Monday, December 15, 2008

Best Italian Importers - Part two

Sergio Germano, winemaker at Ettore Germano estate in Serralunga d'Alba, Piemonte. These wines are represented by Oliver McCrum (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Best Italian Importers – Part Two

In my last post, I listed three importers of Italian wines that have put together an impressive porfolio of producers that honestly represent the spirit of that country’s wine landscape. Here is part two.

Oliver McCrum – Oliver McCrum Wines
Working in the wine business for thirty years, Oliver decided to focus solely on Italian wines a few years ago. Together with his assistant Michele Boscia at his office in Oakland, he has put together a book that is small, but well thought out. He represents about two-dozen producers from eleven different regions and is particularly strong with Trentino-Alto Adige, Campania and Piemonte.

His Piemonte selection is quite varied, with everything from brilliant Barolos from Elio Grasso and Ettore Germano to first-rate Barbaresco from Castello di Verduno to one of the finest producers of Moscato d’Asti, Caudrina. I’ve recently tried a few wines from his Campania producers and am quite impressed, especially with the Falanghina from La Sibilla, the Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio from Villa Dora and the Taurasi from Contrade di Taurasi.

It’s really nice to see someone so dedicated to representing such authentic, terroir-driven wines from Italy. Keep up the great work, Oliver!

Romigberg Vineyard of Alois Lageder, whose wines are imported into the United States by Brian Larky at Dalla Terra (Photo ©tom Hyland)

Brian Larky – Dalla Terra
Brian Larky has had a long time love affair with Italian wines and it shows in his portfolio. He worked at a winery in Italy in the late 1980s and soon afterwards founded Dalla Terra. He’s built his company into one of the most resepcted importers of Italian wines in this country, not only through his selection, but reasonable pricing as well.

His portfolio is a nice mix of tiny, underrated estates along with a few of Italy’s best-known producers, such as Badia a Coltibuono from Chianti Classico and Alois Lageder from Alto Adige. A few of his gems include Inama, one of the true artisan producers of Soave; La Valentina, an excellent estate in Abruzzo and Adami, one of the top producers of Prosecco, especially given the price/quality ratio.

Dalla Terra may be one of the biggest importers of premium Italian wine in the states, but the focus is always on quality and never on quantity, as you won’t find offerings of cheap Pinot Grigio or Primitivo with this book. Let’s hope that Brian Larky will add some new producers, but continue to represent estates that express the soul of Italian viticulture.

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