Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Argument for Sangiovese and Chianti Classico

2002 burned an indelible memory for us in Tuscany, and Chianti Classico specifically. At the time we were perplexed by the locals talking about cellaring their Chianti for at least 10 years before drinking. We thought at the time, hmm, we already believe in that axiom for Brunello, but Chianti? Curious. 

Well, we are happy to say that we have tested that theory many times over the years and can confirm, the Tuscans are onto something. Chianti can definitely use some time aging and it indeed benefits. Sometimes 5-6 years can be enough (as was the case of a 2012 Montevertine we just opened recently), or the 18 year mark on some 2000 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo we have been fascinated by over the last few months. In either case these wines, made of 100% Sangiovese, are world class and deserve recognition as such. This ancient grape the “blood of Jove” - what Sangiovese literally translates to - is a worthy noble grape. 

These are wines with great depth of flavor. They develop nuance over time. They possess great acidity and freshness. In the right hands their intensity is evident. And they can compete with some of the best wines in the world.

But over the past couple of decades it seems the once beloved Chianti Classico has taken a bit of a beating with the new wine crowd. Some of my suppliers seem reluctant to push it and sometimes it can go weeks before certain customers ask about it. But suffice it to say we have always been champions of Sangiovese and we will continue to trumpet our beliefs. There are plenty of good producers out there to avoid disappointment. Fontodi is one of those producers.  

From the Fontodi website: “Fontodi has belonged to the Manetti family since 1968. The family has been associated for centuries with another activity typical of the Chianti region, the production of its famous “terrecotte” tiles. And it is in the name of this strong link with the territory and a great passion for quality that the estate has moved successfully towards an ever more attentive cultivation of the vineyards and a more profound knowledge of the potential of Sangiovese in the zone of Panzano.”

We have always carried the Fontodi wines and the 2015 Chianti Classico was just featured at our tasting bar. We brought in some of their Biodynamic olive oil and we pre-ordered the 2015 Cru Sorbo Gran Selezione and the 2015 Filetta di Lamole. We may even have a couple of bottles left of the 2013 Flaccianello, which is off the charts great.

Support great Sangiovese wines! 

2015 Fontodi Chianti Classico $44.99
In any vintage, Fontodi Chianti Classico is noteworthy, but in 2015 it is outstanding. Ruby red in the glass. From its bouquet of flowers and cherries, to its palate of red fruit and earth, this organically produced red is a classic. With vibrant acidity, juicy fruit, and smooth tannins, this is a killer red.

2017 Olio Extravergine Biodinamico 500ML $30.00
Intense peppery, rich olive oil from the Fontodi Estate olives.

--Coming later in July 2018--

2015 Fontodi Chianti Classico Cru Sorbo Gran Selezione $139.99
2015 Fontodi Chianti Classico Filetta di Lamole $49.99

Other Chianti (or Sangiovese) to look for:

Le Cinciole
Rocca di Montegrossi
Giacomo Mori
Villa Sant'Anna
Isole e Olena
Casa Emma
Villa Cafaggio
Querceto di Castellina
Castello della Paneretta
San Giusto a Rentennano
San Vincenti

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Paolo Bea; Some of Umbria's Finest

Giampiero Bea on his property
From the Importer: “References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. Over the centuries this tiny estate has operated as the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables.  But, as the very special character of the wines of Montefalco has become manifest over the past quarter-century, Paolo Bea and his two sons, Giampiero and Giuseppe, dedicate more of their land and most of their effort into growing grapes that produce an expanding number of unique and authentic wines. Sagrantino, the now renowned local grape, is the predominant variety grown by the Beas, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The remaining 40% is planted to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a small parcel planted to several white varieties. The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.”

We have been buying the Bea wines for as long as we have been open. They are special wines and often times, these days, very hard to come by. Take advantage when some land in stock.

This time it is the 2011 San Valentino that we are featuring:


2011 Paolo Bea San Valentino Umbria Rosso
Importer notes: “This wine is sourced from the San Valentino vineyard in Montefalco, the soil of which is dominated by clay.  The vineyard is at 1300 feet altitude.  The composition of this wine is, more or less, 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Montepulciano, all from a 50-year old vineyard.  Harvest usually occurs in the final ten days of October. Bea puts all the dry reds through extensive cuvaison.  In this instance, the wine usually macerates for approximately 30 days before being racked and prepared for the malolactic fermentation. Dense, with layered leather spice and toast wound into this stern wine."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale

Voyage LA wrote a nice feature on Rosso Wine Shop.

 Meet Jeff Zimmitti of Rosso Wine Shop in Glendale

 Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Zimmitti.

Jeff, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started paying attention to wine in the mid-Nineties. As a touring musician (in my previous life) I got to tour and see the world. And in those travels I learned to love the “eat and drink local” concept. And when you say local, in Europe, that means what grows and is produced nearby. That concept has really crept into the American psyche in the last few years but 20+ years ago that really wasn’t the case here. I am decidedly self-taught in wine. I did take some continuing education wine classes and completed a culinary program in 2005 but there is no substitute for experience. There is only so much you can read, you have to do. And in 2006, after doing quite a bit of due diligence and writing a thorough business plan I stumbled upon the space where Rosso Wine Shop is currently. Without any prior business experience, I jumped right in. Eleven years later and I still love it.

Read the rest of the story here: VoyageLA and Rosso Wine Shop

Many thanks to Voyage LA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rosso Wine Shop hits 10 years!

It seems like yesterday we opened our doors at our sleepy location on Verdugo Road in Sparr Heights (Glendale). No it doesn’t, who am I kidding? It feels like the full 10 years, and most of the time, longer. Ha!

Small business can be rough. It all lands on your shoulders. People have limitless shopping options. Yours is just one of many. I mean, we don’t sell toilet paper, something everyone needs. But what we do sell is a quality product with no pretense; wines that we hand select and know about. It is a blast to sell wine, and further, to be able to sell wines that you believe in. And to do that in a big City like Los Angeles is an endeavor for sure.

We want to thank everyone that came out to celebrate our 10-year anniversary on Saturday, September 17th. We really appreciate the support. I think everyone will remember that party for a long time.

We tallied over 250 people through out the day! Awesome. That was a lot of good food and good wine. Big thanks to C'est La Vie, Epic Taco Shop and Cento Pasta Bar for all of the tasty vittles (and the people who brought food to share).

And a special thanks to our old friend Steve Martinez ( for snapping some photos to capture the moment. Behold.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis at Rosso

Tom Leykis took the show on the road and came by with Gary Zabranski to tape another episode of the Tasting Room at Rosso Wine Shop.

Here is how it works: we set up, I grab some bottles, I crack open said bottles, Gary says go, and we tape. Therein we taste and talk about all things wine, trends in wine, production of wine, selling of wine, small business in today’s world, Iggy Pop and other things.
Listen here:

Oh, and the wines if you want to follow along at home.

2015 Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rosé $35.99 France
The king of all rosé! Pradeaux's rosé is composed of some Cinsault and Grenache as well as Mourvedre. After a short maceration on the skins, in order to extract a light color, the juice is fermented at low temperatures to retain freshness, fruit and bouquet.

2014 Vissoux Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes $19.99 France
Having grown up among the vines of Domaine de Vissoux, in the Saint Vérand region of France, Pierre-Marie Chermette has endeavored to continue his family's tradition. Among the first in the region to use sustainable agricultural practice, the wines of Domaine de Vissoux are fermented using native yeasts and bottled with minimal filtration.

2013 Domaine Amido Cotes du Rhone Villages $14.99 France
Made with a blend of mostly Grenache along with some Syrah and Carignan, this deep red way over-delivers for its price. This is perfect on its own or as a go-to for large group gatherings; we prefer it with a simple home-cooked meal. The stones on their parcel in the village Signargues contains large galets roulets, as found in Chateauneuf du Pape and their own vineyards in Lirac.

1998 Bodegas Riojanas Vina Albina Gran Reserva $69.99 Spain
(92 Points: International Wine Cellar) “Medium red. Captivating aromas of redcurrant, candied cherry, rhubarb, vanilla bean, cured tobacco, cedar, mocha and dried flowers. An elegant, suave midweight with wonderfully sweet, mellow red fruit flavors and an array of exotic spice accents. The supple, persistent finish features lingering cherry and red berry flavors.”

2009 Fanti Brunello di Montalcino $39.99 Italy
(92 Points: Wine Advocate) “The 2009 Brunello di Montalcino is a gorgeous wine that shows the best side of a warm vintage. The wine opens to a soothing, dark color with loaded aromas of bright fruit, balsam herb, moist earth and cola. The wine veers toward the modern and extracted side of the Brunello spectrum, but it is by no means one-dimensional or heavy. Ready to drink.”

That's a wrap.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wine & Spirits "LA Values Shop like the Pros"

The cover story of the June issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine is LA Values: Shop like the Pros. Rosso Wine Shop was part of the panel that participated. The task was to showcase the dynamic Los Angeles wine scene by asking ten local retailers to go out and find what they thought was the best value, under $20, at a selected piers wine shop. 

I had a great time over at the Wine House and chose a solid Rosso di Montepulciano, which I thought showed well in the blind tasting. The group's favorite was a Bourgueil (that I also really liked) but I had reservations that it might be hard to find for the average consumer, or at least hard to "know," so I didn't place it first. 

Here is the article in it's entirety.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Interview from Viberti Magazine (Italy)

Interview with Viberti Magazine (Italy)

Jeff Zimmitti
Owner - Rosso Wine Shop
Glendale, California

1) Tell us something about your story and your personal relationship with Italian wine.

Zimmitti: "I am a first generation Italian American. I still have family in Sicily and Rome. I had uncles that made "garage wine" and I still have relatives who make their own olive oil. Food and wine was engrained in me from an early age. But it was only when traveling abroad in my early twenties that the wine "bug" officially bit me. I was a touring drummer in a rock band for many years. And during those tours around Europe in the 90's I really started to see how people all throughout Europe ate and drank. Local ingredients. Everyone had a different culture but the common thread was fresh, flavorful, good food and wine. This idea became an obsession with me and that is what drove me to open my own wine shop and wine bar. You must have passion for your business. I also discovered that I had a good palate for describing, identifying and remembering flavors. I am largely self-taught in the wine world but I am more motivated than most. Rosso Wine Shop was established in 2006."

2) Let's talk about your own predilections. How do you choose the wine to drink? How a bottle or a label should be "narrated" to catch your attention? Can you give us an example?

Zimmitti: I choose a wine to drink either based on the food I am eating or the people I'm with. I believe food and wine are linked. And I very much enjoy pairing the food from a region with their regional wine. I also completed a Culinary course in 2005 and I enjoy cooking. I will often times pick a wine and cook something with that wine in mind. Or conversely if I decide to cook a certain dish I will choose a wine based on the regional match. But the possibilities are endless. For the bottle to catch my attention I just need to know where it is from. If I see Monforte d'Alba I will try it. I know it will be quality Nebbiolo. I like when labels are clean and I enjoy older styles. I am also a graphic designer so I appreciate a professional looking label. If you look at the Giuseppe Rinaldi labels they express class and elegance with an old style feel. Great. I also enjoy wines that are crafted for food. I see this in most all European wines. These are the wines I collect personally.

3) Barolo and Barbaresco are becoming more and more popular in the US. Is that right? Why do american people love these wines?

Zimmitti: "I think Barolo and Barbaresco have always been popular in the U.S. but only in a certain segment of the collector wine population. These are wines of fantastic aromas and depth of flavor but they can be difficult to understand at first. It takes time and effort to get inside the bottle. But after some effort the rewards are far-reaching. The aromas of good Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco are unmatched almost anywhere in the world. And one of my favorite qualities is their texture, how the wines feels in your mouth. Nebbiolo is unbelievable when it comes to this. The color of the finished wine is also unique because it can be transluscent but deliver many different and complex flavors. It is a myth that a wine has to be dark for depth. My absolute favorite producers of Barolo are Giuseppe Rinaldi, Elio Grasso, Giuseppe Mascarello, Bruno Giacosa, Cavallotto and Roagna. Of course I have many others that I collect but these are the ones that spring to mind first.

4) In Alba (Italy) there are a lot of small and still unknown producers who produce amazing wine. If you were them, what would you do to "introduce" your wine in the huge, competitive (some big labels and importers seem to have a monopoly on the market) and particular Los Angeles market? Can you give us an example?

Zimmitti: "In my experience it can be difficult to introduce your wine to a new market. You must choose the right importer to work with. There are plenty of small to medium sized importers that specialize in Italian wines. They must share your passion and vision. They will be your ambassadors. It would also be helpful for the producer to come visit Los Angeles and organize some events around the visit. I do very well working with restaurants around the city to promote new and/or well-established wines. The best opportunity is to taste the wines with the right food and then be able to purchase the wine through a boutique wine merchant like us. We enjoy telling the story and bringing in new wines for people to discover. I remember a few years ago Roccalini was a new producer of Barbaresco and a small east coast importer discovered them. There was not a lot of wine available. We found out about them and I organized with a few other local retailers and we brought some wine to Los Angeles. Since that time Roccalini has found a new importer and has carried on well. I have worked with the last three vintages. This is just one example of a recent discovery and success story. It can be done. You must be patient, and be prepared to suffer; like watching the Italian National team in the early stages of the World Cup (haha)."