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The Barolo Direct Import Offer, Vintage 2019.

Classic.

The is our Annual Direct Import Offer. This latest edition is, indeed, the most 'Classic' I've ever drafted. Recalling the blue chip polish and balance of 2010, the concentration of 2013, and the magnificence of 2016, the 2019 vintage captures the finest points of the above benchmarks.

TO SKIP TO THE WINES, PLEASE JUST *SCROLL* DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS INTRODUCTION.

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Vintage 2019.

I have been looking forward to sharing this with you for months, now...

The 2019s, though, reflect the climate norm as we now know it and are more aromatic, sexier, forward, and approachable in their youth without compromising ageworthiness. That's a tall order, and, while we are subject to vintage and specific natural happenings in the farm(s) each day of the growing season and eventual harvest, we are also so fortunate to work with the best of the best. Our growers make spectacular wine every year almost irrespective of the challenges that may present themselves. Indeed, like the vines themselves, we find that a winemaker under some stress, makes her best wine, after all.

We have been selling Barolo and Barbareso, now, in the context of an annual Direct Import Offer for approximately a decade. I owe our access and my ever-deepening knowledge and experience almost entirely to my friend Jim, the Portfolio Director of Artisan Wines, my beloved importer of these treasured properties. These 2019s stand to make us very very proud.

I do not typically expand our offer and am not actively seeking new producers to include. This year, I make a rather profound departure from this practice and have added flagship bottlings from two new wineries. I am excited to drink them and honored to list them here. This year you'll note the two newcomers, Monchiero and Lano. Of all of the wineries and producers to 'hit my desk,' these two have caught a highlight of attention from me initially because of the slice of vineyard that they each own and farm. Uniqueness and specialness with respect to pieces of vineyard property, whether famed designated Grand Cru in Burgundy or cult-followed Lieu Dit parcel, cannot be overemphasized. We celebrate the talents of these winemakers, second, after we best understand where they are each working. With this we welcome these two new-to-the-book wineries and already cannot wait to get them onto the dinner table and down into the Cellar.

For 2019, I do not sweepingly conclude 'CLASSIC' and lean in with any kind of rush. Indeed, my research and reading is a process, like anything else. Particularly helpful, and a bit of analysis I came across, is the below set of factors:

  1. A Long Growing Season A long growing season, defined as the period from bud break to harvest, is essential for achieving full physiological ripening of the fruit, skins and seeds. Since Nebbiolo is already a tannic grape, less than full physiological ripeness is heavily penalizing. The growing season was within healthy parameters, while harvest was on the later side, and good physiological ripeness was achieved (for various reasons), so the first condition was met.
  1. Diurnal Shifts – The final phase of ripening must be accompanied by diurnal shifts, which are the swings in temperature from warm days to cool nights. Diurnal shifts create aromatic complexity, full flavor development and color. Evening temperatures cooled down at the end of the season to balance the daytime high and stayed cool during the critical harvest period.
  1. The Absence of Shock Weather Events – Frost and hail can severely and irreparably damage the crop. Similarly, periods of uninterrupted elevated heat can block maturation. Several weeks of rain in spring made vineyard work challenging but appear to have been less severe than in 2018. Hail was an issue in several places but where our producers and their farms are located, we avoided this, thankfully. (Do NOTE: Our newcomer to this offer, Lano, suffered sever hail damage in 2019, thus, we are exclusively offering and launching with Lano's 2018 vintage.)
  1. Stable Weather During the Last Month – The last month of the growing season makes the quality of the vintage. Stable weather without prolonged rain episodes is essential for harvesting a healthy crop. The end of the growing season saw warm days alternating with cool nights. There was some rain at the end of October, but most of the crop was in by then.
  1. A Late Harvest – Harvest must take place in October (possibly late September in some areas), with the final phase of ripening occurring during the shorter days of late September and October, as opposed to the longer, hotter days of August. By present-day standards, harvest was on the later side.

Join me, then. Allocations are very tight this year. I recommend ordering with abandon and ordering early to best ensure fulfillment of your order. This said, the best strategic way for me to lock down allocations of these wines is to come in hot and demand large quantities. Then, in response, we hope that the warehouse shares our vision. If your order needs to be adjusted because of short quantities, I will call you, personally, and we will come to a compromise together. 

THE WINES:

Cantina del Pino Barbaresco DOCG, 2019
from $52.00
In Barbaresco, Cantina del Pino is releasing the last vintage in which Renato had a hand. He was already well into his illness, so Franca took the lead and they are some of the best wines the winery has produced to date. This is my favorite wine i...
Cantina del Pino 'Gallina' Barbaresco DOCG, 2019
$68.00
In Barbaresco, Cantina del Pino is releasing the last vintage in which Renato had a hand. He was already well into his illness, so Franca took the lead and they are some of the best wines the winery has produced to date. This is the second time we...
Cantina del Pino 'Albesani' Barbaresco DOCG, 2019
from $68.00
In Barbaresco, Cantina del Pino is releasing the last vintage in which Renato had a hand. He was already well into his illness, so Franca took the lead and they are some of the best wines the winery has produced to date. If you've been with us for...
Cantina del Pino 'Ovello' Barbaresco DOCG, 2019
from $72.00
In Barbaresco, Cantina del Pino is releasing the last vintage in which Renato had a hand. He was already well into his illness, so Franca took the lead and they are some of the best wines the winery has produced to date. Okay, so...this is THE win...
Gianluigi Lano 'Rocche Massalupo' Barbaresco DOCG, 2018
$56.00
New Organic Treasure: The Rocche Massalupo cru sits at the southern edge of the Barbaresco growing zone, as does the Lano family cantina, in the village of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio. Were you to drive through this little town it’s likely the naturall...
Monchiero 'Rocche di Castiglione' Barolo DOCG, 2019
$74.00
Monchiero is one of only seven wineries to own a slice of the famed "Rocche di Castiglione" vineyard. This estate has all of the earmarks of one about to "emerge" into the limelight. The family has several generations’ involvement in growing grape...
Silvano Bolmida 'Bussia-Vigne dei Fantini' DOCG, 2019
$60.00
I just LOVE this wine year in and year out.  Silvano Bolmida is a teacher...indeed, a professor at the local university for winemaking.  I do not have the chance to harvest or make wine at this point in my career...instead of worrying about the le...
Francesco Rinaldi 'Brunate' Barolo DOCG, 2019
$86.00
My little nickname for this is *Bruno* because, POWER. Elegant power? Yes! Refined POWER? Absolutely...but, this is a lovely, big wine made in the most traditional fashion. Do NOT miss it. -JZS + “The 2019 Barolo Brunate shows a linear and quite f...
Francesco Rinaldi 'Cannubi' Barolo DOCG, 2019
$94.00
Capturing absolutely all that we LOVE about 2019, this paradigm stands out as an opportunity...a snapshot...a benchmark. Really special. Note, too, that Cannubi is among the absolute rarest of Cru sites...a remarkable terroir-driven treat. -JZS + ...
Fratelli Alessandria 'Commune di Verduno' Barolo DOCG, 2019
from $64.00
This is the cellar-stuffer.**  If you're going to lay some Barolo into the gas tank to have on hand and crush with a nice steak, or at the end of a long week, this is IT. Often one of my favorite wines to forget about (if I can for long enough) an...
Fratelli Alessandria 'Gramolere' Barolo DOCG, 2019
Sold out
From what could be said to be the most beautiful vineyard in the World, I have always, and will continue to, refer to Gramolere as the "Great Restaurant Wine" in Alessandria's stable. Indeed, a polished and lovable wine that never pushes redline, ...
Fratelli Alessandria 'San Lorenzo di Verduno' Barolo DOCG, 2019
from $86.00
Okay, I'll be honest...this is my favorite** Barolo, always. SO delicious, so complete...SO elegant. YUM. I could say more...or, could I? -JZS **The challenge with the above, however true, assertion is that this wine along with all Alessandria win...