This beautiful 300-hectare estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, the southernmost of the Chianti Classico zones, has long been one of the great wine producers in all of Tuscany. The estate (with 54 hectares devoted to vineyards) is owned and led by the formidable Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa, with whom I had the good fortune to have lunch with several years back. She is as elegant and charming as you might expect and has a great sense of humor. She got a big kick out of the old joke we told her: “How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? Begin with a large fortune.”
Castell’in Villa produces traditionally made Chianti Classico from 100 percent sangiovese, fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts and then aged for two-to-three years in large barrels before bottling. They produce classic, extremely age-worthy wines, yet they are wines that never come across as being severe in their youth.
The 2018 is an absolute gem, beautifully balanced with deep cherry fruit, sandalwood, licorice, and the typical earthy, forest-floor notes of the Berardenga zone.
Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa
This vintage has produced a great bottle to drink now with just about anything–meats, poultry, pasta, eggplant parmigiana, I could go on. It’s a lovely and generous wine, a bit more forward than the 2016 and a little less fleshy and ripe than the 2017. But the ’18 is so balanced and harmonious, with good structure, that it will no doubt age gracefully for many years, as do nearly all Chianti Classico wines from Castell’in Villa. Don’t miss it.
At Paul Marcus Wines, we are always excited to introduce our customers to up-and-coming winemakers, and we’re thrilled to offer an array of wines from a small, relatively new Burgundian producer from the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. David Trousselle, located near Saint Romain, grows single-vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir from the cooler areas in the hills west of the Côte de Beaune, and the quality-to-price ratio of his wines is nothing short of remarkable.
Trousselle uses traditional Burgundian techniques in the cellar. Chardonnay is pressed directly after the harvest and fermented and raised in mostly neutral barrels. Pinot noir is de-stemmed and given a short maceration prior to fermentation to increase color extraction, with minimal use of new oak. The resulting wines are fresh, supple, and full of character.
We are proud to offer four wines from this rising star of Burgundy:
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcushttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus2022-05-02 13:22:272022-05-02 13:22:27Bottle Rocket: Burgundy by David Trousselle
Nestled in the Alps along the Swiss border, Lombardia’s Valtellina valley has a winemaking history that dates back more than 2,000 years. Chiavennasca (the local term for nebbiolo) is the star of Valtellina’s show, where steep, terraced vineyards and a distinct subalpine climate (loads of sunshine tempered by cool currents) produce some of Italy’s most unforgettable wines.
The terraced vineyards of ArPePe
The Pelizzatti family has been making chiavennasca in this locale for more than 150 years. However, that legacy was in serious jeopardy when, in 1973, Guido Pelizzatti fell ill with cancer. As a result, his four children decided (some reluctantly, some not) to sell the family brand, with disheartening results.
“The brand was destroyed by overproduction,” Guido’s granddaughter Isabella told Wine Spectator a few years ago. “It became a crap wine.”
It was Guido’s son Arturo Pelizzatti Perego who decided to take action and restore the family name. In 1984, he founded a new winery that he named for himself–ArPePe–and eventually bought back the old family cellars. (A sort of “revenge” against his siblings, Isabella called it.) Not only did he help revive the family legacy, he also was instrumental in Valtellina’s renaissance that continues to this day.
When Arturo himself succumbed to cancer in 2004, his daughter, Isabella, and her two brothers took the reins, and today, ArPePe remains the benchmark producer for these singular Alpine nebbiolos. Traditionalists to the end, ArPePe makes wines that prize grace, elegance, finesse, and complexity over oak-driven power. Their wines, crafted with meticulous restraint, bob and weave and dance and jab–no need for a knockout punch when you have that kind of style and sophistication.
The bulk of ArPePe’s grapes come from family-owned vineyards in Valtellina’s prestigious Grumello and Sassella zones. Grumello, where the winery is built directly into the slopes, features a bit more clay in the soil, accentuating the richer, fruitier notes of nebbiolo; south-facing Sassella has shallower and more craggy terrain, highlighting the grape’s minerality.
We are quite fortunate to be carrying five different ArPePe bottlings at Paul Marcus Wines, all boasting 100 percent chiavennasca (nebbiolo) grapes. The 2016 Rosso di Valtellina utilizes grapes from both Grumello and Sassella, and it packs a lot of depth and character into its light and lively frame. It’s rather impressive for an “entry-level” wine.
Moving up the ladder we have two Valtellina Superiore offerings: the 2015 Grumello Rocca de Piro and the 2015 Sassella Stella Retica. These cuvees get their grapes from 50-100-year-old vines and undergo long maceration periods before spending 18 months in large barrels and at least two years in bottle prior to release.
Finally, we have two Valtellina Superiore Riservas: the 2009 Grumello Buon Consiglio and the 2009 Sassella Rocce Rosse. These Riservas spend close to five years in large casks before mellowing in bottle for another three years. Herbaceous, earthy, flinty, and floral, these vibrant, red-fruited gems deliver the entire package and show beyond a doubt how dynamic and multilayered Alpine nebbiolo can be.
Nearly two decades after Arturo’s passing, his motto still lives on: “il giusto tempo del nebbiolo,” which means “the right time for nebbiolo” and is indicative of his family’s passion for (and patience with) their beloved chiavennasca. For more information about the extraordinary, hard-to-find wines of ArPePe, please visit us at the shop.
If you don’t know Clos du Tue-Bœuf, you should. This esteemed Loire Valley estate, run by brothers Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, is named in honor of the lieu-dit “Le Tue-Bœuf,” first mentioned as far back as the Middle Ages. The wines produced from that specific site were favored by nobles such as King Henry III of England and later the French King Francis I.
Amazingly enough, the Puzelat family itself can trace its roots in this area all the way back to the 15th century! Today, the Puzelat brothers show their respect for these ancestral lands by farming organically and crafting wines with zero oenological additions. That being said, these “natural” winemakers produce wines that are unbelievably clean–a true testament to their knowledge of the terroir and their know-how in the cellar.
Now part of the Cheverny AOC, the Tue-Bœuf lieu-dit (named vineyard) sits on the clay and flint soils that make up the south- and southeast-facing hillsides overlooking the Beuvron (a tributary of the Loire). The Puzelats augment their 10 hectares of estate fruit with grapes from the neighboring Touraine appellation. At Paul Marcus Wines, we’re currently featuring a number of white wines from Clos du Tue-Bœuf:
2018 Le Brin de Chèvre Made from the obscure menu pineau variety–which almost disappeared due to the difficulty it has ripening–this chenin-like wine offers a bouquet of similarly obscure tropical fruits. Star fruit, dragon fruit, green papaya, and kumquat rind all make a debut here, and the glossy feel of the wine on the palate is reminiscent of quality Vouvray.
2018 Cheverny Blanc ‘Frileuse’ The name “Frileuse” means “little cold one” and references the frost-prone vineyard that sits at the very top of the Puzelat estate. The cuvée is made from a third each of fié gris (a historical name for a softer, pink-skinned clone of sauvignon), chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. Expect Anjou pear, sweet meadow grass, and minerals. Open this one a couple hours before you serve it, so it can relax and show you all its colors.
2018 Romorantin ‘Frileuse’ Made from vines in the chilly Frileuse site that are as much as 110 years old, this is a dense and powerful wine with notes of almond, fennel, and orchard fruit. It will reward both those who wish to cellar it and those of us who have a little less patience–but please be kind, and decant it.
For a taste of this producer’s red wines, stop in to pick up either the 2019 ‘La Guerrerie,’ a blend of two-thirds côt and one-third gamay, or the 2019 ‘La Butte,’ a single-varietal gamay from 50-year-old Touraine vines.
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.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_20200830_131405691_PORTRAIT.jpg5631000Paul Marcus Wineshttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus Wines2020-08-30 12:50:212020-08-30 15:16:28Producer Profile: Two to Watch in Burgundy
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.
It’s not impossible to find California wine made with grapes grown entirely by meticulous, labor-intensive organic farming. But, being California, the additional labor of eliminating weeds and pests without recourse to the toxic stuff–of hand harvesting and all the rest of it–doesn’t come cheaply.
To have that organic fruit come in so clean that no additions (of yeasts, enzymes to boost the yeast, or acid corrections) are necessary, is certainly the ideal, yet isn’t common. Then to have the winemaking restraint not to over-extract and over-oak, but to simply trust your fruit to show beautifully–that’s less common still. (Why is restraint uncommon? Because nothing guarantees your wine will sell like a high score in certain magazines, and high scores still accrue to pumped-up wines.)
So, when we find organic, natural wines that are handmade with great care, that are clean and delicious and expressive, and (drum roll, please) do not break the bank, we get excited. Madson Wines is all that. They’re a newly established micro-sized winery from nearby Santa Cruz making single-vineyard pinot noir, syrah, and chardonnay. We’ve got both their reds, and they’re well worth your attention.
Their unfined and unfiltered pinot noir comes from Toyon Vineyard on the southwestern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains–a cool, cloudy site just three miles from the Pacific. Their syrah comes from the Ascona Vineyard, at the top of the Santa Cruz range, and undergoes whole-cluster fermentation before aging on the fine lees in neutral French oak for a year.
Both show lovely fruit for drinking now but have the structure and fine tannins to suggest they’ll take age very well. Come visit us at Paul Marcus Wines to learn more about this noteworthy up-and-coming producer.
Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts grew up in Napa and have been friends since childhood, with a shared passion for bike-riding, food, drink, and travel. While trying flat out to have as much fun as possible, they are at the same time making some of the more amazingly unique, yet broadly encompassing wines–the benchmark of how these guys operate.
Arnot-Roberts, their joint venture founded close to 20 years ago, showcases their dedication to this craft, and it’s one of the more inspiring processes I’ve witnessed. I had the privilege of being their harvest intern and assistant for three harvests (2012-2014), immersing myself in their lives for the most intense but gratifying months of the year.
The winery focuses on cool (if not very cold) microclimates for their fruit sources, as retaining acidity is one of the key elements to the freshness and lift in their wines. They are hyper focused on “nailing the pick,” as Duncan would often say, because of the importance of capturing the balance of sugars, acids, and flavors to set a proper foundation for the fermentation process. They also incorporate a number of old-world techniques, like whole-cluster fermentations for all reds (only about one-third whole cluster for their cabernet sauvignons), very little use of new wood (only some in the cabernets), and natural-yeast fermentations. Chardonnays are fermented in stainless and aged in used oak.
Duncan and Nathan have always had a knack for finding some of the smaller, more interesting vineyard sites, ones that seem to have vast, untapped potential. If you look at their vineyard portfolio, it becomes apparent that they know where to look for killer fruit.
Their true passion lies in syrah; their Clary Ranch syrah just might be my favorite wine they make. Heralding from west of Petaluma and a couple miles from the Pacific Ocean, this vineyard is arguably the coldest syrah site in the country. It could easily be slipped into a blind tasting of Saint Josephs from the Northern Rhone and hold its own.
At Paul Marcus Wines, we are fortunate to have more than a dozen of their low-production, hard-to-find offerings, including the Clary Ranch syrah, three different expressions of chardonnay, and a couple of stellar pinot noirs. We also feature two brilliant versions of their coveted cabernet: Fellom Ranch, from the esteemed Montebello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Montecillo, from high above the Sonoma Valley.
The casual demeanor of these two friends belies their calculated decision-making and vastly connected community network of likeminded winemaking peers. The importance they place on family and friends is contagious as well. They’ve been known to throw some pretty decent open house parties, and their harvest lunches don’t suck either. (Actually, the “lunch plan” was sometimes the absolute most important task of the harvest day.) They understand the value of eating well, and of taking a break with your hard-toiling co-workers–to reflect and contemplate, to share insights and humor, to uplift the soul!
Carles Alonso is the kind of guy a lot of winemakers wish they were. Forgoing a career in finance and banking, he made a huge life change. Starting in 1979, Carles opted to pursue a more purist lifestyle; he built a stone house into the mountainside amid the tiny Catalunya hamlet of Els Vilars, in the shadow of the Pyrenees, not too far from the French border.
For his unique Carriel dels Vilars selections, Carles ferments in aerospace-grade, ceramic-tile-lined cement vats to give himself more peace of mind while working without SO2. He crafts wines of the utmost purity from 2.5 hectares, grown on slate, of a co-fermented field blend based on garnatxa and syrah, with a little cabernet sauvignon and carinyena to round it out.
Élevage happens in stainless steel, as Carles doesn’t believe his wine needs to touch wood at any point in its lifespan. This is also why he bottles in used Freixenet Cava bottles with crown caps; he doesn’t want anything to do with cork either. His wines are definitely fruit-forward–somewhat rich and high in alcohol–yet they offer a licorice-tinged, herbal complexity that draws you back for more. For me, this wine would shine on a stormy night, the colder the better, with a spicy lamb braise.
It wasn’t very long ago that Carles struggled to sell his product–nobody really knew anything about him or his wines. Now, he’s become “famous,” thanks to his nonconformist ways and high-quality results. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any back vintages to sell. This is not surprising, considering how little wine he makes each year from those low-lying, low-yielding old vines that are struggling to produce fruit from what little slate dust surrounds them.
Carles is the only year-round resident among the roughly 10 different domiciles within the town limits. He also didn’t have electricity to work with until 2012! Crazy, right? This is the kind of guy I would love to have dinner with. He seems likely to have a memorable story or two, and a few opinions to share as well. He is truly an iconoclast without pretension: forging his own path, making wines how he wants to, and living out his ideals in brazen fashion. That mustache has some clout, too!
These are the kinds of wines that get me excited about being in the wine business, even if they aren’t exactly the grapes I normally drink, or the style of wine that I usually gravitate toward. I can’t help but be stoked on people like Carles Alonso who are crafting natural products from the earth. It requires an enormous amount of passion, skill, and perseverance to succeed year in and year out. This renegade winemaker boasts all of these qualities. Visit us at Paul Marcus Wines, and discover him for yourself.
I recently had the opportunity to taste several older vintages of Bramaterra Riservas from Umberto Dilodi of Tenuta Monolo, thanks to PortoVino importers. The tasting was held at the Kebabery in Oakland, and sure enough, Kebabs and aged Bramaterra Riservas are a stellar match!
The DOC of Bramaterra borders Gattinara and Lessona in Alto Piemonte. This particular DOC has a unique terroir in that it is less exposed to wind, coming predominantly from the north, and is composed of both volcanic and marine soils. Spanna (Nebbiolo), Vespolina, Croatina, and Uva Rara grapes are typically grown in the region. Since the climate here is cooler, the tannins of Spanna generally do not ripen to the same extent as its neighbors, and so instead it is often blended with the other grapes grown. As a result, the wines are known for their freshness, as well as balance and power.
More than likely though, Umberto’s wines haven’t shown up yet on your or other Piedmont enthusiasts radars, since they were never released to the market. In fact, Umberto made the decision to not sell his wines in order to avoid a conflict of interest while he was an integral part of elevating the region to its DOC status in the late 1970’s. Unfortunately, with Umberto’s passing, the winery operations came to an end. However, PortoVino has brought new life back to the winery by acquiring the entire cellar, and provides further insight into the winery below:
The Tenuta Monolo cantina was once part of a villa that contained over 40,000 volumes of manuscripts and books on philosophy, classical music (especially Baroque and Renaissance), and art. Surrounded by three-quarters of a hectare of vineyards, the villa was home to the eccentric musician Umberto Gilodi and his life-long friend, cellar-master, painter and engraver Orlando Cremonini.The two men lived a simple life. All farming was organic; Umberto Gilodi was a meticulous note-taker, and we have his documents that attest to not using pesticides or herbicides in a time when most in that area were. Fermentation was in large wooden botti with native yeasts. The vineyards, and so too probably the wines, were 60% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, 10% Vespolina, and 10% Uva Rara. The vineyard and cellar were followed by the famous Italian wine professor from Torino’s Enology School, Professor Italo Eynard.”
These wines were properly cellared in Rome after Umberto’s passing. Paul Marcus Wines is excited to be able to share the following stellar and rare line-up of aged Bramaterra with you:
2004 Bramaterra Riserva $49.00 (In-stock) Supple and gentle on the palate, with a nice lift of acidity and good length. Great combination of tertiary aromas, including white pepper, cherry, and roses. Perfect to drink now.
2001 Bramaterra Riserva $70.00 (In-Stock) More structure and tannin, and a bit more rustic in character, with predominately meaty, spicy, and floral notes.
1996 Bramaterra Riserva $66.00 (In-Stock) My favorite based on its high acidity, fine tannins, and detailed spice notes. I particularly enjoyed its energy and precision.
1991 Bramaterra Riserva $66.00 (2018 Arrival) The earthiest of the bunch, showing less floral character and more dusty mushroom and savory tomato notes. Also with less acidity than the ’96 so the wine is lovely and gentle on the palate. Do expect to find sediment, and as such we highly recommend decanting this wine.
1990 Bramaterra Riserva $56.00 (2018 Arrival) Moving towards tertiary aromas and flavors. You will find rustic woodsy, wool, and meaty character on the nose, in addition to salty flavors. This wine expresses the vintage, which on the whole was a bit warmer, with a heartier and tannic palate. This would be outstanding paired with grilled steak or kebabs.
1985 Bramaterra Riserva $85.00 (In-Stock and Limited Quantities) Absolutely lovely, lighter-bodied, and etherial. Quite simply a pleasure to drink.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcus Wineshttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus Wines2017-12-28 07:25:272019-02-23 01:49:30Exciting Older Bramaterra Riserva Vintages from Tenuta Monolo