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Fontodi, Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy) Filetta di Lamole 2016 ($44)
  Although this release is only the third vintage of this wine, Giovanni Manetti, owner/winemaker at Fontodi told me they have been working on the project for 15 years.  The Filetta vineyard, owned by Manetti’s cousin, is only a few miles from Fontodi’s home base near Panzano, but the wine is very different from their usual Chianti Classico because of the extreme elevation of the vineyard.  Sitting at about 2,000 feet above sea level, the site is too high to support even olive trees.  But Sangiovese does ripen there and produces a wine, which Manetti described to me as a “ballerina” compared to Fontodi’s more muscular regular Chianti Classico.  That description fits the 2016 Filetta di Lamole beautifully.  Not as ripe or rich as Fontodi’s usual Chianti Classico, the Filetta di Lamole is leaner, more elegant and sleeker.  Tasting the two side-by-side showcases terroir in the Chianti Classico region.  Here are two wines, both made entirely from Sangiovese and both made using basically the same winemaking techniques, that are enormously different.  The beauty is that you can’t go wrong with either. 
95 Michael Apstein


Posted by Robert Whitley on March 19, 2019 at 1:58 PM

Winery to Watch: Rowen

A few years back, the now-retired Rick Sayre described a novel concept for Rodney Strong Vineyards, where he presided as winemaker for more than three decades. Sayre called it a "winery within a winery."

The winery within the winery at Rodney Strong is called Rowen. The Rowen brand utilizes a unique new source of grapes, the Cooley Ranch in northern Sonoma County. What makes the 20,000-acre property unique is the rugged terrain, with steep hillsides and peak elevations above 2,000 feet.

The Rowen vineyards cover about 200 acres of the property, with plots planted at elevations between 500 and 2,040 feet. The vineyards are mostly above the fog line (the Pacific Ocean is just a few miles to the west, as the crow flies) and therefore get plenty of sun. Ryan Decker, director of Estate Vineyards at Rodney Strong, adds, "the high altitude changes the vines, they produce more leaves and more leaves give you more ripening power."

The vineyards aren't the only unique aspect of the Rowen red blend. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, who succeeded Sayre, has crafted a unique blend with the 2015 vintage. With 55 percent cabernet sauvignon and 26 percent malbec, it has all the best characteristics of a classic Bordeaux-style blend. The twist is a shot of syrah (17 percent) and viognier (2 percent) that has been co-fermented, a practice that is common in France's Cote-Rotie district in the northern Rhone.

The result is a suave red blend that is beautifully structured and shows complex layers of red and black fruits, beautifully integrated tannins and a scintillating thread of minerality. It is a stunning wine that retails for a modest (given the ambitious nature of the project) $55. And well worth it.

The 2015 Rowen red wine is supple enough to enjoy now, yet it possesses the structure and depth to improve over 20 years in the cellar. Rowen produced 2,250 cases in 2015.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Keys to Excellence at Louis Roederer
Rebecca Murphy

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon is the Winemaker and Executive Vice-President of Production for the venerable Champagne house of Louis Roederer. With degrees in enology and agronomy from École Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie of Montpellier, his first job at Roederer in 1989 was at Roederer Estate in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino, California. Today he oversees wine production at Scharfenberger Cellars, also in Anderson Valley, Ramos Pintos in the Douro Valley of Portugal, Château de Pez in St Estephe and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Paulliac. He is forward thinking, curious, analytical and an inveterate experimenter.
Dry Creek Vineyard Introduces New Wines
Ed McCarthy

During the 1970s, California began opening many new wineries. The wine boom in California that began in the mid-1960s blossomed to such an extent by the 1970s that new wineries were opening up practically every month. Dave Stare, who founded Dry Creek Vineyard in 1972, is one of the early pioneers of California's wine renaissance. He was inspired to go into the wine business after making a few trips to the Loire Valley. Stare took wine courses at UC Davis in the late 1960s, and began searching for vineyards up and down the California coast. When he arrived at Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, Dave found an ideal location--an old prune orchard. He purchased it and immediately began planting vines.
Wine With
Risotto With Spinach and Caramelized Onions

A well-made risotto is a Goldilocks dish-the rice is not too soft, not too crunchy, but tender, with a pleasing firmness to each grain. The finished result should have a creamy texture, not dry (like regular white or brown rice) and not sticky (as in many Asian dishes). A well-made risotto can provide a delicious foundation on which to build flavor by adding mushrooms, seafood, or vegetables, but don't overload the risotto with too many other ingredients. The rice itself should be the star here, with all additions the supporting actors. Because the caramelized onions add a certain rich sweetness to the dish, wines with at least a hint of matching sweetness from fruit partner best with the risotto. Of the ten wines we tried (seven whites, three reds) we found that overly oaked whites and a red wine with too-forceful tannins made for the least appealing matches.
On My Table
Unpacking a New Terroir in Argentina
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

This wine is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc produced by the Dominio del Plata winery, which is the winery of notable Argentine enologist, Susana Balbo. The winery produces several different tiers of wines, of which BenMarco is among the finest. The BenMarco wines focus on terroir as their defining concept, and that focus roused my curiosity to taste the wines. After visiting Argentina in February, I came to understand the exciting terroir movement that is occurring there - particularly within the Valle de Uco -- and I witnessed the distinctiveness that Malbec wines can derive from their different terroirs. This wine hails from what I consider one of the most exciting of Argentina's new Geographical Indications (GIs), Gualtallary.