Italy


The Jackson family acquired the Arcanum estate, a 2,500-acre property in Tuscany, in 1994. Of that land, 223 acres are planted in arcanum_l1vines. The property is located at the southeast corner of the Chianti Classico region, near the city of Siena. (Jackson Family Wines also owns an estate in the Chianti Classico zone, Tenuta di Arceno.) No traditional Tuscan grapes are grown at Arcanum — I mean sangiovese; the focus is on cabernet franc and merlot, as if we were in St.-Emilion, that Right Bank appellation of Bordeaux famed for its wines based on those grapes. Cabernet sauvignon plays a minority position in these wines, and what’s also interesting is that all three age in French oak barrels only for a year. Winemaker is Pierre Seillan, yes, a Frenchman in Tuscany, who also makes the wine at Chateau Lassègue, Jackson Family Wines’ outpost in St.-Emilion, and at its Vérité estate in Sonoma County. The cultivated areas of Arcanum are divided into 63 small blocks of vineyard that range in elevation from 1,000 to 1,500 feet above sea level, each treated as a representative of its minute differences in micro-climate and soil. These are splendid wines, replete with authority, confidence and personality. I was especially taken with the merlot-dominate Valadorna 2009, though picking a favorite among these three is an exercise in folly. I use the phrase intense and concentrated in each of these reviews, a factor for which I will not apologize, because it summarizes the dense, substantial, coiled and slightly esoteric nature of the wines.
Sovereign Wine Imports, Santa Rosa, Calif. These wines were samples for review.
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Il fauno is the cadet of the trio of wines produced by this estate, which is not to imply that there’s anything inchoate or faunosecondary about it. The blend for Il fauno di Arcanum 2010, Toscana I.G.T., is 56 percent merlot, 23 percent cabernet franc, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon and a bare 1 percent petit verdot; the wine spent a year in French oak barriques. The color is dark ruby shading to medium ruby at the rim; the bouquet mounts a wonderful evocation of dried black and blue fruit, flowers and spices in a heady and exotic amalgam pointed with graphite, lavender, roasted fennel, rosemary and that herb’s redolent resiny note. It’s quite a dry wine, and you feel the effect of spicy oak, dusty tannins and vibrant acidity all the way to the inky bottom, though that character does not negate the presence of intense and concentrated black currant, blueberry and plum flavors. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now — with a medium-rare ribeye steak, hot and crusty from the grill — through 2020 or ’22. Excellent. About $30.
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Valadorna 2009, Toscana I.G.T, is a blend of 85 percent merlot, 8 percent caberet franc and 7 percent cabernet sauvignon; it aged in valadorna 09French oak barrels, 40 percent new, for 12 months. If only all merlot-based wines displayed this sort of integrity and character. The deep ruby hue seems to reflect the wine’s ferrous and sanguinary nature, its fleshy iodine and iron qualities; again, I’ll deploy the words intense and concentrated, not in the sense of tightly wound or unyielding but in the way of saying that it feels as if there’s more there packed into the wine then should be there by rights. Black and red currants and raspberries are deeply dyed with cloves, allspice — with the latter’s slight astringent element — lavender and licorice and notes of sage, espresso and ancho chile. Formidable tannins feel dusty, granitic and fathomless, while acidity strikes a spark through the whole resonant package. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now or wait a year or two through 2021 through 2025. Exceptional. About $80.
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Arcanum is the flagship wine of the estate, a true vin de garde denoting dignity, station and longevity. Arcanum 2009, arcanumToscana I.G.T., combines 68 percent cabernet franc, 22 percent merlot and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon in a wine that aged 12 months in French oak barriques, 70 percent new. The color is dark ruby, opaque at the center, shading to mulberry at the rim; the wine’s primary attributes revolve around structure in the form of stalwart, lithic yet not hard tannins; blazing but not raw acidity; and a sense of dusty, spicy burnished wood. In addition to the familiar qualities of iodine and iron, Arcanum 09 displays loamy, briery and brambly attributes that grow more rigorous as the moments pass — I mean when you’re 30 to 40 minutes into the wine — and its dry, intense and concentrated nature barely opens to encourage notes of mocha and cocoa powder, white pepper and bay leaf, licorice and lavender and a pass at black and blue fruit flavors; there’s a tinge of cabernet franc’s blueberry, black olive and leather character. 14.5 percent alcohol. Try from the end of 2016 or into 2017 through 2027 to 2030. Excellent. About $100.
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Do I have to defend the right or necessity to drink rosé wines all year around? Do I have to man the barricades, go to the wall, belly up to the bar to convince nay-sayers that a shimmering, scintillating, beautiful rosé wine — dry, vibrant, fruity, subtle: not sweet — is appropriate in every month and season? If I have to do that, then my case may be hopeless, as far as the die-hard opposition goes, but those who have followed this blog for a considerable period will require no further persuasion, gentle or not. A clean dry rosé may serve as a refreshing aperitif in December as well as June, and few wines go better with fried chicken, for example, or various terrines or the egg-based dishes that front the sideboard for big family breakfasts during the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving dinner itself is a good test for rosé wines. No, friends, do not neglect the rosé genre, from which I offer 10 models today. The Weekend Wine Notes eschew detailed technical, historical and geographical data (which we all adore) for the sake of incisive reviews ripped, almost, from the very pages of my notebooks, though arranged in more shapely fashion. These eclectic wines were samples for review. Enjoy!
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billa haut
Bila-Haut Rosé 2014, Pays d’Oc (from M. Chapoutier). NA% alc. Grenache and cinsault. Pale copper-salmon hue; orange zest, strawberries and raspberries; a pleasing heft of limestone minerality with cutting acidity; juicy and thirst-quenching, but dry as sun-baked stones; a finish delicately etched with chalk and dried thyme. Very Good+. About $14.
An R. Shack Selection, HB Wine Merchants, New York.
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blair rose
Blair Vineyards Delfina’s Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir 2014, Arroyo Seco. 13.3% alc. 117 cases. Bright peach-copper color; ripe strawberries macerated with cloves, raspberries, hints of tomato skin and pomegranate; paradoxically and deftly fleshy and juicy while being quite crisp and dry and tightly tuned with limestone and flint. A superior rosé. Excellent. About $22.
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14_VinGris_Domestic_750
Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2014, Central Coast. 13% alc. 35% grenache, 18% mourvedre, 16% grenache blanc, 12.5% roussanne, 8% carignane, 8% cinsault, 1.5% marsanne, 1% counoise. Very pale onion skin hue with a topaz glow; quite delicate, almost fragile; dried strawberries and raspberries with a touch of peach and hints of lavender and orange rind; gently dusty and minerally, like rain-water drying on a warm stone; a note of sage in the finish. Elegantly ravishing. Excellent. About $18.
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bridge lane
Bridge Lane Rosé 2014, New York State (from Lieb Cellars). 11.9% alc. Cabernet franc 63%, merlot 21%, pinot blanc 8%, riesling 5%, gewurztraminer 3%. Ethereal pale peach-copper color; delicate notes of peach, strawberry and raspberry with a touch of watermelon and spiced pear; a hint of minerality subtle as a river-stone polished with talc; incisive acidity for liveliness; develops more floral elements as the moments pass: lavender, rose petal, violets, all beautifully knit. Excellent. About $18.
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heintz rose
Charles Heintz Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2014, Sonoma Coast. 13.5% alc. 250 cases. Beautiful salmon scale-light copper hue; blood orange, tomato skin, strawberries and raspberries, hints of violets and lilac, a note of cloves and damp limestone; red fruit on the palate with an undertone of peach; quite dry and crisp, lithe on the palate, but with appealing red fruit character and an element of stone-fruit and chalk-flint minerality. A gorgeous rosé. Excellent. About $19.
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cornerstone corallina
Cornerstone Stepping Stone Corallina Rosé 2014, Napa Valley. 13.1% alc. 100% syrah. Very pretty pink coral color; strawberries and raspberries, hint of pomegranate and a fascinating note of spiced tea and apple peel compote; a few minutes in the glass bring in touches of tomato aspic and red currants; full-bodied for a rose, with a texture that would be almost lush save for the bristling acidity that keeps the whole package energized. Drink through 2016. Excellent. About $18.
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Crossbarn Rosé of Pinot Noir 2014, Sonoma Coast (from Paul Hobbs). 12.5% alc. Pale copper-salmon color; intriguing musky-spicy note, crossbarn roselike rose hips, camellias, pomegranate, cloves and sandalwood macerated together; strawberries and orange rind; hints of pink grapefruit and peach; lively and crisp, with a chalk and flint edge to the supple texture; gains a fleshy and florid character on the finish. Very Good+. About $18
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loomis air
Loomis Family “Air” Rosé Wine 2013, Napa Valley. 12% alc. 41% grenache 36% mourvedre 13% counoise 10% syrah. 125 cases. Light copper-salmon hue; dried strawberries and raspberries, notes of lavender and red cherry; hints of watermelon and cloves; incisive acidity and limestone minerality bolster juicy red fruit flavors and an elegant and supple texture that retains a crisp chiseled character; a fillip of grapefruit rind and lemongrass provide interest on the finish. Drink through 2016. Excellent. About $18.
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cipressato
Santa Cristina Cipresseto Rosato 2014, Toscano IGT. 11% alc. Sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah. (An Antinori brand since 1946.) Light pink-peach color; delicately floral and spicy, notes of raspberries and red currants and a hint of dried thyme and heather; clean acidity and limestone minerality offer gentle ballast for tasty but spare red fruit flavors. Very Good+. About $14.
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stinson rose
Stinson Vineyards Rosé 2014, Monticello, Va. 13% alc. 100% mouvèdre. 175 cases. Classic onion skin hue with a tinge of darker copper; pink grapefruit, rose petals, cloves; raspberries and strawberries delicately strung on a line of limestone minerality and bright acidity; from mid-palate back notes of cranberry, pomegranate and grapefruit rind leading to a tart finish; lovely balance and integrity. Excellent. About $19.
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For last weekend’s Pizza and Movie Night — the film was Force Majeure — the wine I selected was the Selvapiana Vigneto Bucerchiale 2010, Chianti Rufina Riserva, a 100 percent sangiovese wine fermented in stainless steel tanks with natural yeasts and aged in small French oak barriques. Rufina is the smallest wine-producing entity of the Chianti region, but probably the best-known of the sub-zones. It is also not contiguous with the rest of Chianti or Chianti Classico, lying to the east of Florence in an area singled out for mention by Cosimo III Grand Duke of Florence in his edict of 1716 as one of the zones of superior production. Shielded by the Apennines to the north but accessible to a maritime breeze, Rufina is cooler than the areas of “regular” Chianti to the west. Its relative isolation has kept the wines of Rufina more obscure than Chianti Classico but also less expensive. The ancient estate was originally a summer retreat for the bishops of Florence and then for the families of Florentine merchants. It was purchased in 1827 by Michele Giuntini Selvapiana and is now operated by the fifth generation of his descendants. The estate’s 250 hectares include 60 hectares dedicated to vineyards, 50 to olive groves and 110 in woodland.

Selvapiana Bucerchiale 2010, Chianti Rufina Riserva, aged 15 months in French oak, only 10 percent new barrels. The color is an intense dark ruby hue shading to medium at the rim; first out of the glass are aromas of loam and brambles, sandalwood and cloves, with touches of graphite and lavender; the bouquet gradually opens to notes of smoked oolong tea, dried red and black cherries and cranberries and an undertone of iodine and iron, all elements that segue seamlessly to the palate. The wine offers a suave surface over stellar acidity and a vibrant structure that hums like a struck tuning fork; at almost five years after harvest, this sangiovese wine feels young and vigorous, though there’s no mistaking the dry dusty tannins and the finish that embodies the power of lithic austerity. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink now, with hearty fare centered on roasted or grilled red meat, through 2022 to ’26. Excellent. About $35.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

I needed a lively, flavorful yet spare red wine to drink with a pasta dish made rich with guanciale and lots of Pecorino cheese. I found what I was looking for in the Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2012, Langhe, Piedmont. Made by Luca Corrado, the estate’s fifth-generation owner, the wine serves as a kind of cadet version of Vietti’s Barolo Castiglione. The vines, averaging 35 years old, are treated in the same manner, though Perbacco represents a selection of younger vines and wines more suited to a shorter aging period. Perbacco, consisting of 100 percent nebbiolo grapes, ages four months in small oak barriques, 20 months in casks — that is to say, large barrels — and two months in stainless steel before bottling. The color is deep ruby shading to violet/brick red at the rim; aromas of dried currants and cherries are woven with notes of lavender and tobacco, briers and brambles, dried orange rind and black tea. While the black and red fruit flavors are generous, the wine’s structure is lean and racy, a bit rooty and branchy, and the wine benefits from clean acidity that feels chiseled for keeps. Nothing plush or voluptuous about the tannins either; the impression here is of a finely sifted and honed entity that can be depended on to contribute framing and foundation for the wine, no questions asked. The finish offers hints of tar, bitter chocolate and graphite. Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2012 is neither an oak-‘n’-tannin blockbuster nor a fruit bomb; rather, its spare, carefully calibrated elegance lends a sense of the grape’s rightful scale and character. It cut through the richness of the pasta dish like a plow through loam, like a prow through sea-spray, like a crow through an autumn breeze. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $25.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.


Sangioveto was once a term for the grape commonly known as sangiovese, the red wine stalwart of Tuscany. The Badia a Coltibuono estate in Tuscany honors the heritage with a wine named for that ancient denomination, so today we look at the Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto di Toscano 2009, Toscano I.G.T., a 100 percent varietal wine that exhales an autumnal breath combining all that’s attractive and seductive about the meadow, the woodland and the vineyard. Depending on the year, the wines age from 12 to 18 months in French barriques, 25 percent new; the grapes are hand-harvested and ferment on native yeasts. Badia a Coltibuono Sangioveto di Toscano 2009 offers a dark ruby hue shading to brick-red at the rim; notes of leather, cloves, loam and some rooty, smoked black tea permeate an element of macerated red and black cherries, currants and plums; a few moments in the glass bring in hints of lavender, violets and bitter chocolate. The effect on the palate is a bit woody and briery; it takes 30 or 40 minutes for the wine to find balance and integration, after which it succeeds in delivering lovely purity and intensity of the grape’s essentially ripe but minerally character, with touches of figs and balsam, orange zest, graphite and burning leaves, all upheld by racy acidity that doesn’t quit and chiseled but softening tannins. Rabbit, quail, pheasant? Veal roast, leg o’ lamb, pastrami sandwich? Bring ’em on, I say. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2018 to 2020. Production was 750 cases. Excellent. About $60.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

The Sicilian estate, Tasca d’Almerita, with vineyards at various locations on Mount Etna, dates back to 1830. It is operated now by Count Lucio Tasca and his sons Giuseppe and Alberto. The white wine under review today is made from a little-known indigenous grape, the carricante, and perhaps it’s the volcanic soil in which the vines grow, but this wine is unique. The Tascante Buonora 2013, Sicilia, made all in stainless steel, offers a pale straw color and notes of damp straw and heather, grapefruit and spiced pear, jasmine and yellow plums; a few moments in the glass bring out touches of quince, ginger and dried thyme. A few moments more, and you begin to appreciate the savory and saline elements that provide the wine with its foundation and dimension; it’s clean, fresh and bracing, with a crisp, lively presence, yet deeply imbued with earthy-limestone-seashell qualities; it’s a wine of both the marshy, sea-blown shore and the rocky uplands. For all that, there’s something chaste, delicate and chiseled about it. 12 percent alcohol. We happily consumed this bottle last night with a pasta LL made that was pappardelle with kale, baby leeks, mint, ricotto and walnuts. Drink through 2016 or into 2017. Excellent. About $20, and Worth a Search.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

The Campofiorin red wine from Argicola Masi, produced since 1964, tends to over-perform for its price range, making it a must-have when My Readers are confronted with a platter of pappardelle with rabbit sauce or beef Carpaccio or a veal or pork haunch roasted with garlic and rosemary. Hmmm, venison, too. The Masi Campofiorin 2011, Rosso del Veronese I.G.T., is a blend of the typical red grapes of the Valpolicella region — corvina, rondinella and molinara. It’s made in a fashion similar to the great Amarone wines, that is, after it is vinified — turned into wine! — it is fermented again on the semi-dried grapes of the same variety. After that, the wine aged 18 months in barrels, 2/3s in 90 hectoliter Slavonian oak botti — big-ass barrels; 90 hl equals 2,377.5 gallons — and 1/3 in 600-liter new French oak casks, barrels of 158.5-gallon capacity; by comparison, the standard French oak barrique holds about 59 gallons. The point is to allow the oak to be a shaping but not dominant influence on the wine. The color is dark ruby, opaque at the center; aromas of dried raspberries, black cherries and plums, potpourri, sandalwood and cloves, all knit by notes of iodine and iron, seque to the mouth as a wine that features spiced and macerated black and red fruit flavors deeply imbued with the permeating factor of slightly dusty, finely-sifted tannins. Acidity is electric, almost pert, and it drives the dryness through a finish that becomes a bit austere. Give this a few minutes in the glass and it brings in hints of orange zest, oolong tea, loam and leather, all powered by a dynamic lithic element. The alcohol content is 13 percent. Drink now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $18, a Remarkable Value.

Imported by Kobrand Corp, Purchase, N.Y. A sample for review.


Blithe but many-layered, the Masi Masianco 2014 is a blend of 75 percent pinot grigio grapes and 25 percent verduzzo delle Venezia, an unusual combination that earns the wine a designation of “delle Venezia I.G.T.,” meaning that it lies outside the usual regulations for the Veneto region. Masi Agricola is well-known for its firm, traditional Valpolicella and Amarone wines, but this excursion into freshness and immediate appeal comes high on the Summer-drinking rankings. Fermented in stainless steel and briefly aged in barriques — small French oak barrels — for suppleness of texture, this delightful quaffer offers a pale straw-gold color and up-front aromas of roasted lemon and lime peel, fennel, caraway and thyme and bare hints of pineapple and grapefruit; the whole effect is of absolute freshness highlighted by a note of green leafiness. Masi Masianco 2014 is quite dry, very crisp and lively and exhibits citrus and stone-fruit elements borne on a tide of chalk and flint minerality and chiming acidity; the finish is elegant, subtle and a bit austere. 13 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2016 as a charming aperitif or with fresh seafood, chicken salad and other picnic fare. Very Good+. About $15, a Terrific Value.

Imported by Kobrand Corp, Purchase, N.Y. A sample for review.

Now run by the fifth generation, the Vietti estate, in the Langhe region of Piemonte, fashions wines — primarily red — that reflect traditional methods with modern techniques. The Vietti “Tre Vigne” Barbera d’Asti 2013, made completely from barbera grapes, was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged 14 months in a combination of small French oak barrels, the standard 59-gallon barrique, and large casks of Slovenian oak. (Winemaker is the estate’s owner Luca Currado.) The color is dark ruby, almost opaque at the center; aromas of red and black currants and plums permeated by notes of graphite and loam and woodsy touches of underbrush and dried porcini. These qualities segue seamlessly from nose to palate, with an infusion of red cherries, where the wine offers fairly dense but navigable tannins — dusty, granitic and clean together — and bright, zesty acidity that keeps it notably lively without crossing the edge to screaming and shrill. The wine is quite dry but attractive, engaging and delicious. We drank it — yep, the whole damned bottle — last night with a lasagna featuring tomatoes and sausage with plenty of basil and parmesan, mozzarella and fontina cheeses. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2017 or ’18. Very Good+. About $17, representing Good Value.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in the nose and on the palate, and if you’re looking for a wine that fulfills those criteria for a reasonable price, stray no more but attach yourself to the Peter Zemmer Punggl Pinot Bianco 2013, from Italy’s far northeastern Alto Adige region, also known as Südtirol, “south Tirol,” for its proximity to Austria. Indeed, surnames and place-names are amorphous in these foothills and ranges where political affiliations and boundaries, which have shifted over many centuries, can be less important than family ties and reputations. Made completely from pinot blanc grapes and aged in a combination of stainless steel tanks and large oak casks, the Peter Zemmer Punggl — that’s not misspelled — Pinot Bianco 2013 offers a pale gold color and intriguing notes of straw, dried thyme, orange blossom, grapefruit and spiced pear, all impeccably and delicately woven and tied off with touches of lime peel and flint. In the mouth, this sleek lovely wine is dry, lean, crisp and racy, with depths of limestone minerality to support its juicy, spicy yet elegant citrus and stone-fruit flavors that bear, at the heart, a tincture, a bell-tone, of wild red currant. Sunny, leafy, with personality to spare, this is one to drink all Summer long and into the Fall as a charming aperitif or with roasted or grilled fish or, perhaps paradoxically, with charcuterie or veal Milanese. 13.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $18.

Imported by HB Wine Merchants, New York. A sample for review.

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