MARISA CUOMO: Rare & Precious Wines of the Amalfi Coast

Cantina Marisa Cuomo
Brilliance of the Amalfi Coast

“Marisa Cuomo and Andrea Ferraioli have really hit a sweet spot when it comes to making wines that reflect the uniqueness of their territory and the distinct grapes used in this isolated garden of viticulture. The winery grows 20 hectares of sea-facing vines on stone terraces that are literally planted on the side of cliffs overlooking the panoramic splendor of the Amalfi Coast and the brilliant azure seashores below. Marisa Cuomo’s wines reflect a profound sense of craftsmanship. They are precious and significant wines, especially when considered against the rich backdrop of Italy’s patrimony of indigenous grapes.” – Wine Advocate

Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, gnarled, 100-year-old vines cling to steeply terraced limestone cliffs. Marisa Cuomo and her husband Andrea work these vines entirely by hand, grueling work against a gorgeous backdrop. The result? Profoundly pleasurable, rare and original wines of a singular character. 

Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, gnarled, 100-year-old vines cling to steeply terraced limestone cliffs. Marisa Cuomo and her husband Andrea work these vines entirely by hand, grueling work against a gorgeous backdrop. The result? Profoundly pleasurable, rare and original wines of a singular character. 

 2016 MARISA CUOMO Fiorduva Bianco $85
Blend of indigenous 40% Ripolo, 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra
“Furore Bianco Fiorduva is a gorgeous wine. Marisa Cuomo’s vineyards benefit from the salty sea breezes and the sunny luminosity that characterize the Amalfi Coast. Those marine influences are what give this wine its profound sense of elegance and beauty. So is the generosity of its fruit aromas. Summer peach, honeydew melon, preserved lemon and tropical fruit all conspire to build the wine’s soaring aromatic intensity.” – Wine Advocate
2017 MARISA CUOMO Furore Bianco $32
60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella aged in steel. Furore exudes the aromas and flavors of the coast: sea breeze, citrus, jasmine, sun-dried herbs and white flowers clinging to the cliffs above the azure waves.

2017 MARISA CUOMO Ravello Bianco $30
60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella. Offers zesty citrus and ripe orchard fruit aromas, accented with brisk marine notes. Apple, sage and mint notes dance on a mineral tightrope. Enticing!

2017 MARISA CUOMO Rosato $28
The most versatile of roses is this one – flat-out gorgeous berry fruit, lush texture and refreshing finish. The hint of coastal herbs makes it a great food wine year-round.

2016 MARISA CUOMO Furore Rosso $30
A blend of Piedirosso and Aglianico. Red cherry and flinty red berries on the perfumed nose. On the palate, the telltale Piedirosso herbal nuances mingle with Aglianico’s richer red cherry and plum fruit. Finishes bright and long, with smooth tannins and plenty of fruity exuberance.

2014 MARISA CUOMO Furore Rosso Riserva $65 
Blend of 50% each Piedirosso and Aglianico, from ancient vines clinging to the limestone coastal terraces at 200/550 m above the sea. The grapes are harvested when fully ripe at the end of October, fermented with intense maceration for 30 days, followed by aging in new French oak barriques for 12 months. Dark ruby hues, intense aromas of black forest fruits, blackberries, blackcurrants and blueberries. Silky texture, with a whiplash of granitic minerals and good intensity of fruit on the palate. Very long aromatic finish of brushwood and spices.

2012 MARISA CUOMO Ravello Rosso Riserva $50
Blend of 70% Piedirosso and 30% Aglianico planted to dolomitic-limestone rock on the Ravello coast at 300/400 meters. Grapes harvested at end of October with intense maceration for 20 days, followed by aging in new French oak barriques for 12 mos. Red with garnet hues, intense aroma of forest fruit jam. Smooth and well-balanced taste with a licorice, vanilla and a long, spicy finish.

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New Wines from MARISA CUOMO, Furore, Amalfi Coast

NEW from MARISA CUOMO, Costa d’Amalfi
Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, gnarled, 100-year-old vines cling to steeply terraced limestone cliffs. Marisa Cuomo and her husband Andrea work these vines entirely by hand, grueling work against a gorgeous backdrop. The result? Profoundly pleasurable, original wines of a singular character.

Just in time for July’s intense heat, a new shipment of the Costa d’Amalfi wines from MARISA CUOMO have arrived in the shop! When you pour these whites and rose into a glass, the cool marine breezes refresh your palate and your outlook.

2017 MARISA CUOMO Furore Bianco $32
60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella aged in steel. Furore exudes the aromas and flavors of the coast: sea breeze, citrus, jasmine, sun-dried herbs and white flowers clinging to the cliffs above the azure waves.

2017 MARISA CUOMO Ravello Bianco $30
60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella. Offers zesty citrus and ripe orchard fruit aromas, accented with brisk marine notes. Apple, sage and mint notes dance on a mineral tightrope. Enticing!

2017 MARISA CUOMO Rosato $28
The most versatile of roses is this one – flat-out gorgeous berry fruit, lush texture and refreshing finish. The hint of coastal herbs makes it a great food wine year-round.

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Wine-Buying Trip to Piedmont, Italy

Visit to Piedmont April 2018

Eric and Carolyn just returned from our wine buying trip to Piedmont, Verona and Venice. It had been several years since our last stay in Piedmont’s Langhe region, and we were excited to find out what had changed since our last visit. It’s always been a stunning landscape with green, vine-covered hillsides, narrow twisting roads, fantastic local cuisine, and of course, our very favorite tannic wines and taciturn winemakers.

The landscape? Still stunning, still very green, and even “greener” – many estates are certified organic or in the process of doing so.

The food? Amazing ly, it’s even better than ever – the addition of fish, especially crudo (raw) on nearly every menu, is a recent and welcome event. While there are no new white wines to pair with the pesce, Champagne and Franciacorta are plentiful.

The wine? Breathtaking. The wines we tasted at the 16 estates we visited were, undoubtedly, the best wines these estates have ever made. And so drinkable!  Where were the formidable tannins that would dry out your mouth and nearly shut down your palate? Where was the dominant oak at certain addresses? Not a trace did we find – in its place were elegance, length, purity, and yes, terroir

 

The excitement was palpable: at each cellar, not only were we excited to connect with our old friends, they were equally excited to present their 2013 and 2014 wines, both very different yet superb expressions of the noble nebbiolo grape. We were honored to spend time with our long-time friends, who, no surprise to us, represent the very best estates in the entire region.  A grand grazie mille to all the Langhe estates for their gracious hospitality, incredible wine, and enduring friendship:

Giuseppe Rinaldi, Barolo

Brovia, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo

San Fereolo, Dogliani

Elvio Cogno, Novello, Barolo

Burlotto, Verduno, Barolo

Allesandria, Verduno, Barolo

Vietti, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo

Renato Ratti, La Morra, Barolo

Giacomo Conterno, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo

Giacomo Brezza, Barolo

Cantina del Pino, Barbaresco

Albino Rocca, Barbaresco

Giuseppe Cortese, Barbaresco

Sottimano, Barbaresco

Ceretto, Alba, Barolo

Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco

 

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Visionary of the Northern Rhone: YVES CUILLERON Tasting March 9 & 10

Epic Vintage, a Visionary Master: 2015 Northern Rhone from Yves Cuilleron

WINE TASTING Fri. March 9, 4-6pm with Michael Kane, Rosenthal Imports

WINE TASTING Sat. March 10, 1-5pm with Eric Broege, VINTAGES

“It takes a particularly sharp-minded visionary to watch over the 50 hectares of vineyards Yves now controls and to keep the quality as dazzlingly high and unfailingly consistent as he does. With this duo of vintages 2015 -2016, we see a master operating at the peak of his powers, and these wines unquestionably represent the finest offerings we have ever had from Yves Cuilleron. In fact, we stand at the crossroads of a period of exceptional quality for the northern Rhône in general as the duo of 2015/2016 vintages appear to rival in grandeur the exquisite twin vintages of 1989 and 1990.” – Rosenthal Imports

“Yves believes 2015 to be the greatest vintage he has ever made (his first being 1987). Not only was nature kind enough to provide the optimal conditions for a harvest both healthy and plentiful, but it was Yves’ first vintage vinified and aged in his incredible new winery—a large, optimally equipped facility that allows him to work with the utmost sensitivity to each wine’s particular needs. Indeed, Cuilleron’s 2015 red wines possess a combination of power and elegance that represents a new height for the domaine. These are wines of profound intensity yet striking harmony, solidly built wines enrobed in perfectly luscious fruit, each one promising years of positive development.” — Rosenthal 

“Since I like Syrah that’s powerful and expressive, 2015 is a fantastic vintage where nature basically made the wine,” Yves Cuilleron told me. He pointed out that ’15 is “an extremely unique year because it’s like a mix of the best qualities of the best vintages of the last 30 years: healthy ripe fruit, concentration, aromatic expression, harmony of tannins and fruit, structure and a healthy crop.” It’s rare in a producer’s lifetime, he went on, that nature is “so generous in all the important departments of winemaking.” –Yves Cuilleron, as told to Vinous 

Whites

2016 YVES CUILLERON Saint-Joseph Blanc “Le Lombard” V.V. $40
“Lombard” is pure Marsanne from 55-year-old vines planted on the slopes of the Côte de Verlieu, fermented and aged in various oak vessels. This 2016 offers a big, assertive, saline nose bursting with fresh almonds and quince. A higher presence of granite in the soils here manifests in the wine’s deeply dense and stony core, and the sappy, viscous palate turns bright and clean on the lengthy finish.

2016 YVES CUILLERON Saint-Joseph Blanc “Digue” $45
“Digue” is a highly granitic lieu-dit with due-south exposition from which Cuilleron produces this impressive pure Roussanne Saint-Joseph. An undeniably rich wine, the 2016 nonetheless maintains a surprising level of acidity, which balances the vivacious, multi-layered flavors as well as the profound minerality of the wine.

2016 YVES CUILLERON Condrieu “La Petite Côte” $60
Made from a variety of southeast-exposed, muscovite-rich, terraced vineyards overlooking the village of Chavanay. Fermented and aged 40% in foudres and 60% in used barrels, the 2016 showcases Yves’s skilled hand with Viognier. Classic varietal notes of ripe peach and apricot stop just short of exotic on the smoke-tinged, assertively stony nose, and the luscious palate offers plenty of acidity and not a trace of heat. A true classic that sets the standard for Condrieu.

Reds

2015 YVES CUILLERON Saint-Joseph Rouge “Les Pierres Sèches” $35
Always a sweet spot for value, typicity, and deliciousness, “Pierres Sèches” especially shines in 2015. Produced from a variety of parcels in the sandy, muscovite-inflected granite soils of Chavanay, it was fermented with 30% of its stems, and spent 16 mos. in used barrels. Dense, yet lifted, it balances ripe smokiness with a lovely purple-flower element, and again the tannins are buffered entirely by the wine’s generous and supple fruit.

2015 YVES CUILLERON Cornas “Le Village” $55
Cuilleron produces “Le Village” from holdings in the vineyards of “Reynard” and “La Côte” in the prime swath of the Cornas appellation. This 2015’s deep, dark color hints at its ultimate intensity, but the nose offers exuberant, exotic incense and violet notes that beautifully offset a rich smoked-meat and mineral core. The palate is full and fleshy, with well-rounded tannins and a long, fresh finish

2015 YVES CUILLERON Côte-Rôtie “Madinière” $75
The “Madinière” cuvée—named after a Rhône tributary—is pure Syrah from the northernmost reaches of Côte-Rôtie. The direct but complex nose reaches high-toned notes with a pronounced spice element and a hint of smokiness. Firm, yet refined on the palate, with a vigorous interplay of fruit, acid, and tannin on a sinewy frame. This is a multi-dimensional Côte-Rôtie that will develop beautifully in bottle.

Late-Harvest White

2016 YVES CUILLERON “Roussillière” Blanc Liquoreux Botrytisé 500ml $30
An unorthodox wine that is not allowed to bear a vintage, “Roussillière” is nonetheless always from a single harvest of very late-picked, botrytised Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier from Cuilleron’s vineyards in Chavanay. This release offers an enormous nose of orange blossom, musk, and honey. Its thick, viscous palate displays a balancing acidity that prevents it from going over the top, and a pretty white-flower note lingers on the finish.

Also available, not in March 9-10 tasting:

2015 YVES CUILLERON Condrieu “Vernon” $125 (white)
“Expansive orange, honeydew melon and violet aromas show outstanding clarity and minerally lift. Silky and taut on entry, then fleshier in the midpalate, offering vivid citrus and pit fruit and ginger flavors complemented by subtle anise and vanilla qualities. Finishes with strong mineral cut and excellent focus, leaving a suave floral note behind. 94 pts.” – Vinous

History of the Domaine: The Cuilleron family domaine, located in Chavanay was founded in 1920. Yves Cuilleron’s grandfather was the first to bottle wine commercially in 1947. Yves assumed full ownership and direction of the domaine in 1987 and has built an entirely new facility while acquiring additional vineyards. The domaine is now significantly larger in scope with 52 ha of vineyards over multiple appellations, including Condrieu, Saint Joseph Rouge and Blanc, Cote Rotie, Saint Péray and a series of Vin de Pays from the Collines Rhodaniennes. A large majority of the vineyards are set on terraces which makes most mechanization impossible. Thus, much of the vineyard work and harvesting continues to be done by hand.

 

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Amarone is for Lovers… of Organic wine!

CA’LA BIONDA, Valpolicella, Italy

Ca’la Bionda is our kind of winery in Valpolicella, quietly making true-to-terroir wines since 1902. In a region where work in the cellar is often the dominant factor in the resulting wine, Ca’la Bionda is one of the rare wineries thatemphasizes a sense of place, organically cultivating old-vine native grapes (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella) on their 29 ha of hillside vineyards. The Castellani family, now in its fourth generation, have set themselves apart through their commitment to expressing their superb limestone-clay vineyards, farmed organically since 2000. 

2011 CA’ LA BIONDA Amarone Classico Vigneti di Ravazzòl $65; Spec. $55.25
70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone and 10% Rondinella. “Intense aromas and flavors of red cherry, sweet spices and cocoa. Smooth. Multilayered and admirably well-balanced, featuring a long, very chocolaty and floral finish. Features greater complexity and depth than many other Amarones from the same vintage. 94+ pts.” – Vinous

2008 CA’ LA BIONDA Amarone Classico Vigneti di Ravazzòl Riserva $85; Spec. $72.25
“Floral red cherry and mineral aromas and flavors have an almost pungent quality. Suave tannins provide backbone and texture. Finishes long and complex, but very lively and vibrant, offering lingering, strong, saline and floral notes. 93 pts.” – Vinous

2015 CA’ LA BIONDA Valpolicella Superiore “CasalVegri” $25; Spec. $21.25
Single-vineyard wine made from 70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and Molinara. Aged 18 mos. in large barrel, and 6 mos. in bottle. A wine of great concentration: the nose is brimming with sour cherries and small forest fruits. On the palate, a generous body, a smooth and silky mouthfeel and a long finish.

2015 CA’ LA BIONDA Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso “Malavoglia” $25; Spec. $21.25
“Ripasso” is a technique which involves re-fermenting Valpolicella wine on the pressed skins of Amarone to add deeper color, flavor and more body. The “Malavoglia” is a faithful expression of the traditional style of this wine:  the wine shows all the qualities of a great Italian red wine, freshness and  elegance with good body and structure. This wine is completely dry in the true Ca la Bionda style.

2016 CA’ LA BIONDA Valpolicella Classico $14.99; Special $12.74
70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone and 10% Rondinella. Elegant and light, this wine is all about freshness and easy drinking, a wine to drink every day with a wide variety of foods from pasta to roast meats.

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Rediscover Rioja!

Rediscover Rioja!
The history of Rioja wine is about as old as it gets, starting with the first Phoenician settlers in 11th c. BC. Not surprisingly, ancient Romans founded many ofthe Rioja vineyards and some of their structures are still intact. Monks and moors exerted their influence over the millennia, but it took the devastation of France’s vineyards by phylloxera in the 1850’s to really kick-start the modern era of wine in Rioja. While classic, long-aging methods have many ardent adherents, wineries pursuing a modern-style red ready for earlier enjoyment have attracted new fans. Whether you’re drawn to traditional, classic wines or a more modern style that bends the rules, there is something in Rioja, and in this tasting, for you.

La Rioja Alta
Classic, traditional, yet constantly evolving
Haro, Rioja Alta since 1890

2008 LA RIOJA ALTA Vina Ardanza Reserva $35
“This is the first vintage that includes fruit from the new Garnachavineyards, about 20% with 80% Tempranillo, aged separately in oak for three years before blending. Offers notes of roasted meat, cured leather, cloves, other spices and an overall balsamic character. The palate feels nicely built, with abundant tannins and good balancing acidity. 93 points.” – WA
2004 LA RIOJA ALTA Gran Reserva “904” 1.5L 96 pts. $125
“The 2004 Gran Reserva 904 is Tempranillo balanced with 10% Graciano. The wine aged for 4 years in used American oak barrels. This 2004, from a superb vintage, shows a superb nose redolent of balsamic woods, spices, leather, dried meat, incense and truffles. The palate shows fully resolved tannins, great acidity and pure, pungent flavors that linger in the mouth forever and that can only be Rioja. 96 pts.” –WA

2011 Rioja Vina Alberdi Reserva $25
100% Tempranillo, aged for two years in American oak barrels. The 2011 vintage offers the hallmarks of outstanding structure, color and aromatic intensity. Enticing aromas of wild red berries, raspberries, red currants and herbs against a balsamic background of vanilla, caramel and roasted coffee. Fresh and vibrant, with soft tannins on the finish.

Bodegas Muga
Tradition and Modernity Side by Side
Haro, Rioja Alta since 1932

2016 MUGA Rioja Blanco $17.99
Barrel-fermented white composed primarily of Viura and Malvasía, with a tiny quantity of Garnacha Blanca which adds complexity and aromatics.Ttraditional in its blend and production, but unique in its higher levels of freshness.

2013 MUGA Rioja Reserva Unfiltered $30
“Blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 7% Mazuelo, 3% Graciano (aged for two years in French oak barrels that are made at the bodega). Cherry and red currant scents are complemented by mineral and peppery spice notes and a hint of game. Sappy and incisive on the palate, offering juicy red berry,  flavors that show an appealing blend of richness and vivacity. Finishes taut, smoky and long.” –Vinous

Lopez de Heredia
The ultimate Keepers of the Flame
Haro, Rioja Alta since 1877

2008 LOPEZ DE HEREDIA Vina Cubillo $30
Traditional Tempranillo blend with Mazuelo and Graciano aged for three years in American oak. Aromas of fresh red berries, cherry pit and pungent herbs, joined in the glass by subtle vanilla and herb nuances. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering lively red currant flavors that flesh out on the back half. In an energetic style, showing very good finishing energy and smooth tannins framing lingering red fruit. -Vinous

2005 LOPEZ DE HEREDIA Vina Tondonia Reserva $50
The 2005 Viña Tondonia Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, fermented in the original oak vats that are now some 140 years of age. There is no temperature control and malolactic was also in the vat. The wine was transferred to oak barrels where it slowly matured in their deep, humid caves for no less than six years. this 2005 is nothing short of exceptional. It’s clean and complex, with more freshness. The wine is very spicy and with a palate that feels very balanced, livelier than in the past. It has a long finish where the flavors are clean. Easy to drink and very pleasurable.

Benjamin Romeo
Iconic Producer of Modern Rioja
San Vincente, Rioja Alta since 1996

2013 BENJAMIN ROMEO Rioja Cueva de Contador 94 pts. $65
“100% Tempranillo fermented in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in new French oak barrels for 18 months. It has a clean, perfumed, subtle nose, very floral and sleek, polished and insinuating. Aromatic and open, with notes of spices (curry, nutmeg), aromatic herbs and wild berries; it turns more and more balsamic with time in the glass. The palate is silky, with an earthy touch, elegant but with personality, with sophisticated tannins and good acidity. Balanced and elegant. This is a great wine whose only problem is having a big brother called Contador. Wait, there is no Contador in 201394 pts.” — WA

2014 BENJAMIN ROMEO Predicador Rioja Blanco $35
“The white 2014 Predicador Blanco is a blend of 45% Viura, 39% Garnacha Blanca, and 16% Malvasía fermented in French barriques with natural yeasts. The wine was matured in barrel for eight months before bottlling. The wine has a good palate with weight and minerality that provides freshness. I feel like this bottling has matured with the years and gained in definition and character.” — WA

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