Author Archives: Beniamino Sarfatti

Meg Houston Maker on Terroir wines of Mutiliana

Artful Wine: A Field Report From Emilia-Romagna

Meg Houston Maker on terroir wines of Mutiliana:

“Winemaker Giorgio Melandri is a wine journalist from Emilia Romagna, hence deeply familiar with this territory. He sources Sangiovese from three different Apennine valleys near Modigliana, ferments fruit from the sites separately using only wild yeasts, then ages the lots in concrete vats to avoid oak influence. His 2016 Romagna Sangiovese Modigliana Ibbola, grown at the highest elevation, is a cooling breath of juniper, pine, and balsamic. Acerreta, from the lowest site, is fleshier, warm and friendly. Tramazzo, from the middle zone, is perhaps the most intellectual. Mutiliana’s U.S. importer is Porto Vino.

I met Giorgio Melandri at a small dinner gathering on my last night in Faenza. It was a capstone experience. We ate prosciutto, vegetable torta, rabbit ragù, roasted potatoes, and silken braised cabbage. These were winter foods, comforting, sourced from a northern region. Along with them we drank his three beautiful, precise Romagna Sangiovese. Here were wines that were vini di territorio, wines of terroir; not merely local, but deeply artful, too”.

New – drinkissimo – Barolo producer is part of the PV portfolio: Ferdinando Principiano.

It’s admittedly odd in today’s age of ‘Barolo as King’ to introduce an historic Barolo estate in Monforte with its old school 10.5% Dolcetto called ‘Dosset.’ Yet, that wine informs Ferdinando Principiano’s style for Barolo and all his other wines: elegant natural wines with a watermark of traditional Barolo terroir.

Alto Piemonte rediscovered, by Walter Speller on

Wine journalist Walter Speller’s article on Jencis Robinson on Alto Piemonte, and his specific thought on Cristiano Garella, along with Colombera & Garella Bramaterra ‘Cascina Cottignano’ 2013, Mauro Franchino Gattinara 2012 and Paride Iaretti Gattinara ‘Pietro’ 2012 tasting notes.

“Few wine regions in Italy attract as much attention as Etna but, as I pointed out in my wildly oversubscribed masterclass at last week’s London Wine Fair, it is about to be joined by another, less obvious one. It may lack the active, sizzling volcano that appeals to the imagination of so many wine lovers, but it has something else the wine world is increasingly after: Nebbiolo. The rising popularity of this grape, especially in its Barolo and Barbaresco form, is now changing the fortunes of Alto Piemonte’.


Without wanting to downplay the importance of iconic Alto Piemonte estates such as Antoniolo, Travaglini, Vallana (with literally strings of historic vintages in their cellars) and Nervi (woken from its hibernation in 2011 by investment banker Erling Astrup), the face of the new generation is Cristiano Garella. The jolt of energy he brought to many of the tiny denominations cannot be overestimated, with his style of consultancy being to give basic advice often free of charge and without any wish to take direct control. This allowed a group of young producers to take over patches of vineyards from their parents and grandparents while looking to make high-quality wines without enormous investment.


Colombera & Garella, Cascina Cottignano 2013 Bramaterra
80% Nebbiolo, 10% Croatina, 10% Vespolina.
Just mid ruby. Softly perfumed and a little stubborn on the nose with minerally hints. lithe and with plenty of fine red fruit. Super-elegant, fine and with tannic bite on the finish. (WS) 12.5%
Drink 2017-2026′

Mauro Franchino 2012 Gattinara
100% Nebbiolo. Mid-deep ruby. Quite a firm, dark-fruit nose with hints of fruit cake. Full, fruit-driven palate and with bags of fine, grainy tannins. Seems a little oxidised and there is a tiny leathery note which might become a problem in the future, but right now this is genuine, a little rustic and honest. Two samples tasted. (WS) 13.5%
Drink 2017-2022

Paride Iaretti, Pietro 2012 Gattinara
100% Nebbiolo. Maturing and only mid ruby with orange tinges. Herbal and a little closed and balsamic. Lithe Maraschino palate with savoury notes and a layer of chewy tannins. Really opens up on the finish. Hints of dried fruit betray a hot summer, but there is plenty of depth on the finish. (WS) 13.5%
Drink 2017-2024”

Read the whole article here.

Kerin O’keefe on Colombera & Garella in Alto Piemonte

Read the full article here.

Colombera & Garella 2013 Lessona; $35, 96 points. This stunning red is all about finesse and light. It opens with lovely scents of violet, rose, perfumed berry and balsamic aromas while the radiant, almost ethereal palate delivers crunchy red cherry, strawberry, white pepper and mineral intensity. It’s impeccably balanced, with bright acidity and firm but elegant tannins. While it’s so tempting now, hold for even more complexity. Drink 2018–2033. Porto Vino Italiano. Editors’ Choice.

Colombera & Garella 2013 Bramaterra; $30, 93 points. Aromas of underbrush, rose petal, flint and dark spice waft out of the glass. The structured, elegant palate offers red cherry, raspberry, clove and star anise flavors set against fresh acidity and a firm backbone of refined tannins. Give this time to let the nervous energy calm down and you’ll be rewarded with even more complexity. Drink 2020–2035. Porto Vino Italiano. Editors’ Choice.

Ernest’s Travel Tips for Eating and Drinking in Italy

Over the years, one of the things that has been cool to see is more and more wine lovers thinking of Italy as their home away from home. Since I live and travel here every week, folks ask me for my short list when they are planning their trip (or are hungry at 3pm).  So, I’ve thought to be a bit more organized about this all and post my various lists.

Below are my Travel Tips for Eating and Drinking in Italy:

  • This is my short list of places I have been to many times and enjoy. You’ll have your own. I live in Italy and know the average places, the tourist places, the tourist places that are popular for a reason, and the off the beaten path places with aged wines so cheap that you’ll be calling me an importer- crook during the antipasti.
  • Take all this information through my point of view: I enjoy throwing on a jacket and eating at Michelin restaurants, but it’s rare that I am starry eyed with them. But, if I am, I’ll iron my underwear in anticipation of an upcoming meal, spend all of my budget on aged wines, and sleep in the cheapest hotel I can find.  I’m also the guy gnawing rabbit bones in the trattoria, and asking why there aren’t more vegetables on the menu. I abhor the oxymoron of ‘affordable luxury’ and spit on posers who have shitty wine lists and sub-par materia prima (raw material). Underground cellars are important part of my appreciation of the interior design.
  • Ristorante = restaurant. Trattoria and Osteria both signify a casual place nowadays.  Either of these places could have a wine list that sucks or rocks.
  • Wine lists: every month I see places with better lists in Italy. Still, you’ve gotta work. Give the sommelier or waiter an example of a wine and producer that you like. My classic warm up phrase is: what are some wines that you enjoy that are savory (sapido), don’t have lots of oak taste on them (senza il gusto di barrique), from a small or medium producer (da un piccolo o medio produttore).  Ask what could be a could match with a dish you’re ordering.
  • If you’d like a professional and perhaps more useful list and map, download the app from Slow Food Osterie. For ristoranti / restaurants, there are many guides, and sadly I wouldn’t recommend any one of them.
  • If you want to wing it, the sandwiches at the highway Autogrill aren’t the worst by any means. But, you didn’t come to Italy just for sandwiches and highways, did you?
  • And, by the way, if you’re the obsessive nervous type, do try to relax. In general, the average place to eat is much higher quality  in Italy, so you’ll find something to nurture you. It’s not like we are in France ; ).
  •  I am the obsessive nervous type and  don’t like average (and I gather you don’t either if you’re reading this list). So: plan a little to get a lot, and always be open to changing your plans, especially when talking to someone local who is really in the know. Organization with pulses of spontaneity is the way to go. You must call places you cancel at – or you are a douche. It takes 30 seconds.
  • Italy revolves around lunch and dinner times, which are approximately: 12:30am – 2:00pm and 7:30pm – 10:00pm.
  • Italians *are* organized – maybe just not like you. Don’t call a year in advance for a dinner reservation. No one does that. Do plan a few weeks, maybe a month or two, before hand. Then, for out of the way places, confirm the day before.
  • Alas, and I hate to say this, bring cash. Many out of the way places appreciate it (read: tax evasion) and ATM machines are not always around the corner.
  • If you’ve found anything  useful, drop me an email at  I often read emails after dinner. A grazie! and thank you! or  a correction or well phrased observation, makes my amaro taste so much better.

Wine Writer Thor Iverson on Lambrusco: “Go Froth & Conquer”

Wine writer Thor Iverson’s general thoughts on Lambrusco and Philly, and his specific thought on Denny Bini’s Lambrusco dell’Emilia:

‘My favorite? Without question, the Bini Lambrusco dell’Emilia “FUSO21”.’

Why? Because I’ve realized that what I want out of Lambrusco is a middle-finger bitterness that places the wine not aside easy-drinking cousins like brachetto d’Acqui, but firmly in the company of red vermouth, of Campari, of the easier-drinking versions of amaro. The acid’s always there, as is the refreshing fizz, but it’s the flash of tannic anger that ignites my interest.”

Read the whole article here.


Sud: Vintage Venditti Labels and Senza Solfiti


label_antica_masseria_venditti_sannio_rosso_724x800label_antica_masseria_venditti_falanghina_assenza_724x800Venditti* is going back in time with his new (but really old) labels his grandfather once used. All wines below are now available for DI pick up. Expect our next shipment in April to ship with these.

The Falalnghina and Barbetta are now made entirely senza solfiti. Nicola Venditti is calling the wines ‘Assenza,’ meaning, not containing, or, absent of, sulfites. The resulting wines are more complex in naso than the same wines with sulphur; the acidity, in bocca, is also less aggressive and one-dimensional, due to the long malolatic fermentation (you’ll notice it especially with the Falanghina).

Venditti Sannio Rosso 2012
Venditti Sannio Bianco 2014
Venditti Falanghina ‘Assenza’ 2014
Venditti Barbetta’Assenza’ 2013

*We’re updating our site now for Venditti with all the technical (including the Slow Wine snail award for which the winery is so proud to have).