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