1178 Broadway -- Burlingame, California 94010
Telephone 650-343-0182



HOURS:
Monday 9-7 Tuesday-Saturday 9-7:30
Closed Sundays typically...
Open Sunday December 21  10-4






Inquire About A Wine--Gerald at Weimax.com


Please check our Home-Page for Shipping Info.


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Sporadic Emails

For Email Marketing you can trust

 

SUSSUDIO ???

FLORAL ALBARIÑO

SARDINIAN WHITE

NEW SONOMA RHONE-ISTE OF NOTE

REMARKABLE PINOT

LAKE COUNTY ZIN

STELLAR NEW ARTISAN RIOJA

OSTATU BLANCO

GREAT GRUNER VELTLITER $13.99

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

STONY RIESLING

BLAYE ME!
$14.99

NEW MADIRAN
$14.99

DRY MUSCAT
FROM AOSTA

I'M OKAY
YOUR RUCHE

"TEXTBOOK" CHARDONNAY

RIOJA BARGAIN

PRETTY PETTY SARAH

FORAGING FOR PINOT NOIR

MARSELAN...A HYBRID OF CABERNET & GRENACHE

CLASSIC MACON $13.99

CRISP MOUNTAIN WHITE

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

CASTELÃO BARGAIN

STELLAR BLAUFRÄNKISCH ESTATE

CAMPANIAN DELIGHTS

COLORFUL ZIN

23 TO BUY 25 REASONS

FIE, FY, FO, FUM

ROMORANTIN

DOURO DYNAMITE

PORTUGUESE RED BARGAIN

BARGAIN ZWEIGELT

GRAND SYRAH FROM AN UNUSUAL PLACE

SERIOUSLY FINE KIWI SAUVIGNON BLANC
$21.99

SPICY AGLIANICO

WHITE BURGUNDIES OF NOTE

MARSANNE BARGAIN

CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $10.99

2013 TAVEL ROSE

DRY NEW YORK RIESLING

PROSECCO FOR ADULTS

UNUSUAL ROSSO FROM THE COLLINE NOVARESI

BILLIONAIRE'S WINES UNDER $30!

BARGAIN WHITE BORDEAUX

PIERCINGLY GOOD
WHITE

TOP OF THE LINE
CREMANT

ANOTHER RULLY GOOD WHITE

UNIQUE BUBBLY DESSERT WINE

RESERVE QUALITY RIOJA

LA INA SHERRY

BARBERA OF NOTE

LETTUCE SHOW YOU A GOOD PINOT NOIR

NEW, ARTISAN PINOT NOIR

SUPER VERONESE SALE $12.99

PIEMONTE'S GRAND VIN BIANCO?

WHITE BURGUNDY OF NOTE

GAMAY FROM THE FRENCH ALPS

DELICIOUS, FRESH ROSÉS

GREAT GRUNER VELTLINER

GOOD ELEVEN-BUCK CHIANTI

FLOWERY, CURIOUS RED

OLD FAVORITE KIWI SAUVIGNON IS BACK

OLD PATCH RED
ZIN BLEND

MONCUIT'S GRAND CRU CHAMPAGNE

HONEYED MUSCAT

SPICY 
GEWÜRZTRAMINER

Napa Valley Grape Info
2002

2010

Amazing FRENCH CIDERS

FIZZY LAMBRUSCO

 

 

HOME PAGE

AMERICAN WINES

CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS

RHONE WANNABEES

ZINFANDELS

SAUVIGNON BLANCS

MERLOTS

OREGON WINES

CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS

CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

RIESLING & GEWURZ

WASHINGTON STATE

CANADIAN WINES

Adventuresome  Wines

ROSÉS !!

FRENCH WINES
ALSACE
BEAUJOLAIS
RED BORDEAUX
WHITE BORDEAUX
RED BURGUNDY
WHITE BURGUNDY
RHÔNE VALLEY
THE FRENCH ALPS
SOUTH OF FRANCE

LOIRE


CHAMPAGNE

 

ITALIAN WINES
PIEMONTE

VALLE D'AOSTA

NORTHERN ITALY

CENTRAL ITALIA

TUSCANY

SOUTHERN ITALIA


SPANISH WINES
Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights


PORTUGUESE WINES

SWISS WINES

GERMAN WINES

AUSTRIAN WINES

ARGENTINA

CHILE

AUSTRALIA

NEW ZEALAND

SOUTH AFRICA

OBSCURE WINES

DESSERT WINES

CHAMPAGNES

HALF-BOTTLES

SPIRITS

CIDERS

BEER
Even Real "Bud"!

OTHER STUFF

WINE TASTING

WHAT'S OPEN


UPCOMING TASTINGS

TASTING RESULTS
  
NEWSLETTER

SHIPPING INFO

ETC.

 

TASTING REPORTS

HOW TO ORGANIZE A BLIND-TASTING

BLIND TASTING ARCHIVE

MY 2013 EURO WINE ADVENTURE BOOK

CHATEAU MONTELENA
VERTICAL


ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2007

ALBA WINES EXHIBITION 2008

SCHRAMSBERG vs THE FAMOUS FRENCH

German Wine "Master Class" Tasting

S & M FOR WINETASTING GEEKS

TEAR-WAH
TASTING

2014 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2013 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2012 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2011 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2010 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2009 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION

2008 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
Periodically Amazing

2007 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The Nose Knows!

2006 SF INTERNATIONAL  WINE COMPETITION.
SPIT HAPPENS

2005 SF INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION.

2004 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING

The 2003 SF WINE COMPETITION

2002 SF WINE COMPETITION TASTING 

A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels

 

ETC.

RANTINGS & RAVINGS

WINE ROADS of EUROPE

Food/Wine/Friends
A Photo Gallery

MASTER OF WINE ESSAY TOPICS

Old Bottles: A TASTE OF HISTORY

Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession

NEW "CULT" WINERY

Some Restaurant Reviews

HOW TO SELL WINE.
Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.

HOW TO HOLD A TRADE TASTING

$100,000 WORTH OF WINE MARKETING ADVICE:  FREE!
Mainly for Foreign Vintners

MOLDY CORKS

Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!

OKANAGAN VALLEY WINE TOUR-2010

BRIAN'S 2005 SUMMER VACATION WITH UNCLE

Gerald's Tour de France 2006

GERALD'S TOUR DE FRANCE 2008

A TOUR OF PORTUGAL-2009

HOW TO SPEAK BETTER ITALIAN

PONZI'S 40th
ANNIVERSARY

ROOSEVELT'S 2005 CHILI COOK-OFF

ROOSEVELT'S 2007 CHILI COOK-OFF

Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday

ALESSIA DALL'U

CCIV

FAQs

BURLINGAME

Links

MORE PIEMONTESE WINES

 

 
FRATELLI PONTE
The Ponte winery is well below the radar of most Italian wine connoisseurs.  

They don't make fancy wines.  
They don't make wines with silly price tags.  
They're not on the beaten path, either.  

The winery was founded in 1950 and in 1965 they moved a few miles to their present location in a small town called Gorzano.  Good luck on finding this place!

I asked at a local gas station and the attendant did not know the road to Gorzano.  A fellow having coffee in a bar sent me in a totally wrong direction and when I stopped to ask a shop-keeper, they sent me in the general direction, but not quite "there".  I thought I might be on the wrong road, so I stopped (again) and asked, finally finding someone who knew precisely how to get to Gorzano (about 2 kilometers from where I'd been asking for help, since no road signs pointed me to this obscure place!).

There are three fratelli and these fellows are in their 30s and looking to make good wines at attractive prices.  
 
They currently have 15 hectares planted in Gorzano (this is close to Priocca and San Damiano d'Asti in case you know these towns...about 15 minutes' drive north of Alba and 30 minutes south and west of Asti).  They're going to be planting 8 more hectares, having literally moved a hill to accommodate more vineyards.

 

Massimo Ponte shows off their vineyards in Gorzano.
 

There's not much wood in this cellar...


Much of their production is sold in these rather large, uh, bottles.
As you might imagine, the idea of selling wine in 25-ounce glass bottles with a cork closure is a bit of a novelty for the Ponte brothers.
 
Winemaker Renato Ponte pours his delightful Barbera d'Asti.
The locals actually prefer the Ponte's fizzy and young "Barbera Piemonte" by a 15 to one margin!  Of course, price has something to do with this preference.
 
 
They make a wine known as "Barbera Levi" as the label is one designed by the late, famous grappa producer Romano Levi of the little town of Neive.  There's actually a book someone put together of Levi's label art...he sold his grappa (if he liked the look of you) and each bottle had an original label on it!  Talk about work!

The wine carries the appellation of "Barbera d'Asti Superiore."   It's matured for about 6 months in "botte" (those large casks depicted above) and then given a bit of bottle aging.  The wine is a medium-bodied red which lacks the oak of Barberas which receive 90-point scores in various journals and which cost $30-$80 a bottle.  It sells for a mere thirteen bucks and it's a great accompaniment to pizzas, sausages or a big plate of spaghetti & meatballs.

The 2012 Barbera is terrific.  
It sports zesty red fruits and has classic Barbera acidity, making it a delight with tomato-sauced seafood dishes (pasta or cioppino)...It's best served lightly cooled to cellar temp.
 
 

*****


Periodically, a customer will come in and say "I'm looking for a good Barolo to serve at dinner tonight which costs less than thirty dollars."  For about the past five years my reply has been "So am I."  
That's because the price of a bottle of a typical Barolo starts around fifty bucks and goes on up from there.

I am delighted to report, though, that the Ponte brothers bought some fruit in Barolo in the 2009 vintage and they made a very nice wine.  As they're a value-oriented estate, we're actually able to offer a good example of Barolo from a top vintage for forty dollars. It comes from a vineyard site in La Morra according to Massimo Ponte.  We first tasted this in 2013 and the wine was impressive...not austere, but with an early drinkability to it.  The wine, tasted blind, seemed like it could have been from some of the top, famous names in Barolo.  Now it's had a bit of time in bottle and is showing well...still young, but certainly worth decanting and splashing around an hour before dinner...
Bravo!

A 2006 Nebbiolo d'Alba is in stock and is also an excellent value...there's just a hint of that tarry note we love in older Barolo and Barbaresco wines...dry, moderately tannic...best with braised meats, stews, etc. or a really soulful tomato-sauced pasta...

 
Currently in stock:  FRATELLI PONTE 2012 BARBERA D'ASTI Superiore $12.99  
FRATELLI PONTE 2009 BAROLO  $39.99
2006 FRATELLI PONTE NEBBIOLO D'ALBA $16.99


Massimo, Dad and Renato...
Dad was the one working in the vineyard when we visited in May of 2010...

For years, most of the Ponte wines were sold in demijohns.


Damn, that's good!

 


Massimo holding two really good bottles of wine...an old Dunn Howell Mountain and a
bottle of his Barbera d'Asti.

 

 




CASCINA MORASSINO
We first became acquainted with the wines of this little Barbaresco producer back in the early 1990s.  The fruit, as I recall, used to be sold to a local grower's cooperative before Roberto Bianco started vinifying his own production.

A friend from Piemonte (who works in Tuscany these days) knows every square inch of the Barolo and Barbaresco region since he grew up there. He's an agronomist and does vineyard work.
I saw him in the Spring of 2006 on an Italian excursion.  We compared notes on various wines and I mentioned I'd visited the Bianco estate the previous summer.  "Oh, Robert Bianco has some outstanding vineyards.  Some of the best in Barbaresco, in fact!" he told me.

Tasting the wines back in the early days, it was apparent to me that Bianco didn't quite have a handle on managing the tannins in his Barbaresco wines.  We really enjoyed wine from some so-called "lesser" vintages, finding the wines to be tannic, but balanced.  Our impression of the supposedly "better" vintages was that Bianco's wines were hugely tannic.  In fact, we remember finding one vintage which really was an assault on the palate!  

With time, one can learn how to craft a Nebbiolo-based wine so that it may actually be drinkable sometime during one's lifetime.  This seems to be the case with the Cascina Morassino wines.  Happily.



New in stock is a good example of Nebbiolo, a wine from vineyards within the Barbaresco zone.  This is designated as "Nebbiolo Langhe."  The 2005 vintage is currently available, having passed muster from the three tough cookies here.   The wine has some of the dusty tannins of Barolo or Barbaresco, but it's not off-the-charts-astringent.  In fact, with food, this is very drinkable.  Give it an hour or two in a decanter to open up and it blossoms into a wine far more deep than one expects of Nebbiolo in this price category.  
 


The 2003 Barbaresco "normale" is excellent and it is a fine bottle now and it'll be even more complex with bottle aging.  Roberto told us he thinks the much-maligned 2002 vintage is "better balanced than the 2003," but the 2003 is the more intense and complex wine.  Remember, 2003 was a hot summer in Europe, so it was a challenge for many winemakers.  Obviously, this fellow was up to the challenge, because his 2003 is very fine and "fine" is not a word many vintners associate with hot vintages.  


Their 2006 Dolcetto d'Alba is a lovely, balanced example with an emphasis on the berry-like fruit.  It is not a tannic, harsh wine, so we usually serve it lightly cooled to cellar temp.  It pairs with a wide variety of foods, from simple pastas to roasted chicken, sausages, etc.

 
Currently in stock:  2005 Nebbiolo Langhe Sold Out
2003 BARBARESCO  (list $45)  SALE $39.99




 

 

 

 

CASTELLO DI VERDUNO

There's a curious little Piemontese grape variety that's particular to the Barolo region village of Verduno.  It's called Pelaverga and we've long been a fan of this curious grape variety.

There are two clones of Pelaverga....one originates in Saluzzo, a bit off-the-radar for wine.  Then we have Pelaverga Piccolo from Verduno, an obscure wine found mainly in this little town.  There are said to be small plantings in La Morra and Roddi.

The Castello di Verduno is one of the major sources of this minor wine.  Some will tell you the wine of Pelaverga is an aphrodisiac.  It does have a certain amount of charm.  You'll get a sense of the character of this wine if you think about a good cru Beaujolais enhanced with a touch of spice and pepper.  

 

Old Bottles in the Cellar of Castello di Verduno

Some friends made a batch of this one vintage...very nice and spicy, reminding me of a fruity/spicy wine I'd had from Friuli...Schioppettino.  We brown-bagged my friend's wine from Piemonte and the bottle I'd brought from Friuli and they tasted nearly the same!
 
Visit Verduno and you MUST order a bottle of Pelaverga.  It's typically served cooled to cellar temperature.  Pair it with a plate of tajarin (Piemontese tagliatelle) and you'll be delighted.  It also pairs handsomely with seafood, so grilled salmon with a grind of pepper is a perfect partner to a cool bottle of Pelaverga.

The wine from Castello di Verduno (they have agriturismo rooms for rent if you reserve ahead of time and a small ristorante if you'd like to enjoy a bottle of Pelaverga right at the source) is a gem.  It's fresh, fruity, berryish and mildly spicy.  Their special name for their Pelaverga is "Basadone" which is sort of Piemontese-speak for "kiss a woman."  Maybe there's some truth to the aphrodisiac assertion!

Barbaresco from this estate is one of those wines that those who "know" Piemontese wines will know, while the average bear is more aware of Barbaresco from producers whose wineries are actually situated in the area of Barbaresco.  ((If your winery has a 'history' of producing Barolo or Barbaresco outside those zones, you may continue to produce those wines on "foreign" turf.  Otherwise, you have to have an actual winery or rent space in a winery located within that zone.))

The Castello di Verduno has slightly more than one hectare of vineyards within the famed "Rabajà" cru of Barbaresco.  The soil is a mix of sand, clay and limestone in such a proportion as to produce an elegant wine with great finesse and complexity.  We've had a few vintages of this Barbaresco and it's one we regard as being of "grand cru" status.  

The 2006 is currently in stock and it's magnificent and youthful.  If you are a patient soul, do consider putting a few bottles in the wine rack or cooler for enjoyment down the road...it will handsomely repay dividends!

 

 

Currently in stock:  2012 CASTELLO DI VERDUNO PELAVERGA  $23.99
2006 CASTELLO DI VERDUNO BARBARESCO "Rabaja"  List $60 SALE $53.99

 

 
 
MASSOLINO  (Vigna Rionda)
 
Just to keep us on our toes, this estate goes by either the family name, Massolino or the name of a vineyard site, Vigna Rionda.

In  addition, you'll see the Vigna Rionda name, in one form or another, on bottlings from other competing vintners.

In fact, the Massolino family has been cultivating vines in the Serralunga Valley since the late 1890s.  At one time they rented vineyards to other winemakers...years ago both Michele Chiarlo and Cappellano made wine from Massolino vines.

Today, however, they cultivate and make their own, offering a terrific range of wines.
 
 

 
 

The Serralunga valley tends to produce well-structured Barolo wines and most of the Massolino vineyards are in this little area. 
In the distance is the town of Monforte d'Alba...

The cellar has cooperage of various dimensions.
 
 
 
They currently have about 18 hectares and produce a nice range of wines.  Dolcetto is deliciously fruity as is a basic, entry-level bottling of Barbera d'Alba.  They dabble in Chardonnay...and actually make a good wine (much to my surprise).

But Serralunga is a land of Nebbiolo and Barolo is the pride of the winery.

In addition to their normale  bottling of Barolo, several single vineyard wines are made.

We currently have their 2001 "Parafada" Barolo.  This comes from vines planted, I believe, in the 1960s.  It's fermented at an elevated temperature with a fairly brief skin contact.  After fermentation it's racked into small barrels and seems to be a more modern interpretation of Barolo compared to their other bottlings.    The 2001 is lovely now and it's capable of cellaring another decade or two.   You'll find it to be more complex with cellaring than it is today as a young wine.

The 2004s are recent arrivals.  The Parafada seemed slightly more accessible but still young and with good potential.  It is aged in a combination of different types of cooperage, including French oak, but the wine doesn't, to me, show evidence of oak.  It's a good bottle of wine and one which should start to blossom over the next 5-12 years.

Perhaps a tad backwards at this stage is the Margheria bottling.  This Barolo displays nice cherry fruit notes and it's got a bit more "grip" on the palate...tannic, but balanced for cellaring.  It's a really fine expression of Barolo from the Serralunga valley.  

We usually view Massolino as a house of Nebbiolo.

But we included a bottle of their 2011 Barbera d'Alba (the entry level bottling) in a blind-tasting of Piemontese Barberas.  The wine was stellar, especially if you like the non-oaked style of this wine. The 2012 just arrived, by the way.  It's been fashionable to age Barbera in lots of new French oak...this bottling doesn't have wood.  It's pure, delicious, berryish Barbera.  Not a wine for cellaring, this is best served cool with all sorts of pastas, seafood or red meats.
 

Currently in stock:  2001 MASSOLINO BAROLO "Parafada"  SALE $69.99
2004 MASSOLINO BAROLO "Parafada"  $89.99
2004 MASSOLINO BAROLO "Margheria"  $89.99
2004 MASSOLINO BAROLO "Normale"  (List $75) SALE $49.99
2012 MASSOLINO BARBERA d'ALBA  Back in stock  $24.99


 

 

wpe18.jpg (4150 bytes) RIVETTI  (LA SPINETTA)
Located a tad north of Barbaresco towards Asti is the "modest" facility of the Rivetti family.   When we first became acquainted with Giorgio Rivetti, he was regarded as an up-and-coming producer of fizzy Moscato d'Asti wines.  Ask anyone in the Langhe who's making top Moscato wines and they'd always have Rivetti on their short list of producers.   

Move on to the 1990s and then things changed.  Oh, Rivetti still makes some of Piemonte's best fizzy Moscato wines (Biancospino, Bricco Quaglia, Bric Lapasot, San Rumu and Muscatel Vej).  If you see them while traveling around Italy, don't hesitate to order these after dinner as they are really "fun" wines.

But I suppose "fun" was enough for Giorgio.  All his pals were getting a great deal of attention and adulation for their more profound wines:  red wines of Barbera and Nebbiolo.    So he's vying with his buddies and, frankly, having the better of it!  Now he's suddenly (well, it only seems like suddenly) become a "superstar" in the realm of red wines. 

wpe3C.jpg (7348 bytes)Photo: Giorgio Rivetti.

I need to become reacquainted with the current line-up.  In tasting the 2004 Barbaresco wines in 2007, I was a bit disappointed, finding vegetal and herbal notes.  In comparing my notes with various journalists, I can say our perspectives must be quite different! In tasting Rivetti's 2005s, I found a similar herbal element.  
Several months later, I tasted the wines again and this time they were very good and I did not find the herbal notes I'd encountered earlier.  Perhaps this is simply a normal cycle in the maturation or development of Rivetti's wines?


Currently in stock:   RIVETTI 1998 Barbaresco "Vigneto Gallina" $99.99

 

BRUNO GIACOSA
wpe2D.jpg (3253 bytes)One of the first wines of Italy which really struck me as being something truly extraordinary was a 1967 Barolo from Signor Giacosa.  I recall tasting it at some big trade event and being stunned to find something of such amazing depth and complexity.  Most everything else that evening was as though it was in "black and white," while Giacosa's was in full, living color!


Over the years I've stopped in the winery a number of times.  The main office is more of a shipping facility, while the real winery is a block away.  

wpe2D.jpg (11729 bytes)Bruno Giacosa is a very quiet fellow.  I don't know if he ever cracks a smile.   He is sometimes described as preferring to allow his wines to speak for him (and themselves).  I suspect he is somewhat curious to see how people react when they taste his wines, though at the same time, I'd bet to a certain degree he doesn't really care. 





wpe3B.jpg (9537 bytes)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photos:  (Above) the Master.


(Right) 1982 Vintage Giacosas...a Barolo and Barbaresco, both "normale" bottlings.  Tasted in January of 2001, the Barbaresco was actually the more vibrant wine. 


He has vineyards which he owns and long-standing agreements with growers from whom he's been buying fruit for many years.   There are two "labels," though most people can't tell the difference.   One label features their "estate grown" wines and is offered as "Azienda Agricola FALLETTO"– di Bruno Giacosa.  

The other label comes from purchased fruit and is labeled "Casa Vinicola BRUNO GIACOSA."  Qualitatively you'll find some grand and compelling wines, whether they grow the grapes themselves or buy fruit.  

The winemaking here in traditional.  I'd be shocked were I to find small French oak barrels here.  Giacosa, though, does use French oak, but you'd be hard-pressed to identify one of his wines as having wood since the cooperage is used to develop and mature the wines, rather than to add aromatics or flavor.


Arneis from Giacosa is almost always good.   I used to think it was usually the very best example of this white wine but now other estates give the old boy a run for the money.  There are some who claim Bruno Giacosa was the first to vinify Arneis, while others assert it was Alfredo Currado of Vietti who made the first.  Both are good!  We have the 2007 from Giacosa presently and it's a delightful aperitif wine.   There's a touch of fruit and a slight minerality to the wine which works so well with seafood starters at the dinner table.

Dolcetto and Barbera are also produced here.   We tasted a dynamite 2006 Barbera made from purchased fruit.  What a wine!  It's a traditionally-styled Barbera, so if you're more a fan of the heavily-wooded Barberas from Vietti or Coppo, this won't float your boat.  If you appreciate a wine displaying the classic black fruit of Barbera, you will find this to be exceptional.

The 2007 Nebbiolo is a lovely, youthful wine...not that it's made to age.  But this is a nice rendition that's quite drinkable now.  You won't mistake this for a mature bottle of Giacosa Barolo and you shouldn't--it's meant to drink with less complicated foods.  Best now-2013, or so...

Barolo and Barbaresco can reach great heights in this cellar.  Prices for the more scarce bottles are dizzying, too.  

Giacosa had health issues and missed vinifying the 2006 vintage.   There had been some problems in the cellar and the long-time staff members departed for one reason or another.  
When Giacosa was able to regain his health, he tasted the Barolo and Barbaresco wines and was quite dismayed to find they did not measure up.
Though most winemakers in the Langhe speak highly of the vintage, Giacosa made headlines when he decided that he wouldn't be bottling and selling 2006 "heavy hitter" wines.  

A new winemaker had come on board, Giorgio Lavagna.  He spent 20 years, give or take, working at the Batasiolo facility near La Morra.  



Signor Lavagna pours a flute of Giacosa's famed Brut Spumante.


Bruna Giacosa.

Some observers have wondered how the wines will be, given the change in cellar managers.  Batasiolo, for example, produces credible wines, but few tasters would put them in the same league as Giacosa.

The 2005s we tasted in 2009 were quite good.  And the prices at which they are offered here in the US market lend credence to the notion of Barolo being "the king of wines and the wine of kings."  One must have deep pockets to successfully "ransom" a bottle from the importer.

They have a cellar full of bottle-fermented spumante.

 

So...the story continues.  It seems winemaker Dante Scaglione has returned to Giacosa after a three year absence.  He left under undisclosed circumstances and returned after they all kissed and made up (May 2011).  
Stay tuned...

Currently in stock:
Bruno Giacosa 2007 Roero Arneis  Sold Out
Bruno Giacosa 2006 Barbera d'Alba $37.99
Bruno Giacosa 2007 Nebbiolo   $39.99
Bruno Giacosa 2001 Barolo "Falletto"  Sale $199.99
Bruno Giacosa 2005 Barolo "Rocche"  Sale $189.99
Bruno Giacosa 1998 Barbaresco "Santo Stefano" SALE $269.99
1999 Barolo "normale"  SALE $129.99





 

CERETTO
The Ceretto brothers are major wine "barons" in the Langhe region.  They make the full range of wines, producing everything from bubbly to Arneis, Chardonnay and Riesling in whites to traditional reds such as Dolcetto, Barbaresco and Barolo, as well as Cabernet and Pinot Nero and Syrah. 

With several facilities in the region, the main headquarters is an encampment atop a hill just south of Alba.  Though they're world famous, there is but a small sign with the family name out on the main road.  Blink and you'll miss the long driveway.

Over the years, the Ceretto brothers have purchased many hectares of vineyards.   They started by merely purchasing fruit.  Driven to improve quality, they bought the vineyards to have more control.  This has proved to be a wise investment.   The azienda now comprises some 80 hectares. 

This firm was amongst the first to realize some sort of refinement was needed to change the traditional winemaking.  They sought to make less harsh, bitter and exceptionally tannic wines. Give them credit for being willing to take a look at how the wines had been made, typically, and for pushing to re-think the classic vinification and maturation of Langhe wines.

They had been amongst the first to ask exceptionally high prices for their "art." 

We have not been huge fans of their wines, but in tasting a number of them recently, we've had to alter our opinion on some counts.


The Ceretto family downplays the size of their enterprise, explaining that it's not really one big winery, but several smaller operations.  It's not surprising, as well, that consumers are easily confused.

There is a fairly large production facility, called Monsordo-Bernardina, in Alba where they make most of their wines.  This is where they make their famous Blange Arneis (the Santa Margherita of Arneis wines and we intend that as a bit of a snarky characterization of this popular Piemontese white), as well as their basic Barbaresco and Barolo wines.

The basic Barbaresco and Barolo each have a name one might assume is that of a single vineyard or "cru."  

The Barbaresco is labeled as "Barbaresco Asij" with "Asij" being the Piemontese spelling for the famous cru of Asili.  In fact, though, the wine does not come from the Asili vineyard, though they may take lesser lots from their single vineyard wines and add them to this.
Their entry level Barolo is dubbed "Zonchera" which amused other producers who know "Zonchetta" as a vineyard site in La Morra.  
In any event, these wines are labeled as coming from the Azienda Vitivinicole of Ceretto meaning the wines can be made of purchased wine and/or purchased fruit.

Somewhat more confusing are the wines coming from two "estate bottled" facilities which bear the designation of "Azienda Agricola Ceretto" (meaning only grapes from their own vines can be used for these wines).
What is confusing to some is the use of famous vineyard sites as the name or brand for these Ceretto wines.

From Barbaresco they use the label "Bricco Asili" as the brand name for two different single vineyard wines.  Hence, there's a Barbaresco from the actual cru of Bricco Asili which carries the name Bricco Asili Bricco Asili.  And there's another single vineyard wine called Bricco Asili but from the Bernardot cru.   Is that clear?
 


From Barolo, they're making a number of single vineyard wines.  These appear under the brand name of Bricco Rocche.  There are two "Rocche" sites, one in La Morra and the other in Castiglione Falletto.  In this instance, they're in Castiglione Falletto (and a neighbor claimed the vineyard isn't precisely "Rocche" but a site called Serra).


So there's a Bricco Rocche bottling of Bricco Rocche (is there an echo in here?), along with Bricco Rocche bottlings of Brunate, Prapo and, soon, Cannubi.  One might argue that in Burgundy, the Domaine de la Romanee Conti produces not only Romanee-Conti, but a number of other grand cru, single vineyard wines.  I'm certain the Ceretto family appreciates having their name in the same sentence as Romanee-Conti!
The point is, as with so many facets of wine appreciation, there's often plenty of confusion and Ceretto has made its contribution to the cause.

They claim to produce 20% of all the Arneis made in the Langhe region, an impressive number if it's true.  Dubbed "Blange", some vintages might be better labeled "Bland."   The name Blange, however, may come from the French word for "baker" or "bakery," boulange or boulangerie.  ((Please keep in mind that the Piemontese dialect sounds very French!!))
Anyway, the Ceretto family liked the name and so they've retained it for their popular, simple white wine.


Currently in stock: 
2001 BARBARESCO "Bricco Asili" Bernardot  Sold Out
Other wines by special order...


 



GIANNI VOERZIO

I suppose Gianni is not quite as prestigious as his brother Roberto, since his wines are actually somewhat sensibly priced!

I've often found this winery to have some good wines.  The current line-up is very nice.

The local importer found a few cases of the exceptional 2001 in the warehouse and we're able to offer this wine for a remarkable price.  I tasted this wine in the Spring of 2009 and it's still young and a bit backwards.  
 
Currently in stock:  2001 BAROLO "La Serra"  (List $135)  SALE $74.99




 



ROBERTO VOERZIO
There is no denying the quality of Roberto Voerzio's wines.  It is too bad the minuscule supply and demand have caused prices to escalate to "cult status" levels.

I can't imagine people paying the stratospheric prices (hundreds of dollars for magnums)...though we popped for a bottle of his 2004 Brunate this past year.  We put it on the dinner table alongside a bottle of E. Pira Barolo from the Cannubi cru and, frankly, could not find justification for the remarkable price of Voerzio's wine.   Sure, this guy's wine is good, but my guests might have preferred if I taped a $50 bill under their chair and surprised them with that.
 

We periodically purchase a bottle of this or that from their local distributor and are delighted to report the 2010 Nebbiolo Langhe is exceptional!


The wine comes from two vineyard parcels, one is San Francesco and the other is Fontanazza, both from Voerzio's backyard in La Morra.    The wine spends about a year in wood (30% new barriques and puncheons).  
The 2010 vintage is particularly good...problem-free, so a wine such as this is better than it normally is.

We like the mildly earthy, dark berry notes of the Nebbiolo fruit.  It's an elegant Nebbiolo, at that, with the wood being in the background to add just the right spice tone to the wine.  You'll find it dry and but mildly tannic, not as austere as an equally young Barolo or Barbaresco.

And, as we've noted earlier...Voerzio wines tend to be priced stratospherically.  But this bottle is actually within the realm of reason, so it's been fairly popular with those Weimax customers who've tried it.

John says he's broken from his normal philosophy of buying just a single bottle of each wine (so he can drink a more diverse range), "...but I'm going to have to make an exception here and pick up 3 of these."
 
 
Currently in stock:  ROBERTO VOERZIO 2010 Nebbiolo Langhe  SALE $31.99


SAN MATTEO

We were passing through Piemonte and stopped at a friend's restaurant for lunch on our way east.

She put a bottle of white wine on the table and said "Here, taste this."

We did.

We ordered a nice lunch, beginning with some Piemontese appetizers such as Vitello Tonnato and Carne Cruda.  Then we ordered some pastas:  Tajarin and Agnolotti del Plin.  

Flavia returned to the table as we were mid-way through the pastas and she picked up the bottle of Gavi:  EMPTY!

Well, we had to drink the entire bottle:  It was that good!

A few days later we sought out the producer:  Massimo Diotti runs this young winery.  The place was founded in 1999 and he's making a really nice Gavi.

The grape for Gavi is the Cortese, known to the locals as Courteis (sounds French).  No oak, so the wine retains the fresh notes of apple and pear.  There's a mild minerality to the wine, as well.  It's at home with seafood, as you'd expect and, as we found, it stood up nicely to the Vitello Tonnato and Carne Cruda.


Piemontese Antipasti with a Stellar bottle of San Matteo Gavi!


Massimo Diotti, who's making very fine Gavi!

We left a message for a Bay Area importer who has a handful of Italian wines in their portfolio and whom we knew was looking for a few more.  We suggested they look up Signor Diotti and his wine to see for themselves.  And, they too, found the wine to be not only very good, but well-priced.

And the first shipment recently arrived in the Bay Area...and we re-tasted it to see.  Quite good.

You might give this a try instead of falling back on the same old, same old Pinot Grigio.  The flavors are a bit different here, but likely to be appealing.

Currently in stock:  2011 SAN MATTEO GAVI  $15.99

 

 

 


ADRIANO (Marco e Vittorio)

We've known this winery for a number of years and visited the cellar in 2008 if memory serves...

They make some good wines from vineyards they own about a 15 minute drive south from Barbaresco or southeast from the "big city" of Alba.

San Rocco Seno D'Elvio, a town few people know, is where the Adrianos are located.
It's such an out-of-the-way place even they bring a sack of grissini with them (to Alba or Barbaresco) and leave a trail of crumbs so they can find their way back home later.
 
Grandpa Giussepe Adriano started the farm in the early 1900s and his son Aldo continued in the old man's foot-steps.  Today his 'kids' run the place, cultivating grapes, hazelnuts and maybe foraging for truffles in the season.  

Like so many small, artisan vintners, finding a few independent American importers has proven tricky. 
 
Adriano has been asking us for some help in tracking down a good, reliable importer so they might have a small presence in California.  I gave them a few tips and finally one decided to pull the trigger and buy some wine.

Happily for us, the importer has old-fashioned, honest margins and the Adriano wines can be had some a most attractive price.

We tasted their 2013 Dolcetto d'Alba and this, if you like crisp, dry red wine, is a delight.  It comes from mature vines and undergoes a fairly standard fermentation.  They moderate the amount of skin contact, though, to avoid making an overly bitter, astringent red.  We, frankly, prefer Dolcetto that's immediately drinkable, as we enjoy the fresh fruity notes and berry fragrances and flavors without making a coarse or bitter wine.
Still, I'm sure this 2013 may be too austere for some palates.  If you're a fan of Zinfandels from Lodi or Paso Robles (wines which lack acidity), this will be like fingernails on a chalkboard.  
On the other hand, if you like snappy Sangiovese from Tuscany or uncomplicated Barbera, this is worth a try.
Pair it (lightly chilled) with chicken, roasted turkey, pork chops or a pork roast, tomato-sauced pastas, pizza, sausages, etc.  It's a great little picnic red, too.

And...the price is most attractive.
 

Currently in stock:  2013 ADRIANO DOLCETTO D'ALBA  $12.99 

 


Vittorio Adriano

 

 




MORE PIEMONTESE SELECTIONS

 

 

 

winepour.gif (12696 bytes)Wine Tasting Today

TO INQUIRE ABOUT A WINE:  
Copyright © 1999 WEIMAX December 15,  2014