Tag Archives: Italy

Parusso Barolo 2007

When I am asked what the perks are to owning a wine store I would have to say its being offered wines that I would either not be able to afford in a restaurant or offered wines that are unavailable at most retail outlets. Getting my hands on a few cases of Parusso’s magnificent 2007 Barolo would also be one of them.

Parusso is a complex wine. It’s a blend of traditionalist and modernist. The modern take comes from allowing the grapes to dry, whole cluster, for a few days before maceration. Parusoo believes that allowing the stems and all to ‘breathe’ for a while introduces oxygen into the stem and grape. This oxygenation creates a bolder, more approachable wine in the bottle. Listen, some people stick a cow’s horn in the ground and pray to the moon so whatever rocks his boat. If the wines come out as fabulous as this one did I don’t really care.

The 07 is a smoldering beauty. We opened the first bottle in the store last Friday. Out of the bottle it was tight, more backward than I was expecting, so we decanted it. Rested it for a few minutes and then tried it again. Wow. Smoky dark cherries, pepper, plums. I had it again this evening, dinner took longer to prep and the first bottle of something had already been finished. Fortunately I bought a case so losing a bottle so quickly didn’t make me cringe. The wine is ethereal – you expect it to be oozing out of the bottle but it dances. Its light in that sense but it draws you in with almost mystical fruit flavors, rich, dark, savory and sweet. This is what really good wine should taste like. There is still tannin on the front palate which indicates the wine has plenty of years of aging potential and it will become even richer over time. Right now though it’s the best of both worlds – the traditionalist, smoky oaky backward wine, with the modernist twist of up-front fruit flavors and soft juiciness.

  • Producer: Parusso
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Varietal: Nebbiolo
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Piedmont
  • Production: Decent
  • Availability: $40 pb. $32.50 pb on 12 (limited availability)

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in daily post


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Ca’del Bosco Cuvee Prestige

Franciacorta! It’s a region of wine-making in Lombardy, Italy. I just tasted a sparkling wine from Ca’del Bosco that was delicious. Regulations decree that the wine must be a blend of 3 grapes -similar to Champagne. In this case the grapes are chardonnay, pinot nero and pinot bianco. The law also requires that the wine must remain in contact with its yeasts for a minimum of 25 months. That’s a lot of money tied up for two years! In this instance the wine-maker extends the period to 28 months – it works.

I loved the color – pale primrose yellow; the nose has some dough and yeast aromas but it’s the palate that carries the wine. Spicy bubbles that are not sharp but lift up a huge glob of pastry dough on the tip of the tongue, followed by a really mellow basket of peaches, apricot and orange skin. It’s not cheap, but pleasure usually isn’t, however it still comes in less than that horrid little yellow peril bottle of champagne from France and personally, I preferred it. There’s more complexity to it – you don’t get the sense you are drinking a formula. There’s sunshine in the bottle that just wants to make you smile. And $39.00 for that pleasure is well worth it.

  • Producer: Ca’del Bosco
  • Vintage: Non-Vintage –disgorged Autumn 2011
  • Varietal: Chardonnay/Pinot Nero/Pinot Bianco
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Franciacorta/Lombardy
  • Production: Decent but not huge
  • Availability: Yes. $39.00pb $33.15pb on 12

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in daily post


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La Natura Salento Primitivo 2010

At Wine at Five my staff and I spend way too much time finding new, small wine importers, asking them to bring samples of their portfolios, trying, tasting and testing their samples and figuring out if we like any of them. The determination of ‘like’ is very subjective but we try to be more objective than most. Price plays a significant part, the packaging plays a part (after all, we are a retail store), the funkiness of the wine plays a large part, but it’s the flavors of a new wine that really have the significant vote. And we compare. We may know that the pinot comes from France but pinots have a benchmark – does the wine stand up to the benchmark?

Puglia is the heel of Italy. In the north it’s quite hilly, in the south, totally flat. The south used to make Italy’s bulk wine – cheap, disgusting red wine that was blended by wineries all across the country and sold by the container load. As the world got tired of the Yellow Tail style of crappy wine Puglia’s wine industry started to decline. In place of the alcoholic red juice that was the backbone of the wine industry up cropped small, artisinal vintners who saw a chance to make a difference. The Salento region of Puglia is at the southernmost point of the heel and it has fast become the most important region of Puglia – no doubt because a few of the great wine-makers have journeyed south to play with the Primitivo grape. Primitivo is related to our Zinfandel. It’s a dark, husky black olive kind of grape. It has a tendency to be high in alcohol, a tendency to become overly sweet and plummy and a tendency to disguise the sweetness with overly black olive flavors. The La Natura that we tasted from one of our new-found small importers was an anomaly. Alcohol content is only 12.5%. Whilst it is dark and brooding it has a lovely fresh finish balanced well with great acidity, it has none of the vampire sucking qualities of cheap Primitivo and yet at less than $15.00 I consider it cheap, and phenomenal value. This wine could very easily become my new BFF or more correctly my BWF. With such a light alcohol level the wine is surprisingly easy to pair with food – both white meat (fish included) and heartier red meats. It’s easy on the palate – lots of crushed red berries, a little port like black currant, some feint spicy notes and a lovely bright fruit forward finish. This is good wine at a very good price – don’t be scared about buying this by the case – it will age well.

  • Producer: I suspect it’s a private label
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Varietal: Primitivo
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Salento/Puglia
  • Production: Lots
  • Availability: Lots. $14.00 per bottle. $144.00 case

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in daily post


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Damilano ‘Marghe’ Nebbiolo D’Alba 2009

We just received this at Wine at Five after initially tasting it a few weeks ago. I had to crack a bottle open just to reconfirm my tasting notes! One of the great challenges in wine is finding something that resembles a much higher priced item on all fronts except the cost. Nebbiolo is the grape of Piedmont and as such is the grape of Barolo. Barolo starts at around $50 and soars higher. The grape probably gets its name from the Latin word ‘nebbia’ which means fog (a highlight of the hills around Piedmont’s vineyards) but I suspect that it is more closely linked to how the Romans felt after consuming a bottle of this stuff after throwing spears at the Huns. Barolos are in a world unto themselves – beautiful wines that trap you; once tasted your bank account starts depleting fast. So when we tried this ‘baby Barolo’ I was shaken, not stirred. Here was a Barolo without the name and without the price tag and yet it had all the hearty, gutsy flavors associated with its more famous brethren. Great dark amethyst color in the glass, aromas of farm yards and country air and the palate takes you through a treasure trove of savory herbs, meaty sausage and countryside aromatics. In other words it was really good and for everyday drinking when you want a Barolo but haven’t got the heart to share a $75 bottle pop open the cork on this one instead.

I had it last night with roast chicken, garlic mashed potato some cream spinach and of course Bird’s Eye peas – a classic comfort food platter with an equally classic comfort wine.

  • Producer: Damilano
  • Vintage: 2009
  • Varietal: Nebbiolo
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Piedmont
  • Production: Reasonably good
  • Availability: Yes. $17.00 per btl. $14.00 per case

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.


Posted by on February 13, 2012 in daily post


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Michele Satta Giovin Re 2007

Not all criticism is good criticism and sometimes we taste stuff that doesn’t pass muster. I’m in two minds about this wine. Satta can be an extraordinary wine-maker and visionist. He’s also based in an area of Italy that I foresee becoming the nerve center for all great wine coming out of Italy – the Maremma region, in particular Bolgheri. This is on the west coast of Italy south of Pisa. It fronts the Mediterranean on the west and the hills of Tuscany inland. The land south of Bolgheri was, until quite recently, just a wasteland of marshes and mosquitos but over the last few decades the area has cleaned itself up and some surprising names in wine-lore have set up camp there. Satta is one of them.

The Giovin Re that we tasted yesterday as part of our staff Chinese take-out was the 2007 vintage. It should still be good but I suspect that the few cases that were left at the distributor had not been well cared for because at least 1/2 dozen of the bottles have seepage and bulging tops. The one we opened looked good but there was some caramelization around the cork, under the foil. Satta’s Giovin Re is 100% viognier – that itself makes the wine interesting – what the hell is viognier doing in the swampalands of Marrimar? Anyway, past the caramel nose the wine poured a little too viscously and the color was a little too golden. Onto the nose and there is a definite funk to it. Not a bad smell, not cooked, or oaked, just something you don’t expect to be there – rather like a cockroach. Personally I found the wine actually quite decent. It’s all slightly old hazelnut and bunt tangerine skin but it’s a conversation piece. Its definitely oily, heavy, devoid of fresh fruit but not sickly or sweet. I think with the right kind of food and the right approach the wine would hold up – I would serve it pretty cold to try and coax a little more acid out of it but I did think that it was a wine worth opening, worth tasting and worth talking about. And in the end isn’t that what most wine should be?

I’ve seen this on the market at $38-45. Since this one is suspect (we pulled any bottles that remotely looked like a leaker), I’m offering it out at $15.00 – just for the hell of it. Try it – honestly, if the taste isn’t for you it will make a really good cooking wine, especially for chicken or fish.

  • Producer: Michele Satta
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Varietal: Viognier
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: B ulgheri
  • Production: No idea
  • Availability: Only a few bottles – $15.00. Market price is $38-$45

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in daily post


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Lucchetti Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore -Guardengo

Don’t let the word Alba confuse you. This has nothing to do with Piedmont. This Morro d’Alba is way out on the east coast, north east of Rome but inland from Ancona. It still has a little of that salinity from the Adriatic sea but what makes Morro d’Alba wines special, and distinctive, is the abundance of rose petal, rose aroma, rose perfume, rose thorns that reside in each bottle. Honestly, I’ve had some wines from here that are like drinking your mom’s eau de cologne straight from bottle. I will admit that the first time I ever tasted one of these wines I spat it out and swore I would find a different job. But with a little patience and a lot more tolerance I kept at it and the wines have grown on me. I quite like being exported to a rose garden.

Morro d’Alba is a town located in the Marche region of Italy. Remember the name because wines from this DOC are exciting, different, and generally less expensive than their Tuscan neighbor. The grape is Lacrima and various myths abound about the name – the grape looks like a tear; the grape has a tendency to split when ripe and the juice flows over the skin, like a tear, but personally I like the one that implies lacrima are the weapon of women so keep a bottle of Lacrima on hand if you end up watching a chic-flic.

The Lucchetti family were farmers until Mario decided to take a risk and start planting vines – specifically Lacrima and Verdicchio. First vintage was in 1997. The bottle I had was a 2008 and I think he’s getting close to perfecting the wine. It’s not as intense as some Lacrima’s – there is still that sweat of rose scent but there’s a little more blueberry pie fruit on the wine. I poured it slightly chilled (it is winter), and this helped the acidity in the rose flavors to be more pronounced, less obviously rose petal, more scent. Even though the bottle I had was a ‘superiore’, single estate called Guardengo I don’t think this is a wine that I want to cellar for long. The flavors after 4 years were perfect – lovely balance of acidity, soft fruit, baking spice and cinnamon dough, whereas in a few more years I suspect the flavors could get a little heavy and the roses would become clumps of dried pot-pourri and the cinnamon dough would become a diabetics nightmare. So find some and drink them within the first few years.

My thanks to Fillipo P for bringing me the wine as a gift – sorry I didn’t drink it with you but if you bring me another one I promise I shall.

In the Bottle:

Lucchetti Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore “Guardengo”

Producer: Lucchetti

Vintage: 2008

Varietal: Lacrima

Country: Italy

Region: Marche

Availability: Limited: $26.00btl      $21.00 on 6btl

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in daily post


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