A very grand vintage has emerged from the Montalcino region of Tuscany Italy.
With the releases of their 2010 Brunello wines, the critical ratings have been much higher than imaginable. More than 100 wines were rated 95 Points by James Suckling alone, not to mention the high scores awarded by other notable reviewers. This is a tough nut to crack, even though we are still talking wine here!

Suckling says: ‘Never have the wines been so profound in quality, character, and quantity from the best hillside vineyards of Montalcino. These 2010 Tuscans represent a new paradigm for Tuscany’s unique Sangiovese-based red. Vintages like this don’t come along very often.

What makes for a great vintage in any region in the world, is well, location, location, location. This was partially true for these 2010 Brunello di Montalcino wines.

Here’s what it takes to produce grapes worthy of grand results:  From bud-break through harvest, grapes on the vine need enough sunlight to create the alcohol levels in the grapes; enough coolness for the grapes to develop their acidity levels and enough rain or water to keep them supple. BINGO, the 2010 Brunello grapes got it all!!

The other interesting thing about these 2010 Brunello wines is that while in most vintages, Brunello wine are not really approachable (drinkable) at young ages, the 2010 Brunellos are very drinkable, yet have the potential for long ageing. Quite amazing!

Start buying these beautiful wines, enjoy them now and cellar your favorites. The prices have never been better.

brunello 2010

In an interview, which we did after tasting these wines with winemaker Alfio Cavallotto, he gave his impressions and comments about them. With his permission, we have paraphrased his thoughts and comments along with parker tasting notes to share with you.

Mahesh Lekkala, owner of Wine Legend with Alfio Cavallotto of Cavallotto

‘Mahesh Lekkala, owner of Wine Legend with Alfio Cavallotto of Cavallotto


‘Wine for everyday. A DOC, a single vineyard wine Vigna Scot. Perfect with light salamis and antipasti. Great for drinking with tomato based dishes like pizza and pasta because it has a lower acidity and can balance the acidity levels in the dishes.’ Alfio Cavallotto

CAVALLOTTO, BARBERA D’ALBA, BRICCO BOSCHIS, VIGNA DEL CUCOLO, 2005 ‘Single vineyard, Vigna del Cucolo’s grapes grow on the west side of the vineyard. This is Classic Barbera, aged in large Slovenian oak barrels, same as used for Barolo. Average age of this wine is 24 months in barrel. Not easy to find classic Barbera as it is expensive due to the barrel aging process, and this Barbera is both barrel aged as well as being a single vineyard wine. In the order of Piedmontese wines, Barbera  falls in between Dolcetto and Barolo. Great when served with ravioli filled with mushrooms or red meats.’ Alfio Cavallotto


‘Grapes come from the Barolo zone, and is actually declassified Barolo.  Only in vintages where the grapes don’t meet Barolo standards, the same juice becomes declassified as Nebbiolo, Langhe. Grapes from younger vines are used in this wine as well.’


‘Made from three vineyards in the Bricco Boschis Cru.

This is the ‘most important wine for them, producing approximately 24,000 bottles each vintage.’ This is their signature bottling. Classic, long maceration, long aging in Slovenian barrels for three years and six months.  Pairs well with red meats and aged cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, and elegant and lighter courses like grilled seafood: prawns and lobster. The vineyard soil is clay and sand as well as layers of both. This produces ‘aromatics, which are more floral and open.’

“The 2004 Barolo Bricco Boschis tastes just like it did from barrel, which is to say sweet, layered and totally irresistible. The ripe red fruit is incredibly primary, and this wine is years away from offering its finest drinking, but it is already very impressive at this stage. This is an especially refined, elegant vintage for this wine, and I can only say that I await the Riservas with eager anticipation.”



”Another Cru, another family monopole.’ Soil different than in the Boschis Cru. Clay soil, which retains water, and in summer it is very dry, so this soil is good for the vines. Aromatic is more fruity and less floral.  5- 6 yrs of aging in Slovenian oak. These are old vines, which are approximately 50 or more years of age.ÂÂ

 “The 2001 Barolo Riserva Vignolo is a terrific effort. This elegant, refined wine presents expressive, perfumed aromatics and sweet red fruit, with notable persistence and delineation on the palate. It is a finessed, superbly poised Barolo that will benefit from another few years of bottle age to soften the tannins, even if it is surprisingly accessible as well as irresistible today. 92/Anticipated maturity: 2011-2021.”


CAVALLOTTO, BAROLO, BRICCO BOSCHIS, RISERVA, VIGNA SAN GUISEPPE, 2001 ‘Particular selection of grapes exclusively from old vines. Average age of vines is 50 years old, with some being more than 70 years old. Grapes are sourced from the best part of the Bricco Boschis Cru.  These are their oldest vines. This is an important wine for them. Very limited production, only 13,330 750ml bottles a year produced. Limited quantities of magnums and double magnums are available. In every vintage a portion of the grapes from this vineyard go into the Bricco Boschis Barolo.’ “The 2001 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe is captivating. Made in a dark, brooding style, it reveals a deeply layered personality that marries richness to depth, with generous tar, smoke, menthol, spices and sweet black cherries. As expected, it comes across as much more powerful and structured than the 2001 Vignolo tasted alongside it. Still an infant, the 2001 Vigna San Giuseppe is a wine to buy and forget about for several years if not considerably longer. It may very well be the finest Barolo Cavallotto has ever made, and it is not to be missed. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2026.”


Making this very short and sweet, unlike the Barolos themselves, this is how we found the 2005’s, which we tasted upon their release in NYC.

While tasting through these wines, the words, which came to mind were: “gripping, elegant and beautifully balanced.” “Gorgeous aromatics of classic violets and dried herbs, both on the nose and palate.”  “Harmonious blackberry fruit laced with a very distinctive earthiness.” “Long, silky finish”

The wines were actually very approachable even at this young age. We bet that they will continue to evolve and develop beautifully down their long and winding road ahead.


Einaudi, “Terlo” – “Simply gorgeous”
Einaudi, Barolo, Cannubi – “mint, herbs and a little balsamic going on…”
Einaudi, Costa Grimaldi – “old vine elegance and power”
Marcarini, La Serra – “beautifully balanced, aromatics of tart cherry and herbs……”
Marcarini, Brunate – “highly perfumed, can keep my nose in the glass for hours…”
Conterno Fantino, “Sori Ginestra” – “in a word, excellent”
Conterno Fantino, “Vigna del Gris”- “Gripping”


Whether it comes to ice-cold cocktails or wines, we all have preferences when it comes to which libations we prefer to drink in hot weather.

Some of us cannot handle drinking a high in alcohol; tannic red wine during the hot summer months and naturally turn to other alternatives.

On this note, many people gravitate toward the great dry rosé wines, which always deliver in beating the heat. Some of us, who just can’t bear to stay away from our red wines, find that these are the perfect “stand-ins” as they are made from red grapes!

Just as wines have body and varying mouth feels (viscosity), so do cocktails. If you are a gin and tonic fan laced with loads of fresh lime, or a Caipirinha or Margherita fan you’ll probably be drawn to crisp, Sauvignon Blancs. California, New Zealand and the Loire Valley provide a zesty and fresh quaff, and are streamlined, so to speak, with clean and refreshing crispness, that hits the spot on hot summer days.


Sauvigon Blancs


Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Seifried Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Nobilo Icon Res Sauv Blanc 2006

Rudd Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Ferrari-carano Fume Blanc 2006

Flora Springs Soliloquy 2005

Cartlidge & Brown Sauv Blanc

Benziger Sauv Blanc

Pascal Jolivet Fume 2006

Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauv Blanc 2006

Domaine Cherrier Sancere 2006

Pastou Sancerre Les Boucaults 2007

Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2006




Chateau Pavie Macquin Le Rose De Pavie Macquin 2007

Chateau Phelan Segur Le Rose De Phelan Segur Saint Estephe 2007

Muri Gries Lagrein Rosato 2007

Hundred Acre Pink Gold 2006

Mas De Gourgonnier Rose Les Baux De Provence 2007

Crios De Susana Balbo Rose Of Malbec 2007

Librandi Rosato 2007

Chateau De Pavie Le Rose De Pavie Saint Emilion 2007

Trinquevedal Tavel Rose 2007


There are many great things about being in the wine business. We get to meet interesting people, travel and taste great wines with the focus on making them accessible to our customers.


Yesterday was one of those great wine days, because we had the opportunity to taste the new releases from the great Tuscan and Piedmont portfolios of importer Neil Empson. Oh, and did I mention as well the lovely sparkling wines from Franciacorta in Lombardy? The focus was on the 2003 Brunello di Montalcino wines, 2004 Barolos, 2005 and 2006 Dolcettos and Barberas.


WOW, was all I kept thinking, when the amazingly expressive aromas and beautifully harmonious fruit hit my palate with each and every sip.


We also got to briefly chat with a few of the winemakers to get their take on the vintages and their experiences. We started with the Franciacorta sparkling wines from the great producer Bellavista. We spoke with Mattia Vezzola, who is the winemaker. One of the things to which he attributes the greatness of Bellavista sparkling wines is the hands-on approach, which they take, including the hand harvesting of their terroir-driven grapes. He also blends the best wines from different vintages to achieve the final cuvee, which is then bottled and goes through its second fermentation in the bottle.


The Bellavista, Franciacorta Brut N/V and the Bellavista, Gran Cuvee Brut, 2003 are terrific, alive and very inviting. We then went on to Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines.



We chatted with Andrea Conti, wine maker, who noted that he did not produce a Brunello di Montalcino in 2005. However, the Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino, 2003 is rich and spicy with classic tar, cherry and tobacco on the nose and palate. Terrifically balanced with a long lush finish. We recommend grabbing this up since we’ll be waiting quite a long time for the release of another vintage of their Brunello.



This is another terrific Montalcino producer. The wines are made from twelve to thirty year old vines, which is apparent in their concentration on the palate. Both the 2005 Rosso and 2003 Brunello are rich and beautifully balanced.



This estate has been in the Lissini-Clementi family since Renaissance days and is comprised of only 44.5 acres, which is relatively small in comparison with other properties. The 2005 Lissini, Rosso di Montalcino is beautifully structured, full- bodied with softly gripping tannins. The 2003 Brunello di Montalcino is also well structured, rich and silky.



Winemaker Paola Gloder explained the reason why her wines have the exquisite balance and finesse, which were quite apparent when tasting them. Her vineyards are at the highest elevation in Montalcino, and the fact that they receive welcomed coolness at night to develop their acid levels and warmth during the day due to their location north of Montalcino, makes for a perfect balance. Both the Brunello di Montalcino 2003 and the deep, rich Brunello Altero, 2003, are perfectly harmonious. SPECTACULAR!




The Barbera and Dolcetto’s from this producer are really lovely.

The Barbera, “Vignota” 2006, is classically tart and lively. A good, tasty bang for the buck!

The Barolo “Vigna del Gris,” 2004, is huge and earthy, filled with perfumed violets and finishing with satiny tannins.

The Barolo, “Sori Ginestra” 2004, which is their most historic cru, dating back to the 1800’s, is powerful and yet elegant. Dark fruit and berries mingle with sage and tar, lending themselves to a long and lush finish.



Dogliani is the oldest wine area in Dolcetto country, and the Einaudi’s are combining both tradition and modern technique to achieve the greatness, which they clearly reach with their Dolcetto and Barolo wines.


Their Dolcettto Dogliani, 2006 is a pretty wine, with cherry and spicy aromatics. It is well structured and touched by just enough oak to obtain its balance.

The 2006 Dolcetto “Vigna Tecc” is the gutsiest Dolcetto I’ve ever tasted. This wine is made from seventy-year-old vines, which explains its concentrated palate. I’ve had many vintages of this wine and it is always a standout!

All of the Einaudi Barolos were totally WOWING!

The Barolo, 2004 is robust, and everything that classic Barolo exhibits.

The Barolo “Costa Grimaldi” 2004 is huge, violet and tar scented, finishing silky and long. 20% of the grapes in this wine come from forty five year old vines.

The Barolo “Cannubi”, 2004 is a huge and expressive wine, intensely powerful and yet elegant at the same time. The grapes come from vines that are approximately sixty-two years of age.



This is a consistently stellar producer.

Their wines are always remarkable, and these current releases are no exception.

The Dolcetto d’Alba “Fontanazza” 2006 is made in the traditional method, but without oak. It is a huge wine with black cherry and a gripping long finish.

Barbera d’Alba “Ciabot Camarano”, 2005 is an incredibly rich wine with bright fruit entwined in rich earthiness. It is a gorgeous representation of that, which Barbera can do!

Barolo “La Serra,” 2004, has a lovely rose petal and minty nose, and is rich and powerful, yet delicate at the same time. To attain both of these qualities, simply put, is that the balance here is superb.

The Barolo Brunate, 2004, has distinctive hints of licorice and herbs, and a beautiful earthiness. Brunate is just spectacular.

And so now it is up to you to try these for yourselves and give us your opinions!



Wine Legend Team


As many of you know, Wine Legend held its Grand Tasting at The Manor on October 18. We had a tremendous turnout to sample the over three hundred wines and spirits being poured. We also offered the option for people to attend a special wine dinner, which was held in The Manor’s Wine Cellar.

The dinner consisted of three courses, each paired with exceptional wines.

We’d like for you to have the opportunity to try these wines for yourself as we feel that they were all amazing. Carol Berman of Wine Legend, who is a sommelier, presented the wines.


With the first course, which consisted of scallops and lobster plated in a very creative, Multi-faceted flavor and textured presentation, we served the following wines:

Pieropan, Soave Classico, La Rocca, 2003, Veneto, Italy
This wine is wonderfully classy and refined, with beautiful minerality lacing through in every sip. It is a stellar representation of the Garganega grape, which is this family’s specialty. CB

Chateau de la Matroye, Chassagne Montrachet, 2005, Burgundy, France
This is terrific white Burgundy from a great vintage. Lush, medium to full-bodied. And balanced on the palate, this wine is drinking beautifully right now. CB

Chapoutier, Condrieu Blanc, 2005, Rhone, France
Made 100% from the Viognier grape. Can be vinified anywhere from bone dry to a luscious mouth filling wine with considerable sweetness. This one is off dry displaying much elegance and finesse. CB

The main course was a superbly prepared short rib dish, in which the meat was cooked to perfection and its simple pure flavor worked perfectly with each of the following wines:

Chateau de Pommard, Pommard, 2005, Burgundy, France
Well structured and nicely balanced with classic cherry and soft pepper notes.
Drinking very well now. CB

Bruno Giacosa, Barolo, Le Rocche Del Falletto, 2003, Piedmont, Italy
What can be said of the great wines from Giacosa? The wines speak for
Themselves. This Barolo from the very hot 2003 vintage displayed a lovely dried fruit perfume and ripeness on the palate. It is concentrated, lush and indeed, Giacosa special. CB

Hundred Acre, Ancient Way, Shiraz, 2004, Napa, California
This is a California winery that happens to source and make wine with major hands-on attention in the Barossa Valley in Australia. This is an exceptional Australian wine made from very old vines that grow in rare “terra rossa” and fractured limestone soils, hence its concentration. You can cut it with a knife and fork and call it dinner! CB

Dessert was laden with rich chocolate, which is the perfect compliment to Port Wines:

Charbay, Syrah Port 1997, California
This is small batch port made in California. The wine has an interesting hint of brandy on the nose and palate, due to the fact that the family uses their own brandy in the fermentation production.

Graham’s Port, 1994, Portugal
This is a great vintage port from this very old Port house. The very stylish1994 is clean and refined, displaying both great balance and harmony. CB


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Beaujolais is one heck of a misunderstood wine.

It is misunderstood because of its association with “Nouveau, which happens to be a “far cry” from the quality of village and Cru Beaujolais wines.

Beaujolais is made from the juicy, cherry-laden Gamay grape, which can be vinified anywhere from light to full bodied.

The simple Beaujolais wines can be lack-luster, but for a few great producers, while many of the Beaujolais Villages wines have a bit more meat on their bones.

The Cru Beaujolais wines, such as Morgon, Moulin a Vent, Julienas, Chiroubles, can be wonderfully complex and almost Pinot Noir-esque. These come from the specific towns or Crus which bear their names, making them reflective of their given environments or micro climates. Beaujolais is a wonderful choice for sipping throughout the autumn months as well as with Thanksgiving dinner, although we are getting way ahead of ourselves here on that note!

Here a few of our Beaujolais recommendations for this season:

1. Michel Tête, Julienas, Domaine de Clos de Fief, 2005
2. Louis Claude Desvignes, Javernieres, Morgon, 2005
3. Chateau de Pizay, Morgon, 2005
4. Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly, 2005
5. Domaine Diachon, Moulin-a-Vent, 2006
6. Chateau de Raousett, Fleurie, 2005

The thought that the summer is over… well this in itself could drive you to drink! And as the season slips away, we have a selection of delicious wines to get you through September in sipping style!

After you have tried these, we’d love to hear what you have to say about them. If you have any favorite September picks, please feel free to share. That’s what blogging is all about!

Wine Legend’s Top Ten Picks:

1. Sitios de Bodega, CONCLASS, 2006, Rueda, Spain
2. KeeSha, Pinot Grigio, 2005, Hungary
3. Castelvero, Cortese, 2006, Piedmont, Italy
4. Leth, Gruner Veltliner, 2006, Austria
5. Cava, l’Hereau de Raventos i Blanc, Brut, Penedes, Spain
6. Rosso di Collalbrigo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Veneto, Italy
7. Terre Andina, Carmenere, 2005, Chile
8. Michel Tete, Domaine du Clos du Fief, Julienas, 2005, France
9. Podere Il Palazzino, Chianti Classico, 2004, Tuscany, Italy
10. Altos de la Hoya, Monastrell, 2005, Jumilla, Spain

Garage wine project from Andy Erikson and Anie Favia

Screaming Eagle’s wine maker is at it again, proving that great things do come from out of a garage!

Made by the incredible husband and wife team of Andy Erickson, (Staglin, Hartwell, Favia, Ovid, Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle and Arietta), and Anie Favia (viticulturist for Abreu and Screaming Eagle).

Leviathan California Red 2005

This decadent blend of Syrah (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Merlot (15%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) is definitely influenced by the Syrah in the blend. Black fruit and spice with very little new oak make it really pleasant right out of the gate!

Leviathan isn’t meant to be a long-aging wine, it is meant instead to be drunk within the next few years. This is a different approach for Erikson, whose past wine creations are definitely made for cellaring.

This exciting wine is destined to become another “cult wine.”

Get it while you can. Buy Leviathan California Red 2005.

The time has come to begin taking that pink juice in the wine bottle seriously.

For those who still find themselves shaking in their shoes at the thought of bringing to their lips a glass of pink wine, GET OVER IT!

Rosé wines are for all practical purposes, red wines that have had less skin and juice contact after crush.

The coloration in wine really comes from the skins. The longer that the juice stays in contact with the grape skins, the darker the wine will be.

There is nothing insipid about true rosé wines.

Many years ago when white zinfandel wine was first introduced into the marketplace it became the first wine to which non-wine drinkers gravitated. Why was this?

Because, it was really nothing like drier wines, which people were not used to and therefore their palates didn’t quite understand. White Zinfandel wines were, and still are, really soft, fruity, and quite simple.

When you try a rosé wine from the Provence region in France made from a blend of the Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes (plus, maybe even a couple more in the blend), you are drinking a spicy and berry-laden wine. This is to say, a wine with lots of character and even complexity.

Italian rosato wines are another good bet when seeking out wonderful pink wines.

The thing to do is to open your minds and a bottle of a good pink wine and decide for yourselves…is it going to be a heavy red wine or a crisp and flavorful pink, in the heat and humidity of the summer? When you realize that these may be drunk with any meal at which you would drink a rich red wine, you just may find yourselves a new seasonal favorite.

Recommended wines:

Mas de Gourgonnier, 2006, Les Baux, Provence, France
Cantalupo, Il Mimo, 2006, Piedmont, italy
Vin Gris de Cigare, 2006, California
Chateau de Trinquevede, 2006, Tavel, France
Muga, 2006, Rioja, Spain

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