellent snap that this full bodied wine has- this is not your average low acid Dolcetto! If you are looking for a full-bodied, dark fruited wine for rich dishes, this is it. I bought some immediately!

Federico Schellino

My personal favorite wine of the night was the powerful, impressive, perfectly balanced 2009 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani “Maioli” ($20.99). This wine comes from one four-acre site at 1640 feet that was planted in the 1930s. It wasn’t enough to just taste this with Federico, I had to buy some and bring it back home to Cinnamon for our pasta! Too many wine fans dismiss Dolcetto as simple, but a taste of the “Maioli” will dismiss that stereotype instantly. It is full of wild blackberry fruit and is very full bodied with a long, grippy finish. Most wines that are this big and rich come across as overweight, but this flagship Dolcetto has the acidity to finish with focus.

Marco Dogliotti

We finished up with two charming Moscatos from Marco Dogliotti’s excellent La Caudrina from Castiglione Tinella on the Asti/ Monferrato border. His father was the first producer of high quality, estate grown Moscato in Piedmont; most of the production in this area is sold off in bulk as juice to big negociants. Marco poured the La Caudrina Asti “La Selvatica” ($19.99) first, which at 5 atmospheres is almost at full Champagne pressure. It is produced from 37-year-old vines at about 900 feet. This spumante is perfect for wine lovers looking for something a little bit drier, more bubbly, and fuller bodied than Moscato d’Asti. I found it to have lots of exotic aromas, a nice mousse and a sweet but clean finish.

Marco DogliottiFinally we tried the 2011 La Caudrina Moscato d’Asti ($17.99) from slightly younger 34-year-old vines also at about 900 feet of elevation. This is one of the very best Moscato d’Astis that I have had the pleasure of trying. Effortlessly light, full of charming perfume and welcoming sweetness, this is the perfect dessert wine for an elegant meal. At only two atmospheres of pressure and 5% alcohol it won’t make you feel full of bubbles or knock you over the head.

I can’t wait to get back to Piedmont and see these guys again!

Cheers,

-Gary 

Tuesday
Jul032012

Monthly Wine News [July 2012] Monthly Newsletter & Highlighted Recommendations

We've posted the latest electronic copy of our printed newsletter in PDF format online at http://www.klwines.com/pdf-news.asp -- here are some of our highlighted recommendations this month: 2009 Bodegas Vinae Mureri

2009 Bodegas Vinae Mureri "Xiloca" Garnacha Vino de la tierra Ribera del Jiloca ($9.99)

K&L Notes: Located just outside of the Calatayud D.O. (famous for Las Rocas, amongst other inexpensive Garnachas), Xiloca actually reminds me of the incredible value these wines presented about 10 or so years ago: big, juicy, spicy, plump berry fruit, without the sense of overt fruitiness nor dumbed down to simplicity, which unfortunately has become very common in many Spanish (and French) Garnachas of late. Produced from vines averaging 80 years, yielding only 1/3 ton per acre (!), in arguably one of the world's best suited terroirs for Garnacha, this wine offers a whole lot for the money. Highly recommended. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Xiloca is 100% Garnacha with a very fragrant perfume of earthy minerality and black cherries. This tasty, friendly, value-priced offering has ample fruit as well as a sense of elegance. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. Bodegas Vinae Mureri is located just a few miles outside of the demarcation line of the more prestigious DO of Calatayud in the province of Aragon, hence the Vino de la Tierra designation. Like Calatayud, the region is known for its high altitude, old-vine, low-yielding Garnacha vines." (06/2011)

2009 D'Alessandro Cortona Syrah (Elsewhere $16)2009 D'Alessandro Cortona Syrah (Elsewhere $16) ($11.99)

K&L Notes: The climate and soils in Cortona are unlike better known parts of Tuscany, such as Chianti to the northwest and Montepulciano and Montalcino to the southwest. So when Massimo d'Alessandro decided he wanted to make serious wine from his family's land in the 1980s, he planted 12 acres of vineyards to different varietals. What seemed most suited to his vineyards wasn't Sangiovese but Syrah, which now makes up 90% of the plantings. This comes from the vineyard's younger vines and is prized for its freshness and immediate drinkability. And in the hands of winemaker Luca Currado (Vietti), you know it's going to be good. 

90 points James Suckling: "This is very good value in Syrah. Interesting aromas of raspberries, pepper and dried meats, follow through to a full body, and silky tannins with a fresh finish. Polished and pretty. Made from Syrah. Best after 2012." (09/2011)

2009 Bouchard Ainé & Fils Bourgogne Rouge2009 Bouchard Ainé & Fils Bourgogne Rouge ($13.99)

K&L Notes: This delicious Pinot Noir comes the negociant firm of Bouchard Ainé, established in 1750 and now owned by Boisset, but run independently. It is evidence of the quality of the 2009 vintage. In the glass the wine is rich and complex, with a lovely note of rose petals on the nose and a satisfying mid-palate. This is a remarkable amount of wine for the money! As the British would say, it's more-ish, as in "More Please!". And the good news is that you can afford more given our attractive price. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer)

2010 Ceretto Arneis 2010 Ceretto Arneis "Blangè" ($14.99)

K&L Notes: Forget for a moment that Piedmont is the home of one of the world's most noble grapes, Nebbiolo, and imagine a warm summer's day, sitting under magnificent trees and eating simple egg pappardelle with sage and butter. You don't really want a heavy red wine with your meal, you want something white and clean, so as not to bury the simple deliciousness of it. Enter Piedmont's white wine--Arneis--and this version from one of its most respected producers, Ceretto. Fruit-filled, with notes of pear and apple that would perfectly complement the sage in your pasta, it's made in a vivace style, with just a slight spritz that leaves it dancing on your palate, whisking away the buttery richness.

93 points Wine & Spirits: "Fresh scents of apple blossom honey and beeswax add to the almond richness of this arneis. It’s as smooth as a round riverstone, clean and fragrant. The finish is distinctly Piedmontese in its earthiness; to match braised chicken or a rich fish stew. " (12/2011)

2010 Morgan  

2010 Morgan "Twelve Clones" Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($25.99)

K&L Notes: Morgan's 'Twelve Clones' Pinot is composed of fruit from some of the Santa Lucia Highlands best sites, including Tondre Grapefield, Lucia Highlands, Garys', and Morgan's own organically farmed Double L Estate vineyard (55% of the final cuvée). The cool, long, and wetter than average 2010 growing season yielded fine results across the board, enabling Morgan to render craft an exceptional cuvee that shows off the lush fruit character of the region while maintaining balanced natural acidity and a moderate 13.9% alcohol. Aged for ten months 36% new French oak, this Pinot exhibits black raspberry, black cherry, plum, and hibiscus tea aromas and flavors, with accents of vanilla and clove. On the palate, hints of savory herbs fold into the baking spices and fruit flavors, for a complex, layered Pinot that can pair with a variety of foods. Try it with grilled salmon, smoked duck breast, or roast leg of lamb.

92 points Wine Spectator: "Well-crafted, tight and structured, with firm, gripping tannins keeping the zesty, tart wild berry, blackberry and date-nut bread flavors in check. Drink now through 2020." (06/2012)

 

2007 Bennett Lane

2007 Bennett Lane "Maximus" Napa Valley Red Blend ($29.99)

 94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Tastes dramatic and youthfully vital, with fat, fleshy flavors of blackberries, cassis, mocha and sweet cedar, as well as a mineral tang that grounds them. Very upscale and refined, a pure product of superior terroir and winemaking." (05/2011)

92 points Wine Spectator: "Enticingly complex, rich and layered, showing fresh, vibrant blackberry, wild berry, cedar and spice flavors, with a texture that's both supple and firm. Full-bodied, with a long, lingering finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2020." (07/2012)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2007 Maximus Red Feasting Wine (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 6% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc) exhibits a dark ruby/purple color along with notions of cedar, licorice, black currants, chocolate and coffee. This medium to full-bodied 2007 should drink nicely for a decade or more. " (12/2010)

 

2007 Tenuta Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino  2007 Tenuta Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino "Tradizione" ($29.99)

 93 points James Suckling: "Rose petals and plums on the nose. Full body, with round and chewy tannins and a ripe finish. Tannic, yet polished texture. Give it two to three years of bottle age. This wine is clearly better in 2007 than 2006." (01/2012)

93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Thick and dark, with generous fruit, spice, leather and tobacco. This is a wine that does not hold back from an aromatic point of view. Mouthfeel is tight, firm and ends with polished tannins." (05/2012)

92 points Wine Spectator: "A sinewy, muscular red, hinting at mint and licorice, with a core of cherry and plum flavors. Stiff tannins corral everything on the moderately long finish. Best from 2014 through 2026. B.S." (06/2012)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Tradizione saturates the palate with layers of dark red cherries, rose petals, spices and licorice. It shows gorgeous mid-palate pliancy and depth all the way through to the finish. The Vitanza wines always have an element of rusticity, but the 2007 Brunello is especially polished. This will always be a fairly full-bodied wine marked by firm, incisive tannins. The 2007 spent 36 months in Slavonian oak. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025." (04/2012)

 

 >> See All Recently Recommended Wines

 

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Want to see which wines are most popular with our customers? We constantly update our lists of bestselling wines, online at: http://www.klwines.com/bestsellers.asp

Thursday
Feb172011

Grape Talk: Arneis & Pelaverga

A Pelaverga grape cluster at Castello di Verduno.As part of an ongoing quest to introduce people to some exciting, most likely never heard of wines from Italy, I’m going to write about a couple every week or so.  With most experts agreeing there are somewhere around 2,000 indigenous and international varietals growing in Italy, divided up into just under 50 DOCGs (and counting), upwards of 450 DOCs (and counting) and countless IGTs (and counting), I could be at this for a while. 

I spent about a year doing the wine buying for Pizzeria Mozza here in LA, and probably tasted in the neighborhood of 2,000 Italian wines in that time.  I was continuously exposed to wines I’d never heard of, despite being a devoted wine aficionado with a penchant for all things Italian for 12 to 13 years at that point.  In fact, my very last week there I tasted a Biferno DOC wine from the most obscure of Italy’s 21 regions, the Molise, a wine I had never heard of or encountered before (it was a blend of equal parts Montepulciano and Aglianco, and quite delicious, the last wine I bought for the restaurant).  I bring up this little anecdote to demonstrate that exploring Italian wine can be a lifelong endeavor, which never loses its potential for excitement and new finds.  I’d like to get started with just a couple.

Vintage after vintage, the Vietti Arneis is one of the best examples of the grape.Arneis is a white grape from the Piemonte region in the northwest part of Italy.  There are a handful of wineries in North America that grow it (the Ponzi family in Oregon’s Willamette Valley make a wonderful one), but its rightful and soulful home is the Roero, across the Tanaro river from the Langhe, the heart of Piemonte.  The name Arneis in the Piemontese dialect means “rascal” or “rascally”.  This is due to the fact that the leaves of this vine are lacy, ornate and quite pretty, but generate barely enough photosynthetic power to ripen the grapes, and is therefore a rascal to grow.  But I’ve also been told it’s used as a term of affection. The Piemontese people adore a little glass of Arneis as an aperitivo, or as a lunchtime salad wine.  Most Arneis is very aromatic and floral, not in an aggressive Muscat or Gewurztraminer fashion, but with more subtle white flower aromatics (honeysuckle, jasmine and citrus blossom come to mind). I also get a lot of slightly under-ripe pear and other tree fruits like white peach or yellow apple.  People often claim they get an almond skin or bitter almond quality, but I’ve never really encountered that. The better versions tend to be light to medium bodied, with a soft mouthfeel and just enough acidity to give the wine a raciness and crisp finish. There are a few producers that oak age their Arneis, but to me this is akin to drowning a perfectly cooked Kobe filet in catsup.  I opine, it’s best to let the varietal shine on its own, and let all those subtle, delicate aromas and flavors express themselves.  One of my favorites comes from the Currado family of the Vietti ($19.99) winery in Barolo.  One of the world’s coolest wine labels too, this wine.  Check it out.  Marco Porello’s Arneis ($15.99) is another sure bet for this varietal.The 2008 Castello di Verduno "Basadone" is 100% Pelaverga.

Another grape varietal I’m a huge fan of, also from Piemonte, is Pelaverga.  It makes up the majority of the blend of the Verduno DOC.  Verduno is actually the northernmost of the 11 communes of Barolo, so there is some prime Nebbiolo grown there, but there is, I’m told, about 100 hectares of Pelaverga planted there as well.  And it’s the only place in Italy, and therefore the world, it’s grown.  I just came across a new one that blew my mind, and was gushing about it in my staff review on our website.  It’s the 2008 Castello di Verduno "Basadone" ($24.99) and it’s 100% Pelaverga.  The Pelaverga grape is what I call the "aromatic" red varietals of Italy, along with such grapes as Ruche, Lacryma and Nero di Troia, among others. It has a distinctly floral aroma (I’ve heard everything from chrysanthemum to white rose to geranium), but also a lovely sweet cherry aroma and flavor, with gobs of black pepper and a mushroomy, forest floor quality reminiscent of a great Chambolle or Vosne-Romanée.  The wine is not dense, but has a firm texture, a nice streak of acidity, and a beautiful weight and balance. The mouthfeel is akin to the better wines of Etna in Sicily, which in turn remind me of great red Burgundy.  And I would be remiss to not acknowledge the curious name of this grape. Anyone with an understanding of Romance languages should be able to figure out what it means. I’ve queried a number of Italians on how it got this name, and while none know for sure, it has something to do with a count back in the 18th century who lived in the castle at Verduno and his parties, fueled by large quantities of wine, made from grapes now called Pelaverga, would  have a tendency to degenerate into massive, all night, drunken orgies.  So please, try this delicious wine, you’ll be very glad you did.  Just be careful, if you find yourself in mixed company, when opening that third bottle. 

Chris Miller