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  • The Valentine's Day Massacre

    St. Valentine in TerniSt.Valentine Basilica in Terni, Italy

    Our War of the Roses quartet would be incomplete without an Italian contender, so we are bringing this one out of the gate first. And of course (and with all apologies) as this is a battle of the rosés as we roll towards Valentines Day, and this one is Italian, a reference to the St.Valentine's Day Massacre of Al Capone was inevitable. But these things all come so neatly wrapped up together: Saint Valentine was Italian and is the saint for which Valentines day is named- he was buried on February 14th. While little is actually known about Valentinus, as you can see in this beautiful stained glass window which resides in the Saint Valentine Basilica in Terni, Italy, it is generally accepted that he was martyred for marrying "unsanctioned" couples, and here he is shown blessing these young lovers. Who happen to be passing a rose between them. The artist almost certainly meant for it to symbolize the rosé wine we are focusing on right now.

    The wine. This Rosato comes from Rosa del Golfo, a winery with ancient roots in the agricultural traditions of that distant part of the Puglia region known as the Salento Peninsula. The Salento is hailed as the best rosé producing area of Italy, a theory supported and widespread by Italians themselves. Indeed, Rosa Del Golfo takes its name from the rosé wine that made them famous and still to this day is considered the benchmark of Italian rose wines.

    Rosa del Golfo RosatoRosato

    The winery possesses two centuries of history, having always been managed by the Calo' family.The hillside vineyards have clay-limestone soils, with characteristic areas of red earth rich in iron, as well as a mild climate which makes the area ideal for growing grapes and olives. It is exactly this "Terra Rossa" (red soils) that are the secret to the structure and complexity of the wines.

    "The best rosé of Italy" is the way we have heard it described more than a few times. Fighting words? Perhaps. But this is our War of the Rosés and Italy has thrown down the gauntlet. And just as we prefer a rosé to a rose for Valentines Day, in the spirit of the pen being mightier than the sword, we also prefer it to a hail of bullets.

    Which brings us to the Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. Perhaps more is known about the life of Al Capone than that of Saint Valentine, but it should be pointed out that Alphonse was not Italian: he born in Brooklyn. Had his parents stayed in Italy, he would not have been faced with the dark, dry days of prohibition which is surely what drove him over the edge.

    ROSA DEL GOLFO ROSATO 2013. OFFERED THROUGH VALENTINES DAY AT A KILLER DISCOUNT.

  • WINEMONGER DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS

    CALIFORNIA
    Winemonger Imports
    San Anselmo, CA
    o: 415.747.8404
    f: 415.462.9862
    office@winemonger.com

    COLORADO
    The Harvest Wine Company
    Denver, CO
    o: 303.241.1039
    www.harvestwineco.com

    DELAWARE
    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021
    info@lanternawines.com
    www.lanternawines.com

    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021
    info@lanternawines.com
    www.lanternawines.com

    GEORGIA
    Sour Grapes
    828.215.6132
    www.sourgrapeswine.com

    ILLINOIS
    Wine-O-Rama
    Chicago, IL
    773.376.0000

    MARYLAND
    Lanterna Distributors
    Baltimore, MD
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021
    info@lanternawines.com
    www.lanternawines.com

    MICHIGAN
    Little Guy Wine Co. / Great Lakes Distributing
    o: 313.791.5959

    MINNESOTA
    World Class Wines
    Minneapolis, MN
    o: 612.623.1594
    f: 612.217.5197
    www.world-class-wines.com

    NEW YORK / NEW JERSEY
    Winemonger Imports
    San Anselmo, CA
    o: 415-747-8404
    f: 415-462-9862
    office@winemonger.com

    NORTH CAROLINA
    Sour Grapes
    828.215.6132
    www.sourgrapeswine.com

    TEXAS
    Favorite Brands
    Everywhere in Texas
    972.943.0263 (Houston)
    www.favoritebrands.org

    SOUTH CAROLINA
    Sour Grapes
    828.215.6132
    www.sourgrapeswine.com

    VIRGINIA
    Lanterna Distributors
    o: 877.890.9020
    f: 877-890-9021
    info@lanternawines.com
    www.lanternawines.com

    WASHINGTON
    Elliot Bay Distribution
    Seattle, WA
    206.935.9463

    WYOMING
    Winemonger Imports
    o: 415.747.8404
    f: 415.462.9862
    office@winemonger.com

  • The Austrian Vintage 2010: A Happy Ending with Small Quantities

    The Austrian Vintage 2010: A Happy Ending with Small Quantities

    The 2010 vintage was defined by unusually difficult weather conditions, with low grape yields the result. Nevertheless, crisp white wines and fine, lean red wines are expected.

    The harsh Winter of 2009 was met by the pleasant arrival of Spring in 2010. However, cold, wet periods soon followed, and 2010 saw significant rainfall and a lack of sunshine overall. Depending on the grape variety and wine-growing area, the flowering period occurred during weather conditions that were sometimes - and sometimes not – favourable, and had a direct effect on the yields. The occurrence of couloure at this point was a key factor in the vines bearing fewer bunches as well as each bunch yielding a smaller amount of grapes. This led ultimately to the lowest grape harvest in 25 years.

    [wpcaption id="attachment_577" align="alignnone" width="216" wpcaption="Wachau"][/wpcaption]

    With only 1.7 million hectoliters, the total harvest quantity in 2010 did not even meet the annual domestic consumption average - approximately 2.5 million hectoliters. Although not every grape variety suffered yield loss, Austria's leading white variety, Grüner Veltliner, was considerably affected. Also other varieties such as Chardonnay, Traminer and St. Laurent yielded lower quantities. But again, the different wine-growing areas must be considered: in Steiermark (Styria), for example, harvest totals were down by only around 12%, while other areas had 40% losses because of bad weather conditions.

    No Disadvantages Without Advantages
    After the rather unsteady flowering period, there was a deceptive stretch of heat in July. But this was all too quickly replaced by a cool, rainy August and a September that showed few signs of Indian Summer. In October, there were several “windows” of dryness that allowed, at carefully chosen harvest times, grapes to be brought into the cellars dry, healthy and ripe. Especially treasured were the undamaged grapes set loosely on their bunches: this deterred the development of Botrytis, and the growers could breathe easier until harvest time. Also, cool temperatures - especially during the nights – made an essential contribution to the rare “wet year but healthy grapes” phenomenon.

    Winemakers with strong nerves were rewarded for their patience because extract, content and fruit nuances increased week by week into the later harvest period. And good results have been achieved. With more than enough sugar-free extract, the white wines are presenting themselves as fruit-accented and with acidity that is racy, but not aggressive. Varietal character and expression are clear and Botrytis, if any, remains – with a few exceptions - in the background. Overall, this kind of white wine vintage is defined by fresh, sleek-style wines – in other words, again a genuine “Austrian” vintage! Thanks to the right amount of patience as well as the acceptance of lower grape quantities, full-bodied wines with 13% or more alcohol, plenty of depth and dense structure were achieved, but in volumes lower than in previous years, of course.

    Crisp Whites, Lean Reds
    White wines, such as those made from the showcase variety, Grüner Veltliner, combine an appealing and animated fruit-acidity play with distinctive varietal character. Nature delivered a bit of a reserved expression to the Rieslings, although they have plenty of raciness and some good crystal-clear fruit flavours - and even could age better than other vintages like 2004 and 2008. The Burgundy varieties, including Weissburgunder and Chardonnay, are – even with their own quantity losses – showing wines that are round, balanced and exude attractive varietal attributes.

    [wpcaption id="attachment_576" align="alignnone" width="144" wpcaption="Styria"][/wpcaption]

    The same can be said for the pointed - but not grassy! - Sauvignon Blancs and the Muskatellers, which turned out nicely in the Steiermark. There, they benefited from the more favourable weather conditions. In the Steiermark's three wine-growing areas, higher sugar-ripeness was reached fortunately at an early stage: fortunate, because wet conditions combined with high temperatures spawned a sudden fungus outbreak that could be managed only through a speedy harvest. Also the white wines of Burgenland reflect the characteristics of the vintage and, with their somewhat heftier acidity structure, are even more refreshing on the palate.

    About the quality and quantity of the sweet wine harvest, it is still too early to tell. But the icy temperatures in early December certainly were optimal for ice wines.

    The red wine sector was a bit more complicated but, finally, Zweigelt brought the best results because of good sugar ripeness and a fruit-accented (red berry) character. Also Pinot Noir and St. Laurent, which had significant quantity losses, performed well in their stronghold territories. Conditions for the late-ripening varieties were even more difficult – such as with Blaufränkisch, for which a very tedious, strict selection was necessary in order to reach appropriate gradations, and the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and even Merlot, which had better success in some areas.

    Whether or not our red wine specialists will produce from 2010 wines in all of the known categories or focus on some of their most important brand- and single vineyard-wines, ultimately depends on their own particular “philosophy” and will become clear in the future. But for the time being, the great red wines from 2009 are still maturing in the barrels - and keeping expectations very high!

    This report comes courtesy of the Austrian Wine Board

  • Kurt Gutenbrunner - Chef, Restaurateur, New York Icon of Austrian Cuisine

    Kurt GutenbrunnerKurt Gutenbrunner

    A lot has been written and said about the iconic chef and owner of New York’s culinary favorites- Wallsé, Café Sabarsky, Café Kristall, The Upholstery Store and my very own New York living room, Blaue Gans.

    You can read about how Kurt built this group of highly successful KGNY group of restaurants with his bare hands-- armed only with his skill in the kitchen and contagious energy that keeps those he works with on their toes-- in quite a few write-ups including this one in the New York Times magazine or in this more personal look at Kurt Gutenbrunner called World of Kurt.

    For us importers of Austrian wine Kurt is not just a success story for Austria's cuisine. “When we first opened our doors people had no idea that Austria made good wine." Chef Kurt explained to me when I last ran into him at Blaue Gans, "It took a lot of hand-selling and convincing to win our customers over.” Convince them he did.

    The bottom line is that Kurt certainly deserves a lion's share of the credit for the success Austrian wines enjoy today in the New York dining scene and even more broadly across the US. One forgets that there was once a time when these wines were not yet accepted and prized by wine-lovers East and West.

    Today Wallse is probably the highest-turning restaurant for Austrian wine in New York City. Here you’ll find anything from Hogl’s Smaragd Gruner Veltliners to Moric Blaufrankisch or Umathum’s St Laurent vom Stein. Or, for those more adventurous, try a Zierfandler from Stadelmann or a modern-style red like Fritz Wieninger's Danubis.

  • 2010 ZALTO Holiday Shipping Deadlines

    It would break our heart (but not our rather durable stems) if you didn't get your Zaltos to toast with in time, or to give to that very lucky someone. Here are our shipping order cut-off times:

    THANKSGIVING SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    wineglass, wine stem, stemware, zalto

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    VIA GROUND TO AZ, CA, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA: Order in by 2PM on 11/22
    VIA GROUND TO CO, HI, MT, NM, WY: Order in by 2PM on 11/19
    VIA GROUND TO AK, AR, IA, IL, KS, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX: Order in by 2PM on 11/18
    VIA GROUND TO ALL OTHER STATES:Order in by 2PM on 11/17

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/19
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/22
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/23

    CHRISTMAS SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    wineglass, wineglasses, angles

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    VIA GROUND TO AZ, CA, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA: Order in by 2PM on 12/21
    VIA GROUND TO CO, HI, MT, NM, WY: Order in by 2PM on 12/20
    VIA GROUND TO AK, AR, IA, IL, KS, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX: Order in by 2PM on 12/17
    VIA GROUND TO ALL OTHER STATES:Order in by 2PM on 12/16

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/21
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/22
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/23

    NEW YEARS EVE SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    VIA GROUND TO AZ, CA, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA: Order in by 2PM on 12/29
    VIA GROUND TO CO, HI, MT, NM, WY: Order in by 2PM on 12/28
    VIA GROUND TO AK, AR, IA, IL, KS, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX: Order in by 2PM on 12/27
    VIA GROUND TO ALL OTHER STATES:Order in by 2PM on 12/23

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/28
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/29
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/30

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR WINEMONGER!

  • 2010 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for WINE Orders

    Don't order too late! Here are the deadlines to get your wine shipped on time for Thanksgiving and Christmas:

    THANKSGIVING SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    CA VIA GROUND: Order in by NOON on 11/22
    FL, ID, IL, LA, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OR, TX, WY VIA GROUND: Order in by NOON on 11/15

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/19
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/22
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 11/23

    3-TIER STATES:
    AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, MA, MI, NC, NJ, NY. WI: 11/10

    CHRISTMAS SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    CA VIA GROUND: Order in by NOON on 12/22
    FL, ID, IL, LA, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OR, TX, WY VIA GROUND: Order in by NOON on 12/14

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/20
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/21
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/22

    3-TIER STATES:
    AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, MA, MI, NC, NJ, NY. WI: Order in by NOON on 12/8

    NEW YEARS EVE SHIPPING DEADLINES:

    ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC STANDARD

    CA VIA GROUND: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/29
    FL, ID, IL, LA, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OR, TX, WY VIA GROUND: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/20

    DIRECT 3-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/27
    DIRECT 2-DAY: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/28
    OVERNIGHT: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/29

    3-TIER STATES:
    AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, MA, MI, NC, NJ, NY. WI: Order in by 11:30AM on 12/15

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM YOUR WINEMONGER!

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