deVine Thoughts

April 24, 2013

VinItaly: A visit with Bellavista

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 11:34 am

bellavistaAuthor: Dirk Chan

VinItaly is an expo of Italian wines, it is held in Veronaannually, and the world descends on the Romeo & Juliet made famous town. Annabelle and I decided not to fight the traffic and instead took the one hour fast train into Verona from Venice daily to partake in the fair.

Our first appointment was to taste bubblies with Mattia Vezzola (pictured above with Annabelle), longtime (since 1981) enologist at the famous Franciacorta (in the Lombardy region) property of Bellavista (which in Italian means ‘beautiful view’), the estate that makes Italy’s finest sparkling wines.

With 200 hectares of vineyards situated in the western part of the Franciacorta zone in glacial stony soil, the terroir provides a perfect environment for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to grow (note no Pinot Meunier). Mr. Vezzola prefers the Chardonnay grape, it is very elegant and very sexy, akin to Bollinger, his favourite Champagne house. We spent quite some time tasting through the specialty range of his sparkling wines, many which are currently not available in Alberta, but that we hope will be soon because they are great, including:

The 2010 Uccellanda Curtefranca is made from 100% cru Chardonnay, oak-fermented and aged 12 months in barrique. Lovely marzipan, spice and Golden Delicious apples and quince fruit. Ageworthy.

The 2008 Gran Cuvee Saten (Saten is the Italian version of Blancs de Blanc) is made from 100% Chardonnay, barrel-fermented, thus very delicate and it has great minerality, with notes of straw, peach, honey and walnuts yet has a steely full-bodied palate. Gorgeous.

The 2006 Grande Cuvee Pas Opere is zero dosage, lovely old vines with south and southeast exposures revealing a great gold color, astonishingly fine tiny but persistent bubbles with notes of wood, flower, vanilla and spice. This spends five years in the cellars before release.

Then to cap the tasting, the ultra-rare 2006 Vittorio Moretto (dedicated to the patriarch owner), made from 55% Chard and 45% Pinot Noir – it is only made in the very best years. Florals, creamy texture and a huge and long palate, this is meant for aging.

We only have one Bellavista sku in stock presently, you can try it for yourself – NV Bellavista Cuvee Franciacorta Brut (Lombardy, Italy) – $44.99

We were impressed with this selection, it is clearly in the league of fine Champagne, and obvious that Mattia Vezzola loves his job, and pours his heart into every bottling. What a lovely visit!


April 17, 2013

A Visit at Bersano

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 10:07 am

bersano_lunchAuthor: Dirk Chan

The Bersano winery dates back to the end of the 19th century in Nizza Monferrato, the heart of the Barbera d’Asti district in the Piedmont. Arturo Bersano founded the winery based on the motto “If you want to drink well, buy yourself a vineyard”. While it’s hard to do that nowadays, their 230 hectare holdings (in Barbera d’Asti, Barolo, Barbaresco and Gavi) produces enough wine for all wine enthusiasts to enjoy. They are the largest privately owned grower in the Piedmont.

Carmen Pergola, the Export Director for 20 years at Bersano and a member of the famed Donne del Vino (The Women of Wine) met us for lunch before visit the estate. First, a tour of the Museum of Old Farm Tools, a pretty walk among old wine barrels, presses, hoes, ploughs and trains. The Fine Wine Prints Museum showcased a marvellous collection of old wine labels, maps, views of castles. The jewel though was the “Pomona Book”, the first book detailing the complete collection of grape varieties in Italy dating back 1817.

Carmen tasted us through several wines from Bersano’s huge portfolio, including the 2012 Cortese with beautiful Moscato like nose of white flowers in a dry context. The 2012 Gavi was more complex with lovely peaches and pineapples. The 2012 Barbera d’Asti with a charming personality, clean cut and made for young consumption. The 2011 Barbera d’Asti Costalunga was a big hit from their ‘Classic’ line – roasted meats, beautiful concentration and balance with a fruity cocoa finish. The 2008 Barolo Nirvasco is made from fruit from Serralunga, La Morra and Monteforte and showcased barbecue meats aromatics, spice and leather, again easy earlier drinking style. At VinItaly, we tasted the 2009 Barolo Badarina, with intense fruit, blackberry and balsamic notes, for mid-term drinking. Finally, the 2012 Moscato d’Asti Monteolivo was less sweet than most, with a saline finish amidst acacia flowers, delicate sage , peach and lemon notes – a great way to end a tasting.

What a treat Carmen was, and we thank her for her generous hospitality and more importantly her time (spent away from her young son). We will have some Bersano wines in the store soon, and we are hoping Carmen is able to visit Edmonton in late September when we can set up and dinner/tasting with one of the great women of Italian wine.

Pictured above, our travelling group consisting (left to right) of Peter Rae, Michael Shuster, Norman Gladstone (all of Internatioinal Cellars), Carmen Pergola and our own Annabelle Evaristo.


April 12, 2013

The Burlotto Visit

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 2:26 pm

burlottoAuthor: Dirk Chan

The Burlotto family is one of the oldest and most famous historic producers of Barolo, dating back to Commendatore Giovan Battista Burlotto (1850-1927), having achieved great fame as a winemaker (his wines were served to royalty). There are some great artifacts at the winery of his decoration and achievements including the pioneering of selling Barolo in bottle rather than cask. Today, his great-great grandson Fabio Allessandria is the winemaker here. The estate is located in Verduno, a commune in the Province of Cuneo in the Piedmonte area, only 50km SE of Turino.

We had a cellar visit with Fabio (the entire property is undergoing a major renovation) before our grand tasting which started with the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – this had a lovely gooseberry character that jumped from the glass, very classy mouthfeel. The indigenous 2011 Palaverga was arresting – Palaverga is an ancient grape indigenous to the Verdouna area, i’d say a Pinot Noir like density and a light, slightly deeper than a rose in color, but wow, what great florals, an unique startling white pepper nose, some bacon fat alongside fresh strawberries, this is a most interesting and great wine that can be served chilled ala picnics, yet with enough stuffing to work with red meats like pork or beef. Unfortunately, not much history is known about the origin of the grape. The 2011 Dolcetto d’Alba offered up fresh flowers, and a seamless cherry palate, while the 2011 Barbera d’Alba was one of the wines of this tasting – violets, velvety, finesse and svelt tannins that screams ‘drink me now’.

Onto the Barolos, the 2009 Barolo from a blend of fruit from various vineyards had raspberry and strawberry notes, yet the smooth tannins make it already very enjoyable and restaurant friendly. The 2009 Barolo Acclivi (meaning ‘slope’) was made from a selection of the best Nebbiolo from his Verduno vineyards and serves as a Riserva bottling – a more serious red – here the tannins are a little bit more pronounced indicative of bottle aging potential. The 2009 Barolo Monvigliero with intense strawberry notes, noticeable lighter than the others in color, yet so delicate giving off an intriguing olive note alongside grippy tannins and quite superb. The ageworthy 2009 Cannubi is definitely more earthy, yet has a Nuit-St. Georges Burgundy rustic feel and sheer class about it.

All in all, Annabelle and I were very impressed. With extensive renovations ongoing, I can see even greater things down the road. We are hopeful of perhaps getting some of Burlotto’s wines into our store at some point because the finesse and class is obviously besides offering up an excellent quality price ratio too, something we all want in a wine.


April 10, 2013

A Vist at Elio Grasso

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 3:32 pm

gianluca_grassoAuthor: Dirk Chan

We had a lovely visit to the Elio Grasso estate in the Langhe hills of Alba, where the estate’s 14 hectares are under vines. We visited with Gianluca Grasso (pictured), son of Elio where it was bottling day and it was fascinating to see Gianluca overseeing the assembly line.

We did a lovely winery tour (see picture of the architecturally superb cellars when you click ‘read full article’ that reminded me of a high tech James Bond tunnel car chase). A lot of money and time has been spent at this estate and the wines show. We tasted the 2012 Dolcetto d’Alba dei Grassi (that we saw being bottled), very clean and cherry and cranberry notes. The 2012 Langhe Nebbiolo saw a long season with no removal of canapy leaves. The 2010 Barbera d’Alba Vigna Martina had lovely notes of peach, balsam yet surprisingly structured for a Barbera.

Of course, we’re in Barolo territory, and we tasted the 2009 Gavarini Vigna Ciniera (clean and precise, perfumy, soft and velvety tannins. Quite approachable. The 2009 Ginestra Vigna Casa Mate had perfume, spices and will require easily a decade in the cellar.

Then to the Barolo Runcot Riserva’s, the 2007 was very complex aromatically with coffee, herbs yet very balanced and fresh. The 2006 will be a great great wine down the road – fine acidity and chalk like tannins behind abundant ripe vanilla-tinged fruit, the long tea finish quite superb. Finally, a treat of the 2000 Runcot Riserva, with archtypical aging, savory spices, mushrooms and autumn leaves, superb!

With a focus on true terroir expression, and first and foremost dedicated farmers, it is no wonder the wines of Elio Grasso have garnered so many fans in Western Canada, including yours truly.


April 8, 2013

A Vietti Visit

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 4:10 pm

luca_overlooking_vineyardsAuthor: Dirk Chan

Vietti has a long and distinguished history in the Piedmonte, dating back to the 19th century – the winery located in the quaint town of Castiglione Falletto. With Luca Currado (pictured above overlooking his massive vineyard holdings) at the helm, the winery continues to thrive. Luca has strong opinions about Barolo, winemaking and biodynamics that is a pleasure to hear.

A visit to the cellars included fascinating historical facts – we saw an ancient escape route that led from the castle to the town, some Napoleon bottles, some hidden cellars that kept bottles from German invaders, and a history on the customized Artists labels that adorn numerous Vietti bottlings – all very fascinating.

Back at the tasting room, we sampled no less than 24 wines, all incredibly balanced and pure. The 2011 Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne (very floral), the 2010 Langhe Perbacco is earlier drinking (minerally), the 2010 Barbera d’Alba Vigna Scarrone (white pepper, white flowers) were all beautiful. We also had the rare privilege of tasting bottled samples from various vineyard sites that will eventually make the final blend for the 2010 Barolo Castiglione. These included individuals tastings of the Rocchette, Ravera, Bricco Fiasco, Scarrone, Fossati and a mix – a fascinating exercise. We even blended our own.

The great 2010 Barolo’s finished off the tasting, with highlights including the usual suspects – Rocche, Lazzarito and Brunate all future greats. There was also the 2010 Ravera Riserva that I have not seen (last made in 1999), and a 2010 Villero Riserva (with cool climate feel) too. We proceeded to dinner and drank some old Vietti Barolo Rocche, the highlights being a ready to drink and complex 1989, a still young but very fine 2001, and the very special 1995 that was explosively good (alongside a lot of Champagne). What great hospitality that was appreciated by our travelling group.

Luca will be visiting Edmonton in late May or early June, and we look forward to his visit with great anticipation.


April 6, 2013

A Visit to Brovia

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 3:13 pm

brovia_roccheAuthor: Dirk Chan

Another special visit, this time at the historic (founded in 1863) Brovia Winery with Export Manager Alex Sanchez in Castiglione Falletto in deep Barolo territory. Alex is married to Elena Brovia, who along with her sister Cristina manage this impressive estate. With superbly situated sites such as the Rocche (pictured above) and Villero vineyards, both with distinguished tradition, it is easy
to see why Brovia has been gaining more and more international press, especially over the last decade.

After a visit of winery and cellar, Alex tasted with us a very strong set of wines. Some of our favourites
included a perfumy 2012 Arneis, a very fine 2010 Barbera d’Alba Sori de Drago (great clovey berry fruit) that has fine structure. Without doubt though, the set of 2009 Barolo’s were even more special, all showing a rather sensual earlier drinking style. The Rocche (aromatic and velvety), Villero (structured and complex) and Ca Mia (minerally) all showed their distinctive vineyard styles. We ended with a mesmorizing 2008 Barolo Villero (this wine has scored 94 points or higher from The Wine Advocate magazine every vintage since 2004). We then ended with the 2005 Barolo Riserva (only available in magnums) which is being released as a special 150th anniversary tribute.

The house style is pure, elegant and complex, with an identity to the land and we look forward to their
arrival at deVine’s for you to taste for yourself.

Pictured above, the famous Rocche Vineyard.


April 4, 2013

A Visit to Matteo Correggia

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 11:14 am

matteo_correggia>Author: Dirk Chan

Roero is not the region most people talk about when referring to the Piedmont, that honor belongs to Barolo. However, this region, in the south of the Piedmont offers fine value in Arneis and Nebbiolo. While archeologically younger than the other regions, its sandy soils allow the region to make Nebbiolo that are much more approachable and does not require the decades of cellaring that Barolo and Barbaresco does. Today, we visited Matteo Correggia Winery, one of the top producers of the area.

In 1985, as a 23 year old, he took over his father’s land and made his first vintage in 1987. He had vision for producing great wine in this region, but fate took him in a tragic winery accident in 2001. His wife Ornella (pictured above in the middle), young son Giovanni and Sara Palma, amongst others in a tight family unit, have carried on Matteo’s tradition and vision and done great things at this 20 hectare estate.

Sara gave us an extensive tour followed by a tasting – we were impressed with their Arneis (a white grape that is fast gaining popularity with the wine world for its flowery florals and freshness), the Barbera d’Alba Marun (with vevelty tannins and a saline finish), the Nebbiolo Le Val dei Preti (translated as the Valley of the Priests) and the Nebbiolo Riserva Rocche d’Ampsej (from 25 year old vines), oh so smooth and sophisticated. The common thread was quality fruit, non-interventionist philosophy, very smooth palate for current or near-term drinking. While this estate is not yet represented in Alberta, we look forward to its arrival soon, and with anticipation. More pictures on next page..


April 2, 2013

A Visit at Bruno Rocca

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 4:29 pm

rocca_rabajaAuthor: Dirk Chan

Today, a short fifteen minute drive up and around the winding roads from Alba to Barbaresco, home of this great Nebbiolo based red, to visit Bruno Rocca whose Barbera’s and Barbaresco’s have adorned our shelves. There was a chill in the morning air, and while overcast, there was none of the famous fog, we had a beautiful view of the region. We met Bruno briefly (recovering from a ligament injury) as well as son Francesco, and then was led through the vineyards and the cellars by daughter Luisa, the PR mastermind who travels the world promoting this relatively young estate (1978).

We tasted through the entire range of their wines, and were impressed with the common house style of elegance and expression of terroir. The range includes only one white, a well balanced Chardonnay 2012, while others tasted include the 2012 Dolcetto, while both the 2010 Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti were impressive. However, without doubt, the estate is known for their Barbaresco’s, with the generic 2009 Barbaresco showing extremely well for a wine so young, while the 2009 Rabaja and Coparossa Barbaresco’s were supremely elegant and arresting. Finally, the 2008 Maria Adelaide (named after Bruno’s mother), the flagship selection made only in the very best years from hand-selected parcels deemed worthy for a special release by Bruno himself – it was bold, structured and obviously long-aging and indeed special. This family ran estate is clearly doing everything right in their aim for excellence, and runs a tight ship given the small overall production – and the wines clearly show the work done at the vineyards and their focus on true varietal and terroir expression.

Never appreciated how tiny Barbaresco is as a region is. A great run of vintages here with 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 all looking to be extremely fine. Pictured above is Luisa and Annabelle overlooking the famed Rabaja cru (only four producers share this name). Listed below are the current available Bruno Rocca wines currently available at the store.

2009 Bruno Rocca Barbera d’Asti – $32.99

2008 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco – $64.99

2008 Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja – $109.99


April 1, 2013

A Great Petit Chateau Bordeaux

Filed under: deVine's Daily Blog Article — Dirk @ 3:38 am

haut_nadeauAuthor: Dirk Chan

The 2010 Bordeaux vintage is another stellar one. Following the footsteps of the great 2000, 2005, and 2009’s, that’s four legendary vintages since the new millenium. As usual in a great vintage, the so called lesser wines or Petit Chateaux offer great value and we’ve received the first of these, a perennial deVine favourite, the Chateau Haut Nadeau – $22.99, a Bordeaux Superieur from Entre Deux Mers.

The 2005 and 2009 were favourites with our customers and the 2010 may be the best of this trio. 55% Merlot, the rest a mixture of CabSau and CabFranc. Lovely floral, raspberry and black currant nose, a stellar velvety mouthfeel from the Merlot, and a lingering dark cherry finish. You could lay this down short-term (2-3 years) or its also lovely now with an hour’s decant and a pairing with a roast leg of lamb. Gold medal winner at both the Concours de Bordeaux and Vins d’Aquitane fairs of 2011.

We’ve had quite a few huge Best Bang for the Buck wines lately, and the Haut Nadeau is another one to stock up by the case.


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