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April 11, 2008
Sassicaia in Sardegna and 2004 Gaja Crus

scavino barolo 2004

In This Issue

A Note from Sergio
I don't spend as much time as I'd like walking through Italian vineyards or sitting in the cellar of a romantic castle discovering the next great wine. It's true that I have the opportunity to do these things more often than the average person, but it's not nearly often enough. The truth is that I spend most of my days in my dark back office, shivering from lack of heat, or in my home office that doubles as our laundry room, glued to my laptop. It's the price I have to pay in order to be able to visit Italy, walk through vineyards, and taste amazing wine, and it's worth it.

Whether it's to Piemonte or to Nantucket, I like traveling because traveling is an opportunity to meet old and new friends around the country or around the world. I often travel to appear at events-public events to promote Italian wine, private events to celebrate wine enthusiasts, and philanthropic events to raise money for charities, from The Waxman Cancer Research Foundation to Jazz Aspen. After my speaking engagements, I often get emails from people who wished they'd known about my event ahead of time. Because these events tend to sell out quickly, and because there's a bunch of really fun ones, I want to take the opportunity to give my clients a heads up on my spring and summer tour schedule. I'll let you know as we add to this schedule. I look forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, enjoy these new selections that include Sassicaia's effort in Sardegna, the crus of Angelo Gaja, and the rare vintage Taurasi of Mastroberardino.

My best,

For more accounts of Italian wine, food and life reserve my new book:
Passion On The Vine: a Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy

Sassicaia in Sardegna

New Arrival: Agricola Punica 2005 Montessu

Agricola Punica 2005 Isola dei Nuraghi Montessu …$31.99
(Sardegna—Carignano, Cab. Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot, Syrah)
Tenuta San Guido's Sassicaia and the island of Sardegna merged a few years ago to form Agricola Punica. The 2005 vintage marks the debut of the estate's second bottling, Montessu, which brings together Super-Tuscan sensibility and Sardegnian flair—a little something Giacomo Tachis thought up when he was vacationing on the Mediterranean island. When you consider some of the achievements of this legendary winemaker—Sassicaia, Tignanello, Solaia, and Solengo—you would think relaxation was the focus of the trip. Instead, Tachis found irresistible inspiration under the Sardegnian sun.

The Tuscan legend grew enamored of the unspoiled land and set about changing the winemaking landscape, much like he did in the pioneering days of the Super-Tuscan movement. However, his focus in Sardegna was not exclusively on Bordeaux varietals. Rather, Tachis sought to base his gentrification on one of Sardegna’s main grapes, Carignano—a humble berry of Spanish origin that was likely brought over during the days of Aragon rule. The Sardegnian terroir favors Carignano, and with the sun boasting a daily running time of seven hours here, this grape enjoys a rare chance to ripen to its fullest.
Convincing his Sassicaia colleagues—Marchese Nicolò Incisa della Rocchetta and Sebastiano Rosa—of this grape’s affinity for Sardegnian terroir, Tachis conceived Agricola Punica, a collaboration between Tenuta San Guido and the Sardegnian cooperative Cantina Sociale di Santadi. Dedicated to crafting Carignano–based wines, the venture bottled its first wine, Barrua (85% Carignano), in 2002. Carignano reprises its leading role in Punica’s follow-up, Montessu (60% Carignano), which also features 10% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. Montessu rewards Tachis’ faith from its opening phase, providing Carignano with the most flattering of introductions in a pronounced nose of berry, currant, tar, and herbs. It draws back a bit on the palate, but only initially—then those tannins relax and allow the wine’s prune, plum, fig, and herbal profile to flesh out in satisfying Sardegnian splendor. Read More About Agricola Punica.

2004 Gaja Crus

An Icon & Mother Nature Combine for the Langhe's Finest
The 2004 vintage for Barbaresco is arguably unprecedented—a long growing season and cool nights captured the concentration of a ripe vintage and married it to superb structure. This riveting tension means that we’ve got two superlative vintage scenarios—structured and ripe—working together to stellar effect. Now consider this remarkable year in the context of a legendary estate. In 2004 Barbaresco, we literally have a vintage that’s caught up to the brilliant visionary who set about refashioning its identity in the late 1960s—Angelo Gaja. In creating a new, provocative image for this virtually unknown commune through the radical introduction of barrique and cru bottlings, practices that enraged Piemonte but captured the worldly audience he sought, Gaja brought Barbaresco far from its previous obscurity. Now, he’s paid back manifold with a vintage that  has risen up to meet his vision with crystal clarity and sensuous style.

As with all Gaja wines from profound vintages, each of these ’04 crus will realize a prodigious maturation period, marked by a simultaneous appreciation in value.

Classic, nuanced, and elegant: this single-vineyard expression in Gaja’s cru Barbaresco trio—the second to be bottled individually (1970)—owns these terms, and in a vintage like 2004, it literally defines them, carrying itself across the palate with graceful deportment and refinement. This procession recalls the elegance of 2001, yet does so with ’04’s stylistic sensibility, delivering a layered, intricate perfume of roses, earth, and tar. Gaja believes that 2004 is most accomplished with respect to its elegance—a quality that, in his opinion, simply eludes the majority of vintages. It is a particularly notable accomplishment in ’04, given the vintage’s high yields. This unusual disparity between quality and yield put Gaja in mind of the 1964 and 1990 vintages when seeking a point of reference for the character of 2004.

Sorì Tildìn and Gaja’s Costa Russi parcels comprise the Barbaresco commune’s Roncagliette Vineyard, which has been owned by the Gaja family since 1967. As with all of Gaja’s cru Barbarescos, Sorì Tildìn’s aging regimen entails a three-week maceration period in stainless steel tanks, followed by a year of aging in barrique and one year’s refinement in cask.

Gaja’s Sorì San Lorenzo is the dark one of the trio, prone to intense brooding and a rather backward-looking view of things. The first of the crus to be bottled individually (1967), Sorì San Lorenzo typically requires the most patience of the three bottlings, despite the fact that it often belies its restraint in aromatic effusiveness. The ’04 continues to dissemble in this seductive manner, yet the wine’s powerful framework checks such behavior and pulls the San Lorenzo back into a state of grand incipience. It settles into thoughtful repose here, choosing to emphasize its studied state of refinement—yet another element that it works to grand effect in ’04. It’s content to remain here for quite some time and promises to gradually admit approach over the next decade, likely continuing its evolution through the close of the following decade.

Angelo’s father, Giovanni, had sourced fruit from San Lorenzo prior to Angelo’s formal acquisition of the plot in 1964, believing that it possessed the highest quality fruit in the Barbaresco commune. It is, truly, a premier cru

Though situated right alongside Sorì Tildìn in Roncagliette, Costa Russi, which was the third cru Barbaresco to take its place in the portfolio (1978), inspires a new lexicon, headlined by terms such as accessible, overt, and generous. In many ways, Costa Russi juxtaposes Sorì Tildìn, fleshing out the other side of 2004’s persona through expressive and seductive fruits. While the ’03 Costa Russi took this demonstrative nature into full-blown opulence, and therefore somewhat obscured Gaja’s trademark elegance, ’04 recovers that quality with rare aplomb. Indeed, that restraint is an essential element of Gaja Barbaresco: In 1996, Gaja forewent the Barbaresco designation for all three crus by adding a minor percentage (5 to 8 percent, depending on the vintage) of Barbera to each bottling. This controversial stylistic technique was intended to heighten the wine’s acidity and approachability, as well as better equipping it to handle the vagaries of a given vintage.

True to its nature, the ’04 Russi is generously disposed on a fundamental level, making this the first of the ’04 Gaja crus to deliver the vintage's virtuosity. Read More About Gaja.

Largest Gaja Collection Available


Langhe Nebbiolo (Nebbiolo, Barbera)

(Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)

Gaia & Rey and Rossj-Bass (Chardonnay)

Alteni di Brassica (Sauvignon Blanc)
Rare Vintage Mastroberardino

Limited Offer: '73, '89, '90
You won't find this anywhere else—an exceedingly rare opportunity to acquire vintages of southern Italy's most significant bottling—Mastroberardino's Taurasi. If you are a collector, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Mastroberardino 1968 Taurasi, one of Italy's definitive landmarks. The memorable vintages presented herein are in profound form, testifying to the wine's remarkable ageworthiness, and collectively represent a cachet presentation of what is arguably the highest caliber expression of the Aglianico grape. The ’73 is particularly rare and unique, as it derives from a winery and cellar that were completely devasted by an earthquake in 1980, with restoration inciting a complete renovation of the winery. This tumultuous event also inspired the family to formally recognize the extent of its fastidious research by sourcing its Taurasi bottling exclusively from one vineyard, the 100-acre Mirabella site, which possesses a clay- calcerous soil that is particularly conducive to the growth of Aglianico. Beginning with the 1986 vintage, Radici (meaning "roots") was appended to the wine's title, signifying the family's intimate connection to the region and its ancient, storied varietals. Read More About Mastroberardino.

Due to the extremely limited availability of this offer, please contact Matt Franco at 212.473.2323, ext. 107, in order to secure your exclusive Radici collection.

IWM on the Road

Join Sergio Esposito and the IWM Team as we tour the country in celebration of his new book, Passion on the Vine, and pour some of Italy's finest regional wines. While this event list will grow, there are several below to mark on your calendar, as Sergio makes his way around the country.

April 22 Official Book Release
Passion on the Vine:
A Memoir of Food, Wine, and Family in the Heart of Italy

Order your copy today.

April 26
12:00-3:00 PM
Book Signing and Tasting at Italian Wine Merchants
Location: New York, NY

Join Sergio and IWM as we celebrate the release of Passion on the Vine with a book signing and complimentary tasting.

May 1
6:30 PM
Terra Terroir Grille & Wine Patio
Location: Atlanta, GA

This event is part of Terra Terroir Grille & Wine Patio’s special Wine Writers Series. Join Sergio at Terra Terroir for a book signing and wine tasting dinner.

May 5
6:00 PM
Italian Cultural Institute
Location: New York, NY

The Italian Cultural Institute cordially invites you to join Sergio Esposito for a presentation of his new book. A book signing and reception will follow.

May 18
2:00- 3:00 PM
Nantucket Wine Festival
Location: Nantucket, MA

Taste of Toscana: Brunello to Vin Santo
Sergio will be signing copies of his new book and educating attendees about the wines of Toscana. The IWM Team will be on hand to pour wines at the Grand Tasting and speak with guests about these unique finds.

July 11
3:00-4:15 PM
Central Coast Wine Classic
Location: Pismo Beach, CA

Sergio will serve as the Quality Wine Honoree at this prestigious occasion, where he'll conduct a symposium that derives inspiration from his new book, offering an illuminating exploration of Italy and its remarkable vintners, including Gravner and Quintarelli. A book-signing session will follow the symposium.

Sept 26-28
Various Events
Newport Wine and Food Festival
Location: Newport, RI

Multiple Wine and Food Events
Sergio will be sharing his passion for Italian wine, food, and culture through seminars and wine dinners. The IWM team will be on hand to pour wines at the Grand Tasting and provide insights concerning IWM's unique finds, while IWM's Cellar Management team assists attendees in creating a balanced wine collection.

IWM Wine Experience

View all of IWM's Upcoming Events.

Spring Awakening: The Season's Palate
April 19, 2008 1:00-3:00 p.m., $125.00
Complement the season with our guide to the Spring’s coolest and most savvy palate pours. Our tasting opens with an Italian rite—whetting the palate with a crisp Prosecco. Never heard of the aromatically riveting Pigato? Taste one of the best artisanal productions from Riccardo Bruna—a true insider label. Red will get a chance to show its seasonal flair in Tenuta San Guido’s Guidalberto, the legendary Sassicaia’s second label. Sophisticated, yet supple, it’s the perfect pour-to-impress wine. We’re not quite done with Sassicaia, though. We’ll also sample the estate’s latest effort—Montessu. Based on one of Sardegna’s principal varieties, Carignano, this debut bottling merges Tuscan sensibility with the Sardegnian sun—be among the first to taste this well-connected Super-Sardegnian. A delicate Moscato will gracefully conclude our Spring revels. Your palate’s sure to catch a case of Spring Fever….

Participants Receive:
• Tasting Booklet that includes IWM's proprietary notes
• Sampling of regional foods prepared by IWM chefs paired with each wine tasted

To learn more about IWM's Studio Regionale Saturday Tasting Series or to make a reservation over the phone, contact Michann Thompson at 212.473.2323, x106.

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