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What Makes a Great Barolo Vintage? Establishing a Framework

Italy: Piedmont, featured

Antonio Galloni, May 2021

What makes a great Barolo vintage? Unlike some regions, Bordeaux being the most notable, Piedmont does not have an established framework that sets out the criteria required for a vintage to be considered very high in potential quality. What follows is my framework of objective criteria that are necessary in order for a Barolo (or Barbaresco) vintage to be considered truly great. It is inspired by the late Denis Dubourdieu and the model he developed for assessing young Bordeaux vintages and the research my colleague Alessandro Masnaghetti has done in collecting and analyzing weather, harvest dates and other data. To that, I add my 20+ years of visiting the region and all of the information I have gathered in speaking with winemakers, agronomists and other professionals over that time, plus drinking more than my fair share of the wines. As with Dubourdieu’s model, this framework addresses the growing season, and does not venture into an assessment of the wines.

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California Vineyard Series: Kamen Vineyard

California Vineyard Series, United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, May 2021

With its undulating hills and striking contours, Kamen is one of the most evocative estates in Sonoma. The vineyard is just a short drive from the town square, yet it feels very remote. Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen bought his property in 1980, mostly for the views, as he tells it. “I had just sold the screenplay for The Karate Kid and I wanted to celebrate,” Kamen told me recently.

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Remembering Pio Boffa

featured, Vinous Remembers

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2021

The news came over the weekend. It was not unexpected, but shocking just the same. Pio Boffa had succumbed to COVID-19 after a two-week battle in the hospital the texts said. And with that, Piedmont had lost another reference point.

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2005 Bordeaux: Here and Now

Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, France: Bordeaux

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2021

It all started innocently enough with a few bottles of 2005 Bordeaux during lockdown. Then a few more, and then some more after that. Before I knew it I had tasted through a good number of the reference points. The wines were absolutely thrilling, just as I remembered from my last large tasting of the 2005s, about five years ago. One of my close friends suggested a comprehensive look back at the vintage, so here it is.

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Vino Nobile & Carmignano: Italy’s Forgotten Noble Reds

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2021

Italy is one of the world’s most fascinating and diverse countries. There are of course famous wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and Chianti Classico. But the country is also home to many other wines that have enjoyed periods of prominence mixed with less brilliant eras of near obscurity. Vino Nobile and Carmignano are two wines with long, rich histories, deep connections to the land and much for the curious wine-lover to explore.

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Tuscany Odds & Ends

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2021

This brief update mostly covers a number of Tuscan wines with releases that fall in between my larger regional reports as well as a handful of notable wines that were missing from our database.

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Bordeaux 2018: Not Back in Black

featured, France: Bordeaux

Antonio Galloni, Mar 2021

After an uneven vintage in 2017, Bordeaux was buzzing with anticipation over the 2018s. To be sure, the wines were showy from barrel, but tasting en primeur is always a moving target. The wines are of course very young and sensitive to atmospheric changes as well as other variables. Now that the 2018s have been bottled, do they live up to expectations?

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Cellar Favorite: 2006 Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, Italy: North

Antonio Galloni, Mar 2021

This bottle of Quintarelli’s 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico made me feel like I was back in the cellar, tasting with the man himself, as I was lucky to do a few times before his passing.

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2021 Champagne Spring Preview

featured, France: Champagne

Antonio Galloni, Mar 2021

Our annual Spring Preview takes a look at new Champagne releases as they enter the market. Watch this space for more on Champagne in the coming weeks.

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Cellar Favorite: 2011 Saintsbury Pinot Noir Brown Ranch (magnum)

United States: California, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Antonio Galloni, Feb 2021

Saintsbury was the first winery I visited in Napa Valley. Tasting the wines always brings back so many memories; both of that trip and the time I spent selling the Saintsbury Pinots in my restaurant days just after college.