Friday, July 12, 2024

Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino BYOB at Angeli’s Italian

Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino BYOB at Angeli’s Italian 

We dined at  Angelis Italian, our favorite neighborhood Italian Trattoria and I took this Brunello di Montalcino BYOB for the occasion.

Readers of these pages know we don't do a lot of Italian wines but we do keep a selection in our cellar for Italian cuisine and dining at Angelis Italian which we do fairly frequently.

Tonight, we took this new arrival Limited Production Brunello di Montalcino which I just picked up at Binny's, our beverage super store at the suggestion of the wine advisor there, based on its stellar 98 point rating, and was eager to try. While I didn't give it such stellar ratings, we enjoyed it a lot and I went back to pick up a few more bottles. It was a perfect pairing with Linda's eggplant and my cheese ravioli with bolognese sauce and meatballs.

We love Sangiovese and most of our Italian cellar selections are that varietal, which we love paired with Italian cuisine. The Brunello di Montalcino label is tightly regulated and can only be made from 100% Sangiovese grapes grown in the Montalcino region of Tuscany, Italy. 

Appellation regulations also limit the quantity of wine produced each year and mandate a Long Aging Process which stipulate Brunello must be aged for a minimum of four years, with at least two years spent in oak barrels. This lengthy aging process that ties up resources and increases production costs contributes to the higher price point of the label.

The rigorous production regulations set by the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium ensure that only the highest quality wines bear the Brunello label. This commitment to quality often requires additional investment in vineyard management, winemaking techniques, and quality control.

Brunello has gained a reputation as one of Italy's finest wines, prized for its complexity, depth, and ability to age gracefully. Its prestigious status and limited availability contribute to high demand and, consequently, higher prices.

This is from Cerbaia, a boutique winery that produces wines from some of the finest vineyards in Montalcino that are a true expression of a unique and distinctive place. 

The Cerbaia property has belonged to the Pellegrini family since the 1950s, with the family beginning to make wine in the 1970’s. The estate covers of a total of 35 acres of land, 11 of which are under the Brunello appellation controls, located on the highly regarded Montosoli Hill, known as the Grand Cru of Montosoli — some of the most coveted land in Tuscany.

In 2014, Elena Pellegrini gave up a promising career in corporate finance to devote herself to her family estate, striving to craft elegant, balanced wines in the traditional Montalcino style as her father Fabio did, applying minimal intervention and sustainable practices. She is advised by notable consulting enologist G.Gorelli, Italy’s first Master of Wine.

Their 2019 release was awarded 98-points by James Suckling who declared it “one of the best I have had from here” in his  review. Kerin O`Keefe of gave it 94 Points.

The 2019 is emerging as an all-time great year in Montalcino: Vinous called it “the vintage we’ve all been waiting for.” Kerin O’Keefe, who wrote THE book on Brunello, said “I’ve never tasted so many drop-dead-gorgeous young Brunellos from a single vintage.” Wine Advocate called the vintage “uniformly easy” for vintners.

The release was aged three years in large oak casks ensured that it would be polished and beautiful from day one.

Winemaker Notes - Intense ruby red in color, garnet with aging. Rich and intense bouquet of violets, undergrowth, red fruits, eucalyptus, and blackberry. Very long persistence, fresh, and elegant but complex.

Bright ruby garnet colored, medium full bodied, vibrant blackberry and black cherry fruits with notes of dusty rose, tobacco, dried herbs and leather with hints of truffle with bright acidity on a smooth polished tannin finish. 

RM 93 points.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Family 4th of July gathering features red wines

Family 4th of July gathering features medley of red wines 

The family gathered at daughter Erin and Johnny’s for a gala 4th of July celebration pool party and cookout. Ryan brought from his home cellar (shown below) two big reds and I took a red and sparkling white. 

R&L and eleven grandchildren … 

Ryan and Alec both acquired this label at auction and I featured it in a recent blogpost here - 

This was very good as discussed last week in the linked blogpost, when we had it with son Alec and D-in-law Vivianna’s, with pizza. 

As I wrote in that post, this Proprietary Red Blend, an introduction to a relatively new label from one of our long timer favored producers. 

Our CellarTracker records show we hold more than three cases of 20 different labels from David Arthur. We visited the estate up on Pritchard Hill Atlas Peak during our Napa Wine Experience back in 2013 as featured in these pages in this blogpost - David Arthur Napa Valley Estate Vineyards and Winery.

Tonight, that was very good, but was overshadowed by this full throttle Big Red, also brought by Ryan.

Ryan shared this ultra-premium Napa Cab from one of our favorite producers. We've visited the Cliff Lede estate on several of our Napa Valley wine trips and several of our wine buddies including son Ryan source allocated wines as members of their club. 

Ryan discovered this wine at a tasting at the winery and declared it the favorite WOTN (wine-of-the-night) and acquired it as part of his wine club allocation. 

Cliff Lede Napa Valley Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

This is from the spectacular 2016 vintage continued a series of exceptional vintages in Napa Valley. 

This is sourced from the Diamond Mountain vineyards - exceptional, low-yielding vineyards with volcanic ash and gravelly loam soils in the Diamond Mountain appellation, nestled in the Mayacamas Range on the northwest side of Napa Valley. There the sun-drenched mountain vineyards have late afternoon breezes that ripen the fruit slowly and evenly. The winemaker notes that both Lede vineyard sites are planted to extraordinary old vines on a steep incline with historic Napa field selections and produce age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon with dark fruit, intense structure, minerality, and perfume.

The fruit was hand harvested and subjected to rigorous selection by a three-tiered sorting process, including high tech cutting edge optical sorting that works to eliminate less-than-perfect berries so that only finest fruit makes it into the wine. 

Crop levels were slightly below average due to a dry late spring and a cool weather spell during flowering which, when combined with the drought impacted dry soils led to small berries, creating very concentrated fruit. Ideal summer weather allowed the grapes to be harvested at optimal ripeness so that the resulting wines had intense and vibrant fruits.

The wine underwent twenty-one months of élevage in French oak, 78% of which were new.

Winemaker Notes - “The amazing 2016 Diamond Mountain’s bouquet is resplendent with cool wild blackberry jam scented with subtle notes of bay leaf, cardamom, clove and talc. There’s an interplay of rocks and loam in the nose as well.”

“Spiced fig, chocolate ganache, and blueberry flavors unfold on the palate underscored by blackberry and graphite notes. Like all of our 2016 wines, this wine has an expansive, mouth coating texture that is lush and joyfully persistent. The crescendo of the finish is a wash of savory cumin power, cedar, and violet flavors and aromas completing this wine of contemplation.” – Christopher Tynan, Winemaker

The Composition is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc that adds spiciness and structure, and 1% Merlot for roundness and highlights of softness.

Production was 750 Cases.

This release was awarded 93 points by James Suckling.

Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, this exhibited dense, concentrated, rich extracted chewy tongue coating dark berry fruits with notes of spice, tobacco and hints of tar with a full round but soft and polished long tannin laced finish. Delicious! 

RM 94 points.


Domaine les Pallières “Terrasse du Diable” Gigondas 2018

I brought this Southern Rhône Valley blend that was an appropriate pairing for grilled burgers. 

I brought this in remembrance of our having discovered and were first introduced to this label while visiting the producer, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. Châteauneuf-du-Pape winery estate with Alec and Vivianna during our Rhone Wine Experience back in 2018, so I took this for memorable casual sipping, ideally paired with burgers and hot dogs. 

Vivianna, Alec & Philippe with Daniel Brunier
Tasting this wine at the Chateau

This is from a joint venture between notable legends of Southern Rhône Valley wines, Daniel and Frederic Brunier of the iconic Vieux Télégraphe, and American distributor importer Kermit Lynch. They acquired the estate back in 1998 when long time owners, the Roux family, having no successor heirs, decided to sell the property.

Domaine Les Pallières was one of the greatest, longest-running properties of the Southern Rhône, having been within the same family since the 15th century. 

The Roux family decided to sell the jewel Les Pallières to the Bruniers and Kermit Lynch, with their focus and knowledge of Rhône terroir, they recognized their ability to realize its full potential. Domaine Les Pallières became a partnership among friends, and a creative collaboration of three leading, passionate experts on the wines of the Rhône. 

Frédéric and Daniel took over the destiny of the Brunier family business, also founded several generations earlier, by their ancestor Henri Brunier who founded the Domaine in 1891, in a partnership in the late 1980s. Their family involvement continued in 2015 and 2016 with Nicolas son of Frédéric and Edouard, son of Daniel, joining the ‘Old Telegraph’ business in key positions and, Manon, daughter of Frédéric, joining them in 2018.

This release was crafted by brothers Daniel & Frédéric Brunier, co-proprietors of Domaine Vieux Telegraph who collaborated as winemakers.

The Les Pallières 25 acre estate is terraced vineyards on the eastern side of the historic town of Gigondas in the Gigondas Appellation above and to the east and north of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, beneath the Dentelles de Montmirail landmark.

I visited Gigondas and the village of Segurat (shown below) up the hill overlooking the region during my visit to the area back in 1998. 

From the estate, Domaine Les Pallières produces two Gigondas cuvées each year, Les Racines from the plateau around the winery which includes the property's oldest vines, and this Terrasse du Diable from the higher-altitude, cooler parcels. Of the two, the Diable is usually the more powerful yet it manages to maintain a level of elegance. 

Map courtesy of Domaine Vieux Telegraph

This 2018 Gigondas Terrasse Du Diable release is a blend of Chateauneuf du Pape varietals - 90% Grenache from 50 year old vines, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% Clairette. It comes from yields that ended up being approximately half of the average for the estate (only 11 hectoliters per hectare).

The wine was aged in cuves for 10 months, then in foudres for 12 months.

This was awarded 95 points by Wine Advocate, 92-93 points by James Suckling, and 92 points by Jeb Dunnuck.

Bright Ruby colored, medium to full bodied, bright ripe cherry, plum and red raspberry fruits with notes of mineral, tangy clove spice, bitter dark chocolate and licorice with a long chalky tannin punctuated finish

RM 91 points.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Marramiero Inferi Riserva Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2019

Marramiero “Inferi” Riserva Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2019 with grilled burgers  

Midweek casual dinner, we grilled out burgers and opened this moderately priced easy drinking Reserve Italian Red Wine from Montepulciano on the east coast of central Italy. 

This is from the town of Rosciano, a comune in the Province of Pescara in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Rosciano, is known as the ‘Town of Wine and heart of the Terra dei Vestini’, Ofena.

Wine from here is produced under the jurisdiction of the wine region Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Terre dei Vestini DOC

Not as rigorous as or restrictive as Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG),  the highest designation for Italian wines, while the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), has less strict guidelines, there are still multiple criteria required to ensure quality. DOC wines are regulated for not just the type of grape and where they are grown, but also harvest yields, alcohol levels and the use of barrels

This is made in accordance with DOC regulations which require from 90-100% Montepulciano sourced grapes, with the permission to add the remaining 0-10% from other local varieties, grapes cultivated entirely or partially in 20 municipalities in the Pescara province, including Capelle sul Tavo, Catignano, Moscufo, Penne, Città Sant'Angelo, Loreto Aprutino and Montesilvano.

The Marramiero estate vineyards are located along an old sheep trail extending from the peaks of Gran Sasso, through the rolling hills of the Masseria Sant’Andrea, overlooking the “Bella Addormentata” and Maiella massifs, where it borders the Gran Sasso National Park, not far from and down to the Adriatic Sea, and less than two hours from Rome. 

This label is sourced from the Masseria Sant’Andrea vineyard located in the heart of Abruzzo on a summit 270 meters above sea level. The estate has been operated the by Marramiero family since the beginning of the last century. They cultivate the indigenous varietals Montepulciano and Trebbiano, as well as a few other international varietals.

Under the direction of proprietor Dante Marramiero, after a careful selection of existing rootstocks in the sixties and seventies, they planted new vineyards to expand production. Then, in the early nineties,  Dante Marramiero built a new modern winery, incorporating modern technology with traditional agricultural methods.

Marramiero "Inferi" Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Terre dei Vestini, Abruzzo, Italy 2019

This Montepulciano wine is a tribute to Dante Algihieri. The label is a Scene from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno part of his Divine Comedy. 

The "Inferi" is Marramiero's reserve Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and is produced in limited quantities with great care, from selecting only the best grapes from the oldest vines to the long maturation period of over three years in stainless steel, oak casks and bottle, ageing of at least 14 to 18 months in French and Slavonian oak casks with the following refinement in the bottle to complete its maturity.

The result has been to tame Abruzzo's Montepulciano grape, striving to infuse it with more elegance and style by refining the aging process thereby softening the wine's slightly harsh character.

Distributor’s notes - This Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has ruby red color with dark red sparkling reflections, its intense and vanilla speckled fragrance, its persistent, warm, rich and harmonious taste make it at the same time a distinguished and a leading wine.

Vin Chicago says of this wine - Vibrant layers of violet, clove, dried thyme, singed rosemary, rose petal, cinnamon, cedar, butterscotch and vanilla just keep coming as this densely fruited red lingers long on the palate.

Combining traditional winemaking wisdom with a dose of modern technology, Marramiero spares no expense on this one. Optically sorted fruit receives precise stainless steel fermentation and maceration followed by extended maturation in barrique. Aged for a similar amount of time as Brunello and Barolo, Inferi is held back until it is ready to drink.

Winemaker Notes: From a vine of considerable elevation in terms of structure and body comes Inferi, a red wine produced from Montepulciano d'Abruzzo grapes, in limited quantities. The aging is carried out for at least 14/18 months in French and Slavonian oak barrels, the maturation is completed with the refinement. Its deep ruby red color with garnet reflections shines to the eye. The sense of smell rejoices for its intense and varietal aromas, with sweet vanilla notes, its intense persistent, warm, full-bodied and harmonious flavor, offer a charismatic wine. Its qualities can be fully enjoyed by combining it with refined truffle-based first courses, together with red meats, game, aged cheeses and cured meats. 

Bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, rather tight and structured, vibrant, deep, rich black cherry fruits show notes of bittersweet chocolate, tangy cinnamon and clove spices, and hints of herbs that emerges on the moderate finish.

RM 89 points.