‘House’ Barbera: Bosco Agostino Barbera d’Alba Volupta 2015

Barbera is one of Piedmont’s great go-to wines.  Steaming plate of pasta? Barbera.  Hearty lasagna?  Barbera.  A good, ripe Barbera can hit it with a burger and fries as well.  It’s about the juice.  Barbera can be fussy to grow.  The acids can be too high and, when the vintage isn’t cooperative, you can get the lifeless examples of 2013 and 2014.  The thing is, most top Piedmont estates grow some Barbera.  It’s what’s for dinner.  But so often it is an afterthought to the more famous Nebbiolo grown higher on the hill.   But there are a few guys that do take their little wines as seriously as their flagships and one of them we have been working with for a long time is Agostino Bosco.

Year in and year out Andrea Bosco seems to stuff more fruit into his Barbera than almost anyone we can think of.  That riper, somewhat plump palate has an almost New World feel to it, yet the personality of the fruit itself is unmistakably Italian.

As we mentioned, we have sold many vintages of this, but the Bosco Agostino Barbera d’Alba Volupta 2015 might be the juiciest yet.  Why don’t more people know about this producer?  Well, first off, this isn’t some fancy Piedmont estate trying to pass itself off as a ‘small family farm’.  This actually is a small family farm with good holdings and a good dose of passion.

Second, they are not with one of those large international import companies that make sure they have all of their wines in front of critics.  This hands-on operation doesn’t have the staff to do that.   So you see little in the way of press, though this did get a 91 from James Suckling and comments, “Plenty of blue fruit, slate and violets to this Barbera on the nose as well as hints of resin. Full body, fine acidity and a fruity finish. Drink now.”  But this wine delivers in the glass as a compelling, easy going, authentic mouth full, especially this year.

The estate itself consists of four hectares in the La Morra area divided among Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto.  The family existed as growers for decades until they decided to make their own wines in 1979.  This Barbera is a blend of two different vineyards, one with 20-year-old vines in clay and limestone and a southwest exposition, the other 30-year-old vines in tufa and limestone with a southeast exposition.  The blend yields a wine with ripe dark red and black fruit, sufficient but never intrusive acidity, not a lot of evident tannin, and a minerality that adds an interesting textural underpinning.   In other words, perfectly tasty yet deceptively serious Barbera.

 

FANTASTIC ‘DESIGNER’ FRANC DEAL

The connection between fine wine and fashion is a successful and recurring one in the wine industry. Of course, the most visible is LVMH with Louis Vuitton partnering with Moet Hennessey and also owning Cheval Blanc, Chateau d’Yquem, and Clos des Lambrays among other things. Salvatore Ferragamo makes some distinctive, if less famous reds on his Il Borro estate in Tuscany. Chanel owns Napa Valley’s St. Supery winery as well as Chateaux Canon and Rauzan-Segla in Bordeaux. Roberto Cavalli owns vineyards in South Africa and Tuscany. The common thread? Creativity and the opportunity to take the proverbial blank canvas and turn it into something special.

Podernuovo a Palazzone is one of those stories. The family involved is the Bulgari family (yes that Bulgari family). The same kind of passion and creative energy that goes into successful fashion companies is dangerously close to the kind of spirit it takes to succeed in the world of wine. The ‘best’ are the best because of passion, energy, uncompromising effort and attention to detail among other things. Just like we make the point that it is best to buy little wines from top of line wine producers because they simply work on a different standard than anyone else, so it is with fashion folk. Success is expected. Cutting corners is out of the question if the goal is to achieve the best result. So, in this case, fine watches, jewelry, hand bags…wine? Why not?

The story of the estate goes like this. From jewelry to grapes, Giovanni Bulgari’s venture into winemaking has to be seen as another form of creative outlet. After years of traveling the world to seek out the best gems for his family’s jewelry company, Bulgari is now living his dream of working outdoors on the land, with products that reflect the territory he loves located near Siena in Tuscany. In 2004, Bulgari, together with his father Paolo Bulgari, longtime chairman of the Rome-based jeweler, bought the abandoned Podernuovo estate and transformed it into a full-fledged international agricultural firm and award-winning vineyard.

The 42 acres of vineyards at PoderNuovo were planted in 2007. Their terrain is rich with clay, sand and chalk in differing proportions, a good match for different varieties of grapes. To that end they have planted several grape varieties on this estate in the southern tip of Tuscany near Siena and make three different reds on the property. The Argirio is their stylistic nod to Bolgheri, the blend being predominantly Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the mix. The name is a derivative of the term argile which refers to its clay-based soils.

Lovely, very polished, this one boasts a sleek core of black fruits with savory notes of smoke and grilled herbs alongside dark chocolate, leather, and spice. This shows the best side of Franc with a ‘slippery’, elegant, medium weight palate and deceptive length, with none of the detracting evergreen notes. Like a fine Bordeaux or Bolgheri wine the breeding of the Podernuovo A Palazzone Toscana Argirio 2014 is evident from first whiff with the balance precise and the edges supple. This one really sings with meats though we see a wide range of applications and a very enticing drinkability that make it a wine for all seasons.

The wine is definitely liked by the media as well as us. James Suckling offers “An extremely pretty 2014 with blackcurrant, spice, hints of rose petal and vanilla. Medium to full body, firm and velvety tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink in 2018 but already beautiful. 93 Points!”

Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner had these comments, “… Those Cabernet aromas reign supreme. Inky dark fruit is followed by grilled herb, rosemary twig and cured leather. This is a full-bodied red wine with luscious dark fruit and savory spice. Those spicy flavors follow through with persistence and power on the finish…92 points”

As the Bulgari’s admit, they can’t expect the aura of their other brand to shine on this one and that wine is an entirely different arena than fashion even if the passion, quality and attention to detail are the same. While their $35 list price isn’t crazy for a wine this good, the market did not react to the Argirio 2014 enthusiastically enough and fast enough. As always, we were there to help out. That’s why we are able to sell this flashy, polished, fashionable red for half of the ‘list’ price ($17.98). Bellisimo!

LUSH, ENGAGING BARBERA FOR A SONG: CA’VIOLA D’ALBA BRICHET 2015

Beppe Ca Viola is ‘one of the most important oenologists in Italy’ according to multiple sources that write about such things, yet unless you are pretty deep into Italian wine you have likely never heard of him.  He started under the wing of one of the superstars of Piedmont at the time, Elio Altare, who encouraged him to bottle his own efforts early on, and has gone on to be a consultant at a number of elite addresses.  He is working or has worked with the likes of Pecchenino, Albino Rocca, Vietti, Sette Ponti, Damilano, and Luigi Einaudi, something of a who’s who lineup  But, while his credentials are pretty impeccable as a consultant, it is his own efforts from his winery near Dogliani that really get us excited.

As much as we are and have been fans of Ca Viola for a decade or more, there have been precious few opportunities to taste his wines.  Production is small, distribution here has been a little inconsistent, and the wines, for as good and distinctive as they have been, haven’t been getting the media attention that they deserve.  We have a bit of a hard time deciding what to think about the general lack of coverage and enthusiasm on the part of the critics for a producer of this caliber who makes such an engaging style of wine.

His wines are consistently among the best of Italian producers, and there is a tenderness and perceived sweetness to the fruit component that sets them apart from most Italian efforts, yet the wines don’t lose their ‘Italian’ identity in the process.    The Ca Viola Barbera d’Alba Brichet 2015 is from a variety of vineyards with an average vine age of 20 years-old, farmed organically (though they haven’t concerned themselves with the ‘certification’ process) fermented with only native yeasts, and put in large barrels for 12 months.

The resulting wine, no doubt aided by the lush 2015 vintage, is loaded with evident plum/blackberry fruit that is tender and juicy but fresh and light on its feet.  The tannins are refined, the acidity is ripe and well integrated, and the whole experience is engaging.  This is a Barbera that drinks like a Pinot Noir and is fruit driven enough to drink on its own, though it sings with food as one would expect.

This particular rendition even go a little love from the  press, a 93 point tout and some compelling words from James Suckling, “There’s minerality on the nose of this Barbera, but also some smoky complexity, not to mention brambleberries and blackcurrants. A structured palate with firm tannins, refreshing acidity, and a succulent, chewy finish. Drink now.”  As to that ‘drink now”, absolutely.  This is a Barbera where it will be hard to put down the glass and a thrilling example of the kind of flashy, engaging, well priced wines we expect from Ca Viola’s own label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ONE OF A KIND BARBERA SOURCE

Our subject here is the Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato Perlydia 2012.  What’s special about it?  Well, we have presented wines from Valpane before and they are delicious examples of the breed.  But what makes this house unique is that this 2012 is the current release!   What kind of vintner holds on to his Barbera this long before going to market, sometimes for more than a decade?  One who follows his own heart.

Clearly Pietro Arditi, the ‘Barbera whisperer’, listens to the wine and not the ‘metrics’ of 21st Century marketing.  Now this didn’t happen completely by accident, mind you. The land gave him some juicy, vibrant fruit to work with, then he decided to keep the wine in botti (large neutral barrels) or cement until he deems it ready.   What does six-year-old Barbara taste like? This particular effort is loaded with red berry fruit, but the spice and terroir notes are more expressive and better meshed because the lower acidity from bottle age lets them be.

Don’t worry though, there is surprising freshness and life to the fruit. Bottled unfiltered and unfined, fermented entirely with native yeasts, there is a gregarious, fruit-forward element to Valpane’s wines as well as great purity of flavor.

The Perlydia is 100% Barbera harvested from vines planted only in 2000, but it delivers the same joyous mouthful of fruit as do all of the Valpane wines. That little bit of bottle age really helps the wine to get into gear quickly and the ripe, somewhat resolved tannins and lower acidity make for an uncommonly delicious drink without a lot of fuss.  To do all of this careful raising of the wines for this kind of price is an added bonus and makes Valpane a rather unique wine to offer.

2016 ITALIAN WHITES: MAKING A POINT (plus three more winners)

The more we taste examples from the 2016 vintage in northern Italy, both red and white, the more wonder we experience.  Wine after wine shows a clarity of purpose, purity of fruit, and uniquely expressive nature unlike anything we can recall in recent times.  Are these wines really that good?  The more we experience, the more inclined we are to say ‘yes, they are!’

It wasn’t that long ago we were pretty gaga over the 2010 whites from this part of the world.  The fruit had substance and power, there was plenty of zip and verve and, in short, they were everything that you could expect n Italian white to be.  We remember the 2010s fondly, and were using them as the ‘benchmark’ for  everything that was special about Italian whites.  The 2016s are all of that and more, with everything that the 2010s had plus an undefinable ‘presence’ and harmony that sets the 2016s on another level.  That being said here are three more outstanding examples to make our point:

Filippo Gallino Arneis 2016The story here isn’t extensive, just a committed producer that consistently makes very good wine and doesn’t charge a lot for it.  With a ‘naked’ grape like Arneis you can’t really tweak it in the cellar with wood and have to be very careful with extended lees contact as both can negatively affect the desired freshness of the wine’s profile, you get what Nature gives you.  Wines like this really are made in the vineyard and those that farm meticulously are the successful ones.

Sure there are slightly more exotic aromatics with some of the big dogs labels that cost a lot more.  But this one presents all of the fresh floral nuances and apple-skin aromatics and the lively fruit driven palate that are the essence of this genre.  The 2016 simply has more energy and fruit weight than past versions, which makes this one a killer deal.

Inama Soave Classico 2016– As we have remarked, even the little wines are noticeably better in 2016.  Somehow they have a little more punch, a little more lift, and a surprising degree of harmony that forces you to take notice.  Inama is a staple around here, and we buy it almost every year.  But there’s just ‘more’ to this wine than any that we have tasted in recent memory.

There’s no big story here.  This is just Garganega, the classic grape of Soave, done in 100% stainless steel.  Sure it sounds simple enough.  But again this is a ‘naked’ wine which they can’t really mess with in the cellar of everything doesn’t go right, so there is a bit more to it.  All of the words matter.  To carry the name ‘classico’ the grapes must come from the hillside vineyards around the municipalities of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone in the original and oldest classic “zone” of Verona established back in 1927.

Forget those over-produced, insipid Soaves that flooded the market 20-30 years ago.  This is nothing like those.  Advocate’s Monica Larner’s words are precise enough, “This entry-level Soave Classico delivers the elegant mineral definition and fruit sensation you should expect of the best Garganega grapes. The 2016 Soave Classico Vin Soave benefits from very favorable growing conditions in a classic vintage. The bouquet is refined and polished with stone fruit, citrus, dried sage and saffron.”  Driving and quite engaging for the fare.

Keber Collio Bianco 2016No place does this kind of thing like the northeast  of Italy.  Riveting, purposeful blends of a mixture of white varietals make for some uniquely compelling whites with lifted fruit, plenty of sizzle, but also unexpected palate presence.  In that realm, Keber has always been one of the stars.  Their Collio Bianco can stand with the best in the region, but is much more attractively priced.

Maybe it was just a good day, but the 2016 Keber Collio is the best version of this wine we can remember tasting, everything the past efforts have been but with seemingly another gear.  The blend is 70% Friulano , 15% Malvasia Istriana, and 15% Ribolla Gialla.  The concept is Friulano for structure, Malvasia Istriana for its aromatic qualities, and Ribolla Gialla for
acidity. These varietals do very well in the so-named “Ponka” soil, composed of marl and sandstone, that naturally stresses the vines.  The grapes are whole cluster, soft-pressed to minimize oxidation during crushing. The juice is fermented and matured on the yeasts for 6 months in
cement vats. Twenty per-cent of the Friulano is aged in older, large barrels.

This wine, from a 10-acre estate near the Slovenian border, always has remarkable weight, body and a distinctive, super-minerally aspect typical of the region.  The estate produces just this wine but it is a constant winner.  This time around, it’s just a notch or two better, which is pretty sensational.

 

‘NATURALLY’ TASTY: QUERCIA GROSSA BATTIFOLLE TOSCANA 2014

You’d think after doing this as long as we have, we’d have the sense to be a little more selective of the topics we choose.  Sadly, or perhaps not, we are in it for the experience and to highlight wines that deserve attention from folks who love wine, famous or not.  It sometimes takes you in directions you aren’t necessarily expecting to go.  Quercia Grossa is one of those times, but the wine definitely made it worth the ‘trip’.

Located in the southern part of the Maremma, the warmer part of Tuscany, this wine has the distinction of being from a ‘genre’ that is no longer recognized as en vogue (super-Tuscan), made in a ‘natural’ style (definitely something that sends up reds flags to us because of how many sloppy wines hit the market under that banner), and from one of the most difficult vintages in the region in this century.  It would be very easy, simply based on the data, to just look past this one.  But the wine was simply too compelling and had an engaging, rather unique personality.

It starts with the farming.  In their words, “In the course of this venture, we recovered a number of old vineyards scattered around Roccatederighi in various small plots on the undertaking that they would be treated like a garden, in tune with the rhythms of nature.  Production is not forced in the vineyard, and, as far as possible, we use manual working methods in order to avoid using products that may be harmful to the plants and environment.  Respect for nature and the environment requires the absence of insecticides, botritycides, weed-killers and chemical fertilizers. Treatment in the vineyards is kept to the minimum.”

As to the harvest itself, “Grapes are hand-picked into small crates, so that they can be examined and sorted if necessary during the harvesting process. The grape harvest is a magical moment in which a symbiotic bond forms between man and the grapevines that have been trained and shaped by generations of loving hands. After the grape clusters have been picked and laid carefully in small crates, they are taken to the winery: an intimate, magical place. Here they undergo a delicate vinification process; the grapes give off an intense aroma and start to macerate in small concrete vats for a period of up to forty days. Fermentation takes place naturally with the aid of the indigenous ‘wild’ yeasts present in the grapes.”

“Achieving and preserving a harmonious balance between man, the grapevines and the surrounding countryside in keeping with the concept that “wine is made in the vineyard” is the key to creating a wine with personality: a wine produced by a local winemaker who treats the grape cluster with the utmost respect, applying a philosophy based on simplicity.”

If you have read enough wine writings, you have heard all of this kind of thing before.  The difference here is that, unlike all of the ‘natural’ folks out there that seem to use the process as an excuse for marginal winemaking, the folks at Quercia Grossa made a little magic when the odds were against them.  Of course, having former Cristom Pinot-master Tim Manning consulting and informing the wines with an extra level of elegance doesn’t hurt.

We aren’t trying to qualify the achievement either.  This tender, fruit centered, surprisingly ample wine is just plain tasty, with a uniquely appealing texture, plum, cassis and black cherry fruit with notes of earth and minerality, and gentle, unfettered tannins.  The Quercia Grossa Battifolle Toscana 2014, still presented under the indeterminate banner of IGT, is a blend of 40% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot , and  20% Cabernet Sauvignon , after which it is placed into 225 liter second and third use barrels with minimal sulphite addition.

For the guy who imported this wine, this is a labor of passion.  But this genteel, tasty red deserves an audience which is why we bought it.

Sizzling Sudtirol Triple-Play

The more we find out about this Sud-Tirol producer, the more impressed we are.  We are big fans of the whites from these pristine sites nestled near the Alps, which we lovingly refer to as the German part of Italy.  Sparkling high valleys, clean air, unique ad varied soils, we dare say that when Nature cooperates, these are some of the most riveting whites anywhere.  Margreid has been one of the standard bearers for the region since we first ran across his precise wines maybe three vintages back.  The rest, as they say, is history, though this latest set of releases kind of border on ‘historic from the standpoint of excelling true to the region.

If you like big, buttery Chardonnays, these will not be your muse.  But if you fancy driving fruit delivered atop vigorous, fresh acidity, clean, pure flavors and superb integration, your Schiff has com in.  We were recently presented with this lineup from Margrein, featuring efforts from the 2016 vintage (which has been enormously exciting in this region) and we couldn’t help buy everything we were presented.  This ‘triple play’ was quite a show!

The thing is that these perform nearly perfectly for what they are intended to be.  It isn’t a genre that gets a lot of attention, nor are these the kind of wines that will play to the typical media palate.  But the execution for our tastes is so impressive, we find talking them up an imperative even if it is for a small, select audience.  How excited can we get about Kerner, Pinot Grigio and Schiava?  If they taste like this, pretty darned excited!  And the prices are very modest for wines this good.

Nals Margreid Kerner Sudtirol Alto Adige 2016While this aromatic white grape, first created in Germany in 1929 as a hybrid between Schiava and Riesling, is something of an also-ran in its native country, on this side of the hills it hits remarkable heights.  The exotic fruit component flashes tropical notes, candied citrus, dried peach and honey, yet is bone dry with a trace of salinity.  The tension between the fruit and well-integrated acid keeps the flavors lifted and vigorous but there is plenty here to make an impression.  Even though it is crisp and nervy, it is packed with flavor.

Nals Margreid Pinot Grigio Sudtirol Alto Adige 2016One of the most unique and interesting examples of this varietal we can recall.  There’s a persistent florality to the nose that grabs you immediately, followed by impressions of pear and apricot that avail themselves as the wine unfolds.  Plenty of flesh to make an impression up front followed almost immediately by a fresh underpinning of acidity that drives the fruit through the back-palate.  Yes we know that there is a lot of insipid Pinot Grigio on the market.  The people who drink those probably wouldn’t like this one because it has waayyy too much character.  This is an elite performance because it is loaded with character yet still plays on the racy side as it should.

Nals Margreid Galea Schiava Sudtirol Alto Adige 2016Schiava anyone?  Yes this fresh red is virtually unknown to most folks, mostly functioning as a cool, go-to red in this mountain country.  But with a little more ripeness’ the possibilities expand greatly.  Here we have the insistent spice of the varietal augmenting a somewhat riper and more tender version of red fruits that lean a little blue.  Schiava from a cooler vintage can have a bit of an edge.  But somehow, in Goldilocks speak, this one is ‘just right’.  Roses, fresh outdoor spiciness, a touch of earth, bright flavors., from century-old vines, it is medium weight and dangerously quaffable.  Serve with a slight chill.

 

 

“Too sexy” Guidalberto 2015

On any given day.  That’s typically a sports related saying about how a game can have a decidedly different outcome from one day to the next.  The saying does have applications to wine, too, however.  In this era of the critic, a wine’s evaluation can have a lasting effect on the particular wine’s following.  We have made the point many times that critics are people, too.  They have good days and bad days, happy days and angry days.  Wines go through a constant evolution as well and last week’s so-so can be next week’s knockout.  Given people, wines, biodynamic calendars, barometric pressure, bottle variation, relativity, etc., etc., the whole process is pretty fluid.  Yet the score lives indefinitely.

That is our only explanation for this wine, the sexiest version of Sassicaisa’s Guidalberto we can recall, getting only 91 points.  The Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto Toscana 2015 is a fruit bomb with layered flavors of dark red fruits tinged with leather, anise, earth and spice.  It is big, broad and generous in thee mouth with an almost sappy palate feel and more richness on the palate than any Guidalberto we can recall.  Lush, layered, downright hedonistic for a Cabernet-based Italian red (it’s 60 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 % Merlot), this one impressed us right out of the gate.

Even more curious is that this one only garnered a couple of points better than the rather uninspiring 2014 (a difficult vintage in all fairness).  The words are encouraging enough from Wine Advocate, “The 2015 Guidalberto opens to a darkly saturated garnet hue. It shows similar concentration and power in terms of its aromatic delivery. Aromas are shapely and round with dark fruit nuances followed by leather, spice and dark tar…You feel the lush softness of the second grape as the wine glides smoothly over the palate. It takes on more weight in the glass.”  The conclusion? A little baffling.

Maybe this wine is too sexy for Bolgheri, but we certainly don’t see that as a flaw.  This is a pretty flashy, rather accessible, very delicious effort.  Sometimes we don’t agree with the critics.  This is one of those times.  We like this a lot.

There was another point in the Advocate article, “The 2015 vintage promises good things in Tuscany and this wine offers an informal sneak peek at what we can expect from the celebrated Tenuta San Guido vineyards in Bolgheri.”  No argument there, but this offers more than just a ‘sneak peek’….$39.98

HIGH VALLEY WHITES-PART ONE

Not a lot of 2016 whites have come across our paths yet, but it’s easy to be optimistic given what we have seen so far.  More specifically, those versatile whites from northeastern Italy are most promising.  One of the real go-tos around here over the last few years have been from Abbazia Di Novacella.  They are both high quality and won’t break the bank.  We have an admitted fondness for Kerner around here and the Abbazia Di Novacella Valle Isarco Kerner 2016 is a beauty.  Tender and pliant in the mid-palate with just the right touch of acidity, the delicate florality, faintly pear and pineapple fruit and refined palate are hard to resist and this one is food friendly with anything from a pasta primavera to a lighter handed fish dish to Vietnamese spring rolls.

Pinot Grigio had sadly become almost a cliché, and that’s unfortunate because the Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio 2016 is an excellent example of what this varietal can be.  It has plenty of pear and apricot fruit, some richness and weight on the palate and the requisite brightness to the flavors.  This Pinot Grigio can play to a more sophisticated audience yet has the quaffability factor to please the casual cocktail crowd.

NO ORDINARY CHIANTIS

Chianti has come a long way since the days where all anyone saw were the straw fiasco bottles in the local checkered tablecloth Italian joint.  The rules have changed, and a number of the wineries have stepped up their game with regard to the quality of the entry-level and reserva wines.  A lot of folks are still trying to come to grips with the whole Gran Selezione designation which started with the 2010 vintage.  With all due respect to our inspired friends at Castello di Ama, the world is still a little shell-shocked with the proliferation of $50, $60, $70 Chianti, ourselves included.

Our job is to explain all of these trends to you.  But we also know for most folks, Chianti is a go-to, something to accompany some good food while not breaking the bank.  We hear you.  Maybe it was just a good day, but we found two outstanding examples back-to-back on morning not long ago.  They do have a couple of things in common.  Both were from the Classico zone, and both were produced by folks who were much more famous for their Super Tuscans, Podere Poggio Scalette (il Carbonione) and Castellare (I Sodi di San Niccolo).

Obviously one could invoke our mantra of ‘little wines from big-time sources’, but we haven’t found a Scalette or Castellare ‘regular’ Chianti this memorable before.  These are by no means ‘regular’!  We’ll start with the Podere Poggio Scalette Chianti Classico 2012.  Their Il Carbonione gets a bit of attention but Antonio Galloni, in his notes on this Chianti, was most enthuisiastic.  His words, “Poggio Scalette’s 2012 Chianti Classico is gorgeous. Dark red and black stone fruits, spices, leather and menthol meld together in a supple yet powerful wine endowed with terrific depth and complexity at its level. All the elements are in the right place.”

Like their flagship wine, this is 100% Sangiovese, and a bit darker and deeper than the norm as seems to be the case with this property.  But Galloni’s score was a mere 89+, suggesting with the ‘+’ that there was upside potential, but not high enough to turn heads.  Chiantis typically don’t get re-reviewed like, say, Bordeaux, so this wine will stand with that score for all of eternity most likely.  We are here to say that all of those ‘elements that were in the right place’ have come together beautifully since that tasting note was written in September, 2014!  Polished, classy juice from a top house, a fine option for the fare ($23.98).

We met the winemaker from Castellare years ago and he struck us as not only talented by, given the points he was discussing that day, extraordinarily meticulous.  His track record has born out our impressions over the course of several I Sodis and the currently in stock , smashing Castellare Di Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggiale 2012.

You don’t see a lot of stuff this good from a producer like Castellare for under $20.  But the 2015 served up spectacular fruit that give Castellare Di Castellina Chianti Classico 2015  ($19.98) the stuffing and authority of a lot of reserve level wines.  All that aside, you can enjoy this one simply on the basis of its layered, intense fruit component, purity of flavor, and outgoing personality.  Even as good as 2015 is shaping up to be, we don’t imagine we’ll find many that perform like this.  A spectacularly fruit driven go-to that should deliver for years but is already quite showy.