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MUST TRY Primitivo

Bryan Hinschberger
Oct 6, 2013 02:22 PM
It's pretty cool when you work with a wine that begins to get some heavy duty attention from publications from around the world. Sometimes you can agree with another's dissertation on a wine, sometimes you don't. However, I would like to say that Decanter magazine has a pretty great reputation for wine fans; so when they say something good - it's worth getting excited about.  
 
Pasquale Petrera of Fatalone in Gioia del Colle Italy, is making (in my completely un-biased opinion :) the greatest Primitivo available. Stunning elegance, complex fruit, mineral-driven earth, bright acidity... yup!... I'm still talking about Primitivo.  There is nothing greater than showing Pasquale's wines around the country, and seeing people's initial expression of a bottle coming out of the bag that reads 'Primitivo.'  "Oh.. I'm probably good on Primitivo.  Not a big fan of that grape. Doesn't sell very well." And the excuses and judgments go on. But if any of the Fatalone wines are in my bag, I don't take no for an answer! Because the most exciting part is that each and EVERY time someone tastes these wines, their mind whirls and their tastebuds rejoice, and they immediately acocmpany their initial negative claims with, "Well... now I'm all messed up!  I didn't know Primitivo could ever accomplish something like this." Smiles all around :)
 
Decanter magazine agrees. Many times over in fact. But most recently, Pasquale's 2008 Primitivo Gioia del Colle received the top 'Must Try Red' as it does shake up your world with the evident love that no-one knew Primitivo could express. The classical music therapy during its time in oak, organic farming, and careful work in the winery show themselves with each sip. Bummer is that there are only a handful of cases of the 2008 left in the US.  His small production each year seems to have sold out once again. We have to get it while it's hot! Here's the feature from the magazine. Exciting wine deserves exciting press!
 
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De Stefani goes solar!!!

Bryan Hinschberger
Oct 5, 2013 06:58 PM
There are so many things that wineries can do to their wines to make them unique and different from the next guy's juice.  From long harvests to varying fermentation styles, to oak aging, additives, subtractions.. and the list obviously goes on. We as importers are lucky. We get to cruise around and choose which styles we like, and see what we think makes the most sense for this crazy American market.  And with Bon Vivant... we are super spoiled because we really only look for a few things. Are the wines real? Do they speak of their area and type? Are they conscious of the earth in their methods? Playing around with all of that manipulation just isn't our gig.  Less is more.  Our wineries stand out for their authenticity.  
 
Then, when a winery does something outstanding, that really doesn't change anything they are doing to or for their wines... it lights me up with a smile. De Stefani sits in the Piave of the Veneto in Northeastern Italy, and allows for absolutely beautiful expression in their wines because they are conscious that magic happens when you don't mess with healthy grapes.  Organic farming, cement fermenters, a smart oak program, little to zero sulfur additions, tons of unique local varietals as well as international ones, just becuase Allessandro absolutely loves making a variety of amazing wines at his small estate. Could this fourth generation estate really get much cooler in our eyes? Well... They just did!  De Stefani is now completely solar powered!  Does it change how their wines taste? No. Does the typical wine consumer really care? Probably not. But I think it's awesome. A winery that can better itself and take steps to give back to the earth for its great gift of grape vines - that's alright in my book. Here's the scoop from the winery.  It's pretty awesome:
 
All for the respect of the environment! In 2013 we made significant progress on the path of environmental sustainability, through the completion of a photovoltaic plant in the winery of Fossalta di Piave, able to generate 100% of the total energy requirements. On the whole surface of the roof of the production cellar we have a photovoltaic plant made of 416 panels that produce a power of 104 Kw. Then we produce our wines with the Sun, starting in the vineyard for the ripening for the grapes and continuing in the cellar for the production of the Green electricity!


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Sherry!!

Bryan Hinschberger
Jul 18, 2013 05:34 PM
Never can there be enough good things said about Sherry.  And never was there a beverage with so much misunderstanding and dislike for by the general public of America.  However... killer articles like this one may just be the key to peak the interest of wine drinkers one by one, until Americans bring the demand for more of this incredible aged giver-of-life!  :)  Enjoy this article, and sip on a delicious Fino if you can.  Cheers!
 
Click HERE for the San Francisco Chronicle's great article by Jon Bonné
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Adega Davide Video

Bryan Hinschberger
May 13, 2013 06:29 PM
Check out this beautiful video on the philosophy, style, and passion from Adega Davide.  The most gorgeous Albariño I have ever tasted... you can see why :) David Acha has class!!!
 
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Write up in the Oregonian!!!

Bryan Hinschberger
Nov 30, 2012 09:53 AM
 
About a month ago, I had the incredible pleasure of traveling around the northwest for an entire week with one of our masterful winemakers.  Pasquale Petrera, of Fatalone, rules the Gioia delle Colle region of Apulia (in the heel of the boot of Italy) with his complex, elegant, and down-right delicious Primitivos.  I must say that Pasquale and I got along like old brothers. Joking constantly, picking on one another as we had done it for years, and constantly interested in the other's culture, language, and thoughts on wine. Needless to say, we had a blast together, and most of all - I was able to get a much deeper grasp of how Pasquale makes his wine.
 
Pasquale is the fifth generation wine-maker for his family and is about to bring the sixth into the world with his wife, Martha. And let it now be known, that the baby that is cookin' in Martha's belly is going to be a boy!! His name will be Filippo, as the tradition falls for the first son to carry the name of his grandfather (Pasquale's father).  The family's dedication to natural wine-making practices is fantastic and quite admirable.  Including certified organic farming, zero-emissions from the facility (their solar power takes care of four times their estate!), low sulfur additions, vegan friendly practices (no egg-white fining... in fact, no fining at all), and even music therapy to the wood aged wines to assist with the micro-oxygenation of the aging Primitivos!!  With all of this minute attention to detail, the 'love' that is given to each and every bottle is evident in each glass you drink.
 
And for one exciting part of our great week, we were with our distributor and friend Earl Cramer-Brown (of Vertical Wine & Beer), in Oregon, and participated in a laid-back tasting event at Storyteller Wine Co. in Portland.  Michael Alberty is a fantastic man, whose wine knowledge and palate are on par with the best of them.  He only hosts and promotes incredible wines with incredible stories at his store (you can see why he welcomed Pasquale to his shop), and on his weekly newsletter/online store, and brought in an eclectic group of sophisticated wine drinkers to meet the Fatalone himself!  One of these esteemed participants was Katherine Cole of the Oregonian.  She seemed to take a liking to Pasquale's unique approach to Primitivo, and especially his 'Teres.'  Click HERE for what she had to say!! 
 
 
This light-bodied Primitivo is stunning and beautiful just like the rest of Pasquale's great line-up. But if you can get your hands on any of the Fatalone wines... you won't be dissapointed.  In fact, if you become as stoked about his wines as I am, and find his regular Primitivo Riserva to blow your mind away - we do have a limited amount of Pasquale's 2000 Riserva in embossed magnums coming by the first of the new year.  If you can get your hands on one, it will be a keepsake for a very special occassion.  2000 was his greatest vintage ever (2012 may have competed nicely though :), and this wine will age like any of the greatest reds in the world.
 
Be sure to find these wines, and keep your eye on this guy... because his Primitivo's will change your mind on what you always thought about this grape....  Cheers!
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Tasting Nebbiolo - Luigi Voghera

Bryan Hinschberger
Oct 29, 2012 05:00 PM
Fall is a pretty exciting time of year if you ask me... full of gorgeous colors that light the sides of our streets and hillsides, that always too quickly drop out of sight - forcing our eyes to find a tree that has yet to shed its cover... full of perfectly temperatured days that one could hope for all year long... and full of trepidation that the vibrant colors and moderate temperatures will soon have no home, and it will only be dark, and cold.  But, the 'exciting' part rears its pretty face in the preparation for winter... and that is the resurgence of our craving for red wine.  All summer the sun was too glorious, too hot, too univiting to welcome big, rich, tannic red juice into our glasses; all the while securing delightfully crisp whites & rosés to house full-time in our thoughts and mouths.  But now... the cravings have come on strong... and it's time for dark, brooding, mouth-sucking rouge.
 
The reason I am even geeking out on writing these words right now is based on my most recent 'wine memory': last night's tasting group.  I am fortunate enough to be part of a tasting group that really doesn't hold back the pocket book when selecting what to bring to the monthly 'tasting event' (it's more like a wine-geeks-of-Idaho-social-gathering).  Last night... Piemonte.  Such a slew of fantastic Nebbiolo!  Ha! Yeah, there was a Barbera, and a Dolcetto, and 2 Arneis... but the other 11 bottles were the wines that only the cool autumn air can promote and support - Barbarescos & Barolos.  
 

 
Being that there was quite an assortment of deliciousness, there is claim to right about each and every one of them.  But this is Bon Vivant's Blog!  And a clearly stunning bottle in the line-up last night was none other than Luigi Voghera's 2005 Barbaresco.  Now to be fair... each and every bottle in this beautiful group of Nebbiolos had some clearly stunning characteristics!  But I'll focus on the one dearest to our hearts... the Nebbiolo that comes from a whoppin' 5 acre vineyard in the heart of Neive, in a village called Tetti.  
 
Luigi Voghera produces artisinal boutique wines in the Barbaresco DOCG zone of Piemonte, Italy.  A winery going on 40 years old, and run by Luigi's son Livio; the shear class and style of each and every bottle they produce is truly delicious.  Being a very small estate in the smack-dab center of an epic, world-reknown region, the Barberesco is Voghera's flagship wine.  2005 proved to be a difficult and extremely wet year for Piemonte, making it a game of when to pick and hoping for the best.  Livio, a very astute and precise wine-maker, seemed to have done just fine with his '05 vintage.  And believe it or not, his Barbaresco is really starting to 'show off' a bit even, obviously gaining from ample decanting if possible.  So... to me... the fun part of tasting all of these nebbiolos next to one another, was picking out the pretty flowers from within each glass, as if it were a vase.  Each and every bottle had gorgeously soft floral tones to them, showcasing everything imaginable between purple petunias and black velvet roses.  Now this isn't like smelling the wedding bouquet of Viognier, in fact.. the floral component is nothing like that.  It is soft.  Sweet.  Subdued and gentle.  Merely complementing with a soft kiss, the rich earth and fruit that billows forth from the glass.
 
The Voghera '05, like many nebbiolos, is a wine that your attuned schnoz could 'set up shop' in for days on end.  Notes of violet and delicate clematis flower seemed effortlessly intertwined with dank forest floor, mushroom, pomegranate, and tart black cherry.  Full of aromas alluding to the flavors that were to soon follow, but showing such deep complexities in the nose that our vocabulary has yet to be able to name them all.  The palate... well of course it didn't suck one bit.  The brooding flavors and gripping tannins all followed the beautiful nose like any great nebbiolo should; but the distinctly incredible (and much hoped for) acidity was nothing short of spectacular. The brightness of the fruit's acid was pronounced and dead on, creating a mouthfeel that not only accompanied all the flavors and aromas perfectly, but giving this wine a special 'something' next to many of its counterparts.  The finish lasted for a long time after the wine was gone, only longing for a masterfully cooked meal to stand next to this behemoth of a Barbaresco.
 
Well... needless to say... I'm ready for winter... and all of the life-changing reds that it will bring.  Smile
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Winelines Online Gives a Sweet Summer Review!

Bryan Hinschberger
Jun 1, 2012 07:41 PM
 
We noticed THIS great little article from Winelines Online the other day- thanks to our friends at Fatalone (in Puglia).  As the summer heat is starting to rage, there is always a need to expand horizons in wine drinking and getting a bit creative with what happens to land in your glass each night (or day).  They point out oh-so-well, the art of chilling particular red wines down just a bit to really experience something special on a warm day.  
 
They review both the Fatalone 'Teres' Primitivo, and the Frank Cornelissen 'Contadino 8' as perfect examples of a time to add a bit of a chill to a red.  I can't agree more!!!  Both these wines are incredible in their own right... but drink at the right temperature, and magic settles in.
 
The 'Teres' was originally made to replace the local rose's on those hot summer days in Puglia.  They built things called 'nevieres'  - crazy dug out rooms in the thick stone rock underground - to capture as much snow as possible during the winter months, so that a massive ice-cube would form for the long, hot summer.  Throughout the heat, chizzled bits of ice were used to chill down a water bath where wines would be waiting for their appropriate temperature... pretty sweet!!!  Wish I had one in MY backyard!  So the 'Teres' was truly designed for this slight chill - so try it!
 
And the Cornelissen with a chill?  Perfecto! Crazy and amazing like all of Frank's wines... but at the right temperature... the wine really sings!
 
My eyes were personally opened to a chill on reds when sitting in Walla Walla Washington with my wife and Master Sommelier Greg Harrington.  Greg ordered a bottle of 2001 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino, and before even tasting... asked for an ice bucket to chill it down a bit.  Confused but excited to try, my wife and I enjoyed the conversation about the reason why, and the flavors that exploded when this wine was at the right cool temp.  I've been hooked ever since on trying it out with different reds that seem to lend themselves to a slight chill.
 
I hope that you enjoy this great article... and then go chill down some reds and see what you think! 
 
Cheers!
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New York Times Shout Out!!

Bryan Hinschberger
Mar 9, 2012 02:38 PM
Eric Asimov, of the New York Times, did a beautiful write up on Etna Rosso wines from Sicily.  Not only does he give a great little shout out to the ever-so-controversial Frank Cornelissen wines... but he mentions Bon Vivant as well!!  And luckily, through our great relationship with Zev Rovine in New York City who established this connection with Frank - we are able to get small amounts of these amazing wines! Check out this great article, and feel your mouth water for these elegant and beautiful Etna wines!
 
Click HERE
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Decanter gives Silvanus 4 stars!

Bryan Hinschberger
Jan 25, 2012 12:28 PM
 
 
 
John Radford of Decanter just put out a great review of the 2007 vintage for Ribera del Duero.  And of course, our most fantastic Silvanus (from Asenjo & Manso) gets a lovely write-up & 4 stars!!!  
 
Check it out!!      --     CLICK HERE
 
This robust and elegantly produced Tempranillo comes from 80 year old vines that have been in Jesus Ansejo's family since their planting.  In the Bougros area right outside of the town of La Horra, this organic fruit sees only new French oak after completing both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel.  A truly delightful Ribera del Duero, this wine will age for years and years to come.
 
Cheers!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Different? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely!!

Bryan Hinschberger
Jan 23, 2012 02:37 PM
 
So I've tried the ever-so-controversial wines of Frank Cornelissen several times now and in many types of occasions; whether we are analyzing exactly what is in the bottle and why it is this way... or whether we are trying to 'sell' the wine to a client... or whether we are just sitting down with friends and food in order to enjoy a good bottle of wine.  And although over the years these wines have raised plenty of eyebrows, and gained quite a reputation (whether good or not-so-good), I've got to say: that I freaking love these wines!!!  
 
The 12 hectare estate of Frank Cornelissen is located on Europe's tallest active volcano: Mt. Etna on the east side of Sicily.  The mountain reaches nearly 11,000 ft, and Frank farms his vines at about 3,000 feet above sea level in the North Valley of this piece of nature.  Although not even a third the way up this great mountain, Frank reaches higher than anyone really thought it would be possible to grow good grapes; espcially the way that Frank grows grapes.  He treats his grapes, olives, fruits, and nuts with the most naturally organic process that he knows how, and lets nature do the work.  He doesn't believe in using sulfur.  He ferments his wines in 400 liter terracotta amphorae containers that are buried to the neck in volcanic rock, and lets them carry out the entire process which sometimes takes close to a year!  He doesn't filter, fine, or make sure that his wines fit the stereotypical color scheme that people have grown to expect in their glass.  He produces wine exactly the way that he thinks wine should be made - as naturally as possible.
 
As one could imagine, this type of 'non'winemaking philosophy rocks the wine world a bit like a tumultuous sea crashing around a boat; up and down, side to side, EVERYONE seems to have quite an opinion on this style.  Google any blog on these wines and be entertained for hours.  Winemakers would call this method crazy, ludicrous even... and a complete gamble with the precious fruit's fate.  However, year after year, bottle after bottle, Frank accomplishes wine that not only creates a stir... but also pulls off remarkably drinkable wine.  
 
Now... although I think the wines are great, I understand not everyone will agree with me.  They are not all that pleasant to look at, holding a strange resemblance to home-brewed kombucha.  They are acidic, but they carry a very still and simple mouthfeel. The fruit derived from a sip holds not a place on an orchard tree, but rather just a memory of your childhood when experiencing new fruits for the first time.  The complexity seems so much different than a rich Bordeaux, a layered Meursault, or a gripping Barolo; yet it's complexity is no less than any of these.  The overall experience of these wines are not similar to any other wine you can buy on the market.  They remind me of a beer... mixed with a wine.... well sort of... but not really... I think?  So... are these wines different? Yes.  Are they also delicious? Absolutely!!!
 
 
The other night I sat down with some friends and opened a bottle of the MunJebel 7 Bianco.  A blend of grapes that nobody has ever heard of: Carricante, Grecanico Dorato and Coda di Volpe.  I cooked up a spicy vegetable noodle dish with a yellow coconut curry sauce that I ordinarily would pair with a sweeter Riesling from the Mosel, or a drier one from the Pfalz.  The wine by itself raised some curiosity, but also created some excited smiles.  The flavor was rich but mellow, fruity yet earthy, fresh while developed.  When washing down a bite of curry, a bit of 'food & wine' magic happened and all of a sudden, we couldn't stop talking about how delicious this crazy wine was.  Our kids wanted to smell it, our dog was drooling under the table (ok... she does that everytime we eat dinner), and we were hoping the bottle would last the whole night.  
 
But as expected and too quickly as usual, the bottle was emptied... and I left the table wanting to write about what had just happened.  Although this wine causes such a stir of conversation and even arguements among many, I appreciated it all the more because of this unique controversy.  Frank has put such depth and beauty into his natural production, that as the years pass... only greater things are to come.  Maybe it was the lovely company we were with, but I do know that these wines are something to talk about.
 
If you find them... enjoy them!  If you can't... find a wine that makes you excited.
 
Cheers!
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