Augusto’s Wine of the Week

2016 Justin ‘Isosceles’ | Paso Robles, California

At Justin, the vision of making Bordeaux-style blends was first conceived in the early ’80s.  The motivation behind this venture was to create a world-class wine, combining some of the old-world techniques (hand harvesting, sorting, barrel aging in small French oak) with new world technology.  Isosceles was then born in 1985, and it has been the winery’s flagship wine ever since.

In 1985, Paso Robles was remarkably different from today.  It was a rural community, often referred to as the ‘Almond City’ of the US, because the local almond growers created the largest concentration of monoculture orchards on the planet for that era.  The town was also surrounded by ranches, mostly for pasturing cattle and horses.  Many of these lands were later converted to vineyards, transforming Paso and the surrounding areas into what it is today.

Paso Robles is California’s largest geographic appellation, accounting for over 200 wineries.  Its location couldn’t be more strategic, lying right in the middle between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Over 40 different varietals are grown there, with a known focus on the classic Rhône Valley grapes (like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, or blended as “GSM”). Since the appellation is so vast, it features a wide array of different micro-climates.  However, one of the essential factors is the diurnal-shift: the warmth of the day time facilitates the development of ripe and fruity flavors, while the cool nights, protect the retention of the grape’s natural acidity, building the perfect frame for a ‘long-lived’ wine.

The name ‘Isosceles’ comes from the three classic Bordeaux varietals that make up the blend, which in 2016 was 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot.  The nose is extremely aromatic, with an explosion of ripe black cherry, black currant, cassis, licorice, cardamom, and dry tobacco leaf.  On the palate, the fruit is once again ripe and black.  The oak treatment is prevalent at this stage, with tones of sweet vanilla, baking spices, wet earth, licorice, and sweet cocoa.  There is no doubt about the wine being full-bodied, rich, long, and age-worthy.

Food pairing here is straight forward: grilled New York steak, braised beef, our own short rib pappardelle, polenta and ragù, or anything with some decadence in need of an accomplice.

This week’s offer:

2016 Justin ‘Isosceles’ | Paso Robles, California  was $70… NOW $63

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Order online from CUCINA enoteca Del Mar

Order online from CUCINA enoteca Newport Beach


Montevertine ‘Le Pergole Torte’ 2016 | Toscana, Italia

Italian wine critic Antonio Galloni states, “There are many pedigreed wines in the world, but some rise above that level and move into the stratosphere of the truly iconic. Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte is one of those wines because it weaves together so many strands of history and culture. Le Pergole Torte is a wine of tradition and innovation. It is a wine that speaks to the potential of Sangiovese and the unique attributes of Radda in Chianti. But above all else, Pergole Torte is a reflection of its creator. The late Sergio Manetti was an industrialist, an intellectual and a man of deep culture. His spirit permeates through these wines.”

Le Pergole Torte is a paradox of tradition and innovation.  In 1970s Italy, regional laws highly regulated the wine classification system, with the intent of protecting quality (along with a smattering of local political appeasements).  To carry the word ‘Chianti’ on your bottle, you had to blend Sangiovese with other local grapes (both white and red varietals).  In 1981 the Manetti family decided to commit to 100% Sangiovese, leave the governing consortium, remove the Chianti designation from the bottle, and become ‘Vino da Tavola’ (table wine), and subsequently IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica).  This bold move, at that time, was highly controversial and posed considerable risk to the winemaker.  Why replace a quality designation with “table wine” and expect to achieve accolades, let alone sell it at all?  Yet Montevertine’s goal was simple: with the land you’re given, make the best possible wine you can make.

First released in 1977, the grapes are sourced from high-elevation vineyards above Radda, in the heart of Chianti Classico.  At Montevertine, the winemaking and aging are consistent each year.  Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation occurs in concrete vats with ambient yeast.  The wine then ages for one year in French oak barriques, followed by a second year in the classic Slavonian oak ‘Botti’.  It is bottled ‘unfiltered’.

The resulting wine is simply stunning, with an intense, perfumed, and highly aromatic bouquet.

Galloni describes the 2016 vintage as having ‘off the charts intensity while remaining light on its feet’, which is quite simply what this wine is all about!  The meticulous craftsmanship of the Manetti family has been able to ‘trap’ in the bottle a combination of power and finesse that can be compared with blue chip Burgundy at a fraction of the price.  Late visionary and founder Sergio Manetti chose the unique and colorful drawings of artist Alberto Manfredi to adorn his labels, adding further distinction to its well-deserved status as one of the world’s most iconic wines.

In the glass, it is hard not to smile, since the wine nails all the classic descriptors for Sangiovese: black cherries, roses, tobacco, leather, oregano, and wild herbs.  It is focused, elegant, timeless, and never too big or extracted.

Although utterly delicious in its youth, the ability of ‘Le Pergole Torte’ to age is remarkable.  You can lay it down for the next 25 years to enjoy it at the peak of its complexity, or open it now for early enjoyment after decanting for 1 hour.  Serve at 60 degrees in your trusted Burgundy glass.  Pair with rare-cooked steaks, wild boar, roasted game birds, tomato sauce-based dishes, rich and flavorful chicken preparation.

This is a great opportunity for collectors, Italian wine lovers, and honestly, anybody out there that loves wine!

Today we are pleased to offer:

2016 Montevertine ‘Le Pergole Torte’ 750ml            $159

2016 Montevertine ‘Le Pergole Torte’ 1.5L               $318

2016 Montevertine ‘Le Pergole Torte’ 3L                  $759

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Order online from CUCINA enoteca Del Mar

Order online from CUCINA enoteca Newport Beach

Learn more about Montevertine