We recently published a short guide to our custom French bottlings, suggesting that the tradition began when “Kermit, with his customers back home in mind, asked certain producers if he could blend his own cuvée, often to be bottled unfiltered at his request.” We have since been able to offer a terroir-driven, diverse collection of “Selected by KL” blends from southern France, and have applied the same scrupulous criteria for typicity, pleasure, and value to our Italian blend from just east of the Langhe, in the Monferrato region of Piedmont. The area provides an unmatched variety of local grapes to choose from, and in the hands of Alessandra Bodda of Tenuta La Pergola, we hit the jackpot. When blended together—in this case, 50% Barbera, 30% Bonarda, with a splash each of Dolcetto and Freisa—the sum cuvée is much greater than any one of its parts, offering fruit, earth, acidity, and plenty of joy. What we have here is a knockout bottle of vino rosso for under fifteen dollars that embodies the spirit of our entire Italian portfolio at a fraction of the cost.
The story of Monferrato Rosso began in a simple trattoria. Dixon and Kermit were on their way to Alba when they stopped for lunch. They were served a pitcher of Arneis that pleasantly surprised them and got the address of the producer. When they visited, they tasted several cuvées of Monferrato Rosso. It has quickly become a staff favorite, not only for its smooth earthiness and genuine regional typicity, but also for its versatility in pairing with a wide variety of dishes. We have high hopes for this everyday cuvée, because it has the finesse of a much grander D.O.C. Kermit says that it reminds him of the Piedmontese wines of old. Simple label, low price, totally satisfying!
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now twelve Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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