Wine Musings – Week of 3/8/18

3-7-18
Wow, it’s been a rough week to be a fine wine retailer. It’s only Wednesday and I’ve had to taste/drink Grower Champagne, Premier Cru White Burgundy (Meursault), Cru Barolo and Barbaresco, and a double fist-full of Super Tuscans and Southern Italian Reds including perfectly-aged Library Releases. I’m not going to talk about the Meursault, ’cause we drank the last bottle (but the bacon fat notes for such a young wine were stunning). Let me apologize in advance for only talking about expensive wines, but that’s the kind of week it’s been (I’ll be all about bargains next week).

So let’s start with the bubbly: Leclerc Briant Brut Reserve Champagne ($69.99) is an absolute delight. The 80% “Black Grapes” (Equal parts Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir with the remaining 20% Chardonnay) comes as a bit of a surprise on the palate; sure, the wine has power and brioche notes commonly associated with lees-aged Pinot varieties, but the fresh, lemony acidity is more classic to Chardonnay-dominated blends. The 4 grams/liter (.4%) residual sugar highlights the quality of their mostly Premier Cru fruit; this level of dryness can easily feel austere with lesser fruit.

The two Italian tastings that I attended were largely for items yet to arrive, but one included newer and older versions of some of my favorites already on our shelves and served to reinforce my adoration of these gems: Galardi Terra di Lavoro 2014 ($64.99) is a blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso from volcanic soils that stands as a benchmark for Campania. It is the only wine made at the winery and the total production is less than 3000 cases. The mix of black cherry and volcanic earth combine with smoked/curing meats to create a wine that, in an odd way may be benefiting from this troubled vintage; that is to say that in “bigger” vintages, this wine might require 10 years of bottle ageing to tame it, but this is already entering the pocket and feels seamless at this point. The name translates as “Land of Work,” but it is no work at all to enjoy this. The 2015 Montevetrano “Montevetrano” ($68.99), from the hills around Salerno is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Aglianico and 20% Merlot and it is a blockbuster (98 points James Suckling). The deep and silky blackberry fruit combined with spice and smokey notes from the year it spent in new french oak lead me to believe this might be the answer to a question I heard at the tasting; will we soon be hearing of Super Campanian or Super Umbrian wines like we’ve come to know the more modern/international wines of Tuscany as Super Tuscans? Whatever the question, if this wine is involved, my answer is YES! Only one bottle currently in stock, but there are a few more precious bottles of this stellar vintage to be had if you want some.