We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
– Joan Didion

I’ve been thinking about what to say during the pandemic when someone walks into the shop and asks what wine they should drink with dinner.
Something different, I say, as “different” seems to describe most of our lives right now, and I think most of us want something different because we want at least that consistency.

The Central Paradox

It seems to me that we are sharing the experience of the pandemic, but we often feel alone. So open that bottle of Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin, or Barolo you’ve been saving and sit on your porch–if the Air Quality Index allows–and open it. Say hello to the neighbors you didn’t know you had.

I’ve been thinking about what words to use to tell you…
…that the wine you drink today will chart more than your future. That each bottle you drink and think about will give you more language. That you’ll be able to talk about Rothko and the Faiyum mummy portraits.

Pavane

Silence is a shape that has passed.
-Wallace Stevens

Every glass is a shape, a still life, a piece of music, the curl of green in the tree outside your window. The last plum.

What Do We Really Want to Talk About When We Talk About Wine?

We want, it nearly always seems, to talk about love or the garden. Or the moon dervishing in her scarves.

Say…
…you’re at my house for a dinner party. We’re on the deck. It’s about 7:15, and the Champagne is, sadly, though not tragically, nearly gone. And while everyone is enjoying it, some of us are sort-of-secretly hoping a brave soul will socially distance the bottle and save the remaining third until we’ve had time to try the trousseau. Surely, the Champagne will taste different after a glass of snappy fall-fruit red from the Jura.

I never want to get in the way of anyone’s enjoyment, but too often we don’t try out new ideas, or revisit old convictions. Making alterations in our accepted patterns seems especially important during these times because we might find better solutions or even see problems for the first time.

So why not save the Champagne for a while and see how it goes with the entrée? Or–open a bottle of Ulysse Collin’s Blanc de Noirs ‘Les Maillons’ Extra Brut NV Champagne to go with that piece of grilled rib eye.

Explanations (i)

The drinker is part of the wine. Q. E. D.

Explanations (ii)

We tell ourselves stories because we need to follow a narrative to make sense of the weeks; we tell ourselves stories because we need to lie to ourselves to deal with the pandemic, the fires, the inevitable shifts in our country’s foreign and domestic policies.

since feeling is first
We want, it so often seems, to say what we’re thinking. It takes practice to articulate what our bodies want.

A Lakeside Cabin
All worthwhile subjects exist in part and in paradox.

The less we understand about a subject, the longer the conversation can be about that subject. That’s a good thing. We want to talk about things we want to understand more about, like wine, cosmology, or the price of furniture–though the letter involves rickety logic. Each bottle is its own story, its own beginning, seemingly isolated but sipped along the same shore, our toes trailing the cold clear water.

Explanations (iii)

We are at times only essence.

Two Concepts to Help You Learn About Wine

  1. There is a relationship between what you know and what you like.
  2. It is the strangeness of Goodnight Moon that appeals most.

What We’re After, After All

An accurate application of language to experience. Something new, perhaps? A glass of kadarka or jacquere? Lamb chops at 1:00 AM?

[Stay tuned for Part II of this essay, coming next month.]

Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum (“Wine of Kings, King of Wines”) was the famously enthusiastic pronouncement by King Louis XV as he proffered a glass of Hungarian Tokaji to Madame de Pompadour, the official chief mistress of his court. (Yes, that was a real position in Ancien Régime France.) Louis and his main squeeze were enjoying a sweet wine in the mid-18th century. Though traditional Tokaji remains among the noblest sweet wines in the world, the habits and attention of most of us–noble, bourgeois, and plebs alike–have turned to dry wines.

Luckily for us, modern Hungary is here to help, with a dazzling plethora of characterful indigenous grapes. The white wines tend to have some body and texture, along with prominent acidity and minerality. They’re also low-alcohol; all of the wines presented here are under 13 percent. The words on the labels may be unfamiliar and a little challenging to pronounce, but don’t let that scare you off. With a wide array of wine regions (many of them with volcanic soils) and small, family-run producers, Hungary offers so much to discover and enjoy for those of us who love French, Italian, Iberian, and domestic white wines.

This month, we’ll discuss white wines from Tokaj (TOKE-eye), in northeast Hungary, with a little chunk of Slovakia. (Tokaj is the name of the region; Tokaji is the wine from that region.) Next month, we’ll cover white wines from four other Hungarian wine regions.

2018 Bodrog Borműhely Dry Tokaj ($16)

Bodrog is the main river running through Tokaj, and Borműhely (bor-MEW-hay) means “wine workshop.” This wine, made with 70 percent furmint and 30 percent hárslevelű (Tokaj’s two most important grapes), is organically farmed, then fermented and aged in stainless steel. Salty, high acid, and fully dry, with some texture, it’s utterly delicious and an outrageous deal for an organic wine of this quality and character. If you enjoy fresh, young Loire Valley chenin blanc, give this a try. Drink it with clams, chicken, or something spicy, or even as an aperitif if you like something with a little body. (12.5 percent alcohol)

2018 Tokaj Nobilis Furmint Barakonyi ($24)

This wine is all furmint, the most noble variety in Hungary and the backbone of most Tokaji, whether dry or sweet. Tokaj native Sarolta Bárdos created this family winery in 1999, and her vineyards are also certified organic. She is among the new generation leading the quality renaissance in Tokaj and part of a long tradition of woman winemakers in Hungary (where the men historically worked in the vineyards, and the women ran the cellars).

This wine comes from the single vineyard Barakonyi, which has been officially recognized as first-class (premier cru, more or less) since 1737. Fermentation and aging are done in Hungarian oak barrels. It delivers pear-like, slightly honeyed fruit with an almost icy minerality and a hint of oak. There’s texture, elegance, purity, and length; those who enjoy white Burgundy or restrained California chardonnay will like this a lot. (Plus, where are you going to find one of those from a premier cru vineyard for $24?!) Drink it with richer fish and poultry dishes, pork, and spicy enchiladas. (12.9 percent alcohol)

2015 Barta Tokaji Furmint Öreg Király Dűlő ($32)

Here’s another 100 percent furmint dry Tokaji, this one from the equally storied, first-class Öreg Király Dűlő (Old King Vineyard). It’s the highest-altitude, steepest, and most distinctly terraced vineyard in Tokaj. The several extra years in the bottle give you the opportunity to see how dry Tokaji ages. Winemaker Vivien Újvári, yet another woman in charge of a Hungarian cellar, uses organic farming and minimalist winemaking techniques, aging her wines in larger Hungarian oak barrels. 

This wine is beautifully expressive and vibrant now, with a more smoky minerality and a saltier, quite savory palate. If Tokaj Nobilis Barakonyi echoes some of the qualities of white Burgundy, the analog for Barta Öreg Király Dűlő might be aged Loire chenin blanc. It’s a perfect accompaniment for white meats and game birds of all species, smoked salmon, and Asian dishes without too much sweetness. (12.7 percent alcohol)

2016 Patricius Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos (500ml, $45)

OK, this is an article about dry Hungarian white wines, but it would be a dereliction of vinous duty not to mention our one sweet wine from Hungary: Tokaji Aszú. (Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum!) It’s an aristocratically hedonistic and spectacularly delicious nectar made in part from individual berries (mostly furmint, plus in this case some hárslevelű and other local grapes zéta and kövérszőlő) affected by botrytis, a so-called “noble rot” that shrivels, concentrates, and transforms the flavor of the grapes. You’ll find notes of dried fruits, especially stone fruits, along with a thousand other flavors, fruit and otherwise. 

There’s no need to analogize here, because Tokaji Aszú is simply the greatest dessert wine in the world (sorry, Sauternes). It will sing with blue cheeses, chocolate, and even potato chips. (The last pairing is my invention, as far as I can tell. Try it with José Andrés potato chips, made by San Nicasio in Andalucía, Spain, and available at Market Hall Foods.) Or simply have this Tokaji Aszú on its own as a very special way to end a meal, perhaps with some dried apricots. (11.5 percent alcohol)

Many thanks to Eric Danch of Danch & Granger Selections, the importer and distributor of all of these wines, for his help with this article.

 

There is something very unassuming about the intricacies of Sicily, given its vast, arid landscape, rustic way of life, and history as a cultural crossroads. The people of this island, situated at Italy’s southern tip, take enormous pride in the simple and beautiful treasures that the land has to offer.

View overlooking Cefalù

It is hard to find another place that has been impacted by such a wide array of cultural influences: Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Romans, Spanish, British, and French among them. Over time, these influences have helped spawn some of Italy’s most cherished agricultural products. Their olive oils, from several different parts of the island, are regarded as some of the finest around. World-class chocolates hail from Modica, and Sicilian nuts are highly prized as well, especially the pistachio, hazelnut, and pine nut (actually a seed). Of course, the wines of Sicily are no exception.

Mount Etna, located in the northeast, is an active volcano that is home to a diverse range of vineyards, some of them planted as high as 1,000 meters up the slopes. These infertile basalt soils are rich in magnesium and iron, which provide little organic matter for the vines. This produces low yields and higher-quality grapes. 

The red nerello mascalese grape is king in this region, exhibiting characteristics of both nebbiolo and pinot noir, while typically boasting some serious structure and rusticity. Carricante is the focus of mineral-driven Etna Bianco, while catarratto, inzolia, minella bianca, grecanico, chardonnay, and other local varieties are sometimes called on to round out the blend. At Paul Marcus Wines, we’re fortunate to work with some of Etna’s most esteemed producers, including Girolamo Russo, Terre Nere, Benanti, and Graci.

The Val di Noto, in the island’s southeastern region, is home to some of my absolute favorite wines on the planet. Vittoria is famous for its blend of frappato and nero d’avola, called Cerasuolo di Vittoria. These wines can offer an amazing balance of freshness, aromatic complexity, and red-toned earthiness that just screams “Sicilia.”

A somewhat newer producer to me, from the town of Pachino just south of Siracusa, is Mortellito. I’ve quickly come to appreciate Mortellito’s wines for their transparency and honesty. There is a rosso made mostly from frappato, with a touch of nero d’avola. It is bright, yet rustic, and not overly floral like frappato can be for some palates. They also make a couple of white wines, including one–comprised mostly of grillo with a bit of catarratto–that reminds me of melons and citrus zest, with a pistachio earthiness and a solid backbone of acidity.

 

 

COS is a winery in Vittoria that was started in 1980 by three friends. Forty years on, their wines have endured; in fact, I feel like they’re making some of their best wines as of late. Their frappato is a jewel, with a bit more depth than most. COS is quite well known for the wines they make in pithos, or amphora–terracotta vessels buried in the ground to age wines before bottling. These wines, just like Mortellito’s, have an amazing freshness and lift for wines grown in such a warm climate. Thank you, white, limestone-rich soils! 

 

 

*****

In the late spring of 2017, my family and I traveled to this uniquely gorgeous locale. So much of the island feels as though you’ve stepped back in time–at least a generation, if not two or three.

I still remember our stay above the picturesque northern coastal town of Cefalù, where we floated in the serene waters of the Mediterranean with our young daughter. (I could really go for that right about now.) The Arab-Norman cathedral in the town square is a real jaw-dropper, too. I also recall spending a late afternoon, bleeding into early evening, on our rooftop terrace in Ortigia, sipping Graci’s Etna Bianco and Russo’s Etna Rosato all the while.

One of my fondest memories was our visit to winemaker Ciro Biondi in Trecastagni, a small town on the southeast side of Mount Etna–an absolute gem of an experience. It was a hot day, not too uncommon in these parts, and we slowly navigated our way up the narrow roads. When we finally arrived, Ciro greeted us with such warmth and took us on a walk to the vineyard just above his house. 

The house was once a palmento–these were traditional winemaking structures, usually just one big room or so, that housed the area for the grapes to be received from the vineyards, then pressed and gravity-fed into its next vessel (concrete, wood, or terracotta). We spent an hour or two tasting a few of his wines on his patio, complete with outdoor kitchen, in the middle of his vineyard. He took us back down to his house and made us pasta for lunch–noodles made from local grains, breadcrumbs, a bit of garlic, fennel fronds, and lots of Etna olive oil. 

Just a few humble ingredients of the utmost quality to make a dish shine: the true Sicilian way.

There is something undeniably satisfying about a chilly glass of Provençal rosé on a warm summer’s evening (or, perhaps, afternoon). This style of rosé has become enormously popular around the world, and with good reason–gently fruity and crisp on the finish, these pale, refreshing wines are incredibly easy to enjoy, especially when temperatures are on the rise and light snacks are on the plate.

While France still dominates the pink market, wine drinkers in the U.S. have been exploring Italy’s dizzying array of rosato wines more than ever before. If you think that rosé is only suitable for porches and picnics, think again. Paul Marcus Wines offers a range of captivating, food-craving rosatos that will absolutely shine a tavola.

Our journey begins in the south, on the island of Sicily. The volcanic soils of Mt. Etna are home to the nerello mascalese grape, which produces a wonderfully complex and savory style of rosato. These wines tend to be quite dry, aromatic, and bursting with minerality. At PMW, we’ve been enjoying both the Graci Etna Rosato (a bit more focus) and the Terre Nere Etna Rosato (a tad more fruit). From the southern part of the island comes the Due Terre Rosato di Frappato, a bright, floral wine with a striking deep-amber hue.

East of Rome and bordering the Adriatic Sea, the verdant Abruzzo region is the province of the dark-skinned montepulciano grape, which produces a rich, structured style of rosato called Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. The Ciavolich Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo ‘Fosso Cancelli’ is darker in color than some of the “red” wines that we carry. After 24-36 hours of skin maceration in concrete, this wine is moved to terracotta amphorae for further fermentation and aging, resulting in a wine that is dense, yet still lively–a match for more substantial fare than your typical rosé. Fermented and aged briefly in stainless steel, the low-sulfite Cirelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo represents a lighter version of this noteworthy type of rosato.

Next we move to Piemonte, where the majestic nebbiolo grape reigns supreme. The nebbiolo of Alto Piemonte, in the northern part of the region, is usually more etched and mineral-driven, with softer tannins, than the nebbiolo found in the more-famous Langhe area two hours to the south. Producers and consumers alike are quickly discovering how well suited the nebbiolo of Alto Piemonte is to rosato.

PMW currently stocks three different expressions of Alto Piemonte rosato. The rust-colored Le Pianelle Coste della Sesia Rosato ‘Al Posto dei Fiori’ adds a touch of vespolina and croatina to its nebbiolo foundation, along with just a hint of oak influence. It’s a full-flavored, multifaceted rosato that still manages to be fresh and nimble thanks to ample acidity and a mineral edge. The Antoniolo Gattinara Rosato ‘Bricco Lorella’ undergoes a relatively short maceration (about three hours), and the resulting wine is vibrant and graceful, with vivid red-berry notes.

Finally, we have Nervi’s Il Rosato, which falls stylistically somewhere between the first two. The oldest estate in the Alto Piemonte DOCG of Gattinara, Nervi was recently purchased by Barolo superstar Roberto Conterno, and they decided to use some of their top vines for this delightful rosato. Malolactic fermentation and a spell of lees aging give this wine a bit of texture without sacrificing any of its zest. For a different twist on Piemonte rosato, try the Vigneti Massa Rosato ‘Terra Libertà’, an herbaceous blend of barbera, cortese, and freisa that hails from the Colli Tortonesi in Piemonte’s southeastern hills.

Summer might be creeping to a close, but these versatile, food-friendly rosatos have year-round appeal. Visit or call us at Paul Marcus Wines to begin your discovery of Italian pinks. Buon viaggio!

I’ve always had a particular fondness for red Burgundy. At their best, these wines proudly display their terroir, that distinct sense of place; they boast a balanced mouth feel and are structured yet elegant. At Paul Marcus Wines, we have always taken pride in our extensive selection of Burgundy, and that remains true to this day.

Lately, I’ve been rather impressed by a couple of noteworthy producers who happen to lie at opposite ends of the Côte d’Or–and opposite sides of the price spectrum: Domaine Duroché in the far north of the Côte de Nuits and Domaine Maurice Charleux et Fils at the southern tip of the Côte de Beaune.

Photo of Domaine Duroché via Polaner Selections

Whenever you hear anything about Domaine Duroché, you are bound to hear the words “rising star.” Pierre Duroché joined the domaine in 2003 and took the reins of the operation two years later. Since then, he has turned the domaine around, bringing a new energy and focus to this esteemed Gevrey-Chambertin house that’s been around since 1933.

Duroché owns more than eight hectares of vineyard holdings in the Gevrey appellation. As you would expect, the utmost attention is given to the health of the soil. The grapes are rigorously sorted both in the vineyard and the cellar. Everything is de-stemmed, and the wines never see more than 15 percent new oak.

While Duroché’s top-level cuvees sell for upward of $500, their village-level wine still represents somewhat of a bargain. The 2017 Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin ($78) has understated power and appealing elegance, revealing the earthy, mineral Gevrey flavors that are so typical of the terroir. Though it will be sure to age gracefully, it can also be enjoyed young.

About an hour south of Gevrey–just to the southwest of Santenay, but still in the Côte de Beaune–are the three small villages of Maranges. The hillside commune of Dezize-lès-Maranges is home to the wines of Domaine Charleux.

Many of you are already familiar with these value-driven Burgundies; they have been a staple in our shop for many vintages, and are perhaps the most consistent Burgundies available in that price range. In general, the wines of Maranges are medium-bodied with just enough acidity to make them appropriate for near-term aging. The soils are clay and limestone, and most of the vineyard exposure is south to southwest.

The 2018 Maranges Vieilles Vignes ($29) is produced from vines that are more than 80 years old and offers admirable concentration and length. Somewhat dark-fruited, it exemplifies the liveliness of the 2018 vintage.
From the warmer 2017 vintage comes the 1er Cru Maranges ‘Les Clos Roussots’ ($33). The vineyards here have south and southeast exposure and are mostly blue-clay soils with some limestone. This red-fruited wine is forward and easy-drinking, with noticeable complexity in the raspberry-like finish.

We also have a few bottles left of the 2016 1er Cru ‘Le Clos des Rois’ ($30). These south- and southwest-facing vineyards contain a greater proportion of limestone, which gives this bottle ample structure and complexity. This wine has red-fruit aromas along with floral and spicy notes–simply delicious.

Of course, Paul Marcus Wines has dozens more notable Burgundy producers from which to choose. Let us help you explore the many delights of Burgundy. See you at the shop.

– Paul Marcus

The fertile French terrain situated at the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne has been producing wine for hundreds of years. Established in 1937, the Chinon AOC lies on the south bank of the Loire, bisected by the Vienne in the westernmost reaches of Touraine. Chinon is almost exclusively the province of cabernet franc, a grape that seems to thrive in the region’s terroir.

Two offerings from Domaine Olga Raffault

Domaine Olga Raffault is perched on the bucolic triangle of land known as the Véron, between the two rivers just east of where they converge. The Raffault family has been making wine in Chinon for five generations. Tragedy struck in 1947 when Olga’s husband and partner, Pierre, died suddenly, leaving Olga and her two children to fend for themselves.

According to family legend, it was one of the estate’s employees, Ernest Zenninger, who vowed to the dying Pierre he’d look after his family. A repentant former German soldier, Zenninger was grateful for the kindness the Raffaults had shown him and would from that point on dedicate his life to the family business. Zenninger became the estate’s winemaker, mentoring Olga’s son Jean along the way, and together Jean and Ernest would help solidify Olga Raffault’s status as a Loire Valley legend.

Image sourced from olga-raffault.com

Today, the venerable house is operated by Olga’s granddaughter Sylvie and her husband, Eric de la Vigerie, with able assistance from their son, Arnaud. They have recently converted to organic farming in their vineyards, where they pick all the grapes by hand, using native yeasts for fermentation. Working with vines in some of Chinon’s most desirable terrain, Domaine Olga Raffault remains one of the appellation’s benchmark producers.

Raffault’s flagship bottling is the Les Picasses cuvee, 100 percent cabernet franc from a south-facing slope on the north bank of the Vienne. The vines are more than 50 years old and feed off a mixture of alluvial clay and chalky limestone. After fermentation in stainless steel, it’s aged for roughly 18 months in relatively large barrels and then aged in tank and bottle for a few more years before release.

The resulting wine is incredibly balanced and complex–ample-bodied, rich with dark fruit and plush tannins, earthy but with plenty of acidity and a mineral edge. Think cassoulet, braised oxtails, roasted lamb, or similarly robust fare. Next time you’re considering a Bordeaux, reach for this instead. At less than $40 a bottle, Raffault’s Les Picasses is still one of the Loire’s great value plays.

I wrote earlier that Chinon is almost exclusively the province of cabernet franc, and while that’s true, there is a negligible amount of chenin blanc planted there. Thankfully, one of Raffault’s 24 hectares of vineyards is dedicated to chenin, the plot of land that produces the wonderful Champ-Chenin cuvee.

In its youth, this wine definitely plays hard to get; there’s just a tantalizing hint of the pome-fruit fleshiness that has yet to fully emerge. But you can tell it’s coming. Even with the fruit still somewhat subdued, there’s enough depth, vitality, and sophistication to satisfy even the most impatient among us. No malo or wood here, just some lees-aging to give it a bit of texture. Cellar-worthy, indeed.

Both the 2014 Les Picasses and the 2018 Champ-Chenin are currently available at Paul Marcus Wines. They are drinking beautifully now, but their best years are still ahead of them. If you’re interested in Chinon wines, you should probably get to know Domaine Olga Raffault.

In terms of stylistic variety, aging potential, and the ability to reflect terroir, nothing can touch riesling. The riesling grape does best in marginal climates, needing a cool, long growing season in order to achieve phenolic ripeness. Put another way, the best wines made from riesling, like the most interesting people, are usually a product of struggle.

Hillside vineyards in a small German town

Making riesling in its country of origin (Germany) can be a bit of a quixotic endeavor–you are at the northern limit of where grapes can even achieve ripeness. You are farming slate slopes that are so steep that everything has to be done painstakingly by hand. Add factors like climate change, and it’s a wonder that any wine can be made at all. In fact, 2019 marked the first German vintage that was too warm to produce eiswein, a style of dessert wine that relies on the grapes freezing on the vine.

One of the most remarkable things about riesling is the diverse array of styles that it can produce. German rieslings, especially those from the Mosel, tend to have a delicate, filigreed character to them. Typically off-dry and low in alcohol, these wines achieve an ethereal balance between sweetness and acid.

If a Mosel riesling is a ballet dancer, Austrian rieslings are rock climbers–muscular, but lean and chiseled. They are dry and mineral, and while typically fuller-bodied than their German counterparts, still offer a degree of precision that many wines lack. Alsatian rieslings are typically dry, but full-bodied and rich with extract. For Australian rieslings, think bitter pith and zest instead of fleshy fruit, along with, typically, a preponderance of petrol.

Below are a few rieslings worth exploring:

2014 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Spätlese

Featuring steep, southwest-facing Devonian slate soils, the Graacher Himmelreich site in the Mosel is known for the distinctive smoky aroma it imparts.

2013 Dönnhoff Nahe Spätlese Oberhäuser Brücke

Nahe’s smallest single vineyard (1.1 ha) is a monopole located near the Nahe River, which mitigates the temperature and leads to the longest ripening of any of the Dönnhoff wines. Grey slate bedrock with loam and volcanic elements lend a persistent minerality to the wine.

2017 Tessier Winery – Zabala Vineyard

Stylistically in line with Australian riesling, this wine, from the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey County, shows lime zest and pith as well as a stony minerality on the palate.

Please stop by Paul Marcus Wines to learn more about this wonderfully expressive grape.

– Layla Khabiri

Several times a day, a customer will come in and ask, “Where do I find Barolo?” And with good reason–Barolo produces some of the world’s greatest wines. These customers have certainly come to the right place, because we do have a large selection of exceptional Baroli.

Rarely, though, does anyone ask to be directed toward our fabulous Barbaresco section. Why is this? For starters, Barbaresco is smaller than Barolo, and far less of it is imported to the U.S. Plus, it hasn’t received as much attention from the public or from wine journalists. This is unfortunate, because Barbaresco can be every bit as marvelous as Barolo, with the added advantages of earlier drinkability and much lower price points.

The Estate of Produttori del Barbaresco, a favorite within the shop.

Barolo and Barbaresco come from the hills of southern Piedmont in a region called the Langhe. Both must be produced using 100 percent nebbiolo. Much like pinot noir, nebbiolo produces elegantly textured, lighter-colored wines that nevertheless have tremendous depth and intensity. Its aromatics are as beautiful and complex as they come, and with incredible contrast. (Famously, descriptions such as “tar and violets” or “rose petals and truffles“ are used in attempts to depict these wines.) They also deliver gorgeous cherry fruit, with notes of licorice and leather.

Just like pinot and sangiovese, nebbiolo can thrive in a number of different zones, each with its own distinct vibe. But, as with those other two grapes, its most noteworthy achievements usually come from just a couple of modestly sized areas. In this case, that means Barbaresco and Barolo. If you have not experienced much in the way of Barbaresco, by all means treat yourself to a few examples.

Without over-generalizing, Barbaresco tends to have a little more finesse and a little less power and tannin than Barolo. It is more closely aligned to the softer wines of La Morra in Barolo than those of, say, Serralunga. At Paul Marcus Wines, we offer wines from some of the top Barbaresco producers. There are the great traditionalists like Produttori del Barbaresco, which is finally getting the acclaim it’s long deserved, and La Ca’ Nova, whose wines represent insane values, with offerings from the grand-cru-level vineyards Montestefano and Montefico for prices below those of even entry-level Barolo. There are the beautifully elegant, polished wines of Sottimano and Musso, as well as gems like Poderi Colla, Serafino Rivella, and Cascina delle Rose. For well under $50 a bottle, you can experience some magnificent wines from this amazing enclave.

Lest I shortchange the “king” Barolo, I should mention that we currently have very small amounts of some of the most impressive and hardest-to-find Baroli, from esteemed producers such as Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno, and Giuseppe Mascarello. Please visit us at the shop if you are interested in any of these prized bottlings.

– Joel Mullennix

If you need recommendations and suggestions, we’ll be happy to walk you through the process and help you build a custom order to fit your tastes and your budget. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like making any decisions, we’re pleased to offer a special selection of six-pack options. Each six-pack includes a sparkling, a rosé, two whites, and two reds, with a 10 percent discount on the set. This easy, no-fuss approach is perfect for Easter–and beyond.

—–

The Sweet Spot Six-Pack ($20-$25)

2016 Rimarts Cava Brut Reserva $21.00
2018 Richard Walzer Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben $21.00
2017 Maurer Serbia Furmint $21.00
2018 Jamain Reuilly Pinot Gris Rosé $22.00
2018 Guímaro Ribeira Sacra Tinto – Amandi $21.00
2018 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico $24.00

$117.00 with 10 percent discount (Normally $130.00)

Value Six-Pack ($15 and under)

NV Bohigas Cava Brut Reserva $13.99
2018 Gassac Picpoul de Pinet $13.99
2018 Centopassi Sicilia – Giato Grillo-Catarratto $15.00
2018 Bojador Alentejano Portuguese Rosé $13.99
2015 Château des Gravières Bordeaux Rouge $15.00
2018 Valle dell’Acate Nero d’Avola – Tenuta Ibidini $15.00

$78.27 with 10 percent discount (Normally $86.97)

Giro d’Italia Six-Pack

2018 Vigne di Alice Prosecco Valdobbiadene – Doro Brut Nature $22.00
2018 I Favati Fiano di Avellino – Pietramara $22.00
2018 Cavalchina Bardolino Rosato $15.00
2018 Gojer St Magdalener Classico $21.00
2016 Benanti Etna Rosso $24.00
2016 Castello di Verduno Barberesco $44.00

$133.20 with 10 percent discount (Normally $148.00)

French Classics Six-Pack

NV Tassin Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs $45.00
2018 Château Val d’Arenc Bandol Rosé $32.00
2014 Gitton Sancerre – Les Herses $33.00
2017 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne Blanc – Le Clos du Chateau $44.00
2016 Maurice Charleux Maranges – Fussière 1er Cru $30.00
2015 Chateau Larruau – Margaux $47.00

$207.90 with 10 percent discount (Normally $231.00)

Domestic Six-Pack

2018 Beaver Creek Pet-Nat Sauvignon Blanc $23.00
2019 Loella – Pinot Gris $15.00
2016 Handley Anderson Valley Chardonnay $25.00
2019 Bedrock Rosé – Ode to Lulu $24.00
2018 Minus Tide Syrah – Valenti Vineyard $27.00
2016 Lioco Anderson Valley Pinot Noir – La Selva $40.00

$138.60 with 10 percent discount (Normally $154.00)

 

Order now through our Order Form. We will get back to you and take payment over the phone and you can drive up and we will bring it out to you. If you have shopping to do in Market Hall, we can also place one of our six-packs aside for you to pay in-store.

The hilltop enclave of Montepulciano, located in the Southern Tuscan province of Siena, has a long and storied winemaking history. As with much of Tuscany, sangiovese reigns supreme here (known locally as prugnolo gentile). The historic town, surrounded by vineyards and benefiting from mild Mediterranean weather, produces wines that are capable of reaching the heights of its more recognizable (and, often, more expensive) neighbors, Chianti and Montalcino.

The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano moniker dates back about a century, and in 1980, the appellation became one of the first to receive Italy’s DOCG designation. To qualify for the DOCG, wines must be made of at least 70 percent prugnolo gentile and undergo at least two years of aging (three years for riserva). In the past, Vino Nobile was often considered a midpoint between the brighter, red-fruited Chianti and the darker, more tannic Montalcino offerings, although those generalizations don’t necessarily apply today.

Usually, Vino Nobile wines deliver ample medium-plus structure and bracing acidity, with tannins that are both present and quite polished. (It should be pointed out that wines from this Tuscan region are completely unrelated to wines made in Abruzzo using the montepulciano grape.) Earthy, spicy, and balanced, Vino Nobile can handle everything from hearty roasts and braises to classic tomato-based pastas.

At Paul Marcus Wines, we are currently featuring a number of worthy examples. The stunning 2013 Palazzo Vecchio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Maestro” shows a dark ruby color and an enticing floral bouquet typical of high-level sangiovese. Made with 85 percent prugnolo gentile and rounded out with a little canaiolo and mammolo, the Palazzo Vecchio spends at least two years in French oak and six months in bottle before release. The result is an exquisite blend of power and elegance that is entering its prime.

The 2014 Il Macchione Vino Nobile di Montepulciano comes from an estate that dates back to the 18th century; today it’s run by brothers Simone and Leonardo Abram, who took over in 2007. The 2014 Vino Nobile, made from 100 percent prugnolo gentile, is a very pure, stylish expression of sangiovese–tense, mineral-driven, and with just enough dusty grit.

For special occasions, we are pleased to offer two of Il Macchione’s big brothers as well. The 2010 Il Macchione Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, which sees 40 months in wood of ascending sizes and an added three years of bottle aging, comes from their oldest (and highest-elevation) block. The 2009 Il Macchione Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “SiLeo” cuvee, in its first vintage, is named for the two proprietors and spent 50 months in large 2,500-liter barrels.

Finally, if you’re looking for an introduction to the wines of Montepulciano, the shop also offers the 2018 Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano. This young bottling adds a bit of merlot to the mix and is done in a fresher, more accessible style, eschewing oak influence for a sleeker result.

To learn more about the sangiovese-based wines of Montepulciano, please stop by and visit us at Paul Marcus Wines.