Italy from South to North: Graci Rosso, Biondi-Santi Brunello, and Nicolis Valpolicella!

January 23, 2018
A Note from Sergio

When I opened Italian Wine Merchants, I had two goals in mind: bring great Italian wines to people who love them and educate people about Italian wines so they would love them too. I understand that Italian wine can feel intimidating. Italy has more than 2,000 grape varietals, more than 1,500,000 acres of vines, more than 350 official wine designations, and more than two millennia of winemaking traditions. It's a lot to hold in your head. The easiest and perhaps the only way to get to know and love wine is to drink it. However, knowing something about its history, its territorio, and its traditions doesn't hurt. A wine should taste of the land where its grapes grew, and it should taste like the people who made it love its land.

Today, I'm very proud to present three wines that could come from nowhere but Italy: Graci's lava-laden and wild 2015 Etna Rosso, Biondi-Santi's brilliant and uniquely approachable 2011 Brunello, and Nicolis' juicy yet savory Valpolicilla. Each of these wines is so wedded to its area that it nearly defines its region; each one is telling of its land, its maker, and its traditions; and each one both celebrates Italian wine and gives you lessons in it. (And all three happen to be red wines, but this is less a unifying feature than it is a coincidence.)

Hailing from Italy's North (Valpolicella in the Veneto) to its South (the slopes of Mt. Etna in Sicilia), this trio takes you on a journey through Italy, the center being Montalcino in Toscana, the home of Brunello. But this trio teaches more than just geography. The Graci Etna Rosso is indigenous Nerello Mascalese, so its roots are inextricable from Sicilia--it's an ancient wine that has only now found its glory in modernity. Nicolis' Valpolicella Classico is likewise an old, old wine, with its history stretching back to the time of the Greeks. Brunello, however, is not quite 200 years old--a relative newcomer. That said, Biondi-Santi's Il Greppo estate is its birthplace, so you can't get a more definitive bottle. These three wines are pure Italian style, and each one gives its own distinct pleasure.

Open one of these wines and taste something of Italy's great diversity and history--but most of all, share these wines with someone you love!

Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence:
Wild, Wonderful 2015 Graci Etna Rosso
2. Only At IWM: Luscious, Approachable 2011 Biondi-Santi Brunello
3. Time Sensitive Offer: Is This Nicolis Valpolicella Your New Go-To Red?
4. Wine Events: Upcoming January / February Wine Tasting Events

My Best,

Sergio Esposito

Enologists believe Nerello Mascalese originated on the slopes of Mt. Etna, yet for all its history and all its widespread cultivation in Sicilia, Nerello Mascalese has only recently stepped out of the shadows as a blending grape to become a star in its own right. Today, we're delighted to shine a spotlight on one of our favorite Nerello Mascalese wines from one of our favorite Sicilian producers, Graci 2015 Etna Rosso. Deriving from old vines grown high on the slopes of Mt. Etna, this wine is pure and natural--vinified without temperature control or added yeasts, and aged in traditional tini (traditional Sicilian vertical barrels). It's a wild, wonderful taste of Sicilia, and it is delicious.

Powerful yet finessed, the '15 Etna Rosso bursts from the glass with notes of cassis and blackberry fruits, tarry earth, savory herbs, crushed volcanic rocks, and pressed wildflowers. This is a seamless wine that complements its sturdy tannic spine with succulent brambly fruits and vibrant acidity--this Rosso feels silky yet substantial as it builds to a mineral-laden, lip-smacking finish. Fresh yet fruit-laden, this Rosso is a rustic, food-friendly wine that perfectly complements a wide range of dishes from eggplant caponata, to sheep and goat cheeses, to grilled anchovies or tuna, to classic spaghetti and meatballs. And priced at well under $30 a bottle, Graci Etna Rosso invites you to enjoy it any night of the week!

Estate owner Alberto Graci comes from a long line of Sicilian winemakers, and after selling his family's lands in the center of the island, and he bought property in Passopisciaro, on the slopes of Etna, later purchasing Solicchiata, a small vineyard of century-old, pre-phylloxera Nerello Mascalese. Graci's high-altitude, organically grown vineyards are planted solely to indigenous Sicilian grape varieties, demonstrating the estate's commitment to the island's tradition. Graci's wines blend nuance with muscularity, all while remaining evocative of their land, and today's '15 Etna Rosso embodies why IWM fiercely loves Graci's full-throttle, all-natural wines--contact your portfolio manager to secure yours from our new allocation.

Graci 2015 Etna Rosso
(Italy, Sicilia - Nerello Mascalese)
$27.99 Regular Price
$25.75 Case Price/btl

Established in 1880, Biondi-Santi was always destined for greatness. Founder Clemente Santi launched his family's wine business, but in the late nineteenth century, his son Ferruccio made a bold move that made Il Greppo an indelible part of wine history. Ferruccio used Il Greppo's clone of the Sangiovese grape called "Sangiovese Grosso" to create a wine that was the first Brunello. Ferruccio's grandson Tancredi Biondi-Santi gave the wine its official name of Brunello, forever changing Italian wine. Tancredi's son Franco Biondi-Santi, who passed away in April 2015, brought the estate to greater heights, producing nearly 70,000 bottles a year and leaving a legacy that few winemakers can rival. These days, the estate rests in the hands of Franco's children, Jacopo and Alessandra, ensuring the Il Greppo reputation. Today, we're delighted to present a new allocation of the estate's silky, welcoming 2011 Brunello di Montalcino.

Why Buy This Wine:

- The growing year of 2011 was warm and dry, and harvest was down about a third across Toscana; however, the late-ripening BBS11, the clone discovered by Clemente Santi in the late nineteenth century, a grape better known as Sangiovese Grosso, fared well in this climate.

- Biondi-Santi used the ripe 2011 growing year to craft a textured, expressive and approachable Brunello--a rarity for this estate whose reputation is making austerely beautiful wines of near-infinite longevity.

- Pure red fruits dance with crushed wildflowers, cypress needles, fresh-cut mint, sun-warmed earth, river rocks and spice in a genial, open-knit expression that's enjoyable almost upon release.

- Powerful yet precise, this is a knockout Brunello for wine-lovers who love Biondi-Santi's telltale palate but don't have the patience to wait for the estate's wines to mature.

- IWM is proud to present the BEST PRICE in the States on this remarkably accessible Biondi-Santi Brunello bottling; contact your portfolio manager to secure yours.

Biondi-Santi Il Greppo 2011 Brunello di Montalcino
(Italy, Toscana - Sangiovese Grosso)
$149.00 Regular Price
$129.99 Case Price/btl

*Pre-Arrival, Late February

The iconic wines of the Veneto--Valpolicella and Amarone--might be the perfect complement to cold weather. But while Amarone is a definite luxury item, Valpolicella can be a terrific everyday wine. A good Valpolicella layers its berried fruits with spices and underbrush and it crackles with energy; it's an ideal match for roasted meats, truffled pastas, hearty stews or aged cheeses. Today, we're delighted to present the pure, structured, and food-friendly 2014 Valpolicella from Nicolis at special, time-sensitive pricing! Family-owned and committed to traditional winemaking, the Nicolis estate embodies its location in the heart of the Veneto's Valpolicella Classico district. While the Nicolis family has cultivated its 87 acres for generations, they only began marketing their wine in 1951, and the estate's Valpolicella Classico Superiore shows high typicity, bursting with brambly fruits, dried herbs and licorice--and at around $20 a bottle, it's a compelling wine to drink any night of the week.

Why Buy This Wine:

- Seductive scents of cherries and berries dance with eucalyptus, anise, black tea, cigar wrapper, and spice--this structured yet succulent Valpolicella practically grabs you by the ears and pulls you to the glass!

- Dark, juicy fruit mingles with earthy, smoky notes on the palate, where they're joined by bitter almond and a hint of burned sugar, conveyed in a velvety palate that's spiked with piquant acidity.

- This artisanal Valpolicella from Nicolis offers a traditional Veneto pleasure in a wallet-pleasing package, and it's a wine you'll want to return to again and again, making it a terrific choice to buy by the case.

- Juicy, savory, mineral-laden and delicious, this under $20 Valpolicella from Nicolis has it all; contact your portfolio manager to enjoy this go-to red any night of the week!

Nicolis 2014 Valpolicella Classico
(Italy, Veneto - Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara)
$19.99 Regular Price
$18.39 Case Price/btl
This offer will expire in 48 hours on January 25th at 11:59pm EST.

Saturday, January 27 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $119.00

IWM Host: Will Di Nunzio, President

Italy has more than 2,000 different indigenous grapes, the most of any country in the world (though Portugal may beg to differ). One way to make sense of this number of grapes--and the extraordinary number of delicious wines made from them--is to focus on one geographical area. Join us as our knowledgeable IWM sommelier lead you through a tour of most emblematic, delicious, and outrageous expressions from Italy's North. We'll be pouring wines from Valpolicella, Vallee d'Aosta, Friuli and more, and our knowledgeable sommelier will guide you in understanding the panorama of northern Italy's terroir, traditions, and grapes. Accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, this sit-down tasting offers aficionados or Italian wine newbies the most delicious education in authentic wine that you can get outside of Italy. Toe to tip, IWM is where Italian wine lovers come for fine Italian wine.

Featured Wines:

Prunotto Pian Romualdo Barbera d'Alba 2014
Poderi Aldo Conterno Langhe Rosso 2013
Peter Sölva & Söhne Amistar Rosso 2012
Gravner Rujno 2001
Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste 2005
Vietti Barolo Rocche 1997
Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore 2009
Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (1.5L) 2005

*Wines may be subject to change.

Saturday, February 10 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $109.00

Few of us get to Europe as often as we want; this special Saturday tasting brings the flavors of Europe's great wines to you, without ever leaving glamorous Union Square in New York City! Our knowledgeable sommelier will take you to Italy, France and Spain, exploring four different wine regions with handpicked bottles of both red and white wines, giving you a whirlwind yet delicious trip through some of Europe's most important wine regions. Accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, this tasting is ideal for experienced wine-lovers looking to broaden their palates, newbies who seek an easy-to-understand overview, or travel-hungry people with wanderlust and a love for great wine. It's a two-hour trip to Europe's wine capitals, and you don't even need to pack your bags!

*Wines to be announced.

Wednesday, February 14 | 7:00-10:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Dinner Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $219.00
Early Bird Ticket Price: $199.00 (Expires: Friday, February 9)

It's the one holiday devoted to couples, and this Valentine's Day, IWM wants to invite you and yours to a very special dinner. Chef Michael Marcelli and his own in-house kitchen staff will craft delicious dishes that will be coupled with beautiful Champagne, beloved Burgundies, lovely Italian whites, and rich Italian reds, creating memorable pairings that are perfect matches. Join IWM's knowledgeable sommelier at this special sit-down dinner to experience for yourself how every thing has its mate; dine on delicious antipasti, terrific pasta, and decadent sweets, and enjoy wines from legendary makers, all while choosing your ideal dinner combination! IWM loves Valentine's Day, and we want to celebrate it with a dinner of perfect pairings, an event made even more complete with you!

Featured Menu:

Wagyu Carne Crudo
Cotuit Oysters on the Half Shell

Pasta I
Fresh Anellini with Razor Clam, Ceci, Saffron & Golden Ossetra Caviar

Pasta II
Bronze-cut Lumaconi with Homemade Lamb Sausage, Marjoram, & Lion's Mane Mushroom

Roasted Lamb Rack, Black Truffle & Fondant Potatoes

Cape Gooseberries
Assorted Chocolates

*Wines to be announced.

Saturday, February 17 | 1:00-3:00 pm | New York, NY
A Sit-Down Tasting

Regular Ticket Price: $129.00

IWM Host: Will Di Nunzio, President

Most Americans fall in love with Toscana first--after all, it's the home of Vernaccia, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Super-Tuscan wines! This event celebrates everyone's first, favorite Italian wine region with a handpicked list of exceptional Tuscan wines. Let a knowledgeable IWM sommelier take you on a tour of Toscana, and get an insider's point of view as you explore Tuscan's many splendored reds, piquant whites, and surprising sparklers. Learn to tell your Sangiovese Grosso from your Sangiovese and your Vermentino from your Trebbiano, come to understand why Toscana is so hospitable to "international" grapes, and study what makes Super Tuscans so special, all while tasting a range of Vini Toscani. From mineral-laden whites to lithe light reds to burly big rosso wines, this tasting, accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, will add to your wine education, deepen your passion for Italian wines, and let you experience Toscana without the plane fare. It's the next best thing to seeing Michelangelo's David in person!

*Wines to be announced.

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

Regular Ticket Price: $129.00

Wine is a living thing, and like all living things, it changes with age. While everyone knows that wines mature, not everyone knows exactly what "maturity" means. This special tasting, led by a knowledgeable IWM sommelier and accompanied by regional meats and cheeses, focuses on the same wine--but years apart! Let us pour you vintage wine pairs so that you can experience the ways that differing growing years, bottle age, and other factors affect the wines in your glass. Appreciating mature wines requires palate education, but it offers a rich payoff in terms of your understanding, knowledge and enjoyment. This tasting will help wine newbies come to recognize the nuances of maturity, and it will help deepen wine connoisseurs' knowledge. Wine is time in a bottle, and this tasting will let you see the many ways that maturity is magic!

*Wines to be announced.

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

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