Vintage Power: 1997 Brunello Riserva, 2001 Franciacorta, and Glorious 1980s Wines

September 22, 2016
A Note from Sergio

Let's understand wine vintages by looking at winemaking like the sport of running. A wine from a warm season runs at a sprint. It jets out of the gate, and it is a marvel. It's captivating in its grace and power. But like a sprinter, it can get tired quickly. It can't necessarily run that fast for all that long. A wine from a cooler season, for example 1996, is like a marathon runner. It doesn't look that impressive at the start, but when you get twenty miles in, you see the stars; they're the runners who make the long race look effortless.

The trick is to be a producer who knows when to pick his or her grapes, and in a warm season, this can be difficult. A grape has three important parts: the skin, the flesh and the seeds. The skin turns color, the flesh grows sweet, and the seeds change from green to brown. The issue is that the seeds don't always ripen along with the flesh and the skin--especially in a warm growing season. As harvest arrives, producers have to make the crucial choice of when to pick, divining the perfect blend of ripeness of the different parts of the grape to ensure good balance among the grape's sugars, acidity and tannins. A great winemaker will find the perfect moment when the flesh and the seed are ripe, a moment that's evanescent and urgent--no matter if it's a warm year, a cool year, or something somewhere in between.

Vintage variation is what makes wine so compelling. Every bottle tells a different story-about the rain that fell, the sun that shone, the breezes that blew, even the snow that drifted (or failed to). Today, I'm very proud to highlight vintage in this eLetter's offer: there's a benchmark warm vintage 1997 Brunello Riserva from Conti Constanti; a gorgeous 2001 Franciacorta from Ca' del Bosco, Italy's answer to vintage Champagne; and almost 75 wines from the 1980s, mostly Italian gems with some international jewels thrown in for balance. Celebrate the year you have--with wines that represent the past!


Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence:
1997 Hits Its Stride in Conti Constanti's Brunello Riserva
2. Only At IWM:
Italy's Answer to Vintage Champagne
3. Time Sensitive Offer: The Glorious '80s, Select Wines from 1980-1989
4. Wine Events: Upcoming September / October Wine Tasting Events

My Best,


Sergio Esposito


From Robert Parker to the New York Times, wine critics lauded 1997 as a contender for Italy's vintage of the century. Upon release, the wines were rich, opulent and approachable, and they heralded a renaissance in Italian winemaking. Put into historical perspective, 1997 shone as something very special. It had an unusual, magical growing season, one that began with naturally reduced yields and ended with a hot harvest that delivered super-concentrated, almost dehydrated berries. The result was that critic after critic gave one Italian wine after another impossibly high scores in the press, and, quite rightfully, people enjoyed drinking them. What's not to love about a well-made, rich wine?

Today, we're delighted to present one of our favorite vintage Brunello bottlings in IWM's temperature-controlled cellar, Conti Costanti 1997 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. In many ways, this wine embodies the various points that made 1997 so great: it's genial yet structured, and it's opulent yet nuanced, showing a perfect marriage of vintage, terroir and winemaking protocol. Broad-shouldered and welcoming, this '97 Brunello Riserva almost grabs you by the ears and pulls you to the glass; full bodied but energetic, it whooshes across the palate with vibrant acidity. This is a wine Brunello aficionados won't want to miss, especially at the BEST PRICE in the country.

In 1559 Conte Scipione Costanti moved to Montalcino, where he built a villa in Colle al Matrichese. Generations later, Santi and Tito Costanti grew the first of the local Sangiovese Grosso clone, vinified as a single-varietal wine called Brunello di Montalcino. Tito presented two vintages of this Brunello, 1865 and 1869, at an exhibition of quality wine from the territories surrounding Siena. The first commercial Costanti Brunello releases began with Conte Emilio, who began production in the early 1970s. He and his brother Elvio created top-flight wines from the family's 61-acre estate (about 30 under vine), and in 1982, they passed the estate to their grandson Andrea.

Balancing international and traditional winemaking protocol, Conti Costanti makes wines that are age-worthy as well as approachable. Sweet, succulent red fruits dance with brooding notes of tar, mocha, minerals, freshly tilled earth, truffles, underbrush and savory spice in this opulent, lush '97 Brunello Riserva. Sweet inner perfume meets its complement in chewy tannins and a strong mineral core in this delicious, complex and structured wine. If you're a fan of mature Brunello--and, really, who isn't?--you'll want to be sure to add this wine to your cellar. It's perfectly mature, and it comes with the IWM Difference: a guarantee of straight-line, pristine provenance and exceptional care.

(Italy, Toscana - Sangiovese Grosso)
$119.00 Regular Price
$109.00 Half-Case Price/btl
$99.00 Case Price/btl

*Pre-Arrival, Winter


Italy's answer to Champagne is one of our favorite sparkling wines: Ca' del Bosco 2001 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi. Lombardia's Franciacorta has become synonymous with Italy's méthode champenoise sparklers; winemakers in Franciacorta don't replicate Champagne as much as they craft an homage to it. Situated in a natural bowl that looks across Lake Iseo to the Alps, Franciacorta has lower temperatures than the rest of Lombardia, and its gravelly, glacial moraine soil forestalls ripening and imparts a piquant acidity to the wines. Ca' del Bosco, founded in 1968 by Maurizio Zanella, is one of Franciacorta's leading estates, carefully crafting artisanal expressions from its 230 acres, using the principles of supreme drinkability, harmony and balance as its guide. Today, we're delighted to present the BEST PRICE in the country on magnums of this delicious, artisanal Italian original, Ca' del Bosco '01 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi.

Why Buy This Wine:

- A blend of 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco and 20% Pinot Nero, the special Cuvée Annamaria Clementi utilizes only the finest grapes from Ca'del Bosco's vineyards for this iconic wine, made only in the very best of vintages.

- Crafted using méthode champenoise, this wine's structure, complexity and elegance are remarkable, and this bottle can easily stand up to the great vintage bubbles in Champagne.

- Lemon curd, toasted brioche, almond nougat and white flowers greet the nose in this ultra sophisticated, creamy '01 Franciacorta.

- Perfect, elegant perlage tickles the palate, while this fresh wine's savory palate makes it an ideal complement to food.

- Suited for special occasions, this gorgeous vintage bottling honors Annamaria Clementi, mother of the founder of Ca' del Bosco, and this '01 Cuvée shows that Italian sparkling wine can compete with some of the best of Champagne.

- IWM is pleased to present magnum bottles of Ca' del Bosco 2001 Cuvée Annamaria Clementi at the BEST PRICE in the country; it's the sophisticated Italian sparkler to celebrate your life's most important moments.

(Italy, Lombardia - Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero)
$300.00 Regular Price
$249.00 Special Price/btl
$229.00 3-Pack Price/btl


More than the time of Hammer pants, Family Ties, and Joe Montana, the 1980s were a time of technological change, especially in Italian winemaking. While the Super-Tuscan Revolution had started with Tenuta San Guido's release of its 1968 Sassicaia, it truly bore its fruits in the 1980s, as other estates followed suit. Soon Sammarco (1980), Le Pergole Torte (1980), and Ornellaia (1985) followed on its heels; innovation even spread into Piemonte as Barolisti experimented with cru bottlings, barrique aging and more. Italy was flowering in a winemaking renaissance as winemakers adopted modern viticultural and vinicultural protocol, lowering grape yields, turning organic or making other quality enhancing changes. And as in the Renaissance, these changes weren't limited to Italy; winemakers across Europe were taking stock and upping their games. Today, we're delighted to present more than seventy wines that celebrate this flowering of wine culture, direct from our temperature-controlled cellars--all with special, time-sensitive pricing.

Why Buy This Wine:

- From iconic 1980 Case Basse di Soldera Brunello to extraordinary 1989 Quintarelli Alzero, this list of more than 70 wines from the glorious 1980s represents a bygone era, and it allows enthusiasts of mature wines indulge their palates without depleting their cellars.

- You'll find hard-to-find bottles from Edoardo Valentini, the late, great "Lord of the Vines" from Abruzzo; long-aging, kaleidoscopic whites from Fiorano, the fairytale estate of Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi; and Ceretto's outrageously excellent Barolo and Barbaresco.

- Super-Tuscan lovers will thrill to find vintage Tignanello, Sassicaia, Solaia, Sammarco, and Flaccianello, while Brunello fans will swoon over wines from Biondi-Santi, Cerbaiona, Soldera, and Pertimali Sassetti.

- You'll find perfectly kept Barolos and Barbarescos from their greatest makers, including Giacomo Conterno, Angelo Gaja, Vietti, Aldo Conterno, and Bruno Giacosa, making this list a collector delight.

- We've even selected fine wines from outside of Italy, including bottles from France's Château Mouton Rothschild, Louis Roederer, George Noëllat, and more-as well as Spain's Vega-Sicilia and Marques de Caceres.

- From beloved Quintarelli gems to cult Gravner jewels, this list represents some of the greatest wines from the 1980s, pulling from classic, late-harvesting years like 1982 and 1989, as well as sleeper vintages like 1985 and 1988.

- Take a sweet 10% discount off a half-case or a bodacious 15% off a full case, but do it soon; like the totally awesome '80s, this sale will soon be a thing of the past.

Click to download complete list PDF.

Wine Vintage Size Price/btl 6pk Price/btl Case Price/btl
Antinori Tignanello
1983 0.75 $225.00 $202.50 $191.25
Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva*
1988 1.5 $1,999.00 $1,799.10 $1,699.15
Fiorano No. 25 Bianco
1986 0.75 $149.00 $134.10 $126.65
Gaja Barbaresco*
1985 0.75 $359.00 $323.10 $305.15
Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva
1983 0.75 $1,299.00 $1,169.10 $1,104.15
Pertimali Sassetti Brunello Riserva
1988 0.75 $165.00 $148.50 $140.25
Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella
1983 0.75 $1,200.00 $1,080.00 $1,020.00

Click to download complete list PDF.

This offer will expire in 48 hours on September 20th at 5:00 pm EST.



Saturday, September 24 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Ticket Price: $125.00

Nebbiolo and Sangiovese are Italy's most emblematic grapes. The first grape is the pride and joy of Piemonte, the essence of Barolo and Barbaresco, and the foundation of tannic age-worthy wines; the second is most often found in Toscana, the focal point of Chianti Classico and many Super Tuscans, and the building block for fresh wines of varying longevity. Join IWM as our knowledgeable wine expert leads you through these two building blocks of Italian wines, and learn about soil composition, terroir, regional traditions, and stylistic differences, all while adding to your appreciation of Italian wines. It's like a wine tour through the heart and the head of Italy, all without leaving glamorous Union Square.

Featured Wines:

Fantinel Prosecco Brut Extra Dry NV
Donnas Vallee d'Aosta Rosso 2012
Montevertine Rosso 2013
San Giuliano Barbaresco 2011
Valdicava Rosso di Montalcino 2013
Poderi Aldo Conterno Langhe Nebbiolo Il Favot 2013
Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2011
Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004
Fontodi Flaccianello 2013

*Wine list may be subject to change.

Saturday, October 1 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Ticket Price: $125.00

The temperature's dropping and we're reaching for heartier fare. As roasts, game, stews, and casseroles begin to appear on our tables, it's time to find big, bold reds that will make these rich, dark dishes sing. It's time, in short, for some of IWM's favorite brooding, complex wines. Join IWM at this tasting dedicated to wines that won't be overshadowed by cold weather's robust foods. Our knowledgeable sommelier will pour delicious bottles hailing from Italy's North--think well-known Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello--as well as its South--think cult favorites like Montevetrano, Terra di Lavoro or Taurasi. Accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, this tasting will rev your palate and broaden your pairing horizons. Winter is coming, but these wines will warm you from the inside out!

*Wine list to be announced.

Saturday, October 8 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Ticket Price: $155.00

The delicious flavors of autumn come together in this special IWM luncheon, featuring new menu items from IWM's Chef Mike Marcelli and our favorite fall weather wines. This special tasting puts dishes made by IWM's in-house kitchen staff front and center and showcases all of fall's finest tastes, from comforting squashes to nourishing meats. Of course, each of the handcrafted courses isn't complete without perfect wine pairings--and a knowledgeable IWM sommelier on hand to explain the wine's history, typicity and traditions. Welcome fall with an open mouth, a warm heart, and a full stomach at IWM's Fall Harvest Lunch. It's the most delicious way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon in autumn!

*Wine list to be announced.

Saturday, October 22 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Ticket Price: $115.00

Italy and France may be rivals on the soccer pitch, but they're perfect complements at your table and in your wine glass. Join us as we explore some of the wines you should be drinking this spring, this summer and on into fall! Led by a knowledgeable IWM sommelier, this wine tasting event, complemented by regional meats and cheeses, will guide you through some of France's best loved white Burgundies, exploring their differences, nuances, and terroir; then we'll double down on your palate education by selecting Italian reds that work in concert with these French whites. Selecting from some of our favorite Italian producers, grapes, regions and styles, these red wines will give you pairing ideas for years to come!

*Wine list to be announced.

Saturday, October 29 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Ticket Price: $75.00

In the US, they're called "orange wines," in Europe "skin-contact wines." Whichever terminology you use, they are all the fashion, which is a little ironic considering that this style of caramel colored wine made from white grapes date back thousands of years, originating in Armenia and Georgia. In many ways, the tale of orange wines goes hand-in-hand with the tale of natural wines; it's rare to find an orange wine made by a producer who doesn't abide by non-interventionist protocol, and indeed, the important producers of these wines in Italy hold a firm belief in non-interventionist agriculture and non-interventionist winemaking. Join IWM as we explore the wild, unique, unusual world of orange wines at this special tasting, accompanied by regional meats and cheeses. It's the perfect way to celebrate fall, welcome Halloween, and expand your palate with those white wines that "taste like a red."

*Wine list to be announced.

For more information, please visit our website Wine Events Page.