TOP SHELF CLUB SELECTION – FEB 2024
(2 Red Wines & 1 White, choose Monthly or Quarterly, up to $175/period)
- Felton Road 2019 Bannockburn Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand (Biodynamic). $76
Schiavenza 2017 Barolo DOCG “Broglio” (Biodynamic) $58
- Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel $49
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Red #1: Felton Road 2019 Bannockburn Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand. (Biodynamic) $76
The Wine/Tasting Notes (Blair Walter, Winemaker)
The nose delivers aromas of dark raspberry with hints of dried herbs, brewed tea, and a touch of old cedar wood. The wine spent 13 months in French oak barrels (30% new) and is now of sufficient age that the obvious woody notes have given way to far more alluring dusty/spicy notes.
The palate is viscous and concentrated, displaying bramble fruits deftly integrated with an alluring savoriness. 25% of the grape clusters were fermentated whole, delivering a notable tannic structure in the young wine. But now, after several years in bottle, the wine shows fine, smooth tannins and a promising future. This is a serious wine with considerable definition and poise.
Wine Advocate “93 pts”.
Wine Spectator “94 pts”.
Bob Campbell “95 pts”.
Felton Road was launched in 1991 based on a commitment to meticulous vineyard selection and design and a refusal to compromise at any step, from grape to glass.
Their commitment to quality begins with organic and biodynamic vineyard practices (BioGro and Demeter certified), ensuring the fruit that arrives at the winery is as pure as possible. All Felton Road wines are produced exclusively from their estate-grown fruit. Realizing that full sustainability is unattainable, Felton Road embraces the idea, knowing that tilting at this proverbial windmill creates an environment of continuous improvement.
Ther production facility employs a number of sustainable practices:
- A gravity flow process from bin to bottle (no electric pumps required)
- Wild yeast fermentations, no innoculations with manufactured yeast strains
- Wild malolactic fermentations
- No fining or filtration (for both aesthetic reasons and to eliminate the need for electric pumps)
With minimal handling and manipulation throughout the winegrowing process, Felton Road’s goal is to allow the finished wine to be a unique expression of each of the winery’s unique vineyards.
Nigel Greening; Proprietor. Gareth King; Viticulturist. Blair Walter; Winemaker (in photo at right).
Red #2: Schiavenza 2017 Barolo DOCG “Broglio” (Biodynamic) $58
The Wine / Winemaker’s Notes
Producing only red wines, Schiavenza obtains their grapes for their Barolo wines from three vineyards – ‘Prapo’, ‘Ceretta’ and (this one) ‘Broglio’. If you enjoy their Barolo, you may also want to try their two declassified Nebbiolos – a Serralunga d’Alba Nebbiolo and a Langhe Nebbiolo – which reflect the house style in a more affordable bottling.
But back to this wine – at a modest 3.6 acres, Broglio is still Schiavenza’s largest holding of cru Barolo. The vineyard is 1,200 feet above sea level (WELL above the fog line) with a southeast facing position that maximizes daytime sun exposure/ripening in this Northern region.
Combine this with the vineyard’s higher concentration of clay in its soil and you’ll see why Broglio is Schiavenza’s most productive vineyard. While getting more tons per acre may seem like a good thing to a CFO, it conflicts with the winemaker’s desire to create the best wine the vineyard can provide. As such, Broglio requires more labor than Schiavenza’s other Barolo vineyards, including multiple passes for canopy work and green harvesting (dropping fruit to assure the remaining clusters achieve full ripeness).
On the plus side of this set of circumstances, Broglio is typically the first of Shciavenza’s Barolos to be drinkable at a young age, i.e., without aging the wine for a decade before it is sufficiently tamed to be good company at your dinner table. Drink from 2024 through 2035.
In the glass the wine’s color is bright red pomegranate fading to shades of orange at the rim. An elegant, light-bodied wine with hints of sweet fruit, faded rose petals, tobacco and warm glove leather. Though the 2017 vintage was notoriously difficult in Piemonte, this is the perfect example of why you should buy the individual WINE, not the vintage, as some good wine can be found even in bad years, and they tend to offer great value:
“94 pts” James Suckling
“93 pts” Wine Enthusiast
“92 pts” Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnuck and Wine Spectator.
Schiavenza is unlike many Italian producers in that they have adopted a simple name – the Schiavenza Company. They are also unusual in that they are a young winery by Old World standards, having been founded in 1956. They are located in a section of Northern Italy’s Piemonte region known as Serralunga d’Alba.
The winery was started by two brothers – Vittorio and Ugo Alessandria – who have since handed the reins to their son-in-law, Luciano Pira. Luciano is an agronomist and winemaker, aided by Maura Alessandria and a brother-in-law, Walter Anselma . Before 1956 the winery was owned by Opera Pia Barolo, who (as did all agricultural entities back then) obtained labor through a sharecropping system called ‘mezzadria’ which fell apart when Fascism ended after WWII and as machines replaced beasts of burden and young adults left agricultural lands in favor of the more plentiful and lucrative jobs of the urban core. But the winery’s name pays homage to these sharecroppers who were once known as ‘schiavenza’.
May we all think of them as we enjoy this wine.
White Wine Selection: Emmerich Knoll Grüner Veltliner Federspiel $49
The Wine / Tasting Notes
This is one of those wines that geeks describe as having a laser-like focus. Such wines are generally lean and crisp, so that’s part of what this descriptor means. But more importantly, such wines can be said to do one thing really, really well. They don’t get distracted. They do not multi-task. They head in one direction and arrive there pleasantly and efficiently. In this case, it means the wine expresses the aromatics of a great Austrian Gru Vee – melon, warm lentils and white-pepper.
Pairs beautifully with crudo and is sufficiently remarkable to be enjoyed on its own. Drink now through 2028.
Weingut Emmerich Knoll (pronounce the K!) is one of Austria’s best-known producers. Sadly, his name is unfamiliar to most US wine drinkers except for among a coterie of devoted Austrian wine fans (which may soon include you, if it doesn’t already!)
Located on the Northern side of the Danube River in Austria’s Wachau region, Knoll was established in 1825 and is still family-owned and operated. Knoll enjoys a reputation for its age-worthy and expressive Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners coming from 35 acres of top vineyards including the Schütt, Loibenberg, Kellerberg, Kreutles and Pfaffenberg vineyards.
These sites are planted to around 45 percent Riesling and 45 percent Grüner Veltliner, with the remaining 10% planted to Chardonnay, Yellow Muscat, Rivaner, Blauer Burgunder (aka, Pinot Noir) and Gelber Traminer.
Emmerich Knoll is a member of the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus and follows the association’s strict quality control regulations and three-tier ranking system, producing Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd-level wines. Some of the estate’s top wines include the Kellerberg Riesling Smaragd, Loibenberg Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, and Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines that are made only in vintages conducive to botrytis.
The estate handpicks the grapes at specific ripeness levels and must weights, blocks malolactic fermentation to maintain the fresh style of wine the house is known for, and uses large oak foudres almost exclusively for an oxidative winemaking process rather than for adding any flavors or aromas of oak.