Domaine Lafage Coté Este 2013


Estate: Domaine Lafage was officially established by Jean-Marc along with his wife, winemaker Eliane Lafage in 1996, however Jean-Marc Lafage’s family have been growing grapes in the Roussillon for 6 generations. Jean-Marc transformed the family vineyards into a domaine and began estate bottling the grapes. Today the estate encompasses more than 200 hectares in the Roussillon, 138 hectares of which are vineyards. With a spotlight on old vines, they employ both recent technology such as foliage analysis and field monitoring, along with traditional methods such as organic farming, hand harvesting and only minimal intervention during production.

Philosophy: “A healthy form of viticulture that respects the environment through a sound culture”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vines “located on the eastern side of the hill exposing the grapes to more sunlight in the morning with cooler temperatures in the afternoon, which is ideal for producing a fresh wine”. Aged in stainless steel on lees and left unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: Gold in colour with inviting aromas of pineapple and honeysuckle. Exuding golden tropical flavours of pineapple, mango and honeysuckle in the medium body that are enlivened by a good acidity. Lemon, honey and hints of peppery herbs comprise the ambrosial, mineral driven, dry finish.

50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Marsanne
Côtes Catalanes
Bottled by SARL LaFage
13% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2016

Rated 88 points by the Wine Advocate

Gran Selezione: The New Big Brother in the Chianti Classico Family


Painting at the entrance of the Edna Barnes Salomon Rooms at the New York Public Library.

I was delighted to attend ‘An Exploration of the Terroirs of Chianti Classico’ master class tasting presented by Antonio Galloni, the founder of Vinous; one of the fasted growing wine websites in the world, along with Sergio Zingarelli, President of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, at the New York Public Library.

The class focused on 8 wines from different producers in order to introduce and thoroughly explore the brand new Chianti Classico designation of ‘Gran Selezione’. This is the first time in the history of Italian wine denominations, that a new type of wine was created to be positioned at the top of the quality pyramid, and not at its base. Improvements in technology and winemaking have resulted in higher quality wines that the consortium and winemakers felt there should be another category. In addition to attracting a new audience to the Chianti region, Gran Selezione wines are also poised to directly compete with the premium Super Tuscan reds that carry a heftier price tag [50$-$150 on average] then the majority of Chianti. With Chianti so popular in America, 31% of all Chianti in 2014 headed to the States, being able to compete with the Super Tuscan crowd allows for more flexibility, exposure and dollars.


Antonio Galloni on the left, and Sergio Zingarelli, President of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium.

Gran Selezione is being produced throughout the entirety of the Chianti Classico appellation, with 73 wineries certified in 2014 with a million and half bottles produced. At the beginning of 2015 there were 78 labels of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione for one or more vintages.

Essentially Gran Selezione is “an important Chianti Classico”; crafted to be intense and rich. To have a Gran Selezione designation, the following must happen:
• Grapes must be 100% estate grown. Winemakers are not allowed to include any grapes other then their own.
• A minimum of 80% Sangiovese, Colorino and Canaiolo, typical to Chianti can be included, as well as classic Bordeaux grapes.
• The wine must be aged for a minimum of 30 months, with at least 3 months of bottle ageing. This is 6 months longer the Chianti Classico Riserva.
• A minimum of 13% Alcohol.
• The wine will be evaluated by a 5 person tasting panel that judges if the wine is “good enough” for the designation.
• The trademark Gallo Nero [black rooster] has been restyled and is placed in a more dominant position on the label or neck of the bottle.

Mr. Galloni advised when purchasing Gran Selezione wines, to purchase by the estate. He explained that the sign of a good winemaker is not noticing the winemaker. The wine should reflect the place, essence and vintage, not the maker. Furthering this concept, he instructed, “modern winemaking means you can pay less attention to vintages”, so again, look for your favourite winery, or one you’ve heard great things about and pick it up!

All of the following wines were aged in various sized French oak barrels. All of these wines are expected to age incredibly well, 10 or 20 years or potentially even longer. Prices are the listed retail price supplied by the winery.

1. Antinori nel Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ‘Badia a Passignano’ 2010
From the famed Antinori estate, this is one of the lightest expressions of Gran Selezione. Grapes were sourced from high altitude vineyards that impart more aromatics, and a silky, lighter body. Floral and cedar driven, with balsamic and leather notes wrapped around a core of black cherry and earth.
100% Sangiovese
14% Alcohol

2. Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
A sea salt finish is the signature of Olena wines, and this does not disappoint. An energizing contrast between light, airy floral notes and big, grippy tannins highlight the rich, velvety fruit, whilst sea salt and a bit of caramel linger tantalizing between each sip.
82% Sangiovese, 9% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot
14.5% Alcohol
[Incidentally, this was the star of the tasting, as voted by my fellow classmates.]

3. Marchesi Mazzei ‘Castello di Fonterutoli’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Grapes were sourced from the very best lots on the property; the result is a creamy, round wine with balancing tart fruit along with a bright acidity. Spice and earth notes complete the plush, soft finish.
92% Sangiovese, 8% Malvasia and Colorino
14% Alcohol

4. Vignamaggio ‘Monna Lisa’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Enthusiastically complex, the floral aromas are complimented by cozy baking spices that serve as the introduction to plum, blueberry and tart cherry flavours. Charred herbs and graphite provide an engaging backbone; cigar spice and smoky earth elements comprise the incredibly long finish.
85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
14.5% Alcohol

5. Fontodi ‘Vigna del Sorbo’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Grapes were sourced from a single vineyard whose soil imparts an ambient ferrous quality. Rich and bold, concentrated cherry and red berry flavours are the focal point. Iron notes and good tannins provide a lovely rustic backbone.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
15% Alcohol

6. Castello di Ama ‘San Lorenzo’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Grapes were sourced from a high altitude, cool climate vineyard; the result is a wine with an energetic, spirited demeanor. Although it was pointed out that the wine was “tight and austere” and not drinking yet, wild berry fruit, spice along with a silky smooth lengthy finish proclaim that this will be quite spectacular with a few more years under its belt.
80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and Malaysia Near
13% Alcohol

7. Rocca di Montegrossi ‘San Marcellino’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Grapes were sourced from certified organic vineyards with clay and limestone soil. Rich and powerful, with an intense core of fruit joined by grippy tannins and a clean minerality. Spiced oak, dark fruit along with hints of savoury herbs linger mightily between each sip.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Pugnitello
14.7% Alcohol

8. Felsina ‘Colonia’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
Felsina is renowned for their big, powerful wines, and this is no exception. Taken straight from my tasting notes “Damn is that dense fruit”, this is absolutely radiant with juicy, ripe, dark fruits [black cherry, blackberry, plum and a bit of morello cherry for good measure]. Well structured, with earthy tar notes and bold tannins providing a solid support structure, whilst vanilla, cigar box spice and woodsy oak comprise the lengthy finish.
100% Sangiovese
14% Alcohol


I found them to be modern, sleek, complex wines rangeing in style from ethereal and agile to determined, muscular, powerhouse wines. Stay tuned for Part 2, which will focus on a few of these impressive wineries from the subsequent Gran Selezione ‘Together’ Tasting.



Media event hosted by the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium

Vietti ‘Tre Vigne’ Barbera d’Asti 2012

A dashing, vibrant Barbera emphasizing fresh fruit and bright acidity making it a versatile companion at the table.

Winery: The Vietti winery was founded in 1919 by Mario Vietti and is located in the Langhe region of Piedmont in northwestern Italy. Headed today by 4th generation winemaker Luca Vietti, it was his father Alfredo who is responsible for putting “the native Piedmont varietal Arneis on the wine map”. In addition to rescuing Arneis from extinction, Alfredo also introduced the concept of vinifying grapes from a single vineyard, which at the time was an unheard of approach. Taking over the estate in 1990, Luca has continued his father’s progressive concepts, such as taking an “intuitive approach” to measuring the acid and tannins levels, rather than using modern instruments. Luca organically farms the more than 25 single vineyards that contain vines up to 90 years old.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from organically farmed vineyards in Agliano d’Asti, “in the La Crena site with part of the oldest vineyards used for our Cru La Crena and other adjacent vineyards”. Aged for 14 months in “French oak barrels or Slovenian casks”, then for 2 months in steel tanks before bottling. Left “unfiltered to retain complexity”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with radiant cherry aromas magnified by soft spice. Energetic and lively, this Barbara is absolutely beaming with bright cherry and red currant fruits. Silky soft tannins run parallel with a snappy acidity that lead to earth, black cherry, anise and soft oak spice on the vibrant finish.

Suggested Food Pairings from the Winery: Antipasti, rich salads, grilled seasoned vegetables, hearty soups, pastas, pork, chicken with light sauces.

100% Barbera
Barbera d’Asti
Estate Bottled by Vietti
14% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2018

Rated 90 points by Wine Spectator

Segura Viudas Cava Brut NV

Estate: Segura Viudas was founded in 1954 and is located in the Penedes region of northeastern Spain. The estate is one of the leading producers of sparkling wine in Spain, and is “noted for its high production standards of traditional Methode Champenoise”. The Brut Cava has gained a reputation as a consistent and reliable “best buy”.

Philosophy: To “create sophisticated yet approachable cavas for all occasions”, with 3 defining characteristics; “fruit, freshness and complexity”.

Winemaking: Grapes are hand harvested and transported to the winery in small containers to ensure they arrive in prime condition. Vinified in the méthode champenoise technique, then aged in the bottle for up to 2 years in their underground cave.

Tasting Notes: Light gold in colour with light aromas of apple, white flowers and minerals. Simple and easy going, with subtle apple and melon notes that join diminutive, fizzy bubbles, whilst light citrus zest compliments the dry finish.

Blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
Estate Bottled
12% Alcohol
Enjoy now

Nuevos Vinos ‘Lurra’ Garnacha 2013


Velvety and easy drinking, this is a phenomenal value and a friendly, comfortable Garnacha that you will keep reaching for.

Winery: Nuevos Vinos [New Wines] was founded in 2002, and is located in the Navarra appellation in northeastern Spain. ‘Lurra’ or ‘terroir’ is in reference to the southern part of the appellation, which is known as “heart of the Basque Country and sheep country”, hence the sheep, depicted on the label.

Philosophy: To create wines “with lots of fruit, character, and affordable”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with chalky, clay soil and vines averaging 22 years in age. “Simple and straightforward fermentation” in stainless steel. “No oak aging.”

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with cozy aromas of raisin, baking spices and forest floor. Earth elements provide a rustic backbone for the engaging play of sweet and tart fruits [think fresh cherry, blackberry, black currant and plum] whilst crushed white peppercorn, anise and honey comprise the lengthy finish.

100% Garnacha
Bottled for Nuevos Vinos
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2016