When you walked into late, great Valentino Migliorini's estate in Piemonte, you'd often hear the blaring of "The Flight of the Valkyries. That was Valentino: large as life, grand as glamour, and energetic as his wines. Valentino passed in 2007, but he changed Piemonte forever with his innovations. Making Chardonnay and Champagne-styled wines, aging Nebbiolo and Barbera in barrique, blending Nebbiolo and Barbera; these things feel old now, but forty years ago, they were radical, and Valentino spearheaded these changes that forever altered the face of Italian wine.
Big, bold, flamboyant, and fashionable, Valentino's charismatic personality won acceptance in the land most resistant to change, and his portfolio of wines from the Rocche dei Manzoni estate inspired many of Piemonte's great winemakers to reconsider Barolo and to think beyond Nebbiolo. It is easy to cast Valentino as a modernist, but he firmly attributed his success to viticulture rather than vinification; his respect for the land always came first, and there is no disputing the remarkable age-worthiness of his wines that make these some of the greatest values in Piemonte.
Today, I'm very pleased to offer a bottle that testifies to Valentino's innovations: Rocche dei Manzoni's Super-Piemontese blend Bricco Manzoni from 2006. It's lush and vibrant, familiar and new, opulent yet affordable. It's a study in contrasts, and it will make you fall in love. It's only right to put Valentini's wine in the company of stylish Bordeaux and Burgundy, so along with Bricco Manzoni, I'm very pleased to present the outrageous Château Haut-Brion 2011 and a quartet of hard-to-find 2013 releases from cult estate Anne & Sébastien Bidault.