Get them what they want this year

December 12, 2007

Whether vintage Piemonte or rare Super Tuscans, whether hard-to-find Sicilian dessert wines or large format bottlings, the Vino Gift Card can be used to purchase any of our more-than 500 wines, spirits, liqueurs, accessories, and books. The perfect gift for the wine connoisseur, enthusiast, or novice.

Give the card as a gift to that special someone or use it yourself for any of our products!


Chiavennasca’s 15 minutes

December 11, 2007

Sforzato Canua 2002 Conti Sertoli Salis

As featured in Entertainment Weekly!

After a recent episode of “Dirty, Sexy, Money” (ABC) entitled “Chiavennasca” featured the wines of Lombardia, we received countless emails and calls asking about the grape variety, the Lombard name for its local clone of Nebbiolo.

“Nick [the character played by Peter Krause] went all the way to Italy to fetch a bottle of ‘Chiavennasca’ wine,” write the editors of Entertainment Weekly in this week’s issue. “You can taste it closer to home: We recommend this 2002 Conti Sertoli Salis Sforzato Canua.”

Conti Sertoli Salis Canua Sforzato is one of Lombardia’s most rare and coveted wines. It is a dried-grape wine made from Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo). The term sforzato, meaning literally “forced,” refers to the drying process: as the grapes are dried, their flavor and sugar are “forced” or concentrated. Traditionally, Sforzato is paired with hearty wintry second courses but can also be served as an after-dinner meditative wine with cheese.

At Vino, we also love Conti Sertoli Salis’ “white” Chiavennasca.

Read the article.

This ain’t no baby Brunello!

December 6, 2007

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2003 Palazzo Vecchio

Brunello di Montalcino’s overwhelming popularity in recent years has overshadowed some of the other equally intriguing appellations that lie literally a stone’s throw away.

Like Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, a clone of Sangiovese known for its large berries (hence the qualifier grosso meaning “large”) and its remarkable aging potential.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is produced exclusively in the township of Montepulciano, a thirty-minute drive from Montalcino. Most of the appellation lies in the valley surrounding this picturesque medieval hilltop town. The wines produced are generally intended for drinking young and like Rosso di Montalcino, they make for great table wines with nice acidity and mellow tannin. But there are certain growing sites that surpass 350 meters a.s.l. in altitude, where ventilation and cooler evening temperatures help to create long-lived, structured expressions of Sangiovese Grosso.

Thanks to its extensive land holdings in the township, Palazzo Vecchio — one of the oldest producers in the appellation — is able to source top fruit for their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. When we tasted it at Vino earlier this year, we knew we had found a winner: this traditional-style, meaty Sangiovese Grosso really impressed us with its natural fruit and balanced acidity and its structured tannin. This ain’t no baby Brunello!

Chianti Rufina 1997 Villa di Vetrice

December 5, 2007

Chianti Rufina 1997 Villa di Vetrice

Those of you who have shopped at Vino over the years know that we love traditional-style Sangiovese and that Villa di Vetrice is one of our favorite producers of this quintessentially Italian grape.

Long overshadowed by its sister appellation, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina is now emerging as the top subzone for the production of Sangiovese. As one Italian wine writer put it recently, Chianti Rufina is “Chianti in montagna” or “mountain Chianti.” In other words, Chianti Rufina is the highest point in the entire Chianti appellation. Altitudes there allow winemakers to create wines with remarkable aging potential, wines that will retain their freshness (thanks to cool summer evenings) for decades.

Villa di Vetrice vinifies their Chianti in a 100% traditional style: 100% Sangiovese fermented and aged in large, old oak barrels. We’ve tasted their Sangiovese going back to 1979 and have always been impressed with the wines’ beautiful fruit, bright acidity, and balanced tannin.

The 1997 harvest has widely been hailed as one the greatest Tuscan vintages in recent memory and the 1997 Chianti Rufina by Villa di Vetrice is drinking great right now.

Charles Scicolone, our wine director emeritus, often points to this wine as one of his favorite expressions of Sangiovese. A great pairing for steak.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2003 Cataldi Madonna

December 4, 2007

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2003 Cataldi Madonna

Some believe that the vineyards owned by the Cataldi Madonna estate in Abruzzo are among the most ancient growing sites in the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo appellation. There is no doubt that Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans tended vines there in the shadow of the Gran Sasso d’Italia, Italy’s highest mountain south of the Apennines. The southern facing slopes (at just under 400 meters a.s.l.) offer ideal exposure while the cool winds coming down from the mountain ventilate the vines, thus reducing risk of rot and mildew. The calcareous-clay subsoil provides excellent drainage, thus stressing the vines and creating richer fruit.

Cataldi Madonna’s single-vineyard Tonì is the winery’s top cru: the winery uses traditional-style vinification for this wine but also employs some barrique aging to create a wine judiciously modern in style. Look for rich flavors of cherry, tobacco, and spice and structured tannins that give way to a rich, lingering finish. A fantastic pairing for wintry stews and roast meats.

Opulent Aglianico

December 3, 2007

Opulent Aglianico Gift Pack

The “Opulent Aglianico” gift pack features three of our favorite producers of Aglianico, including the powerful and very traditional 2003 Valle del Noce, a single-vineyard Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata) produced by the legendary Donato d’Angelo and sourced personally by owner Nicola Marzovilla.

Few winemakers define a generation the way that D’Angelo has. Considered by many the greatest producer of Aglianico del Vulture, he creates wines that are “clearly in a class by themselves,” as Shelly Wasserman noted in his landmark work Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1985). Although until recently the appellation has been known only to a handful of collectors and Italian wine connoisseurs, Aglianico del Vulture is one Italy’s most powerful and collectible red wines and is suitable for long-term aging. It is made from 100% Aglianico grown in the volcanic subsoil in the southern-facing foothills of Mount Vulture in Basilicata (the region that forms the insole of Italy’s boot).

On the more modern side but equally as powerful, De Conciliis’ 2003 Naima is a 100% Aglianico made from grapes grown in Cilento (in Campania). The wine under goes temperature-controlled fermentation in small French-oak barrels. The result is a gorgeously modern expression of Aglianico. The wine takes its name from the famous composition by jazz musician John Coltrane, a reflection of the family’s interest in jazz and their desire to push the envelope of winemaking tradition.

Last but not least, the 2003 Taurasi by the Fratelli Urciuolo represents one of our favorite expressions of this celebrated appellation, famous for its great aging potential. Many of Italy’s prominent wine writers have pointed to the Fratelli Urciuolo (the Urciuolo Brothers) winery as a leader in the renewal of “traditional” winemaking in Campania (the region of which Napoli is the capital). While many southern Italian vintners have chosen to emulate the “modern” style of wine by using new oak and concentration methods, the Urciuolo family vinifies and ages this Taurasi for up to 24 months in traditional large old oak barrels. The natural yeasts that occur on the oak help to make this wine a true expression of the terroir. When made in a traditional manner, Taurasi – 100% Aglianico – can age for 30 to 40 years.

The Opulent Aglianico Gift Pack is a great gift for collectors and lovers of Southern Italian wines.