Archive for the Italian Wine Category

Brunello keeps getting better!

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on March 25, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob


2004 produced some incredible wines and now the 2004 Riservas are arriving in the market.  I can hardly wait!  When I tasted these wines from barrel just before bottling while in Montalcino, I just knew they were destined to be nothing short of fantastic.  And, they have put on considerable weight while in bottle and are tasting even better.  I have a select few of my personal favorites and one of them is from Ciacci Piccolomini.

  The history of the winery begins in Castelnuovo dell’ Abate, a small mediaeval village 8 miles from the town square of Montalcino. In 1672 Fabivs de’ Vecchis Bishop and Abbott of S. Antimo Abbey made the Palazzo his official residence.   Later, the Palazzo and surrounding property were purchased by the Ciacci Family. In the XIX Century Elda Ciacci married Count Alberto Piccolomini d’ Aragona, a direct descendent of Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) and the history of the noble family began.

   The Riserva from Ciacci is the Santa Caterina d’Oro, a single vineyard that is truly profound in 2004.  Those of you who were lucky enough to try the 2001, which was utterly astounding, will be even more impressed with this current release. 


A small amount has been allocated to WPW and, as always, we have the best price online.  So do not delay, order now!

 2004 Ciacci Piccolomini d Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Santa Caterina d’Oro- $108.00btl or $540.00 per six pack (only six are available)

If you remember last year when Montalcino was at the center of controversy surronding the authenticity of wines produced as Brunello, you know that the wine must be 100% Sangiovese Grosso.  A few wineries were under investigation for adding other varietals to their wines and shippments were held up in customs.  Some producers took a stand and wanted to assure eveyone that they were in compliance with the laws and their wines were what they say they were and also not counterfeit.  Ciacci did just that by using the new CertiLogo system.  This system allows you to check the wines authenticity, quality and product origin by either the CertiLogo website or by calling them directly which in both cases you type in a code found on each bottle and instantly receive valuable information on the wine you purchased.  Check out this video of Paolo Bianchini, owner of Ciacci Piccolomini, describing the CertiLogo system.  Beware, you should brush up on your Italian first, LOL! directly and atch?v=OD9a0_Ii4sc&feature=player_embedded

Mark Lasky

Italian Wine  Specialist


“Benvenuto Brunello”

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on February 24, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

Welcome Brunello!  The new vintage of 2005 is reviewed and also the 2004 Riserva’s are released. 

Montalcino, February 2010 – excitement is growing among the operators of the sector for the Brunello di Montalcino 2005. “It was a wonderful harvest – explains the President of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino Patrizio Cencionidespite the fact that the quantities of grapes picked and made into wine were 15% less than in 2004”.  A lot less wine was made but a much better quality was produced.  These stunning and very approachable wines are now being offered at much more affordable prices in comparison to last years releases.  “In this time of great commitment – concludes Cencioniwe are noting with satisfaction an excellent 2005 vintage, which will enable us to maintain our strength on the markets and to continue proposing Montalcino in the international panorama as an “absolute classic” of Tuscan and Italian enology”.   

Brunello 2005, that was assigned a 4 star, out of 5, rating, receives its official début on the 19th and 20th February in Montalcino at the “Benvenuto Brunello”, the event of the presentation to the press and operators. 

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino was founded in 1967 after the recognition of the D.O.C., as a free association of producers with the intention of safeguarding a wine whose prestige was asserting itself more and more. It has during the years embodied an instrument of scrupulous and responsible self-discipline, bringing together old and new, small and large estates, in such a way that the wise consolidated customs became a common strategy for qualitative success. The Consorzio safeguards and promotes all four Montalcino denomination wines: Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Moscadello di Montalcino and Sant’Antimo Doc; the remaining part is planted with IGT. 

There are 250 producers (of which 200 are bottlers), all of whom are members of the Consorzio. In all there are 3500 hectares of vineyards in Montalcino divided as follows: 2100 hectares are planted with Brunello di Montalcino; 510 hectares are planted with Rosso di Montalcino; 50 hectares are planted with Moscadello di Montalcino; 600 hectares are planted with Sant’Antimo Doc; the remaining part is planted with Igt. 

On average every year 6,500,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino are produced. 4,000,000 of Rosso di Montalcino, 80,000 of Moscadello di Montalcino and 500,000 of Sant’Antimo. 

Having been lucky enough to try these wonderful wines in barrel while visiting Montalcino, it was great to try these again today from the bottle.  It was like being these all over again.  The wines are beautiful and graceful.  I can’t say enough about them, just read my notes: 

The Abbey at Sant’Antimo


2005 Castello di Romitorio- $59.95btl or $598.00cs- Very focused, big bright cherry fruit.  Soft but masculine with a long finish. 

2004 Castello di Rmitorio Riserva- $139.95btl or $1396.00cs Pure and vibrant fruit; blackberries and currents, asian spices and black tea.  This should merit a very high score, the best ever produced at this estate. 

2005 Canalicchio di Sopra$64.95btl or $649.00cs– Very classic, smooth and rustic.  This is what it’s all about for me, soft black raspberries and cinnamon with a beautiful finish. Traditional Brunello!  Great to drink now! 

2004 Canalicchio di Sopra Riserva$125.00btl or $1200.00cs–  Huge blue fruits and anise, wild flowers and black tea spices.  A superb Riserva, one to put down for 10yrs +, very exotic and racy. 

2005 Valdicava– $110.00btl or $1080.00cs  Not for the faint of heart.  Deep black fruits and violets, asian spices and earthy too.  No one does it better in Montalcino than Valdicava.  A true classic in the making! 

2004 Valdicava Madonna del Piano Riserva$219.95 or $2200.00csSEX in a bottle.  I can’t even describe the multiple layers of fruits and flowers that jump out of the glass.  Full and lush, velvety but yet strong.  This will be the wine of the vintage, 97, 98 or possibly another 100pt score?  Very hedonistic and brooding Brunello dying to be put away in a cellar and forgotten about for 20yrs or more.  This is a collectors dream wine! 

Mark Lasky 

Italian Wine Specialist 

West Palm Wines 




A Steal in Piedmont!

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on February 17, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

Castello di Neive and proprietor Italo Stupino own the Santo Stefano vineyard in Neive, without question one of the most storied sites in all of Piedmont. It was Bruno Giacosa, with his legendary Barbarescos of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, who first brought the world’s attention to these vines. Even today, when he is more focused on making wines from estate-grown fruit, Giacosa speaks of Santo Stefano with reverence and awe, and lists it as the top vineyard in Barbaresco. The word is still not out on Castello di Neive. In the US the distribution of these wines has been uneven, and they can be hard to find.  We here at WPW are lucky enough to offer a vertical of these great wines.  They are considered a steal in comparison to other vintners that source grapes from the very same vineyards.


1997 Castello di Neive Barbaresco La Rocca di Santo Stefano– $65.00btl or $660.00cs

Very rich plum skin and blackberry aromas. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a medium finish.

1996 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano– $63.00btl or $655.00cs

 Crisply focused and elegant, a refined wine with generous licorice-scented berry and tar aromas and flavors, firm and peppery on the finish.

1997 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano–  $55.00btl or $564.00cs

Fresh rose aromas, with plum and citrus fruit, follow through to a medium body, with fine tannins and a fresh finish.

2005 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano– $68.00btl or $670.00cs

Pretty aromas of dried rose petals and light plums. Light-to-medium body, with light tannins and a fresh finish.

1999 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva– $95.00btl or $1044.00cs

Strawberry, cedar and light floral character. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a long finish. Lovely refined wine.

2003 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive Riserva- $70.00btl or $675.00cs

A delicate, subtle Barbaresco. Aromas of strawberry tea, with hints of honey. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins, crisp acidity and a light finish.

Mark Lasky / Italian Wine Specialist

WPW / 813.241.8587

Wine Gone Country?!

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on February 12, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

  No, I’m not talking about wine made “in the country” from watermelons by southern folk. I’m still talking Italy here. It’s more like a story about wine country that is found “at the center of the world.”

  It is a good “country” story. It all began, as in any country story, with a nickname. Braida was the name earned by Giuseppe Bologna in the fields where he played “stretch ball,” a local Piedmontese sport, every Sunday. Soon, these fields of play would become his vineyards and the family livelihood.

  Giacomo Bologna inherited these vineyards and the nickname from his father, and above all an unconditional love for his land and for his wine. A love that he passed on first to his wife Anna and later to his children, but also to all those whom he met on his life’s path. Today the company is an expanded and faithful image of the philosophy held by Giacomo and Anna – their way of understanding life, the earth, wine and friendship. It is Anna, taking the baton from Giacomo, who is forging ahead with the plans he dreamed and sketched out. For years now, she and their children, Raffaella and Beppe, have shared in brave initiatives and important investments both in the cantina and the vineyard.

   Braida is a young company in comparison to others in the region, living off great synergies, collaborations and enthusiasm that involves the whole family and all the corporate staff. For them, wine is a life plan, a way of expressing themselves through simple, authentic things like their land, and this feeling has inevitably infected their companions as well – all those who have come aboard to take part, in all respects, in this family. Is it because of this that these wines are so damn good or is it the original “country” story of a boy and his dreams?

   Today, I had the sheer pleasure to taste the new vintages from Braida along with Nadine Weingold, Export Manager for the winery.   The wines were fantastic and the company wasn’t bad either.  Check out Nadine and I here and on Facebook too!

Here are my notes:

2007 Montebruna Barbera d’Asti DOC- This big, bright and juicy Barbera is earthy and ripe- smooth and lush with a long clean finish!

 2007 IL Baciale Monferrato Rosso DOC– This is a blend of Barbera, Pinot Nero, Cabernet and Merlot.  It has deep dark red fruits with a touch of wet earth on the nose.  Truffles and herbs swirl on the palate and it ends with a crips but long finish.

 2006 Bricco dell’Uccellone Barbera d’Asti DOC-  This is my favorite wine.  Very young but it already has juicy blackberries and dry earth on the nose.  Extra lush and intense and is a bit nutty on the mid-palate.  Just simply wonderful.  Put this one away for at least 10yrs!!

2004 Ai Suma Barbera d’Asti DOC– Not for the faint of heart, this Barbera see’s  a bit more oak than the others.  Dried fruits, almost like an Amarone but not as sweet.  Very muscular and full; big black fruits and razor sharp tannins.  A new world wine lovers dream!!!

Mark Lasky

Italian Wine Specialist


Two “Rare” Treasures from Italy

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on January 27, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

*It would be crazy not to offer this wonderful Brunello, and you all know how much I love Brunello, at this below market price.  IL Poggione makes real, classically styled Brunellos, which in it’s self is becoming rare in Montalcino these days.   And in these great half bottles, they are just perfect for two people who want a great wine but not open an entire bottle. 


IL Poggione

Few classically-minded producers have been as successful as Il Poggione in giving their wines a moderate dose of modern aromas, flavors and textures without essentially compromising what is still a fairly traditional approach to winemaking. Today the wines are made with the submerged cap method. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel after which the wines are racked into 33- and 52-hectoliter French oak barrels where they age for three years. A recent tasting of the estate’s wines back to 1967 showed the extraordinary capacity they have to improve with age.

 2003 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 375ml- 91pts  RP

As this full-bodied Brunello opens in the glass, notes of dark fruit, leather, spices, chocolate and tobacco emerge, supported by the firm tannins that are the hallmark of this vintage. There is notable clarity here, but fans of the estate should expect an atypically ripe style in this vintage.

$29.95/375ml btl or $300.00 per 12btl case of 375ml’s

 *On some occasions I come across some very interesting and down right awesome wines from the region of Campania.  South of Rome, this is the area where you find Naples and Mt Vesuvius.  I’m a big fan of the grape Aglianico, an ancient Greek varietal which is used to make the regions only red DOCG wine, Taurasi a.ka., “the Barolo of the south”.  This big, juicy red grape produces some other huge, fat and spicy wines.  Toss in some Cabernet and Merlot and you have yourself a “Super Campania”.  That’s exactly what Montevetrano has done.


Proprietor Silvia Imparato originally set out to make wine as a hobby. Her family owned a small property in the hills in the province of Salerno, and in 1985 she grafted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Aglianico on to existing, old rootstocks. With the help of oenologist Riccardo Cotarella she fashioned a modern French-oak aged wine that would ultimately have a profound impact on the wine world by demonstrating the true potential of the wines of Southern Italy. Today, a number of important wines have emerged from the South but to the credit of Imparato and Cotarella, Montevetrano remains among the finest and most distinctive. 

2003 Montevetrano – 93pts  RP

The estate’s 2003 Montevetrano is still incredibly primary. It is a generous, opulent Montevetrano loaded with dark fruit, tar, spices, black pepper and scorched earth. Despite its full-bodied style, it offers superb balance and elegant tannins within the context of the vintage. It should be accessible pretty early yet it also gives the impression of having enough structure to age beautifully. Montevetrano is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Aglianico.
$49.95btl or $495.00cs





Mark Lasky

Italian Wine Specialist

West Palm Wines


Ornellaia: Almost Perfect!?

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on January 21, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

Where the rolling Tuscan Hills meet the Tyrrhenian Sea, close to the cypress-lined road to Bolgheri, is the Etruscan Coast Wine Route. This land was once blighted by Malaria but has since been drained and Mediterranean flora, olive-groves and vineyards now thrive in the rich soil. It is here that you will find the Tenuta dell Ornellaia Winery, a winery which has completely disproved the age-old belief that the Chianti was the only place in Tuscany in which world-class wines could be produced.

In 1981, Marquis Ludovico Antinori, a descendent of a family of great winemakers, decided to experiment with a new way of making wine, one which would respect the unique terroir, and include both hand harvesting and the separate vinification of the grapes produced in each individual vineyard. The first sorting process after harvesting, is still traditionally left to the expert hands of Ornellaia’s female workers, who meticulously discard damaged and unripe fruits and ensure that even the tiniest quantities of foliage do not enter the vats.

This part of Tuscany, where the Maremma begins, is characterised by its alluvial, marine and volcanic terrains, which make it especially suitable for the cultivation of red grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The estate’s flagship wine is its Ornellaia, closely followed by Le Serre Nuove and Le Volte.  In addition, there is the Masseto, produced exclusively with the Merlot grapes cultivated in the small 7 hectare vineyard from which the wine takes its name. Today, two and a half decades after its first 1986 vintage, the Masseto is one of the world’s most sought after wines. In 2002, the 1998 vintage of Ornellaia was declared Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator.  So what’s next for this world-class winery?  How about an almost perfect score for the 2006 Masseto.  This time The Wine Advocate, made famous by wine critic Robert Parker, has put Ornellaia in the spotlight by awarding 99 points, out of 100, to the afore-mentioned Masseto.   For those of you who can afford this Tuscan treasure, it’s not one to be missed.  Be sure to visit the winery website, they have a cool live webcam of the vineyard:











2006 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto- $450.00btl

I can still remember nearly falling out of my chair the first time I tasted the 2006 Masseto (100% Merlot) from barrel. The wine is now in bottle, and it is every bit as monumental as I had hoped. The wine possesses staggering richness in a style that perfectly captures the essence of this great Tuscan vintage. Black cherries, flowers, licorice and sweet toasted oak are just some of the nuances that emerge from the 2006 Masseto. A wine of breathtaking depth, it also reveals superb clarity, freshness and vibrancy in a sumptuous, beautifully-balanced style. Simply put, the 2006 Masseto is a masterpiece from Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia. According to Agronomist/General Manager Leonardo Raspini the dryness of the vintage slowed down the maturation of the sugars, leaving the wine with an unusually high level of acidity, and therefore freshness, considering its overall ripeness. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2031.  99pts


Mark Lasky

Italian Wine Specialist

West Palm Wines


Here we go again- Adulteration scandal surfaces in Tuscany

Posted in Italian Wine, Italy on January 5, 2010 by The Italian Wine Snob

Italian authorities suspect some 10m litres of Tuscan wine may have been blended illegally. According to reports published yesterday by local Italian media, Italy’s treasury department and the Italian agriculture ministry are investigating quantities of current-release wine that may have been made using blending wines of inferior quality not allowed by appellation regulations. These include wines from Chianti DOCG, Toscana IGT Brunello di Montalcino, and Rosso di Montalcino. The Siena edition of the Italian national daily La Nazione and the Florentine edition of the Corriere della Sera reported yesterday that 17 people and 42 companies are currently under investigation for falsifying public documents with the intent to commit fraud. While the investigation has focused primarily on Tuscany, producers in the regions of Abruzzo, Trentino, Piedmont, Lombardy, and Emilia-Romagna are also suspected of having played a role in the adulteration of Tuscan wines. In May 2008 hundreds of thousands of bottles of top Brunello were impounded – and the sale of the 2003 vintage suspended – while an investigation was launched into the adding of non-permitted varieties to the wines. That scandal involved many of the most renowned names in Tuscany, and a threatened US blockade of the 2003 Brunello vintage.

I’m not real sure how to take this news but it always seems to come at the right, or wrong, time.  With the 2006 Chianti’s enjoying great press and ratings along with the upcoming release of the 2004 Brunello Riserva’s, it’s just down right fishy!   The ever shrinking market for finer wines has wineries scrambling to re-invent their wheel, so to say,  and promote their wines in new ways in order to enchant and seduce the consumer.   Brand loyalty is fading and price wars are waging.   Accusations and fraud are the new selling tools and the only real loser is us, the wine lover who just wanted the best wine for the best price.  Is that too much to ask for?

Mark Lasky/ Italian Wine Specialist WPW