Below is a line up of some older yet newer released wines from AR. Pe. Pe in Valtellina and Emidio Pepe in Montepulciano. Here's the deal:
10% off any 3, 15% off on any 6 and 20% off on any 12!
AR. Pe. Pe. is one of those wines that I often forget it's greatness., until someone is generous enough to open them. And how thankful I am. The illustrious Nebbiolo grape continues to amaze me in all it's different manifestations. Like many others, I originally discovered this illustrious and majestic grape through the great Barolo and Barbaresco regions, but overtime, have branched out to see just how unique and versatile it could be.
For today, we are in a completely different area called Lombardy and the DOCG of Valtellina. I can safely say that Lombardy is the least known and most mysterious of the 20 Italian regions and Valtellina even more so. It is hard to generalize, but the Nebbiolo is more mountainous, herbal and game driven, but again, there are always exceptions.
For a better understanding check out this great blog post here. Wine Spectator did a small piece and our own Eric Asmov has written a nice expose.
Rosso di Valtellina: DOC established in 1968. Wine must be 90% Nebbiolo
Districts within Valtellina:
These are not cheap wines, but compared to Barolo and Barbaresco, quite the bargain as they can age for the same if not longer (depending on the producer) and reach equal amazement with proper age. Lucky for you, some of these are almost there!
2012 AR. Pe. Pe Grumello 'Rocca de Piro`Riserva: $52.99
More open than the 2011, but barely. Lovely brushes of truffle, dried roses, licorice and juicy berries. Fresh, tangential, lean and bright.
2011 AR. Pe. Pe Grumello 'Rocca de Piro`Riserva: $54.99
Very closed with undercurrents of truffle, rose and balsamic reduction. Tart, lean and berry freshness on the palate with bright acidity.
2009 AR. Pe. Pe Grumello Sant'Antonio Riserva: $109.99
WA 94 Points: The 2009 Valtellina Superiore Riserva Grumello Sant'Antonio reveals a compact and well-delineated core of tight fruit, cassis and wild berry. I am impressed by how fine and pure those Nebbiolo (or Chiavennasca) aromas are presented in this wine from the Grumello subzone. Those delicate fruit tones are followed by flinty aromas of gravel and crushed granite. I would argue that this wine's mineral side is more pronounced compared to the other new releases from Ar. Pe. Pe. The tannins are magnificently integrated, and you are treated to a long, silky finish. Some 6,000 bottles were released. The Grumello cru is located up to 500 meters above sea level.
2007 AR. Pe. Pe Grumello 'Buon Consiglio`Riserva: $112.99
Can't believe this wine has over a decade on it. Apparent in the nose with loads of leather, stewed strawberries (don't think jammy), roses, orange oil, rhubarb and weird gravel notes. Tremendously complex but still young as hell. Berry notes galore on the palate with clean and straightforward acidity and subtle balsamic reduction that flirts and plays with interwoven minerality. Can easily age and progress for another 15 years.
2005 AR. Pe. Pe Grumello `Buon Consiglio' Riserva: $99.99
94 Points Vinous: "The 2005 Valtellina Superiore Grumello Riserva Buon Consiglio is another wonderfully complete wine. A host of blood orange, white pepper, cranberry, mulling spices and dried flowers lift from the glass. This is one of the most intensely aromatic, exotic wines in the range. Readers should be prepared for a deceptively mid-weight wine that has a lot going on. The 2005 spent 30 days in cask followed by 4 years in cask and cement. The long maceration and aging time results in a wine with more tertiary-leaning aromas and flavors."
2010 AR. Pe. Pe Sassella `Stella Retica` Riserva: $54.99
92 Points Vinous: "Crushed rose petals, mint, sweet tobacco, game, red cherry and cranberry lift from the glass in the 2010 Valtellina Superiore Sassella Riserva Stella Retica. Bright and salivating, with lively acidity laced throughout, the 2010 is an absolutely joyous wine to drink now and over the next decade. The 2010 is 100% Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) that was given a relatively short ten days of maceration in oak vats followed by two years in cask and cement. Translucent and deeply expressive, with a long, sinewy finish, the 2010 is striking from the very first taste."
2007 AR. Pe. Pe Sassella`Vigna Regina` Riserva: $109.99
96 Points Wine Enthusiast: This radiant, fragrant Nebbiolo opens with a potpourri of scents including aromatic herb, leather, cedar, pressed rose petal and dark spice. The luminous, subtle palate is loaded with finesse, delivering juicy red cherry, cinnamon, star anise, white pepper and pipe tobacco. It's impeccably balanced, with noble tannins and bright acidity. Drink now or hold for even more complexity. Drink through 2032.
2006 AR. Pe. Pe Sassella Ultima Raggi Riserva: $109.99
94 Points Cellar Tracker
2005 AR. Pe. Pe Sassella`Vigna Regina` Riserva: $109.99
92 Points Vinous: The 2005 Valtellina Superiore Sassella Riserva Vigna Regina is a very pretty wine to drink today, as the tannins have softened and the flavors show a good deal of complexity. Tobacco, game, incense, iron and dark stone fruits form the backbone in an imposing, brooding Sassella. Mid-weight but slightly burly, the 2005 has enough structure and acidity to drink well for another decade plus. This is a classic Valtellina red built on an understated sense of power. Readers who enjoy firm, structured wines will find much to admire
2002 AR. Pe. Pe Sassella `Rocce Rosse` Riserva: $94.99
96 Points Vinous: "The 2002 Valtellina Superiore Sassella Riserva Rocce Rosse will give readers a very good idea of how top-notch Valtellina Nebbiolo develops with age. Primary flavors are now faded into the background, replaced with a striking array of dried rose petal, lavender, mint and sweet pipe tobacco. A wine for lovers of classic, traditionally made Nebbiolo, the 2002 Rocce Rosse delivers the goods, and then some. The 2002 spent 35 days on the skins in cement, followed by 4 years in cask and cement. Don't miss it"
2009 AR. Pe. Pe Inferno Sesto Canto: $109.99
95 Points WA: A pure expression of Nebbiolo (also called Chiavennasca) from 50-year-old vines planted in crushed granite soils, the 2009 Valtellina Superiore Riserva Inferno Sesto Canto is a beautiful, somewhat fragile wine that is, in a word, inspired. This is a wine of utmost grace and elegance that gives you pause for reflection and awe. I found it to be quite moving especially considering the hardships of steep mountain farming required to make it. This is one of those wines in which nature and humans work lock and step together. Delicate tones of cassis and wild rose are followed by faint nuances of ash and stone. The wine is fermented on the skins for 49 days. The long aging process sees five years in chestnut barrel and three years in cement vat. Some 6,000 bottles were produced.
It is still shocking how many erudite wine people are still in the unknown when it comes to Emidio Pepe. But it sorta makes sense. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is normally thought of as a cheap table wine that rarely exceeds $12 on wine shelves within the U.S. But like all things in this mysterious world, there are exceptions..big ones!
The wines of Emidio Pepe are not only unique amongst Abruzzo,but within the wine world itself. Durable, meant to age and perhaps truly like no other wine. It will contain the light ethereal quality of a Burgundy with the flavor profile of an aged traditional Rioja like Lopez de Heredia -- whom they are often compared to. These wines are big and bold, filled with intense flavors of dried black cherries, licorice and wild herbs. But that still doesn't do them justice. It is Vosne Romanee Burgundy, meets 11th century Italian countryside: wild, savage and raw. Smelling these wines makes you want to grab a shovel and have someone bury you in the Abruzzo earth like Kill Bill 2 -- spoiler alert -- but you will get out. However, that might not be a good thing.
Background and Terroir
Though the family has been producing wines here since the end of the 19th Century, the winemaking has remained unchanged philosophically since Emidio Pepe took over the estate in 1964. Since 1997, the business and wine production has been in the hands of the fourth generation of the Pepe family with sisters Daniela, and Sofia. The Pepe vineyards are located in the northern province of Teramo, with siliceous soil rich in lime and iron. With a great belief that Mother Nature is the best care-giver for the vines, grapes are grown biodynamically, hand-harvested, hand-destemmed, naturally fermented and aged 18-24 months in glass-lined tanks. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, without added SO2, and aged in their cellar, in bottle, for continued development. Before release, the wines are decanted by hand into new bottles, and then labeled. An extensive stock of older vintages is kept at the cellar.
Now, some of you might look at the prices below and begin to curse my name. Please don't. Yes, they are not everyday wines, but if we look at them in comparison to other great wines of the world with ageing potential, you will see they are at a far better price. Take a chance with these, you will be greatly impressed.
2008 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $224.99
Spectacular - dense, always evolving in the glass, intense dark berry fruit with terrific structure, beautiful on the nose. Still very youthful. Years and years left to enjoy this.
2002 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $274.99
Similar to other vintages of this wine that I have tried. I am a big fan, nose has a little funk, tar, fresh rubber (not as much as the 2000), dark fruit, smooth tannin, good acid, very food friendly. We decanted for about 30 min to an hr prior. Still needs a little more time to hit peak imo.
2001 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $309.99
95 Points WA: Dark and tightly wound, with iron, wild herb and cocoa notes backed by full tannins wrapping the firm dark cherry and plum skin notes, ending with dark tar, graphite and bitter almond. Hide this in the cellar for a few years.
2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $349.99
97 Points WS: Rustic and well-structured, offering an attractive mix of mature spice box, leather and forest floor notes, with a concentrated core of wild cherry and gamy blackberry fruit. Full-bodied, featuring a long, chewy finish of coffee and iron. Non-blind Emidio Pepe vertical (May 2013). Best from 2015 through 2030."
95+ Points WA: The 1983 and 1985 vintages from Emidio Pepe make great bookends, as both wines are fully mature and drinking at their peaks today. The ’85 is perhaps a touch more elegant, with the ’83 a shade deeper at the core and a bit more structured for the long haul. The stunning nose of the 1983 offers up scents of red berries, forest floor, botanicals, lovely spice tones, a fine base of soil, an autumnal touch of acorn, dried herbs and a topnote of spices meats. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and complex, with a fine core, tangy acids, beautiful balance and a very, very long, poised and classy finish that closes with excellent grip and bounce. Another absolutely classic vintage for the Pepe Montepulciano
1974 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $534.99
94 Points WA: Smells of fresh autumn air, with notes of dried leaves and pine needle leading to a tangy mix of gamy prosciutto, burnt orange zest and light caramel accents. Long, with noticeable tannins.