Tuesday, April 22, 2014


It's been a gaping hole in our French book, and we've found the answer finally. Lucien Beau, growers in Lignorelles, are producing just five cuvées including premier Cru Fourchaum and Grand Cru Vaudésir, a gorgeous old vines Chablis along with Petite Chablis and village Chablis. The young generation is in charge and watch out - pure mineral expressions using Barrique but nothing newer than 4 years. Impressive. Watch this space for updates. We'll get these wines moving soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Siena: the Duomo

An iconic image, taken from near the top of the Campanile in Siena's Piazza del Campo. Another reason to visit La Palazzetta: Siena is just an hour or so away!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nardello: 2013 Vintage

One of the reasons to subject oneself to VinItaly is to understand the most recent vintages and releases (given the infinite tasting opportunities, with literally thousands of producers there). Throughout Italy, white wines from 2013 were stunning, simply stunning. This photo of Daniele Nardello shows him vividly demonstrating the potential for development of his various 2013 white wines from Soave. As a self-described "bianchista," he should know.

Dinner at Ristorante Ciccarelli

Ristorante Ciccarelli: a marvelous restaurant in Verona for traditional courses like tagliatelle asciutte ai tre sughi (tagliatelle with three sauces), bollito misto, etc. VinItaly is a great excuse to get out with friends and live it up a little - in this case, with Marc Mackondy, Fabio Oberto (who's 2010 Baroli received some of the top accolades for the vintage by James Suckling. We'll be rolling them out in the early fall), Massimo Alois with his wife Talita and patriarch Don Michele Alois, and Marco and Alessandro Moroder, along with Alessia.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Traveling with Wil

When I learned that my son Wil's spring break preceded Vinitaly by a week, it was obvious I had to bring him to Italy. He's been asking me all his life to travel overseas. It was time.

After two lovely days in Roma, we rented a car and drove to Castelnuovo dell'Abate to pay a visit to the Fantis. Before I get into that, I must mention that Massimo Alois arrived in Rome for dinner with us at our usual restaurant, "Vito's." He brought with him a tank sample of his 2013 "Caiatì." It was, without a doubt, the finest Caiatì they've yet made. Fantastic acid supported mineral-laden, deliciously elegant palgrello bianco. The finish lasted well over a minute.

Back to the Fantis: the pleasure of seeing these old friends was as great as the pleasure of tasting the astonishing 2012 Rosso di Montalcino, the first shipment of which left on Monday for Minneapolis (the 2011 sold out at the winery painfully quickly). The vintage is not for the faint of heart - beautifully structured wines with a bit more color than usually found in Flavio's rossi. This is obviously a very special vintage. (Wil agreed.)

Tea gave us a tour of the winery's new frantoio...where fruit from the azienda's 3000 olive trees is turned into oil. It is quite an investment for the family, and quite unusual to find a private frantoio at a winery as small as La Palazzeta, in my experience. The oil from the 2013 harvest (not completed, as the frost beat them to a great deal of fruit in December) is fragrant, spicy, very special. We'll bring some with our next shipment.

Great new packaging on all the wines. More importantly, overall quality continues to soar as the younger generation (Luca and Tea) begins to move into greater responsibility at La Palazzetta. Very exciting things ahead.