2013 Schiavenza, Cerretta Barolo, $60
Winery Info: This northern Italian estate and its surrounding property were once part of the Opera Pia Barolo, a non-profit foundation, part educational institution and part hospital, founded to help the local poor. At the time, the vineyards were worked by sharecroppers, which is where this estate gets its name (schiavenza means “sharecropper” in the local dialect). Schiavenza is located in Serralunga d’Alba, in the Langhe hills of southeast Piedmont—known for its great Barolo vineyards. The Alessandria family has been farming their property since 1956 and today have vineyards in a number of top crus, including Cerretta, from which this wine is sourced. They farm organically and in sync with the phases of the moon.
Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo, from the Cerretta cru with mostly calcareous clay soil. Aged at least three years in large 2,000- to 4,000-liter traditional Slavonian oak botti.
Flavor Profile: Barolo is arguably the most powerful and dramatic expression of the Nebbiolo grape, characterized by pronounced tannins and acidity, and aromas of dried roses, tar, and licorice. This one is well structured and balanced, with red fruit flavors, great texture, and fine-grained tannins that make it a good pairing for spicy tomato dishes.
Availability: There is just a tiny bit left of this vintage.
Drinkability: Ready to drink now, but it could continue to develop further over the next two to three years.
Food Pairing: Anything with tomato sauces—perhaps a rich, hearty cioppino.
2016 Domaine Eden, Chardonnay, $32
Winery info: Mount Eden Vineyards was founded in 1945 in the Santa Cruz Appellation and is considered one of the original “boutique” California wineries. In 2007 they purchased a nearby mountaintop property in the Saratoga foothills. The site was formerly Cinnibar Winery, which had been built in 1983 and planted with Mount Eden clonal selections. They renamed this new property Domaine Eden. Jeffrey Patterson has been the winemaker since 1981 and he has since become a majority owner as well. His winemaking approach is to handle the grapes as gently and naturally as possible in order to fully express the Santa Cruz Mountain terroir.
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay from their two vineyards: 62% Domaine Eden and 38% Mount Eden Estate. The wine is carefully blended barrel by barrel, each selected for its distinct character. It is fermented in Burgundy barrels (50% new) with natural yeasts and aged on the lees for nine months. The wine goes through 100% malolactic fermentation.
Flavor Profile: This Chard has a deep golden color and rich, elegant aromas of white flowers, exotic spice, and a touch of earth. It is complex and sophisticated, with toasty lees notes and a natural acidity that adds balancing freshness throughout the long finish.
Availability: Around 1,800 cases produced. There is still some available.
Drinkability: Beautifully approachable now, or over the next couple of years.
Food Pairing: Perfect for seafood dishes, such as seared scallops or grilled lobster, or with roast chicken.