Campi Nuovi Sangiovese 2009, Montecucco Toscana ORGANIC
How Old School is this? 1) The producer trained at Soldera, THE most famous and traditional Brunello estate. 2) 100% Organic viticulture and very traditional vinification in large Slovenian oak with natural yeasts, ambient temperatures and no additions of any kind. 3) It is bottled without fining or filtering. VERY limited, worth it.
Agriverde, Ortona Abruzzo
This is a third generation estate founded in 1830 and certified organic since 1991. Their commitment to their land includes placing 25 bird nests per hectare plus using the “sexual confusion technique” (using pheromone traps which male insects mate with, leaving the females barren) to combat damaging insects as well as the refusal to use chemicals to combat fungal infections.
Agriverde Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Natum 2011 ORGANIC
“Rock Star!!!” That was our immediate reaction on tasting this fabulously rich and flavorful organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at VinItaly 2012. It will rock your world with both quality AND value…
Azienda Agricola Petrera Pasquale, Gioia del Colle, Puglia
This cantina has such an interesting story to tell that we don’t even know where to begin. THEY begin in their press kit with “At the beginning of the Oligocene era there was still a channel between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Seas. Between the cretaceous plate of the Bari area and the Southern Apennines, the Saddle of Spinazzola formed a broad strait that linked the Ionian Sea to the Adriatic, where the today’s territory of Gioia del Colle was then submerged….” then note that their vineyard site was used as same by the Peucetians in the 8th century B.C.. They then fast forward to the late 18th century when their ancestor Nicola Petrera picked their hillside (365 meters above sea level) to plant to vines and built a home / cantina at about the same time as local bishop Don Franceso Filippo Indellicati selected a local grape variety, known in dialect as U’pr’mati’ve, as the best in the Zona and renamed Primitivo as it is not only the first to ripen but gives TWO harvests each year, the second one (known as “racemi” and with less body and color but more sweetness and aromatics) being thrown into the fermented wine as a sort of Ripasso or Governo thus adding richness to the wine.
The current generation were the first to bottle Primitivo in purezza (in 1987) and founded the DOC Primitivo Gioia del Colle in 2000 and have taken Nonno Nicola’s motto, “Who loves and respects Nature, loves God and himself” as their own and do everything by hand and in strict accordance with Certified Organic Agriculture standards (“considered as life-style: not for business but for respect of Nature and every living creature, in primis ourselves”) and even say that they treat each vine like a person and that “We want to make our wine like mirror of the territory, the soil and the people who are its authors…the success of a wine has to be made starting from roots of the vine”. They kind of lose us at the part where they “foster tranquillity and harmony by diffusion of new-age sounds in our cellar to support the activity of the living enzymes inside our natural wines sensitive to music therapy” but, hey, what could it hurt? So, anyway, we tasted the wines and immediately ordered piles of them for ourselves (we might let you have some too if there is any left).
Petrera Primitivo Gioia del Colle Fatalone 2006, Puglia ORGANIC
Petrera Primitivo Gioia del Colle Riserva Speciale Fatalone 2004, Puglia ORGANIC
Ok already….after all THAT what does serious Primitivo (which as you may know, is the grape we call Zinfandel in California) taste like anyway? Well, to quote the chef / barkeep who created the world’s greatest Burger (the Office Burger at Father’s Office), our friend Sang Yoon, “A charred aged prime steak rolled in dirt, with a smoked plum garnish…I liiiiiiike it!” Now THAT is the sort of recommendation of a grape varietal we can really get behind. These do not disappoint: They are big, rich, meaty, smoky…all that and a bag of wild boar chittlins.
Azienda Vitivinicola Ciù Ciù, Offida, Le Marche
Brothers Walter and Massimiliano Bartolomei thank you for all of your support and invite you to visit them at their restaurant in Offida. There you will see just why were immediately entranced by not only the quality of the wines produced by organic agriculture, hand harvesting and careful vinification but also their incredible value for money as they all play way out of their respective price categories.
Ciù Ciù Rosso Piceno Superiore Gotico 2007, Offida, le Marche ORGANIC
Montepulciano dominates this blend (70%) with just enough Sangiovese to impart some elegance and food friendly acidity (but leaving big tar and licorice blasts on the nose leading into lots of fruit and a massive structure on the palate). Enjoy its youthful exuberance now with grilled meats and zesty pastas, three to five years from now it will mellow into a thing of mature beauty. Either way you get major flavor and heft but spend bubkas for what it is.
Ciù Ciù Marche Rosso Saggio 2007, Offida, le Marche ORGANIC
Yet another Chianti Killer from the East, this is 100% Sangiovese slowly fermented on the skins for three weeks resulting in a multi-layered bouquet with notes ranging from dried red fruits to coffee and a full throttle palate with a nice tannic grip and racy acidity. Again, food choices will be dictated by aging: right now this is ready to take on anything from garlic chicken to Oaxacan molé but give it a few years and its softer, more elegant side will emerge to compliment roast birds, wild mushroom pastas or Peking duck.
Ciù Ciù Marche Rosso Oppîdum 2003, Offida, le Marche ORGANIC
100% Montepulciano and seriously dense, this bottling wants some lamb, duck, venison or at least some nice sausages (and NOW!). Not surprisingly, it has become a cult favorite with many local chefs as they dig it with their simple but hearty meals after they finish service.
Tenute Dettòri, Sènnori, Sardegna
Young Alessandro Dettòri inherited a vineyard with ancient Cannonau and Franche di Piede vines and decided to just let the soil of his native Sardegna speak directly to you. No fancy scientific winemaking, he just let nature sort it out (and the result is that the cuvées are often wildly different from vintage to vintage not unlike Pepe’s killer Montepulcianos). These may well be more wine than you can handle:
Dettori Rosso Resnosu 2009, Sardegna ORGANIC
Our notes from VinItaly 2012: “Bright berry fruit, good acidity, VERY drinkable and a GREAT deal. Grab a pile of this!”
Dettori Chimbanta 2007, Sardegna ORGANIC
100% Monica (a soft, smooth and fragrant grape native to Sardegna) fermented on the skins in concrete tanks then bottled with no filtration. Yummy, very limited.
Dettòri Romangia Rosso Tuderi 2002, Sardegna ORGANIC
Dettòri Romangia Rosso Tuderi 2003, Sardegna ORGANIC
Intense, deeply structured Cannonau (Grenache) from vines over 60 years old. This is NOT a wine for vegetarian pasta…it wants roast MEAT (preferably game), grilled mushrooms (truffles would be nice) and then some gnarly cheese. Compares with major Chateauneuf du Pape but is a bit more rustic (that’s a good thing). Throw this in a decanter for an hour or so and it unwinds like an ancient fable.
Dettòri Romangia Rosso Dettòri 2002, Sardegna ORGANIC
Dettòri Romangia Rosso Tenores 2001, Sardegna ORGANIC
Dettòri Romangia Rosso Tenores 2002, Sardegna ORGANIC
Intense, deeply structured Cannonau (Grenache) from vines over 100 years old, these have a lot to say. Give them some air and some big food and listen to their story….but here is another one… Signore Veronelli (the keeper of the flame re authentic wine styles in Italy) on Dettòri: “Young Alessandro Dettòri…I tasted his wines, each of them, as if it was a miracle. One of my first books was the Veronelli Guide of Italian Wines of Sardinia from 1969. In those years, walking in Sènnori on Sundays and holidays, you felt embraced in a really miraculous aura. Women and men used to wear costumes of extraordinary richness. You would admire and even feel part of their pride in their ancient traditions. I have such a feeling every time I taste the wines of Alessandro.” Indeed, this are as rich as those embroidered costumes and are well suited to game, hearty stews or a plate of seriously ripe and ready cheeses.
Casa Vitivinicola Endrizzi 1885, S. Michele All’Adige, Trentino
Paolo and Christine Endrici are the fourth generation stewards of this historic estate situated in the heart of Teroldego country. They are dedicated to eco-friendly agriculture (which is really the norm in Trentino, you’d do the same if you lived there, it’s GORGEOUS!) and balancing new advances in wine production with the long tradition of their famous zona. Their commitment to their land includes placing 25 bird nests per hectare, using the “sexual confusion technique” (releasing sterile males who mate with no offspring) to combat damaging insects as well as the refusal to use of chemical pesticides to combat fungal infections.
The vineyards are located in three distinct terroirs, all with prime southeastern exposure: Pian di Castello at 350 meters above sea level and rich in chalk, Masetto which is a bit lower and mixes chalk, porphyritic and carbonate soils and Maso Kinderleit which is strewn with stones from the towering Dolomites that were left by passing glaciers. Like most traditional vignerons in this zona, they will tell you that it’s all about the rocks which, to quote their brochure, “are the foundation for the rich nuances and emotions that a wine can give”. These rocky sites were treasured as prime vineyard land in Roman times and the best sites were organized as named crus in the 12th century by monks from the local abbey. Francesco Endrici, a subject of the Austro Hungarian Empire, came to the zona and established the cantina in 1885, calling it Endrizzi so that Italian speakers could pronounced it more easily. Francesco begat Romano who continued the work (and was also the President of Trento Province), Romano begat Franco who led the Consorzio of Trentino producers for twenty years and then begat Paolo who married a lovely fraulein from Germany named Christine and, gee, isn’t this where we came in? Ok, so what are the wines like already?
Endrizzi Lagrein Tradizione 2005, Trentino Organic Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!
Classic Lagrein with a comforting mouthful of deep plummy fruit, a hint of smoke and tar on the nose and a long smooth, dry finish. In short, your local Merlot lover will enjoy it but it brings some more interesting flavors to the table for the more adventurous. Get some roast duck from your favorite local hole in the wall Chinese takeout joint and watch the smiles erupt.
Endrizzi Teroldego Rotaliano Tradizione 2005, Trentino Organic Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!
Bursting with pomegranate and cranberry fruit, spices and a haunting meaty gaminess as a top note, this is a very welcome addition to our Teroldego selection (yes, we HAVE a Teroldego SECTION). We can see this being delicious with everything from Carolina style BBQ to tandoori platters to Mongolian hot pot venison (or just a meat lover’s pizza from Dominoes after a stressful day).
Endrizzi Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva Maso Camorz 2005, Trentino Organic
In the beginnings of the labor movement, President Hoover once gave an audience to AFL union founder Samuel Gompers and asked him, “Just what the hell do you want?”. Mr. Gompers replied emphatically “MORE!” This delivers more depth of fruit, more exotic spices and MUCH more in the rich mouthfeel department. Take a bottle to your next negotiation and the odds will be decidedly in your favor.
Endrizzi Teroldego Vallagarina Gran Masetto 2005, Trentino Organic
Endrizzi Teroldego Vallagarina Gran Masetto 2004, Trentino Organic
The 2004 was one of our top five wines on our 2007 Italian buying expedition: made from 100% Teroldego that has been air dried in the manner of Amarone or Sforzato, we instantly dubbed it “Teroldegorone”! This new vintage is even better: Packed with simply amazing depth and richness but with a smooth, dry finish, this will be fabulous with rich stews or braised dishes, game or big cheeses or you could just sip it while reading a good book by a roaring fire. Amazing, worth it, very, very limited.
The Return of the Mountain King:
Azienda Agricola Emidio Pepe, Torano Nuovo, Abruzzo
At VinItaly 1997, while greeting friends in the Abruzzo pavilion, we stumbled upon an unpretentious booth that turned out to be one of the greatest wine producers we have ever encountered. It must have been the classic bottle presentation and vintages dating back to 1964 being poured that caught our eye rather than the three beautiful women working within (yeah, right!). Then three years ago we brought in eleven different vintages, they blew out in short order and not a week has gone by since without someone calling up and demanding “Yeah, Yeah, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone, Sforsato, I know, I know…but WHERE THE HELL is the PEPE!!!!!”
What makes these wines so special? Well, meeting Emidio was like meeting a T – Rex still in fighting trim, snacking on passing farm animals and unaware / uninterested in what had happened in the last 63 million years: he does what he does and is not about to change anything to meet the demands of the market or some critic. Emidio is the Orson Welles of the Abruzzi (although he actually looks like Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery morphed into one hard as nails, take no prisoners kind of guy), everything must be done HIS way because he knows it is the RIGHT way: totally organic, manual agriculture, pressing the grapes with the feet of his beautiful daughters, fermenting the wines in stone tubs, bottling them by hand (without racking or filtration) into demijohns and THEN aging them for up to thirty years at the winery before decanting into a new bottle, cork and label ensemble (after standing up for two months and only his wife is allowed to do this!) when it is actually sold. This results in wines of amazing quality and diversity (Sr. Pepe considers consistency in wine from year to year not only undesirable but dishonest and spares no words castigating producers who achieve this!) ranging from Syrah / Sagrantino style spice bombs in ripe vintages to deeeeeeep meat and earth scented marvels in more balanced vintages.
All of these bottlings are ORGANIC and the cantina will be certified BIODYNAMIC from the 2003 vintage.
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2005
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2003
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2001
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1995
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1995 3ltr Double Magnum
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1982
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1980
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1979
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1977
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1975
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1967
Azienda Agricola Martilde, Rovescala, Oltrepò Pavese
Martilde is one of our favorite discoveries in the Brave NEW World of the Oltrepò Pavese: a full service vino-teria making ten or so bottlings ranging from dry and delicate whites to insanely concentrated reds, all grown with molto rispetto for nature by a couple who have become good friends of ours, Antonella Tacci and Raimondo Lombardi. AND they all have fabulous art labels (painted by Antonella) depicting the animals on the estate.
Martilde Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda 2001, Lombardia Organic Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!
This was a ha-uuuuge hit at our tastings this summer, showing beautifully with both anti-pasti and pizza at Il Forno and the madly flavorful cuisine of Chef Uma Singh at at our Wines and Spicy foods tastings. Bonarda is a tad smokier and meatier than Barbera and will pair beautifully with anything grilled or smoked. Gorgeous watercolors of the family cats on the labels, no extra charge.
Martilde OP Bonarda Frizzante Gianna 2007, Lombardia Organic
Antonella and Raimondo’s entry into the local arms race over who can make the most convivial and fun fizzy red: Darker and lusher than either Agnes Cresta Ghiffi or the Picchioni Sangue di Giuda, this one is going to win even more fans to this fun category.
Martilde Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero Nina 2006, Lombardia Organic
Remember when Pinot Noir was elegant and ephemeral, sexy and elusive (and wasn’t 15% alcohol and didn’t taste like boysenberry pancake syrup)? So does Martilde: 100% Pinot Noir, 0% Oak, hand harvested from organically farmed vines, Nina is anxiously waiting to improve your day. She is perfect for grilled fish, lighter pork or chicken dishes or just some picnic snacks and a nice lazy afternoon.
Martilde Oltrepò Pavese Barbera Tina 2005, Lombardia Organic
Why we (and, more importantly, you) love Martilde so much: This is their BASIC Barbera, made from ORGANIC grapes then bottled without filtration, emerging with deeeep fruit & spice flavors and big structure, and it positively kicks butt on many Piemontese bottlings at $$$.
Martilde Oltrepò Pavese Rosso Riserva Pindaro 1996, Lombardia Organic Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!
A blend of Barbera and Bonarda with some time in wood and several years in bottle, this will unfold for hours in your glass and has a label that appears to be one of their cats having a Cubist experience after ingesting too much catnip…
Martilde Bonarda Zaffo 2006, Oltrepò Pavese Organic
Zaffo brings the textures of fine Pinot to the table but with deeper, smokier flavors and has an absolutely gorgeous label depicting their prized horse of the same name.
Martilde Barbera La Strega, La Gazza e il Pioppo 2005, Oltrepò Pavese Organic
One of the deepest and most concentrated Barberas we have ever encountered but not overly oaked, this will be fabulous with lamb, duck, sausages or just a big comfy chair and a fire. The name means “the witch (a cat, actually), the magpie and the poplar tree”, all of which are beautifully depicted on the striking label. VERY Limited.
Martilde Bonarda Ghiro d’Inverno 2006, Oltrepò Pavese Organic
This insanely deeeeep and smoky organically grown monster may cause disorientation in tasters who think Cabernet is the top of the food chain. This wine can be habit forming. Do not buy just one bottle, withdrawal can cause deep depression and the need to visit your favorite wine emporium again immediately. VERY Limited.