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In 1975, Maggiore Sottimano purchased the Cottà vineyard and its associated winery to found the Azienda Agricola Sottimano. His son, Rino, grew the estate to include Currà, Fausoni, Pajorè and Basarin vineyards that, since 1990, have been farmed using organic methods. Rino’s son Andrea is the current winemaker. Andrea, in keeping with his father’s philosophy, takes his inspiration from Burgundy to produce terroir-driven wines with minimal intervention. The vineyards’ yields are restricted to produce structured, full bodied wines with long aging potential that are unfiltered and unfined. The wines are fermented in oak with naturally occurring yeasts. Andrea prefers to minimize the influence of new oak on the wines, aging all of his wines primarily in old oak. The family sources French oak for the winery from a single Burgundian cooper Francois Frères.
Five single-vineyard Barbaresco wines are produced from each of the vineyard holdings as well as a dry Brachetto, a rare style for the grape. Wines from the Cottà are rich, fruit-driven with subtle notes of mint and silky tannins. The Currà vineyard produces rich and elegant age-worthy wines. The Fausoni vineyard produces the softest wines with bright acidity and notes of mint, licorice and flowers. The Pajorè single vineyard wine has great elegance with restrained fruit and spicy aromas. Only 200 cases of the Riservas are made during exceptional vintages, of which the 2005 is only the second to be produced. The Riservas are hand harvested from old vines in the Cottà and Pajorè vineyards.
Sottimano Wines – All Available Here Now at the Best Price in the USA!
Expect to pay anywhere from 15% – 40% higher elsewhere
Sottimano Barbera d’Alba Pairolero 2012 750ML ($27.95) $19 special Previously $24 24 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 91 points “Sottimano’s 2012 Barbera d’Alba Pairolero is built on finesse and persistence. Raspberry jam, cinnamon, mint and rose petals are all laced together in a subtle, refined Barbera that impresses for its purity of its fruit and total sense of finesse. This is one of the more refined, laid back Barbera Sottimano has made.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Cotta 2009 750ML ($59.95) $39 special Previously $49 23 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points “Playing very much true to type, the 2009 Barbaresco Cotta is the richest and roundest of these 2009s. As always, it has the most overt fruit to match its generally supple personality. Here, too the richness of the fruit goes head to head with the formidable tannins all the way through to the finish. This dark, fleshy Barbaresco should enter its sweet spot in another five years or so. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Cotta 2010 750ML ($69.95) $49 special Previously $59 10 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 (+?) points “(from classic clay-and-limestone soil; aged in 15% new oak; Sottimano gets all his barriques from Francois Freres): Bright, saturated medium red. Raspberry, brown spices and earth on the nose, accented by a note of wild sage. At once silky and bright, showing tangy floral lift to the intense, tightly coiled red berry and earth flavors. Juicy, sharply delineated wine with a sexy topnote of blood orange. Finishes with fine tannins and terrific persistence and lift. Barbaresco for the Burgundy lover. ”
Sottimano Barbaresco Curra 2007 750ml ($74.95) $59 special Previously $69 8 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2007 Barbaresco Curra is a touch more austere and reserved than the Fausoni, but equally compelling. A wall of tannin hides a core of bright red berries, flowers, sweet herbs and licorice that will need at least several years of cellaring to fully emerge. This, too, possesses exceptional length and fabulous overall balance in a textured, captivating style for the year. With time in the glass, this positively explodes on the palate with layers of ripe fruit and structure, resulting in a fabulous wine that represents the epitome of finesse. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Curra 2009 750ML ($79.95) $59 special Previously $69 11 bottles available
Wine Advocate & Stephen Tanzer 92+ points “Sottimano’s 2009 Barbaresco Curra is striking in this vintage. The Curra is often hard when it is young, but in 2009 the wine has a little more volume and richness, which serves to cover the tannins. Bright red berries, flowers, mint and sweet spices flesh out in this radiant, textured Barbaresco. High-toned floral notes flow through to the inviting close. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.” WA
Sottimano Barbaresco Fausoni 2007 750ml ($84.95) $49 special Previously $59 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points “The Fausoni is usually one of the lighter-weight Barbarescos here, but not in 2007. Dark red fruit, crushed flowers, licorice and sweet baking spices come together beautifully in this ripe, sensual Barbaresco. There is a wonderful richness to the fruit that virtually covers the tannins, all while avoiding any sense of heaviness. Simply put, the Fausoni is an overachiever in this vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Fausoni 2009 750ML ($59.95) $39 special Previously $49 23 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points “A sweet, floral bouquet infused with a note of mint announces the 2009 Barbaresco Fausoni. This mid-weight, gracious Barbaresco is all about finesse, detail and nuance. I very much like the sense of energy here. Firm yet well-balanced tannins frame the long finish. The balance of fruit, acidity and structure is about as harmonious as it gets in 2009. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Fausoni 2010 750ML ($69.95) $39 special Previously $59 12 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “(aged in 25% new oak; from sandy soil): Good medium red. Highly perfumed aromas of redcurrant, red plum, licorice, incense and dried herbs. Juicy and fairly light, with lovely rose petal lift to the pure flavors of red fruits, dry spices and herbs. Finishes with fine-grained tannins and excellent length and lift.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Pajore 2009 750ML ($64.95) $39 special Previously $51.90 35 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer & Wine Advocate 93 points “(from a high-altitude, limestone-rich vineyard in Treiso): Good bright red. Sexy, elegant nose offers strawberry, raspberry, tobacco and spices. Juicy and primary for the vintage, with excellent mineral and spicy cut giving precision to the middle palate. Very Treiso in character, and the highest in acidity of these 2009 Barbarescos (6 grams, vs. 5.5 for the others). Finishes energetic and long, with chewy, firm tannins and terrific lift. This really transcends the vintage. “But not the best style of wine for a blind tasting,” notes Sottimano.” ST
Sottimano Barbaresco Pajore 2010 750ML ($69.95) $39 special Previously $59 10 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92(+?) points “(from a limestone-based vineyard in Treiso, planted at an altitude of 380 meters; vinified with 15% whole clusters): Good bright dark red. Slightly balsamic aromas of cherry cola, dried spices, cedar and cigar box, with some suggestions of very ripe fruit. Lush, round and silky but less showy and aromatic today than the Cotta. Less primary fruit and more soil and tobacco here, supported by firm limestone-driven acidity. Finishes with dusty tannins that reach the front teeth, and a building sweetness that leaves behind nuances of herbs and spices.”
Sottimano Barbaresco Riserva 2005 750ml ($119.95) $69 special Previously $89 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2005 Barbaresco Riserva is a dense, powerful, fruit-driven Barbaresco that is virtually impenetrable at this stage. This old-vines selection from Cotta and Pajore remains incredibly primary and youthful. Dark fruit, smoke, leather and tar are just some of the notes that linger on the massive yet impressively round, harmonious close. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030. ”
In 1978, Michele Aubery-Laurent and her husband, Philippe, purchased this estate with its 12 hectares of vineyards. After he passed away due to an accident in 1999, Michele was thrust into the role of winemaker. She went her own direction with the estate, focusing more on naturalistic production and earning cult status for her
Michele has expended the estate to 26 hectares of vines. Her son, Maxime Francois, assists with the estate and bottles his own cuvees under the Domaine name. The vines range in age from 5 to over 100 years old. The estate is certified organic by Demeter and practices many aspects of biodynamics. At home and on the estate, the family lives sustainably in an old-fashioned way. The winery is gravity-fed. The wines are fermented with ambient yeasts and aged in oak demi-muids and foudres. Minimal sulfur is added. The L’Elementaire bottling highlights their (mostly) Grenache plantings from the Valreas plateau. The plateau is 400 meters in altitude with clay and limestone soils. The vines are approximately 45 years old. The Poignee de Raisins (a handful of grapes) is a youthful Grenache wine with very low sulfur. The vines are 5-30 years in age and are planted on clay, limestone and gravelly soil. The wine is aged in vats for six month and has a fresh character.
Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone Poignee de Raisins 2012 750ML ($27.95) $19 special 3+ cases available
Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone Poignee de Raisins 2012 1.5 LITER ($59.95) $39 special 4 magnums available
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90 points “(all grenache): Brilliant violet color. Energetic red and dark berry aromas are complicated by notes of white pepper, anise and floral oils. Tangy and precise on entry, then deeper and broader in the middle, offering juicy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors that gain sweetness with air. Smoothly blends richness and energy on the spice-tinged finish, which is firmed by slow-building silky tannins.”
The average listed price is $26 / bottle
Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone l’Elementaire 2011 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special 17 bottles available
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90 points “Dark purple. Vibrant aromas of black raspberry, smoky minerals, potpourri and cola. Impressively lively and silky, with a lacy quality to its red fruit, violet and cracked pepper flavors. In spite of its very good flavor intensity this comes off almost weightless. Finishes with resonating notes of allspice, minerals and floral pastilles and just a hint of silky tannins.”
Uncommon Varietals from Uncommon Regions
Across the world there are thousands of varieties of grapes lovingly cultivated and turned into wine, offering a startling amount of diversity beyond the standard varietals. While the international superstars such as Chardonnay and Cabernet still constitute the vast majority of wines served, some of the most intriguing values come to us from unrecognized and often-ignored appellations. Gathered below are a few producers who continue the traditions of their respective regions, working with the lesser known varietals indigenous to their area that have continued to please local consumers for generations. Trade out your go-to varietal choices for any of these wines; try something new and you are bound to be pleased!
Tenerife, where the vineyards of Suertes del Marqués are located, is the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands; an archipelago located in the Atlantic ocean, off the coast of northwest Africa. The Estate was founded in 2006 and is run by winegrower Roberto Santana and owner Jonatan Garcia Lima. Together they farm 9 hectares of vineyards with altitudes ranging from 350–700 meters, on the slopes of Mount Teide, an active volcano. The work here is as natural as possible, practicing organic viticulture, the use of native yeasts, and all the wines are bottle with no fining or filtration.
All Suertes vines are pie franco (ungrafted) and many of the vines are over 100 years old, trellised with a system unique to the Canary Islands: el cordon trenzado (the braided cord), with a number of the trained vine’s branches braided together. Tenerife is unique in its location; highly influenced by the northern Alisio winds, this region’s fresh climate can be tasted in the invigorating structure of its wines, the old vines accounting for low yields and the intensity of flavor found in these rare varietals.
The main varieties produced at Suertes are Listán Blanco (the same grape as Sherry’s Palomino Fino) and Listán Negro. Distinctive and authentic, the wines are complex, notably perfumed, with a striking minerality. The 7 Fuentes is a blend of several plots of Listan Negro blended with a small amount of Tintilla (Grenache). Fermented in stainless steel, the result is a spicy and bright red wine. The Solana, a single vineyard plot from the estate with vines a minimum of eighty years old, are fermented in concrete before being aged in French oak barrels. With richness similar to nearby Spain’s Reservas, the Solana’s dark fruit flavors are mingled with the spicy aroma and bright minerality that the unique Listan Negro is loved for.
Suertes Del Marques 7 Fuentes Valle de la Orotava 2013 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “(98% listan negra and 2% tintilla; aged for eight months in a combination of concrete tanks and 500-liter French oak barrels): Brilliant red. Spice- and mineral-tinged red fruits on the intensely perfumed nose and palate. Fine-grained and very well balanced, with sexy floral pastille and incense qualities coming up with aeration. Finishes with strong mineral cut, no obvious tannins and excellent spicy persistence.”
Suertes Del Marques La Solana Valle de la Orotava 2012 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “Brilliant ruby. A complex bouquet evokes intense raspberry, floral and mineral scents and a hint of Asian spices. Vibrant and precise on the palate, offering lively red fruit flavors that gain sweetness with air. Silky tannins give shape to the finish, which emphasizes juicy red fruit and rose pastille qualities.”
Founded in 2006 and situated in over 30 hectares of beautiful countryside, the Binigrau winery sits right in the heart of Mallorca on the lovely Belearic Islands, located off the east coast of Spain. With a sandy topsoil covering layers of limestone and clay, the wines of Mallorca reflect their Meditteranean climate; high altitude vines, short mild winters and hot dry summers that produce wines of intensity and verve. A little heard of, much less tasted, area, Mallorca is a growing winemaking region providing flavor and value that rivals nearby Spain.
Working under bio-dynamic principles, the wines of Binigrau are made using sustainable vine-growing processes, strict grape selection and are harvested entirely by hand. With great respect for the ecology of the area, Binigrau works with several varietals that are indigenous to the area. Manto negro, which accounts for nearly 40% of total vineyard production in the area, is typically blended with other local varietals like Callet ( a dark-skinned varietal commonly used to add body and color), producing a wine that is bold and rich with smooth tannins. Prensal blanc (aka moll) is the most widely planted white varietal of Mallorca, loved for its fresh and herbal quality. Winemaking is done using small tanks and oak wine barrels made using specially selected wood, with extra care taken in each of step of the process to produce a truly unique wine.
Binigrau Nounat Vi de la Terra Mallorca, Balearic Islands 2012 ($31.95) $28 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90 points “(85% native prensal and 15% chardonnay): Pale, green-tinged yellow. Highly aromatic nose combines tangerine, honey, iodine and chamomile. Deeply pitched orchard and pit fruit flavors are enlivened by juicy acidity and pick up notes of honey and smoky minerals with air. A bitter citrus pith note adds definition to the long, sappy finish.”
Binigrau Obac de Binigrau Vi de la Terra Mallorca, Balearic Islands 2009 ($31.95) $28 special
Winery notes “A coupage of Mantonegro, Callet, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah grapes, matured from between twelve and fourteen months in fine-grain oak barrels. An elegant, dark ruby-coloured wine with a subtle shade of garnet. Aromas of spice, nuts, fennel and licorice, combined with a well-integrated underlying taste of mature fruit and wood.”
The Allegrini family has been handing down grape growing and wine producing traditions over many generations, playing a major role in the Valpolicella Classico area since the 16th century. Giovanni Allegrini is the founder of the new generation, dedicating his many resources and energies to this land. Among the first in the area to combine the science of enology with strict grape selection, between 1960 and 1970 Giovanni Allegrini made some of Valpolicella’s best wines. Allegrini continues to make wines with real personality, bridging tradition and modernity with great success, and providing truly unique wine in the process.
With 90 hectares of vines, the Allegrini estate is based in the heart of Valpolicella, just north of Verona in northeastern Italy. Valpolicella (or valley of many cellars) is an area crossed from north to south by a series of hills with steep-sided, narrow river beds which remain dry for a good portion of the year. The Valpolicella blend is based on three indigenous red-wine grape varieties grown in the Veneto region in Italy’s northeast. Corvina, and to a lesser extent Corvinone, play the starring role, providing acidity and the dark cherry flavor of the wine. Rondinella is used primarily to add color and body to the blend, offering herbal notes and further enhancing the gentle spiciness of Corvina. Because these grape varietals have traditionally tended towards producing light bodied wines, local winemakers employ various techniques to achieve greater depth and complexity when producing Valpolicella wines and the prestigious Amarones. For a passito wine (the method used to produce Amarone) the grapes are dried out for weeks or even months prior to fermentation, during which time their natural sugars and flavors become sufficiently concentrated to produce deeper, richer wines. The ripasso method is to ‘re-pass’ (re-ferment) the passito grapes with standard Valpolicella wine, creating a deeper, more characterful red.
Allegrini’s winemaking philosophy is largely based on the concept of “cru” production: a single vineyard dedicated to the production of local varieties destined to become a single wine. The standard Valpolicella is the traditional blend aged in stainless steel, producing a fresh, fruit forward wine. The Palazzo della Torre is the estate’s “baby Amarone”, produced from a single vineyard and using the ripasso method, 30% of the vineyards yield is dried for months before being blended with the remaining 70% that was pressed directly after picking. The La Grola vineyard was purchased by the Allegrini family in the late 1970’s and is one of the more unique crus with the addition of 10% Syrah to the mostly Corvina based wine, the grapes are freshly pressed after picking and aged in barrel for 16 months.
Allegrini Valpolicella 2013 750ML ($17.95) $14 special
Winery notes “Ruby red in colour, with purplish-blue highlights; the nose exhibits fragrant fruit with prominent notes of cherries, echoed by fresher hints of pepper and aromatic herbs, typical of Corvina and Corvinone, the historic varietals of this appellation. Whilst young it is impressively lively and playful on the palate whereas some two years on it expresses greater delicacy and finesse.”
Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Veronese IGT 2010 750ML ($24.95) $18 special
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2010 Palazzo della Torre is 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese that is air-dried until December after the harvest. That brief appassimento has shaped a delicious wine with loads of cherry and dark spice. It’s a great value with the depth of concentration and length that would match a wine double this price. Drink 2013-2018.”
Allegrini La Grola Veronese IGT 2011 750ML ($29.95) $26 special
Winery notes “A full-bodied, intense and elegant wine. Deep ruby red in colour, it has a wide and embracing bouquet with scents of wild berries and juniper, tobacco and coffee essence. Made from Corvina Veronese, Oseleta and Syrah grapes grown in La Grola, one of the most prestigious vineyards in the Valpolicella Classico area in terms both of history and position.”
Sanford Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2011 750ml ($29.95) $16 special
Winery Notes--“Our 2011 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay is sourced exclusively from our two estate vineyards in the heart of this cool climate appellation. The 2011 vintage was marked by low yields due to spring frost. This resulted in intense flavors with bright acid. By gently whole cluster pressing and barrel fermentation in French oak, this Chardonnay has lovely texture to balance the vibrant palate. Our 2011 estate Chardonnay offers intriguing aromas of lemon peel, apricot and toasted hazelnut. In addition to the bright fruit, this wine has aromas of white flowers. On the palate the minerality and acidity give this wine great structure, which carries through its long finish. This full bodied wine has nice acidity to keep it in balance and makes a nice complement to most seafood, poultry and pasta with lighter sauces, and makes and excellent pairing with mushrooms (especially chanterelles and morels).”
Sanford Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2009 750ML ($49.95) $24 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 88 points “Ruby-red. Dried cherry and redcurrant on the pungent, spice-accented nose. Taut and focused on entry, then sweeter and fleshier in the mid-palate, offering juicy red fruit flavors and a touch of medicinal herbs. Dusty tannins give grip to the finish, which features a refreshing jolt of bitter cherry.”
The average listed price is 75% higher at $42 / bottle
Sanford Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Santa Rita Hills 2009 750ml ($59.95) $29 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “Vivid ruby-red. Smoky cherry and raspberry scents are complicated by notes of potpourri and anise, with a subtle vanilla quality building in the glass. Juicy and penetrating, offering intense red fruit preserve flavors that put on weight with air. Closes silky, sweet and long, with harmonious tannins and a touch of mocha. This sexy pinot is delicious right now.”
The average listed price is $42 / bottle
Sanford Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard Santa Rita Hills 2010 750ML ($69.95) $39 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “(50% new French oak): Bright ruby. Sexy, oak-accented aromas of blackberry, vanilla and licorice, with a smoky overtone. Offers deep cherry and dark berry flavors on the palate, with a bitter chocolate nuance gaining strength with air. This rich but lively pinot finishes sweet and long, with fine-grained tannins building slowly.”
The average listed price is over 60% higher at $66 / bottle