2008 La Fiorita, Brunello di Montalcino, $75
Winery info: La Fiorita was established in 1992 by Roberto Cipresso, a rising star winemaker at the time, along with two of his friends. They began with barely one acre of vines and an annual production of just 1,000 bottles of Brunello. Over the years they acquired additional vineyard sites, chosen for their prime soil types and terroir, and planted them with select clones of Sangiovese. Cipresso was joined by current owner, Natalie Oliveros in 2011.
Grapes: 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Fermented in Slavonian oak casks and aged approximately 24 months in French and Slavonian oak, followed by several months in steel tanks before bottling.
Vineyard: Sourced from two unique vineyards, both planted in the 1990s: The warm, south/southeast-facing Poggio al Sole vineyard, about 600 feet above sea level, with a combination of light clay soil (which adds a spicy quality) and mineral-rich, sandy red earth; and the cooler, drier, east-facing Pian Bossolino vineyard, about 1,200 feet above sea level with well-drained, stony, shale soil.
Flavor Profile: 2008 was a cool vintage, but skilled and patient winemakers were able to produce very aromatic, balanced, elegant wines that year. This one is rich and full, with savory, floral aromas of red fruits and spice, and earthy flavors of dark cherry and violets. With firm structure, fresh minerality, and silky, dusty tannins.
Availability: This wine is still in decent supply.
Drinkability: Best now through 2025
Food Pairing: Excellent with grilled red meats, hearty pork dishes, or Italian cured meats (afffetati misti).
2015 Edi Simčič, Malvazija, $35
Winery info: The Simčič family has been producing wine for several generations in Goriška Brda, Slovenia, a location that, up until the end of World War II, belonged to Italy. Today their winery is just 500 yards from the Friulian border of Italy and, after various political setbacks, Simčič is considered one of the top producers in the country. As they note on their label, “When you taste our wines, you are tasting a bit of freedom.”
Grapes: 100% Malvazija (Malvasia) Bianca, aged ten months in French oak.
Flavor Profile: Grown in the Goriška Brda region, the Mediterranean white grape, Malvasia, produces a surprisingly structured, robust wine and the Simčičs take it to a whole new level, beginning with their (somewhat controversial) use of oak. Theirs is intense and richly textured, with complex notes of menthol, juniper, and white flowers. A very beguiling wine!
Availability: As a direct import wine, Small Vineyards brought in only the amount pre-ordered in the spring, so it is very limited.
Drinkability: Now through 2025
Food Pairing: They suggest pairing it with more intense appetizers, prepared with Mediterranean spices such as rosemary and bay leaves. It’s also a perfect partner for seafood. “Even the fish clap their hands,” they say.