• Insider Secrets 2021: Fining and Filtering Wine

    Discover with Case by Case the benefits of Fining and Filtering Wine, and how do these processes impact a wine’s quality. Most winemakers around the world use fining and filtering as part of their tool set, though some winemakers reject them.

    Let’s look at why or why not winemakers choose to fine or filter their wines, and how these processes impact wine quality.

    Definition of Natural Wine

    “Natural wine refers to a generalized movement among winemakers for production of wine using simple or traditional methods. Although there is no uniform definition of natural wine, it is usually produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides and with few or no additives.”

    This broad definition leaves enough leeway to drive several freight trains through. Europeans have been making wine with “simple and traditional” methods for centuries.

    The natural wine movement rose as a rejection of large-scale wine production and the use of chemicals.

    Leading natural wine advocates, Alice Fearing and Isabel Legeron, added their definitions. Natural wines are made from organically farmed grapes. They are processed without additives and without removing naturally occurring compounds.

    So, no fining or filtering allowed, or even the use of sulfur (SO2.)

    Most of today’s wide range of natural wines look, taste, and feel different from fined and filtered wines. They can look cloudy or muddy, show muted or less vibrant colors, or even contain floating particles that can be gritty in the mouth. Others are more forgiving.

    As an organic product, wine suffers from bacterial contamination. Fining and filtering are used for stabilization, inhibiting bacteria, and improving a wine’s appearance and drinkability.

    These winemaking tools perfect the look, feel, taste, and ability to age of most wines. Think of these tools as wine’s “finishing school.”

    Fining and Filtering

    The Wine Fining Process

    Winemakers use fining to remove solid particles remaining after fermentation. A clear wine looks more appealing in the bottle than one with particles floating in it.

    Wines with too much tannin can benefit from fining. These wines can be unbalanced, so removing some tannins brings the wine in balance.

    Other reasons for fining include reducing bitter flavors, undesirable aromas, and color changes due to oxygen exposure.

    During barrel aging, a binding agent such as clay, egg whites, or gelatin is introduced. This agent attaches to the debris in the wine. The debris falls to the bottom of the tank and the liquid is racked off the remains.

    Winemakers fine both red and white wines. White wines are fined to remove yeasts and avoid malolactic fermentation. Red wines are fined to clarify the wine or to remove tannins.

    Fining in white wines results in brighter colors after the removal of the yeast. Removing tannins in red wine lightens the color, but not perceptively so.

    Mouthfeel improves from fining because no one wants to drink wine with particles they can feel on the tongue. It’s like drinking funky, muddy water.

    But the more fining a wine undergoes, the greater the impact on the wine. Too much fining can remove compounds that add character and nuance to a wine, such as mouthfeel, color, aroma, and flavor. Removing too much tannin from red wine could impact its ability to age.

    Winemakers should take care when fining a wine. They should use this tool to balance the wine’s elements and provide a pleasant experience for the drinker.

    The Wine Filtering Process

    Filtering takes place after fining but before a wine goes into the bottle. Fining comes first to remove large debris. Then filtering further clarifies the wine by removing any residual particles. It also provides bacterial stabilization.

    As with fining, red and white wines can be filtered. The process entails pouring wine through filter pads or cartridges to remove yeast and bacteria. The more a wine is filtered, the greater the impact.

    Stabilizing wine is critical because unfiltered wines run the risk of contamination. Filtering is necessary to remove and prevent bacteria. If winemakers find evidence of bacterial growth or other significant flaws, filtering benefits the wine. If a wine has no flaws, filtering becomes a choice.

    Winemakers filter white wine to inhibit bacteria from growing in the bottle. Filtering white wine can prevent malolactic fermentation from occurring by removing leftover yeast.

    Red wines are not always filtered because they drop tannins anyway in the form of sediment. Because they are vinified dry and undergo malolactic fermentation, red wines experience less bacterial risk from excess yeast.

    A filtered wine has a cleaner appearance, without haze or particles. But, excess filtering can remove aromatic and flavor compounds and reduce a wine’s ability to age.

    Other filtering methods include adding sulfur (SO2) or racking after fining for red wines. White wines too delicate for filtering can be subject to cold stabilization as an alternative.

    Most winemakers want a clear and stable wine without sacrificing quality. They should apply a light hand when using filtering as a tool.

    Natural Wine, Aging, and Color

    Since people drink most wines young, they aren’t made to age. Most consumers don’t care about the color of wine as it ages. But, understanding color is necessary when choosing a bottle to enjoy.

    Though it seems counterintuitive, white wines grow darker with age while red wines grow lighter.

    The chemical process of aging changes the color compounds in young wines, called anthocyanins, into other pigments, like proanthocyanidins. About half the anthocyanins transform by the end of the first year and most disappear within five years.

    As pigments transform over time, red wines show more orange and brown colors. White wines get darker and richer in color as acids drop and the wine oxidizes. Over a longer time, both red and white wines tend towards orange and brown.

    “Orange” wines, white wines with extended skin maceration, can be mistaken for aged wines.

    Some winemakers promote cloudy wines with muted colors, believing they are more naturally made. These wines are unfined and unfiltered and may or may not be free from flaws.

    Don’t confuse a poorly made wine with one that has been made with care, even if the winemaker used other tools to improve the wine.

    Using these techniques, like any other process, depends on what the winemaker intends. If they want to fine or filter a wine, they do so to improve it. These processes wouldn’t have stood the test of time if they were damaging to the wine.

    Economics may also factor into the decision because consumers prefer nice looking, clean, clear wines. So do wine judges and critics.

    Christian Moueix, who made the famous Chateau Petrus for years, used to say he filtered Petrus because he didn’t hate his customers. That’s enough to make any winemaker consider these tools.

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wines

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wines committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

  • Insider Secrets 2021: Understanding Vintage Variability – Bordeaux vs Napa Valley

    Wine experts talk about vintage wine, but how much do you know about it? Case by Case wants you to know when vintage matters and which vintages are promising before you buy. Using Bordeaux and Napa Valley to illustrate, we share our insider secrets, so you can enjoy better wine and spend less money.

    Vintage Unveiled

    Simply put, the term “vintage” refers to the past and the style of something typical from the time, or the high or lasting quality or value of something.

    With wine, vintage is the date shown on the bottle. This date refers to the year of the grape harvest and the wine made from those grapes. It is not specifically a quality designation.

    Most wines carry a vintage date, but not 100% of the grapes come from that year. Regulations, which differ by country, allow small percentages of grapes from other years.
    Wines without a vintage date, called non-vintage wines, include grapes harvested from two or more years.

    Because grapes are an agricultural product, how they grow is subject to the weather. As goes the weather, so goes the vintage and the wine.

    A year with excellent weather generally translates into excellent wine and vice versa. A good weather year yields a wider variety of enjoyable wines than a poor weather year.

    But other factors influence the quality of wine, so you can’t depend on vintage alone.

    Vintage impact varies dramatically around the world. For example, Bordeaux famously suffers from challenging weather and vintages. Napa Valley, blessed with warmer, drier weather, tends to have consistently easier vintages.

    Does this mean Napa Valley vintage wines are better than Bordeaux vintage wines? No. Each vintage and region stands on its own, but let’s take a look at the vintage year 2011.

    Vintage Bordeaux

    Bordeaux experienced a volatile weather year in 2011, coming after two fantastic years in 2009 and 2010. We should discuss the impact of climate change here, but that’s another topic.

    The weather turned upside down in 2011. Spring was hot, summer cooler, and fall warm. Rainfall was lower throughout the year, except in the fall when you don’t need it. Rain at harvest leads to grapes filling with water, diluting the juice. It also breeds conditions for mold.

    Bordelais winemakers outshine their California compatriots at times like these. Most producers in Bordeaux know how to manage difficult vintages. Growers who were aggressive in the vineyard made enjoyable wine.

    At the end of the season, the white wines excelled, including the famous sweet Bordeaux, instead of the reds. Certain grape varieties thrive under certain weather conditions. White grapes tend to prefer cooler weather.

    Heat-loving Cabernet Sauvignon, California’s favorite, struggles to ripen in cooler temperatures. Wines with higher amounts of Cabernet Franc, though, came through well.

    Not a ripe vintage, 2011 wines exhibit a lighter profile and won’t age well. You can drink this vintage while young, but you need to be selective when buying. Choose a good location with the right varieties, and an excellent producer.

    Vintage Napa Valley

    People assume that due to the Napa Valley climate, it has never had a bad vintage. Most Napa wines, vintage or non-vintage, drink just fine. So, does vintage even matter here? Well, 2011 arrived with some surprises.

    The 2011 growing season challenged winemakers in Napa. They had to employ tactics well-known to their friends in Bordeaux: adjusting the canopy, monitoring mildew, and delaying harvest.

    Napa’s spring weather was colder than usual, and a lot of rain fell in May and June. The cool weather continued into summer, which is generally hot, so grapes did not ripen as expected. Rain fell with another cool spell in early October. A delayed harvest began late in the month after a welcomed heat spike.

    Because this was so unusual, critics expected the wines to be less impressive and gave lower scores. Wine buyers, listening to the critics, stayed away.

    But many producers believe the wines from 2011 show more character, which can be concealed during hotter vintages.

    Wines tend to be lower in alcohol with good acidity and ripe flavors and tannins. Subtle and fresh, they were different from typical lush Napa wines.

    When grapes develop slowly, they increase in complexity. The powerfully rich Napa style comes from rapidly maturing grapes.

    As in Bordeaux, the producer matters. Talented winemakers made good wine in 2011.

    vineyards

    Buying Vintage Wine

    When should you buy a vintage wine, and which vintages should you buy?

    Vintage doesn’t matter with under $20 mass-produced and commercial wines. Producers want to reduce costs, get to market fast and turn inventory over quickly. The work is mostly mechanized. If you buy these wines at your local grocery or convenience store, drink them soon.

    Vintage matters when you buy wine over $20. Quality producers care about the craft of wine, regardless of size. A vintage wine costs more because of the care taken to produce it.

    When to Buy Vintage

    Most wines, including vintages, are ready to drink when you buy them. Buy vintage when:

    1. For special occasions, gifts, or bringing to a dinner party
    2. If you want to impress someone
    3. You collect or age wine
    4. You enjoy wine’s variability year to year
    5. You just like better wine

    If you’re buying cases of wine for a big event, buy non-vintage to save money. Don’t serve vintage wines to a bunch of people drinking all afternoon by the pool. If you prefer your wine to taste the same, we advise against buying vintage.

    How to Buy Vintage

    Here’s a few tips for buying vintage wine:

    • Forget the critics unless you follow one who has the same taste as you
    • Find a retailer who knows the region you want to buy
    • Do your homework – research trusted sites online
    • Look for vintage charts on winery websites, not on critics’ websites
    • Find favorite producers or ask about quality producers
    • To balance quality and price, try a second label from a top winery or a top wine from a less well-known one
    • Instead of a great year, look for a good year with a great winemaker
    • Avoid years with a combination of poor conditions
    • Look for de-classified wines from great producers (wines sold under a lesser classification in a weaker vintage)
    • Buy the style and wine you like from the best vintage you can afford
    • Don’t buy based on trends
    • Ask questions

    vintage

    Vintage Variability

    One of the joys of drinking wine is how they are different every year. Drinking different vintages allows you to learn about the process and decide which vintages you prefer. For example, you might like lighter wines from cooler vintages or robust wines from warmer vintages.

    You also build your palate as you learn how weather conditions influence the flavors and aromas in wine.

    Case by Case encourages you to explore the world of vintage wines!

  • Wine Regions: Loire Valley

    The Loire is a long storied, wine growing region that traces the Loire River which flows from east of Orleans out Angers and pours into the Atlantic Ocean. The valley has been occupied by humans for thousands of years with Roman Empire ruins and remains still visible today. The culture of the Loire toes the line between agricultural and high society. Who would have thought there was a line that would have connected the two?  It is home to some of the most terroir driven wines in the world. With a somewhat unique trait of the valley being positioned east to west, the valley is able to offer a large range in microclimates. The region is essentially broken down into 4 different sub-regions.

    Loire Valley

    The final sub-region is referred to as the Central Vineyards. It is here that you will find some of the greatest expressions of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. In the vineyards of Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc is made in a bright fresh-style that will have you coming back for more, time and time again. In addition to these top-class white wines, Sancerre also allows for Pinot Noir to be grown. From Pinot, you see expressions of both red and rose wines. Typically, there is a more ripe, fruit forward style that is more similar in style to the Pinot Noirs of Oregon than to those of Burgundy.

    As you move westward and the temperatures start to rise, you see an explosion of diversity. As you get near the two largest growing areas of Anjous and Touraine the main focus is on Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. That being said you will also find plantings of Gamay and Malbec (in the Loire it is called Côt). The diversity doesn’t just stem from the increase in varieties, you will also find wines made in just about every style as well. From Cabernet Franc and Gamay, you will see red, and rose wines being made. From Chenin Blanc you will find dry, sweet, and sparkling wines, even within a single appellation such as Vouvray, you can find all three styles. Learn about the most important appellations:

    Touraine

    Touraine is sort of the wild west of wine in the Loire. You can find wines produced from almost any grape that is allowed in the entire Loire Valley. This gives producers a lot of room to play around with different varieties and styles of wine.

    Vouvray

    One of the most famous region in the world for Chenin Blanc production. They produce just about every style of wine from Chenin. From dry to sweet and even sparkling wines are allowed to use the Vouvray appellation on their labels. The best examples of sweet wines are known to be able to age for lifetimes.

    Bourgueil

    The westernmost region in the Touraine region. This appellation is entirely dedicated to Cabernet Franc. Situated on the north bank of the Loire, these wines present a beautiful intensity that will provide years of potential cellarability.

    Chinon

    Chinon is directly across the river from Bourgueil and is also largely focused on Cabernet Franc. There is a small amount of Chinon blanc that is produced from Chenin Blanc as well, this style is dry.

    Anjou

    A very large growing region that houses mostly Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The wines currently produced here are very quickly gaining international attention. A huge focus on organic grape growing and a general shift toward sustainability is proving successful for Anjou producers. These wines are almost always dry, even the few Chenins that do have a little bit of sugar still in them tend to be very food friendly.

    Savennieres

    Famous for its dry and off dry expressions of Chenin blanc, this region is home to a number of very important Monopoles formerly owned and maintained by Cistercian Monks.

    Cotteaux-du-Layon

    Sits directly across the Loire river from Savennieres. The climate here is significantly more humid allowing for Botrytis to grow more rampantly. They are famed for their dessert wines.

    Finally there is the Atlantic coastal area that surrounds Nantes. It is here that Melon de Bourgogne finds its home in the Muscadet appellation. Melon does extremely well in the cold overcast climate that is local to the Atlantic shoreline. You can find extremely light and mineral wines meant for immediate consumption, and you can find wines that wineries have already aged in their cellars for the better part of a decade that show a richer fuller style of Melon. The one thing these two styles have in common, is their perfect pairing for shellfish. There isn’t much other representation of other varieties in this region, certainly nothing that has reached the acclaim that Melon has.

    Of the highly regarded wine regions in France, it’s hard to find another that comes close to offering the diversity in wine styles that the Loire does. This may have to do with the East-West orientation of the valley, this may have to do with the long history of Agriculture in the region; the one thing that we can count on is that no matter what you are looking for in your personal adventure in wine, the Loire has something for you.

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wines

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wines committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

  • Wine Down To Dinner – Holiday Edition Stuffed Pork Lion and Castillion Cotes De Bordeaux by @thewinepact

    Tis the holiday season 🎄✨

    This holiday season @thewinepact put together a special #winedowntodinner with some of our wines from Case by Case!

    Let’s dig in!

    Just because gatherings might be smaller this year, doesn’t mean they can’t be special!!

    See this recipe below for an amazing pairing of Château De La Pierre Levée Castillion Cotes De Bordeaux to my Roasted Pork Loin stuffed with French onions, spinach, prosciutto and goat cheese 🤤 yummmm!!!

    Pork Lion Stuffed with French Onion, Spinach, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese paired with Castillion Cotes De Bordeaux

    Ingredients:

    • 1 pork loin (butterfly)
    • 1 lbs spinach
    • 1 -2 onions
    • 1 tbl butter
    • 1-3 slices of prosciutto
    • Salt and pepper
    • Butchers string

    Prep work:

    Butterfly pork loin
    Preheat oven to 425
    Melt butter in large pan, sauté onion. Once onions are translucent, move off stove and set to the side.
    Once pork loin is sliced, layer goat cheese, spinach, onion and prosciutto. With a dash of Salt and pepper.
    Wrap in butchers twine and tie one on each side.
    Roast for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees. Can be served with creamy mushroom sauce.

    Also, the sauce I made can also be served as a main dish for any vegetarian friends! I placed it under the meat when served with the stuffed pork loin!! The creamy mushroom sauce can be found Here.

     

    I served this pork loin recipe with roasted potatoes and Brussels Sprouts!!

    Pro tip: You may also substitute goat cheese with bleu cheese mixed with a bit of cream cheese!

    We hope you enjoy this recipe!!

    Cheers and Happy holidays!!

     

    For more recipes, pairings and wine blogs, go visit:
    thewinepact.com
    Instagram: @thewinepact 

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wines

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wines committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

  • The World’s Love Affair with Pinot Noir: Everything You Should Know.

    All the world loves Pinot Noir. This wine, produced from the supremely delicate grape of the same name, is some of the world’s most expensive wine. With summer upon us, wines made from the pinot noir grape are well-matched for summer foods and lifestyles. 

    Let’s look at why wine drinkers love this grape, some of its characteristics, and the different styles around the world. 

    Why Pinot Noir is So Attractive to Wine Lovers

    A few reasons for Pinot Noir love:

    • Versatility: The grape makes still red, white, and rosé wines, as well as sparkling wine.
    • Expression of place: No other grape comes as close to expressing the place where it is grown, its terroir. Each location where pinot noir thrives reveals its unique characteristics in the wine.
    • Style variety: Because of this ability to express terroir, pinot noir offers winemakers a wide range of style possibilities. Growers and vintners love the challenge of this grape and are enamored of finding its singular expression in their location.
    • History: Pinot noir has been around for centuries, from Roman times through the ages of the Burgundian monks and on into today’s global passion.
    • Qualities: Pinot noir perhaps yields the most profound complex expression of wine of any grape. With its beautiful color, fresh acidity, compelling body, and complexity of aromas and flavors, wine aficionados never get tired of exploring it.
    • Food: Pinot Noir may be the most perfect red wine for pairing with almost any meal.
    • Availability: Produced in nearly every wine-growing country, everyone can enjoy it.

    Pinot Noir

    What is Pinot Noir?

    Pinot noir means “black pinecone” because the grape bunch of the vine resembles the shape of a pinecone (“pinot”) and the berries are very dark in color (“noir.”)

    Attributes:

    1. delicate and thin-skinned
    2. ripens early
    3. susceptible to disease
    4. sensitive to wind, humidity, hail, frost
    5. doesn’t thrive in extreme conditions
    6. predisposed to mutation so clonal selection matters

    Conditions to thrive:

    1. cooler, more temperate climate
    2. long growing season with enough heat and sunlight to ripen
    3. low humidity to avoid or reduce the risk of disease
    4. protection from extremes (sunburn, frost, wind)
    5. nutrient-poor, well-draining soils, such as limestone, chalk, marl
    6. low yields to concentrate the wine
    7. gentle slopes

    Wine expression:

    1. aromatic
    2. complex
    3. good length
    4. high acidity
    5. transparent pale red color (deeper in warmer climates)
    6. lower tannin but enough for structure and oak aging
    7. lower alcohol (higher in warmer climates)
    8. light to full body and texture

    Pinot noir is grown in more fertile areas, such as mass-produced wines, have a less optimal style: fruitier, fuller in body, higher alcohol, lower acidity, and less complexity.

    Pinot Noir Map

    Pinot Noir Regions Around the World

    The French Connection 

    While Vitis vinifera, the genus of grapevines from which fine wine comes, originated in Europe, these vines did not exist in the Americas. The Spanish brought the Mission grape to Mexico and Chile.

    The majority of Vitis vines arrived with immigrants who carried cuttings from France, Germany, Spain, and Italy to the US, Canada, Chile, and Argentina.

    However, France remains the gold standard.

    With the ideal climate and terroir for pinot noir, more plantings exist in France than anywhere in the world. The most famous and desired Pinot Noir in the world comes from Burgundy. While the vine flourishes in other countries, no more perfect home for this grape exists.

    With limited production, Burgundy’s high-demand Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines command extraordinarily high prices, making it almost impossible for the average wine drinker to afford.

    The climate here is one with a long and cool growing season. Vines grow on tiny plots on east-facing slopes with vine density ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare.

    Burgundy’s famed Cote d’Or sits on a limestone escarpment. Soils, though quite varied depending on each plot, consist of limestone, marls, gravel, clay, and sand.

    General characteristics of the style of wine from Burgundy:

    • high levels of acidity
    • silky texture
    • an elegant balance
    • restrained yet complex flavors of:
      • cranberries, red or black cherries
      • earth, forest, mushrooms, herbs
      • floral notes, rose, violet, hibiscus
    • oaked Pinots show fuller body, rounder tannins, and vanilla notes
    • unoaked wines have bright-red cherry flavors

    Wines of the Cote d’Or show darker fruit in the northern regions, yielding to red fruit and floral wines in the middle, and more earthy and tannic wines in the south. South of the Cote-d’Or, wines are lighter and easier drinking.

    Oregon Pinot Noir

    Why Oregon Works for Pinot Noir

    Compared with France, Oregon is a baby in creating wine from pinot noir. Only recently has the industry begun to explore the concept of terroir in depth. As this knowledge expands, more nuanced wines will come to market.

    Though still very young as a wine region, Oregon has become the standard-bearer of Pinot Noir after Burgundy.

    Similarities between Oregon and Burgundy

    Burgundy Willamette Valley
    Latitude: 47 degrees (Beaune) 45 degrees (Dundee)
    Climate: Continental Continental w/Maritime influence
    Ocean Distance: 350 miles 60 miles
    Rainfall: consistent through the year drier summers, wet winters
    Risk of hail: strong low
    Winter Temps: 30-40 degrees 35-55 degrees
    Summer Temps: 60-75 degrees 45-85 degrees
    Longest Daylight: 16 hours 15.4 hours

    Differences between Oregon and Burgundy

    Geography

    Differences include geography. While Burgundy lies on eastern facing slopes, the well-known Willamette Valley in Oregon sits in an undulating valley lying between two mountain ranges. These ranges protect vineyards from rain.

    Vineyards generally lie on south or southeast facing slopes with vine density of 2,500 to 4,000 vines per hectare.

    Soil

    Unlike Burgundy, volcanic red Jory and basalt Nekia soils underlie the Valley. Other soil types include marine sediment sandstone and loess. All these soils allow for good drainage, the key to growing quality pinot noir grapes.

    pinot_noir_in_glass

    Characteristics of the Oregon Pinot Noir style, particularly in the Willamette Valley

    • lively acidity
    • weightier, satin-like texture
    • darker in color
    • balanced with fuller body
    • robust fruit flavors of:
      • bright red fruits like cranberries, pomegranate, red cherries
      • cherry-cola
      • mushrooms, some green notes
    • oaked Pinots are richer, with spicy vanilla notes
    • unoaked wines show tart red cherry flavors

    Some winemakers showcase fruity characteristics, while others prefer a more restrained style. The use of natural winemaking techniques has become increasingly popular.

    Think of Oregon Pinot Noir as a cross between Burgundy and California, unique unto itself.

    The wines have become increasingly more expensive, though you can find quality Oregon Pinot at lower prices.

    Oregon Pinot Noir has become so popular in the US that the in-demand Pinot Camp Event held annually in the Willamette Valley has a sister event in Birmingham, Alabama.

     

    California Dreaming 

    Californians who were searching for cooler climates in which to plant pinot noir started the Oregon wine industry.

    In California, a hot climate, locations closer to the ocean work best for pinot noir, allowing grapes to reach optimal ripeness over a long growing season. Soils vary throughout the state, and there is less focus on terroir.

    California

    Characteristics of Pinot Noir from California:

    • medium acidity
    • higher alcohol
    • more concentration
    • a richer, velvety texture
    • darker, riper, fuller than Oregon and Burgundy
    • fruit-forward with intense flavors of:
      • black cherry, black raspberry, candied fruit
      • cola, caramel, tea
    • oaked Pinots offer vanilla and sweet spice notes
    • unoaked show brighter but still dark berry flavors

    California has a wide variety of styles and quality levels. Some winemakers pick later in the harvest and use extended macerations to ensure deep dark colors and flavors. Others harvest earlier with shorter macerations to create higher-acid and lighter versions. Large producers plant in hotter areas yielding less complex, more fruity, and less acidic wines.

    With so much Pinot coming from California, aficionados can find a style to suit their palate. Warmer regions, such as the Russian River Valley, produce bolder wines, while cooler areas, like Carneros, produce more subtle, relatively lighter wines.

    Other quality areas include the Sonoma Coast, the Central Coast, including Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Lucia Highlands.

    Pinot noir world

    Surprising Germany

    To many, the fact that Germany produces red wine is a surprise, even though it has more pinot noir vineyards planted than any other country except France and the US. The country’s most important red grape, Spätburgunder (pinot noir) has grown here for centuries.

    Most of Germany’s wine regions produce Pinot Noir, and styles vary less than in other countries. A white version is produced here. Knowing the producer matters in finding quality Pinot.

    Because Germany enjoys a relatively cooler climate, the wines are lighter in color with high acidity and a more restrained style.

    Favorable climates and terroirs include Ahr in the north and Baden in the south. Both allow pinot noir to ripen well. German Pinot Noir shows an earthy quality. Pinot from Ahr brings out rich red berry flavors, while those from Baden tend toward rich dark fruit flavors.

    new zeland pinot noir

    Little New Zealand Makes a Big Impression

    Cool climate New Zealand, with small production, is a haven for Pinot lovers.

    Pinot producing areas include Central Otago and Marlborough on the South Island and Martinborough on the North Island. Each produces a different style.

    Central Otago:

    • Surprisingly. this southernmost, highest altitude and coolest region ripens pinot noir almost as well as California.
    • Wines have high acidity and alcohol, with medium to full body, rich fruit flavors, and a noticeable sweet-spicy finish.

    Marlborough takes the middle road of the three, producing high acid wines of medium body and more subtle red fruit flavors.

    Martinborough: The warmest region produces a dark wine with higher tannins and earthier flavors.

     

    Italy Under the Radar

    Maybe less known, pinot nero (pinot noir) grows well in Northern Italy, the coolest climate wine region in the country. Both sparkling and still wines are produced here.

    Still wines show similar characteristics to those from Burgundy, though more concentrated, with higher alcohol. Instead of mushroom and forest flavors, earthiness shows up as smoke or tobacco. Spice notes can be clove or pepper. Pinot noir from Alto Adige produces an aromatic, elegant wine with floral notes, and clove and deep red berry fruit flavors.

     

    Chile on the Move

    Pinot noir has been grown in Chile for some time though much of the quality is low. As winegrowers moved towards the coast and further south, the potential for high-quality Pinot became apparent.

    Coastal granite soils yield wines similar in style to Oregon, complex and elegant with bright acidity and floral aromas. Further south, winemakers experiment with different soils and locations. More to come from Chile.

     

    The Rest of the World

    The following countries plant and create wine from pinot noir: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Moldova, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. Pinot noir grown in the UK makes lovely sparkling wines, like those of Champagne.

    Having only touched the surface of the vast variety and complexity of the world of Pinot Noir, you’ll understand why this grape and its wine are so beloved.

     

    A Note on Champagne

    Pinot noir is the most planted grape in Champagne, especially in Montagne de Reims and the Aube, even with the marginal climate. The high acidity of pinot noir makes for perfect Champagne. Limestone and chalk soils resemble those of Burgundy.

    champagne

     

    CASE BY CASE

    The wine professionals of Case by Case travel the world sourcing unusually good wine from famous and emerging regions. Dealing only in fine wine, they winnow out most of the 5,000 wines they taste every year. By knowing the winemakers and the wine growers, they have the connections to find the few wines that meet their high standards.

    With an easy online experience, wine lovers choose:

    • the type of wine
    • the case quantity (6 or 12 bottles)
    • the delivery term (monthly, every other month, every three months)

    Those wanting premium quality wine can upgrade. Case by Case Wines does everything else. Buyers pay as they go with no time or minimum case commitments.

     

     

     

     

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wine

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wine committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

     

  • Insider Secrets: Ingredients Labeling

    Drink Better Wine – Demand More Transparency

    Are you on a Keto diet and want to know if your wine has added sugar? Do you want to reduce your exposure to sulfites? Are you concerned about added chemicals in your wine? Many consumers today are searching for wines that are low in sugar, sulfites and other chemicals.

    Because we want you to drink better wine, our fine wine experts share insider secrets of the wine industry. We believe that ingredients labeling for wine is needed.Labels

    A Short History of Nutrition Labeling in the U.S. 

    U.S. regulators require packaged foods and nonalcoholic beverages to have a nutrition facts label. Alcoholic beverages have no similar requirement.

    The 1990 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) mandated a government-approved label for most food products. The label required a list of ingredients by weight from highest to lowest and other nutrition information.

    In 2014, the FDA proposed label changes due to public confusion over the details and increasing obesity concerns. A new label was approved on May 20, 2016.

    What About Alcohol, and Wine in Particular?

    Alcohol is regulated differently from other foods and beverages. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), not the FDA, regulates alcohol. The TTB does not require nutritional labeling. The TTB assumes consumers understand what ingredients are in these mostly agricultural products.

    The label requirements include the percentage of alcohol content by volume, a health warning and a sulfite declaration (this last only for wine sold across state lines.)

    For wine, the following are optional but regulated:

    • Grape variety and appellation of origin
    • Wine designation (white/red/rose/table)
    • Viticultural area (AVA)
    • Estate bottled
    • Vintage date
    • The term “organic” (regulated by USDA)

    On November 26, 2019, the TTB announced a review period for labeling regulations for alcoholic beverages. The goal is to:

    1. Offer more flexibility for grape variety disclosures related to wine blends
    2. List information about every grape variety in the wine in descending order

    Disclosure of allergy risk is not required but is under review with an interim rule for optional labeling released on July 26, 2006.

    Wine Selection

    Issues for Consumers

    In general, the wine industry and most consumers do not believe ingredient labeling is necessary. Consumers believe they know the ingredients in wine: grapes, yeast, sugar and alcohol.

    But because both alcohol and sugar pose significant health risks for consumers, these should be disclosed. While consumers may be more aware of chemical additives in our modern food production system, they are not aware of the same for  alcoholic beverages. 

    Winemakers can legally include over 60 additives and agents. Examples of fining agents include egg whites or isinglass. Additives include gum Arabic, sweeteners and enhancers for aromas, color and oak. 

    However, a growing number of winemakers and consumers want transparency in ingredient labeling. Some winemakers voluntarily list ingredients on their labels and some consumers actively seek out these brands.

    For example, younger consumers are more concerned with the health impacts of drinking alcohol and of added sugar. They want low alcohol, low sugar or “natural” wines. The lack of ingredients labeling makes it almost impossible for them to find the wine they want.  

    Wine Labels

    Potential Wine Labeling

    Consumers should know what is in all products they buy. They don’t understand the difference between industrial wines and those that are less processed. They don’t understand such terms as biodynamic or organic. Labeling can help.

    For companies, ingredient transparency can be a point of differentiation in the marketplace. Many companies, including a few in the wine industry, use this to their advantage.

    The TTB needs to work across all aspects of the wine industry to develop labels that increase transparency for consumers.

    Guidelines for wine might include:

    1. Serving size information – the current government guidelines state one (5 ounce) drink per day for women and two for men
    2. Calorie information – the guidelines say that daily calorie intake should include calories from alcohol
    3. Amount of total sugar and added sugar in the wine
    4. Listing ingredients and additives above a certain level
    5. Replace the “contains sulfites” disclosure with the amount of sulfites

    Definition and standardization are needed because different alcohol and sweetness levels impact the serving size and calorie count.

    However, smaller wineries will be significantly impacted by the additional costs for such labeling, so the TTB should take this into account.

    Compressed All-Reds

    Case by Case Provides Transparency in Wine

    We value transparency and educating consumers about wine.

    We use our strict guidelines to choose pure wines of quality and value. We care about what you drink!

    Our wines are:

    • lab tested to guarantee quality
    • not adulterated with dies, coloring agents, unnatural chemical agents
    • lower in alcohol (<14%)
    • lower in sugar (< 2 g/L)
    • selected from small producers, often with limited availability
    • low in sulfites (<75ppm)

    Learn more about wine: Visit Case By Case

    We’re crushing the competition!

    Order your first case today.

     

  • Fortified Wines For Winter

    Fortified Wine: A Short Explanation

    If you love cocktails and think you don’t like wine, you will love fortified wines. But fortified wines are not distilled like liquor.
    During the process of fermenting a still wine, the winemaker adds neutral grape spirits, such as brandy or an eau de vie (a clear fruit brandy,) to stop fermentation and raise the alcohol level. This process also adds complexity to the flavor of the base wine.
    Do not drink these wines quickly, but savor them over dessert, after-dinner conversation, or a fireside chat. You can serve some fortified wines as aperitifs as well.
    Before the advent of refrigeration, people added alcohol to wine to prevent rapid oxidation and the risk of their wine turning to vinegar. This technique was successful in the days before the discovery of glass wine bottles and modern transportation methods.
    Today these wines are in a class of their own, with a wide variety of styles and flavors to suit anyone.

    Fortified wine

    Fortified Wine: The Process

    Most fortified wines are blended with different grapes and vintages, though you can find single vintage and single grape styles.
    The process starts with fermenting grapes as with a still wine. Then the winemaker adds alcohol to create the style and sweetness desired for the final product.
    When adding alcohol early during fermentation, the wine will be sweeter. When adding alcohol later during fermentation, the wine will be drier.
    When adding spirits to fermenting wine, the wine’s alcohol rises above 15%. This kills the yeast, leaving residual sugar.
    Most fortified wines are aged in oak or other wooden barrels, especially more expensive wines.
    Except in the case of vermouth, winemakers do not add flavorings to impact the taste. Vermouth includes botanical elements to give it a characteristic herbal flavor.

    Fortified wine Glasses

    Fortified Wine: A Bountiful Variety to Choose From

    With many options available, you can find wines for every occasion, each unique in flavor and style. While classic regions, such as Port and Jerez, produce such wines, you can find local versions in many countries.
    Styles of fortified wines:

    Commandaria
    From the island of Cyprus comes Commandaria. This wine hails from the north of the country near Limassol. Made from high-altitude vines and grapes dried in the sun, it undergoes oak barrel aging. Look for true fortified versions since some new styles lack the additional alcohol.

    Madeira
    From the remote Portuguese islands of Madeira comes a fortified wine nick-named “Vampire Wine.” The wine is deliberately heated with barrels aging in the sun, oxidizing and preserving it. You can’t kill this wine!
    Using only white grapes, the winemaker controls the sweetness by the timing of the added alcohol. The different classifications based on grape variety include:
    • Sercial: a dry style wine served as an aperitif with nuts and olives
    • Verdelho: a semi-dry style served with earthy dishes such as mushrooms
    • Bual: a semi-sweet wine served with desserts
    • Malmsey: a rich sweet wine also served with desserts
    As with Sherry, use cheaper versions for cooking, not for drinking.

    Marsala
    Marsala, created as a cheaper version of Port or Sherry, comes from the island of Sicily, near the town of Marsala. Producers add alcohol at the end of fermentation, resulting in a dry wine. Again, use sweeter styles for cooking.
    Aged for about four months, Fine Marsala has a minimum alcohol level of 17% ABV. With minimum alcohol of 18%, Superiore is aged for at least two years. You can also find unfortified Marsala.

    Mistelle
    Mistelle is a lightly fortified wine drunk as an aperitif in France. Some winemakers use it as an ingredient in other fortified wines such as Marsala or vermouth. The production follows the same pattern of adding spirits to fermenting wine, but it is not fermented dry.

    Moscatel de Setúbal
    Another fortified wine from Portugal, Moscatel de Setúbal comes from the Península de Setúbal, south of Lisbon. The founder of the famous J.M. Fonseca company created this wine. Made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape, it can be vintage or nonvintage. This elegant, layered wine has a rich, viscous quality.

    Port
    Port, along with Sherry, is the most famous of the fortified wines. A red and sweet wine, Port originates in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Winemakers add brandy about halfway through fermentation. You can find dry Port and white Port.
    Port styles include:
    • Ruby – the youngest, freshest and least-expensive style, not generally aged
    • Tawny – aged in wood barrels with some oxidation, can be sweet or medium-dry
    • Vintage – made from grapes of one harvest, aged in barrel or stainless steel for a couple of years, then in bottle for up to 40 years
    • Late Bottled Vintage – a vintage port left to age longer in barrel
    While port-style wines are made around the world, EU law protects the Port or Porto designation.

    Sherry
    Sherry (Jerez in Spanish) is the famous fortified wine made from native white grapes grown in a triangular area in southern Spain. EU law protects the three designations: Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María.
    Winemakers use the complex solera system for aging, blending many vintages. Added brandy after fermentation results in a dry wine. Sweeter styles have added sweeteners.
    Styles include:
    • Fino: dry, very pale, aged under a cap of yeast called ‘flor’ to prevent oxidation
    • Manzanilla: a Fino from the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda
    • Amontillado: dry, darker in color, aged under flor, but then oxidized
    • Oloroso: dry and oxidized longer than Amontillado
    • Palo Cortado: dry and aged like Amontillado but later fortified
    • Cream Sherry: sweet, a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez
    • Pedro Ximenez: sweetest of all sherries

    Vermouth
    Vermouth’s distinctiveness comes from the addition of herbal ingredients such as wormwood and spices. This type of wine is called an ‘aromatized’ wine. Created as a medicinal tonic, dry vermouth has a white wine base. There are some sweet red versions, with simple syrup added before fortification.
    Famous as an ingredient in martinis, vermouth is a favorite of bartenders around the world. You can also enjoy it as an aperitif. Not a protected designation, many countries make vermouth, including France, Italy, and the U.S.

    Vins doux Naturels
    Common in the south of France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, ‘vins doux naturels’ are fruitier and lighter, becoming more profound with age.
    Grape spirits are added during fermentation. Only the red vins doux naturels have oxidized and unoxidized styles. Using mainly the white grape, Muscat, and the red grape, Grenache, styles include:
    • Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise – white, most well-known
    • Muscat de Rivesaltes – white
    • Muscat de Frontignan – white
    • Banyuls – red
    • Maury – red, can age up to 20 years
    Rivesaults (reeve-salt) is typically served chilled and drunk as an aperitif or with food. They range in color from pale yellow-gold to deep amber.
    Made like port, with alcohol added during fermentation to maintain sweetness, winemakers age these wines in large glass containers called demi-johns. These are then left outside for about a year. After, the wines are aged in wood barrels for up to 50 years. Long-aged versions of these wines are richly layered and textured.
    There are many other styles of fortified wines made around the world, including other aromatized wines like Dubonnet and Lillet.

    Wine Barrels

    Fortified Wines: Other Considerations

    • Store fortified wines in a cool, dark place.
    • Serve cold in small glasses due to the higher alcohol content (15.5% – 22% ABV.)
    • Drink lighter wines, such as fino sherries, sooner because they will not hold long.
    • Drink darker, sweeter styles at room temperatures. These will hold for several months.
    • When serving fortified wines that have extended oak aging, decant and aerate them.
    • With heavier wines, serve with duck, foie gras, truffles with blue cheese, and fruit desserts.
    • Use older or leftover wines for cooking.
    Fortified wines are a fabulous way to start any occasion or end any meal. An after-dinner plate of strong cheeses and nuts is perfect with most of these wines. Most sweet desserts and chocolates also pair well. Or enjoy a sip of a delicious fortified wine on a cold winter’s eve.

     

     

    ABOUT Case by Case Wine

    Launched in 2020, Case by Case Wine committed to sourcing wines of exceptional quality and value from around the world at the lowest price point.

    Their direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales model uses technology to integrate and improve the wine distribution channel, resulting in the market’s most competitive pricing.

  • Insider Secrets: What Does the Color of Wine Tell You About the Quality

    At Case by Case Wines, we have the pleasure and opportunity to taste thousands of quality wines from around the world each year. With the goal of helping new wine drinkers understand and appreciate wine, we started our Insider Secrets series.

    Learning how professionals assess the color of wine will change “how” and “what you drink” for the rest of your life. With “The Color of Wine,” we offer some insight into the process and mindset we employ to evaluate wines, using two white wines as examples.

    An Introduction to Our Methodology

    To some, our job sounds like paradise, but it is, in fact, work. After doing this job for more than twenty years, we’ve become incredibly perceptive at choosing the best wines. We select wines for our clients from an ever-increasing list of global contestants.

    Our job every day is to judge wines, and we take it seriously. We want our customers to keep returning, ensuring the growth of our business. Offering only great wines representing good value keeps our customers happy.

    We take several steps in determining a quality wine.

    1. Physical inspection
    2. Color
    3. Smell
    4. Taste

    See our list of wine terms made easy.

    Physical Inspection

    We start with a physical inspection of the package, including the bottle, the label, the cork or closure, and the cap, if present. Case by Case offers online wine sales only, so the first visual impression is crucial. We will not cover the details of the physical inspection in this blog.

    We’ll only see if the wine looks nice and appealing.

    Color

    If so, the next visual evaluation involves the color of the wine itself. In this example, we tasted two different white wines.

     

     

    As you can see, the wine in these two glasses seem as if these are very different wines. In fact, both wines are made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.

    The first major lesson about evaluating the color of wine shows that as wine ages, white wines get darker in color, while red wines get lighter.

    Exposure to oxygen over time causes white wines to “oxidize” or get darker, then browner in color, like a sliced apple. For red wines, over time certain compounds interact with the tannins causing the wine to lose some color. Red wines can also suffer from oxidation turning red into brown.

    Based on our initial visual inspection, the wine on the left (A) appeared to be much older than the wine on the right (B). The dark golden hue in Wine A, reminiscent of clover honey, combined with a brownish tint suggested an aged wine (possibly 10+ years old.) It also quite possibly indicates the wine is sweet.

    The wine could even be an “orange” wine, which is a white wine made like a red wine, with extended skin contact during the fermentation process. It is during fermentation when the color is extracted from the skins. The longer the skins remain in contact with the juice, the darker the wine will be.

    The wine might also be a botrytised, late harvest dessert wine like Sauternes. Botrytis cinerea is a type of fungus. It can rot the grapes in wet conditions. If the wet conditions alternate with dry spells, the fungus can be controlled and result in concentrated flavors and sugars.

    The color of Wine A clearly suggests the wine was aged in oak barrels. A winemaker has numerous options when purchasing wine barrels. They come with different levels of toast: untoasted, light, medium, medium-plus, and heavy toast.

    Think about the toast you make in the morning. The concept is the same based on how long your bread remains in the toaster. The color of wine will vary depending on the level of barrel toasting.

    With glass A, we thought the wine was likely aged in a medium-plus toast barrel. Heavy toast is rarely used in white wine production.

    The glass on the right (B) showed a much more common color of Chardonnay. A bright golden hue, crystalline, with only slight darkness around the edges. The wine didn’t appear to have been aged in oak, but did have more color than a young Chardonnay aged in a stainless-steel tank.

    From the color alone, we assumed the wine was three to five years old.

    Smell

    The surprise came after smelling the wines.

    Wine A was not a sweet wine, although it had fresh fruit aromas of Gala apple, pear, and butterscotch notes, typical in sweet wines. Sweet wines tend to exhibit these types of aromas.

    As suspected, the wine smelled strongly of new French oak, with notes of toast, buttery popcorn, and a hint of cinnamon. The wine did not smell oxidized (a nutty burnt quality) although the color suggested otherwise.

    Wine B had a reductive (matchstick) aroma that dissipated with a little bit of swirling, an indication of a certain style of winemaking. On the nose, it had a light acacia honey quality and a touch of lees, with no trace of oak or toast influence.

    Taste

    The taste of both wines confirmed what we had learned from our visual inspection and sniffing.

    But, we were in for yet another surprise.

    It turned out that Wine A was younger than Wine B. Wine A was a wine from 2017, while Wine B was from a 2013 vintage.

    We were shocked. How could this be? We wondered what was going on.

    We reached out to the winemaker. He confirmed that Wine A was made in a rich oxidative style (deliberately exposing the wine to oxygen) and was aged in heavy-toast barrels.

    FYI, sometimes we taste blind, more as a parlor game to see who can correctly identify the grapes or region of the wine. Blind tasting is done to remove any indication of a wine’s origin, so the taster evaluates the wine on its own merits.

    Our Evaluation

    Wine A, a three-year-old wine, had a heavy dose of toasted oak and some residual sugar. We would expect it to have some darker golden color, but not the browning of oxidation.

    It turns out many winemakers utilize a technique called “pre-mox,” which is short for premature oxidation, which can be risky. A little oxygen early in a wine’s life helps ready the wine for early drinking, but it can expose molecules that may brown over time.

    However, those molecules, once oxygen binds to them, can be filtered out before bottling. Too much oxygen exposure at any point in a wine’s life causes an accumulation of acetic acid, the acid in vinegar.

    Our Buying Decision

    In the end, we bought the entire inventory of Wine B from the supplier at a stellar discount of 50% off the normal price.

    We made this decision even though 2013 was not a great vintage in Burgundy, and a seven-year-old white wine is generally considered “old” by the market.

    We bought it because Wine B continued to drink so well. Like many great white wines, as it warmed to 65 degrees and had been opened for 30 minutes, it went from strength to strength and stole the show. The wine had a fresh acidity that belied its age, and a lovely mouthfeel, no doubt due to stainless steel tank aging on the lees.

    Lees are the dead yeast cells created during fermentation when live yeasts consume grape sugars, converting them into alcohol. Aging wine on the lees adds complexity and a feeling of more texture in the mouth.

    While Wine A ended up going down the drain, we took Wine B home and polished it off with some chicken scallopini. It was fantastic!

    Case by Case Wine

    Case by Case Wines evolved over 20 years across all aspects of the wine business. Because we know the industry so well, we know all the secrets. 

    We want to disrupt this system and promote knowledge, value, quality, and trust with our clients. We’re crushing the competition!

  • Case by Case Wines: How We Fell for the Wines of Campania, Southern Italy

    Review of Viticoltori De Conciliis

    Each year, our Founder and Owner tastes over 4,500 wines. Greg Martellotto has been in the wine business for over 20 years and in that time he has enjoyed epic wines, unicorn wines, even perfect wines. Others were perfect for the time and place. Yet rarely have there been wines that haunt him so much so that not even the passage of time mitigates the influence of these special vintages. The wines of Viticoltori De Conciliis from Paestum, Campania in southern Italy surely fit into this category (with flagship wine ‘Naima’ in particular drawing a line in the sand of his memory).

    Wine and Music in Perfect Harmony

    Founded in 1996 by three siblings, Bruno, Luigi and Paola, and Paola’s husband Giovanni Cuni, Viticoltori De Conciliis lies in Cilento, a poor, rural part of Campania, near the Greek ruins of Paestum. It’s roughly two hours south of tourist magnets Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii.

    Die-hard music fans, the siblings named their wines after jazz musicians and tunes:

    • Selim (Miles backwards re. Davis) is a sparkling fiano.
    • Bacioilcielo (translates as “Kiss the Sky” by Jimi Hendrix).
    • Perella (named after Ella Fitzgerald) is a fiano aged on the skins.
    • Ra (named after Sun Ra and the Egyptian sun god) is a passito of Aglianico.
    • Donnaluna was originally named “Donna Lee” after the tune by Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.
    • Naima (named after John Coltrane’s jazz standard in honor of his wife) is Bruno’s flagship wine.

    Wines Both Deeply Expressive and Humble

    Greg first tasted the wines around 2005 and was star struck from the onset. The flavors had a purity that was expressive, even if the wines weren’t squeaky clean. They screamed authenticity. They were iconoclast and singular, but still of humblecontadino birth.

    How could Greg, a jazz lover, not appreciate a winery that’s so crazy about jazz it purportedly pipes it into the cellar so that the wines may be soothed by the sounds of John Coltrane and Miles Davis?

    Southern Italian Wine: A Change in Fortunes

    Ten years ago, many of the wines that Greg tasted from southern Italy, in particular from Campania, suffered a variety of common flaws: heatstroke in the vineyard led to burnt, overripe flavors of baked fruit and dried prunes. Lacking modern winemaking hygiene standards, many of the winery products were inconsistent and/or flawed, with off-putting smells like nail polish and rubber. Many were simply flat, lacking a vibrant acidity.

    One standard practice was to make backward (wine that isn’t fruit forward) Aglianico that wasn’t intended to be drunk for at least a decade because of the aggressively high tannins. In other words, the wines were inaccessible, shut down, or just so acidic that they weren’t terribly enjoyable.

    The white wines were generally flabby or worse. Plus, there were a disproportionate number of wines that were corked (Greg would know this because he was a distributor who had to deal with innumerable returns and credits for corked bottles!), likely the result of producers looking to save money by buying cheap corks. This sets the scene for when Greg first tasted De Conciliis.

    Donnaluna and Naima: A Tale of Two Wines

    Greg was familiar with well-regarded producers from Irpinia, including the Taurasi from Mastroberardino and Feudi San Gregorio. But these wines represented two extremes for Aglianico; the uber traditional and hard to approach, and the modern, clean examples of the grape.

    De Conciliis produces two versions: Donnaluna is a young Aglianico label that’s free of oak and bottled while still fresh and fruity. It’s truly a delight! No wonder this wine is popular in nearby Pompeii, the Greek ruins at Paestum, and along the Amalfi coast.

    Naima, one the other hand, is aged five to six years in barrel, first in 500 liter neutral tonneaux and then in 3,000 liter botte grandi. The grapes are sourced from five different vineyards (all transitioning to organic and biodynamic viticulture) with a minimum age of 40 years, and fermentation is with native yeasts. Naima, like the song, is a meditative wine. The current release (2009) is nuanced with subtlety, but it exhibits a quiet power.

    Naima is a wine of contrasts, yet it’s alluring and appealing. If your last trip to Italy captivated you in a way that you were reluctant to share the details with others after returning home for fear it would diminish the experience, Naima is like that. When he open a bottle of Naima, he wanted to nurse the wine and watch it unfold in the glass the way that Billy Holiday sings “Solitude”.

    Humanity in a Bottle

    Perhaps, this is where the emotional connection began. In 1996, Greg was a camp counselor at the Stanford Jazz Camp and he had recently made the largest investment in music he’d ever made to buy John Coltrane, the Heavyweight Champion, The Complete Atlantic Recordings. “Naima” is a jazz standard that, when you really listen to it, will make you cry. Perhaps, the loss he felt after coming to know John Coltrane’s music and internalizing the loss of his premature death, he was comforted to know a winemaker from Campania was similarly moved to name his wine Naima.

    Wines are like old friends. They conjure fond memories and bring a smile to your face. If you’re a jazz fan, you’ll appreciate the wines of De Conciliis. If you’ve been to the Amalfi Coast or you’re part of the Italian-American diaspora, or if you appreciate high quality wines that have helped shape and define a wine region, you’ll love these wines too.

    casebycaselogo

    The wine professionals of Case by Case travel the world sourcing unusually good wine from famous and emerging regions. Dealing only in fine wine, they winnow out most of the 5,000 wines they taste every year. By knowing the winemakers and the wine growers, they have the connections to find the few wines that meet their high standards.

    With an easy online experience, wine lovers choose:

    • the type of wine
    • the case quantity (6 or 12 bottles)
    • the delivery term (monthly, every other month, every three months)

    Those wanting premium quality wine can upgrade. Case by Case Wines does everything else. Buyers pay as they go with no time or minimum case commitments.

    Coming soon will be an option for buyers to personalize their case. They can currently select Red Wine Lovers; Red & White; or Red, White & Rosé. Wines vary by month, so something new is always on the horizon.

    Spreading the wine love, a unique rewards program gives customers $10 off when referring their friends. They also earn points toward their next order.

    A Wine Affiliate Program incentivizes significant networkers, content sites, influencers, and bloggers. With each referral to CasebyCaseWine.com, they earn a 10% commission. Details and application on the website.

  • New Wine Deals Website, Case by Case Wines, Launched August 1 Displacing Grocery Stores

    On August 1 Big Hammer Wines launched a sister company wine deals website, Case by Case Wines, offering consumers the best deals on wine delivered to their doorstep.  With the new site, consumers choose curated fine wines by the case at near wholesale prices, free shipping included.

    For more information, visit: https://CasebyCaseWine.com

    “Case by Case Wines is a game-changer. Because of COVID-19, consumers have changed the way they buy wine,” says owner Greg Martellotto. “We want consumers to drink better wine than they get at their local grocery store, at better prices, and have it delivered to their door. No choosing, no comparing price, no pick-up. They order online, and extraordinary wine arrives at their homes on their schedule. Satisfaction guaranteed.”

    Best Deals on Wine

    Buying wine from grocery stores makes less sense every day. In the global wine marketplace, options are endless, but this is not apparent in the grocery channel. The three-tier regulatory system in the U.S. encourages industry consolidation. This results in less availability and choice in wine for consumers. Wines sold at grocery stores are priced higher to cover the mark-up at each tier. Wine drinkers pay more.

    Case by Case Wines, a direct to consumer wine portal, is built on a vertically integrated structure and a volume-based model. Under this model, middlemen are cut out, high-cost infrastructure is significantly reduced, and buying in bulk results in lower prices. Consumers enjoy higher quality, have more choice, and pay less, closer to wholesale.

     

    The wine professionals of Case by Case travel the world sourcing unusually good wine from famous and emerging regions. Dealing only in fine wine, they winnow out most of the 5,000 wines they taste every year. By knowing the winemakers and the wine growers, they have the connections to find the few wines that meet their high standards.

    With an easy online experience, wine lovers choose:

    • the type of wine
    • the case quantity (6 or 12 bottles)
    • the delivery term (monthly, every other month, every three months)

    Those wanting premium quality wine can upgrade. Case by Case Wines does everything else. Buyers pay as they go with no time or minimum case commitments.

    Coming soon will be an option for buyers to personalize their case. They can currently select Red Wine Lovers; Red & White; or Red, White & Rosé. Wines vary by month, so something new is always on the horizon.

    Spreading the wine love, a unique rewards program gives customers $10 off when referring their friends. They also earn points toward their next order.

    A Wine Affiliate Program incentivizes significant networkers, content sites, influencers, and bloggers. With each referral toCasebyCaseWine.com, they earn a 10% commission. Details and application on the website.