Specialty Club – May 2023

2017 Ar.Pe.Pe., Valtellina Superiore, Sassella, “Stella Retica,” $55

Winery Info: Ar.Pe.Pe, was originally established in 1860 in the Valtellina Superiore DOCG in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and it is now run by the fifth generation of the family.    

(The name derives from the initials of Arturo Pelizzatti Perego, who was able to reclaim the property and refound the winery in 1984 after family circumstances had forced them to sell the brand and some of their vineyards in the 1970s). Today they have 13 hectares of steep, terraced vineyards tucked into the Alps in the top subzones of Valtellina. Their “Stella Retica” (the “star of the Rhetic Alps”) comes from the Sasella subzone and is made only in exceptional vintages. Ar.Pe.Pe is recognized as the top producer in Valtellina and a benchmark producer of Nebbiolo in general, thanks to their practice of long maceration on the skins, prolonged aging in large barrels, and slow bottle aging. The highly respected Italian wine guide, Gambero Rosso, awarded this wine Tre Bicchieri (“three glasses”) their highest honor.

Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo (locally known as Chiavennasca). Aged 12 months in large barrels.

Vineyard: From vineyards in the Sasella subzone, with vines averaging 50 years in age, grown on fragmented rocky soil, between 400 and 600 meters in elevation.

Flavor Profile: Aromatic and elegant, with notes of red fruit, soft spice, and savory herbs and soft, smooth tannins. As it opens, there are hints of olives, earth, and roses, with just a touch of smokiness, all balanced by great acidity and underlying minerality. A beautiful example of mountain Nebbiolo.

Availability: They produced about 3,300 cases of this wine, which they make only in declared vintages. The distributor only has a few cases left of this vintage and wont be getting more.

Drinking Window: Hold for three to five years, then enjoy anytime up to 2032.

Food Pairing: Our rep for this wine suggests pairing it with roasted poultry with crispy skin, or slow roasted pork loin with rosemary and scalloped potatoes. Or with baked salmon drizzled with lemon butter over risotto with lots of Parmigiano Reggiano.

2022 Thomas-Labaille, l’Authentique Sancerre, $35

Winery Info: The Sancerre appellation lies in the eastern end of France’s Loire Valley, and is revered for its racy, flinty Sauvignon Blancs grown on the local Kimmeridgian limestone soil. One of the top producers in the region is Thomas-Labaille, based in the village of Chavignol (also known for its goat cheese). The wines are now made by Jean-Paul Labaille, who carries on the winemaking tradition of his father-in-law, Claude Thomas, making stunning Sancerres sourced from some of the best vineyard sites in Chavignol, with a large proportion of old vines. He uses some neutral oak on his wines which allows them to breathe while they evolve slowly on their lees, developing texture and complexity. We have always loved Thomas-Labaille’s Sancerres, but they are getting increasingly limited and allocated.

Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc, fermented with native yeasts, aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks for four to six months, and bottled without filtration.

Vineyard: Sourced from vines averaging 25 years in age grown on clay and limestone soil.

Flavor Profile: Fresh and focused, with balancing richness and depth from the lees aging. Like all Thomas-Labaille Sancerres, it is expressive with great structure and texture, and excellent minerality.

Availability: This wine is very limited in supply.

Drinking Window: Enjoy now up to around 2028

Food Pairing: Perfect for richer seafood dishes, shellfish, or goat cheese (from Chavignol, of course).