Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Barolo DOCG Riserva 2008

Estate: For 5 generations the Borgogno family has been producing wine in the heart of the Cannubi area of Piedmont in northern Italy. The family has a total of 3 hectares of vineyards on the famed Cannubi hill. Today sisters Anna and Paola Borgogno are in the process of handing the reins over to daughters Emanuela and Federica.

Cannubi is the oldest single vineyard, most historical cru within the commune of Barolo [there is a bottle of Cannubi 1752 in a museum]. A hill of vineyards, there are only 5 parcels total. Cannubi wines are renowned for their elegance and finesse, specifically their floral notes. Although incredibly age worthy [20 years +] they can also be enjoyed earlier on, typically beginning at around 6 years old.

Philosophy: Believing that wine is a reflection of the earth from which it comes, the family  “grows our grapes with love, protecting our ancient craft, the one of wine-making, based on deep roots, handed down from generation to generation”.

Winemaking: Vineyard soil is a mix of fine sand and limestone. Aged for 5 years in large Slavonian oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Maroon with brick edges in colour. Significantly aromatic with aromas of sweet dark fruit, tar, leather, anise, spice and dark chocolate. Cherry jam, raisin and floral layers are laced with wisps of smoke and joined by harmonizing acidity in the full body. Backed by substantial yet silky tannins, an herbaceous undercurrent runs thru, fusing into menthol hints that compliment the elongated, plush fruity finish.

100% Nebbiolo
Cannubi Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno
14.5% Alcohol
$36
Enjoy now thru 2030
bottle N. 8208

Rated 95 points by Wine Enthusiast
Rated 91 points by Wine Advocate

Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo DOCG 2003

azeliabarolo

Estate: Azelia di Luigi Scavino was established in 1920 when Cavalier Lorenzo Scavino began to make wine from the grapes in his family’s vineyards. Today, his grandson and 5th generation winemaker Luigi heads the 16 hectare estate, along with his wife and son. Luigi’s wines are renowned for their classical character and superb quality.

Philosophy: A combination of respect for tradition and modern techniques that allow the wine to express itself.

Winemaking: Luigi’s father Lorenzo planted the vineyards in the 1940’s. These old vines are known for “their lower yields and their deeper roots, which produce amazing grapes”. Organic and sustainable farming is practiced; absolutely no chemicals are added to the soil. Natural manure is added only to the poorest soils every 3-4 years; native grasses are left to flourish between the rows. Only wild fermentation is used, the wine is not filtered or clarified and enzymes are not added. Grapes were sourced from Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba vineyards. The soils are white calcareous and a clay mix. Aged for 2 years in large casks. This is the estate’s entry, or “base” Barolo; it is only made in the years that the Barolo Riserva Bricco Voghera is not produced.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with beckoning aromas of roses, cherry, peat laced spice and traces of tar. Elegant and classical in character with a cherry, leather and spice trifecta complimented by silky smooth, firm tannins. Vanilla, sweet fennel and cedar comprise the lengthy, dry finish. A fantastic opportunity to enjoy Barolo without breaking the bank.

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Azelia di Luigi Scavino
14.5% Alcohol
$33
Enjoy now thru 2023

Giacomo Conterno ‘Cascina Francia’ Barolo DOCG 2001

conternobarolo

I was so very fortunate to be at Otto Enoteca in NYC the week they opened a couple of magnums of Conterno Cascina Francia Barolo 2001. Wanting to savour every sip, I paired my quartino with 5 of my favourite cheeses and contemplated what makes Barolo “the king of wines and the wine of kings”.

Estate: Cantine Giacomo Conterno is one of the most renowned names in all of Piedmont. The estate traces its origins back to 1908 when Giovanni Conterno opened a wine bar and began making wine from both his vineyards and those of his neighbors. In the early 1960s, Giacomo passed the winery on to his sons, Giovanni and Aldo [Aldo has since founded his own estate, the Poderi Aldo Conterno]. During the 1970’s, those small winemakers they had sourced grapes from began bottling their own wines, so the brothers purchased Serralunga’s great Cascina Francia vineyard. Cascina Francia is located 400 meters above sea level with a southwest exposure and predominately calcareous soil. The vineyard is the sole source of grapes for their “crown jewel, Monfortino” and the esteemed Cascina Francia Barolos. Giovanni gained a reputation as “the greatest of all Barolo producers” and began working with the 3rd generation, his son Roberto in 1988. Roberto took over the estate upon Giovanni’s passing in 2004. Conterno Barolos are considered the perfect example of traditional Barolo made in the classic style: “rich, powerful, massively structured, and capable of long aging in bottle”.

Philosophy: “Only premium quality can bring prestige to the Langhe.”

Winemaking: Only natural yeasts are used, along with “temperature controlled fermentation and a lengthy maceration; after this, the wine is aged in large Slavonian botti and aged in bottle for four years”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet with brick edges in colour. Alluring aromas of plum, soft spices, rose petal, earth and hints of cedar radiate with each swirl. Dynamic, with an elegant composition to the cherry, blackberry, leather, and mineral rich earth notes. Soft and velvety with desert dry tannins persevering thru the lengthy finish of peppery spice, hints of dark chocolate and echoes of red berries. Powerful and classic, yet with a dominating opulence. Direct from my tasting notes: “Just took down that quartino without even noticing, yet I noticed that each sip was divine”.

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Vittivinicola Giacomo Conterno
14.5% Alcohol
$250 [average price for bottle, $500 the average price for the magnum]
Enjoy now thru 2026

94 points Wine Advocate
91 points Wine Spectator

For more info http://www.polanerselections.com/producer/giacomo-conterno

A Family Affair: The Grandi Marchi Experience of Italy’s Iconic Wineries

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Last month I had the honour of attending ‘The Grandi Marchi Experience, Tour and Taste Italy’s Top Terroirs’, moderated by Gloria Maroti Frazee of Wine Spectator fame and held at the always exceptional Del Posto in NYC. The seminar and guided tasting showcased the signature wines of Italy’s most prestigious group of wineries. Founded 11 years ago, the Grandi Marchi is comprised of 19 members hailing exclusively from family estates throughout Italy. Their driving force is to defend terroir, with a philosophy of putting friends and people together in order to preserve the historic values of their families. The group focuses on the synergy of friendship between each of the winemaking members, along with the unique legacy and terroir of each of these estates. With such devotion and perseverance, it comes as no surprise that the members of Grandi Marchi are some of the most renowned estates in all of Italy.

It was an enlightening, educational experience to be privy to many family stories and background information on so many iconic estates and wines. I enjoyed all of the 15 wines presented, and yes returned to my seat with lunch and finished them all! Below are the wines that I felt to be most engaging, with an inviting story of where they’ve come from.

Ca’del Bosco
Since founding Ca’del Bosco Winery in Lombardy, Maurizio Zanella has been crafting Franciacorta wines for over 40 years, embracing a philosophy of “excellence in wine, the integrity of the territory and respect for tradition”. The iconic Cuvée Annamaria Clementi is dedicated to his mother, with only the best grapes from the best years being used.

Ca’del Bosco ‘Cuvée Annamaria Clementi’ Franciacorta Riserva DOCG 2006
The 40th vintage, complex, intense and elegant, and I imagine this is a reflection of his mother’s character. Pear, peach and citrus notes gleam atop hints of brioche, whilst super fine, consistent bubbles highlight steely minerals on the finish.
55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco, 20% Pinot Nero
12.5% Alcohol
$80 [average price]

Michele Chiarlo
I had the pleasure of meeting Alberto Chiarlo a few months back, please check out Molto Barolo! Exploring the Nuances of the King of Wines with Alberto Chiarlo for details on the Michele Chiarlo winery.

Michele Chiarlo ‘Cerequio’ Barolo DOCG 2011
Elegant though still young, with wild cherry, red berry and lively mint accented by earth and spice notes. The finish is stunning, with glorious fruit, honey and floral hints all balanced by dry tannins.
100% Nebbiolo
14.2% Alcohol
$75 [average price]

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Tasca D’Alimerita ‘Rosso del Conte’ Contea di Sclafani DOC 2011 and Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2011

Pio Cesare
Pio Boffa is the 4th generation of the family to head the estate his great grandfather, Pio Cesare founded in 1881. Located in Piedmont, the family estate has prestigious holdings in both the Barolo and Barbaresco regions. In addition to his dedication to preserving the individuality of each terroir, Pio is also a pioneer in bringing the Barbera grape to the forefront of Italian winemaking. His philosophy is to “depend on the skillfulness of mother nature not the skillfulness of the winemaker”.

Pio; gregarious and engaging, had the room in laughter as he explained his Barolo is known simply as ‘Barolo’ on the label. He emphatically stated that is enough and no other name is necessary, but don’t mistake the clarity for something that is “regular or basic”. It is a classic wine, a statement of its own that does not need any other embellishment.

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2011
Focused and pure with an engaging play between a profound intensity and ethereal delicateness. Glimpses of herbaceous chamomile are seen between the plush cherry and black currant fruits, whilst dense tannins and a complex finish of earth, smoky spice and menthol linger philosophically between each sip.
100% Nebbiolo
14.5% Alcohol
$65 [average price]

Tasca D’Alimerita
Tasca D’Alimerita, located in Sicily, is headed by the 8th generation of the family now, Count Lucio Tasca, who oversees all of the nearly 600 hectares of vineyards along with his sons, Giuseppe and Alberto. The family has 5 estates throughout the island, all with a different appellation and terroir. Committed to eco-sustainability, their Regaleali estate [right in the heart of Sicily] is nearly completely self-sufficient; all of their food is grown on the estate and they are working toward a carbon neutral rating. They strive to relay a sense of elegance in their wines, to that end they take a minimal approach in the vineyard, and do not use any new oak in the winery. Although known for their work with indigenous grapes, Rosso del Conte [translating to “the red of the count”] has 2 international varieties in addition to the star of the blend, the native Nero d’Avola.

Tasca D’Alimerita ‘Rosso del Conte’ Contea di Sclafani DOC 2011
Incredibly interesting with layers of cherry, herbs and peppery spice, silky tannins and a clean finish. An engaging synergy of fruit/spice/savoury elements that keep you reaching for more.
62% Nero d’Avola, 30$ Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc
13.5% Alcohol
$35 [average price]

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Argiolas ‘Turriga’ Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011

Argiolas
Founded in the 1938 by Antonio Argiolas, the seminal Sardinian estate is headed by the 3rd generation of the family today, Antonio’s grandchildren. The family also focuses on the preservation and revitalization of native Sardinian grape varieties. The sustainable estate is comprised of 8 vineyards, all in different regions of Sardinia, which confer a variety of microclimates and soils, providing quite a diversity in terroir for the grapes.

Argiolas ‘Turriga’ Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011
Powerful, dense and well balanced [colour, fruit, acidity, structure, tannin, alcohol all are splendid], this lives up to its title as the “benchmark wine of Sardinia” A concentrated dark fruit backbone supports a captivating streak of garrique, whilst soft velvety tannins enhance the super lengthy finish of toast, coffee and earthy spices.
85% Cannonau, 5% Bovale, 5% Carignano, 5% Malvasia Nera
14.5% Alcohol
$45 [average price]

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Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone Classico DOC 2009 and Rivera ‘Il Falcone’ Castel del Monte Riserva DO 2009

Rivera
Located in Puglia, the Rivera estate was founded in the late 1940’s by Sebastiano de Corato, today it is his grandsons Sebastiano and Marco that continue on with his vision to “eloquently express the intense yet elegant character of this land and its native grape varieties”. The estate focuses on sustainable practices in order to preserve the land and achieve the highest quality possible. Although they have very hot summers, they do get snow in the winter from the Balkan Sea. Vines are planted in a manner in which they receive less sun so the grapes do not become overripe. Il Falcone is their “defining wine”, and again, as with so many other of the prestigious wines in the tasting, an agile hand is seen with the use of oak; it is aged for 14 months, with 60% in 30hl French oak casks and 40% in French oak barriques.

Rivera ‘Il Falcone’ Castel del Monte Riserva DO 2009
A powerful wine that announces its presence with wonderfully contrasting aromas of delicate floral notes along with smoky crushed black peppercorn. Gamey, meaty elements connect with grippy tannins and good acidity over a core of cherry and earth, the aromas are echoed in the plush finish. Elegant and powerful, this is a wine that lives up to its association with Homer’s Troy.
70% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano
13.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]

Masi
For over 200 years, the Boscainis family has been crafting wines in Veneto. With an impressive range of wines, and an estate that includes the historic lands of the legendary 14th century poet Dante; the Masi name is instantly recognizable. Today the estate is headed by the 7th generation and has expanded their holdings, along with Count Serego Alighieri into Tuscany.

Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone Classico DOC 2009
A consistent award winner, this is a spectacular example of combining indigenous grapes with a harmonizing blend of both traditional and modern techniques. Concentrated fig, baked cherry and plum join tobacco and dark chocolate elements, rich honeyed fruit and baking spices comprise the seemingly never ending finish. A perfect companion to gamey cheese, rich dishes and desserts.
70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta, 5% Molinara
15.5% Alcohol
$50 [average price]

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Media Event Sponsored by Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualita – Grandi Marchi

Molto Barolo! Exploring the Nuances of the King of Wines with Alberto Chiarlo

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Descending from more than 7 generations of wine growers, Michele Chiarlo began producing wine in 1956 with a philosophy of only using indigenous grapes. He was a pioneering force in establishing a market for the fine wines of Piedmont. Always an innovator, he was one of the first producers to use methods such as limiting yields and decreasing maceration time in order to create a soft, more traditional style of Barolo. He has achieved ownership of the most acclaimed and prestigious vineyards in Piedmont, from Barbera to Barolo to Barbaresco; with offerings from every price point and appetite, from $10 to $200.

It was an honor and fantastic experience to speak with Michele’s son and Sales and Marketing Manager, Alberto Chiarlo, at the 4th annual Kobrand ‘Tour d’Italia’ held at the Bowery Hotel in NYC. We discussed their iconic Barolos, including winemaking techniques, terroir, vintages and the particular nuances of two of their celebrated Barolos: Cerequio and Cannubi.

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Harvest/Vintage Notes:
2004: According to Alberto, 2004 was a tough vintage. The weather was typical with the exception of a hot September, which did create immense flavour in the grapes, but the wines exhibited “a wall of tannins”. Now, with 11 years under its belt, the tannins have tamed and the 2004 is coming into its own.

2007: Considered as a superb, high quality vintage for Barolo in general. Alberto said that they experienced berry drop in June due to cool, rainy weather, but an absolute perfect August led to fantastic development in the grapes, and it was an “excellent vintage for both red and white grapes”.

2011: One of the most surprising and bizarre vintages of the past few decades for Michele Chiarlo; June was normal, July was rainy with below average temperatures and there was concern the grapes would not ripen properly. August brought a drastic change, with ample sun and above average temperatures that continued thru to early September. This unusual change in climate resulted in the grapes ripening earlier, on average by 2 weeks.

Cerequio

cerequio

Cerequio is both the name of the vineyard and the hillside upon which it is located. [Stationed 1200 feet in elevation, the hillside is also home to other producer’s vineyards.] It is considered one of the most prestigious Langhe Crus due to its mild climate and magnesium/manganese soils. Grapes were sourced from a single vineyard located in an area called the “balcony of the Langhe”, with “tortonian calcareous Sant’Agata marl, the soils have a bluish colour due to the high content of magnesium and manganese”. Cerequio is aged for 2 years in 700-litre oak barrels and at least 1 year in the bottle before release. It is renowned for its “balsamic and minty aroma and for its elegance”. Alberto described this graceful, lithe Barolo as Pinot Noir with a tannic backbone. It is ready to be enjoyed at about 6 years after the vintage year, and is “splendid for at least 20 years”. With age it will express more of the soil, with distinctive chalky notes emerging amongst sublime fruit.

Michele Chiarlo Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2004
Alberto described this is as a “wine of finesse, not power”. Complex and engaging, with an elegant, compelling softness. Velvety berry and black current are superbly paired with earthy warm brick and the plush depths of tar elements. Dried herbs along with quiet licorice and balsamic notes linger on the lengthy, dry finish. Just fantastic! [Verbatim from my notes.]
100% Nebbiolo
$80 [average price]
14.9% Alcohol

Michele Chiarlo Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2011
Elegant though still young, with wild cherry, red berry and lively mint accented by earth and spice notes. The finish is stunning, with glorious fruit, honey and floral hints all balanced by dry tannins.
100% Nebbiolo
14.2% Alcohol
$75 [average price]

Cannubi

cannubi

Cannubi is the oldest single vineyard, most historical cru within the commune of Barolo [there is a bottle of Cannubi 1752 in a museum]. Another hill of vineyards, there are only 5 parcels total. Michele Chiarlo proudly cultivates 4.5 acres of Cannubi vineyards, and his was the first to be “planted in terraces in order to maximize the hillside exposure”. Cannubi wines are aged in 700-litre barrels for two years and at least 15-16 months in the bottle. Alberto described Cannubi as the “classical” Barolo, able to age for 20+ years.

Michele Chiarlo Cannubi Barolo DOCG 2011
Alberto said this can be enjoyed now, although a few additional years of aging will result in a more classical, quintessential Barolo experience. Lush cherry, fresh berry, and licorice notes envelop an elegant, diaphanous character. Complex and well balanced with layers of firm tannins and clay earthy minerals, the clean fruity finish echoes the opening vibrant fruit.
100% Nebbiolo
14.5% Alcohol
$90 [average price]
Rated 95 points by Wine Spectator

Michele Chiarlo Cannubi Barolo DOCG 2007
Balanced tannins and soft spices compliment a concentrated, yet not weighty fruit core of cherry and fig. Delicate floral notes on the dry, chalk mineral driven finish emphasise the elegance in this persuasive, alluring Barolo.
100% Nebbiolo
14.9% Alcohol
$70 [average price]
Rated 93 points by Wine Spectator
Rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast

 

 

Media Event Sponsored by Kobrand