Vallana Barbera at Table Wine in Asheville, North Carolina.

2014 Vallana Barbera – Case of the Month

Case of the Month – Ben, Will and myself were sipping on the 2014 Vallana Barbera after work recently and a really good question arose.  How is this wine less than $15?  We’re talking about one of the most historically significant names in the Alto Piemonte and a producer that Wine Spectator called one of the top 100 producers on the planet.  And we’re also talking about a wine that is absurdly delicious, and one that we all agreed could easily sell for $20+ per bottle.  We never found an answer to our original question, but we certainly found extreme enjoyment out of that bottle of wine.  I promptly contacted Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports and secured enough Vallana Barbera to make it our next Case of the Month.  You should buy some! Here’s the deal:

2014 Vallana Barbera – On sale through June 17th

Regular Price: $13.99/bottle

Sale Price: $10.99/bottle on your solid case — Over 20% off!

Vallana is the stuff of legends.  The estate as we know it today was founded in 1937, but the Vallana family name first shows up in connection to high quality winemaking in Alto Piemonte in 1787.  As Robert Parker says, these are “intense traditionally-made wines that ooze with character.”  The family’s specialty is Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo (we’ve got that too), and these are the wines that deservedly gain all of the critical acclaim.  But they also make a small amount of Barbera.  It is not to be overlooked, and it is the least expensive way to “test drive” a Vallana wine.  It also bears the stylistic framework that marks Vallana’s wines.

Vallana Winery in Alto Piemonte.

From humble abodes come grand wines.

The vineyards of the Alto Piemonte, located north of the Langhe at the base of the Alps, are cooler and possess more acidic soils.  These conditions give the Vallana wines their acidic backbone and the structure that allows them to age gracefully for years.  The propensity to age and improve is one of the hallmark attributes of Vallana, and the tradition is carried on today by Giuseppina Vallana, together with her son Francis (a Ph.D. in Viticulture and Oenology), and her daughters Marina and Miriam.

Although their Barbera is perfect to drink young, it also has a track record for medium to long term aging.  Yes, an $11 bottle of wine that you can age!  As with all of their wines, including their more expensive offerings, all of the grapes for their Barbera are hand harvested from organically farmed vineyards.  Fermentation and aging takes place in cement vats to preserve purity and character.  And wow, does this wine have some character!  Made in a traditional, old school Piemonte style, the wine is medium bodied and refreshing, offering up lovely notes of red berries and moderately complex notes of spices and earth.  High in acidity but possessing soft tannin, this is enjoyable all year round as a stand-alone wine, but I really love the way it enhances the flavors of grilled meats, especially lamb.

What more is there to say?  Seriously folks, this is the kind of wine that makes me do what I do with such vigorous passion.  Legendary producer, clean farming and production techniques, delicious wine.  Buy some!  If you’re not sure, we invite you to stop by Saturday, May 20th (2-5pm) to give it a sniff and a sip. Email me at if you’d like me to hold some for you as this one will run out.  Cheers and happy drinking and eating in Asheville!

Josh Spurling

Italian Wines From Piedmont Wine Imports

Italian Wines From Piedmont Wine Imports Part Uno

Authentic, Traditional, and Delicious Italian Wines From Piedmont Wine Imports Part 1 – Join us this Friday, October 2nd from 2-7 p.m. for a free wine tasting featuring a fine new batch of Italian wines brought to us by Durham-based Piedmont Wine Imports. Owner and founder Jay Murrie travels extensively throughout Italy to find incredible wines that always deliver.  He only works with small, family owned and operated estate wineries, and we’re constantly amazed by the honesty and authenticity of his wines.  Whether you’re yearning for authentic wines you drank when you were in Italy, want to get a preview of what you’ll taste when you go to the Old World, or just want to learn more about Italian wines in general, don’t miss this one.  Even better, we’ll have Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings in the house offering up free samples of her delicious plant-based foods.  She’ll also be talking about why a plant-based diet is delicious, nutritious, and better for the Earth.

Don’t forget, all of the tasting wines are 10% off by the bottle, 15% off if you mix any six of them, or 20% off if you mix any twelve of them.  This is a great chance to taste and stock up and save!

The Wines
Prices range from $15 to $25

1. NV Alla Costiera Prosecco (Veneto) – Filippo Gamba crafts one of the best Proseccos we’ve ever tasted! Not only does it taste great, you can feel really good about drinking it because it’s certified organic.  Composed entirely of 15-75 year old Glera, it is made using the Charmat method in very small batches.  It will quite simply blow your mind!
Tasting Price: $15.29/bottle | $14.44 in mixed six packs | $13.59 in mixed cases

2. 2012 Corzano E Paterno Corzanello Rosso (Tuscany) – This 40-year-old working family farm makes unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese, olive oil and wine from vineyards just west of Greve.  Their Rosso might be called Chianti Classico by others, but they save that designation for their more “serious” wine.  Certified organic and composed of Sangiovese with small bits of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this is true, authentic Tuscan red wine for all occasions.
Tasting Price: $15.29/bottle | $14.44 in mixed six packs | $13.59 in mixed cases

3. NV Caparsa Rosso di Toscana (Tuscany) – This certified-organic one-man estate makes compelling wine from old vines in the heart of Chianti Classico, with very little manipulation or modern technology.  Proprietor Paolo Cianferoni makes this wine in rememberance of the ancient Chianti wine made for the peasant to drink a lot.  It’s Sangiovese and two white grapes: Trebbiano and Malvasia.  It’s brilliant!
Tasting Price: $15.29/bottle | $14.44 in mixed six packs | $13.59 in mixed cases

4. 2009 Pruneto Chianti Classico (Tuscany) – Riccardo Lanza makes prototype, pure Chianti Classico from his beautiful, organically farmed Sangiovese.  He always holds his wines back longer than most, so this is the current release.  Just 833 cases were made — how does this guy make a living?  As Riccardo says, “Sangiovese can make the best red wine, and is the flavor of Tuscany.”  Come taste it and see what you think!
Tasting Price: $21.59/bottle | $20.39 in mixed six packs | $19.19 in mixed cases



Piedmont Wine Imports Primitivo Party

Primitivo Party with Piedmont Wine Imports

It’s a Primitivo Party with Piedmont Wine Imports – If you like big, rich, spicy Italian reds, join us this Saturday, October 3rd from 2-5 p.m. for a free wine tasting featuring a delicious quartet of Puglian Primitivo-based wines from Southern Italy.  Durham-based Piedmont Wine Imports is skillfully guided by owner/wine savant Jay Murrie, and this guy finds good juice!  Working only with small growers and family farms from throughout the country, these are wines that show traditional and authentic personalities.  Jay will be at the store this Saturday to pour and talk to you about the wines, the land, the people, and the grape.  FYI, Primitivo is the same as Zinfandel, but these ain’t pink!

Don’t forget, all of the tasting wines are 10% off by the bottle, 15% off if you mix any six of them, or 20% off if you mix any twelve of them.  This is a great chance to taste and stock up and save!

The Wines
Prices range from $15 to $30

1.2013 Plantamura Primitivo “Etichetta Rossa” (Puglia) – A certified organic small family farm working with old vines, Mariangela Plantamura and her husband make wine in a simple cellar behind their home.  It’s the same house that she grew up in!  We love this wine, and as Jay says, “You want to support these people. They make exactly the wine I want Piedmont Wine Imports to traffic in, delicious, thought-provoking, joy-producing wine for every day. Wine for a better world where normal people get to drink in all the good stuff that nature provides.”
Tasting Price: $13.49/bottle | $12.74 in mixed six packs | $11.99 in mixed cases

2. 2012 Plantamura Primitivo “Etichetta Nera” (Puglia) – Mariangela Plantamura got tre bicchieri from Gambero Rosso for this wine, a major deal in the Italian wine trade. She deserves it: this Primitivo is fresher at 15% alcohol than should be possible. It’s remarkable to me that a winery not much larger than a US garage is operating with this high level of skill and vision. It is the rare red that can handle Korean meat courses, or even saucy short ribs.
Tasting Price: $17.99/bottle | $16.99 in mixed six packs | $15.99 in mixed cases

3. 2012 Morella Primitivo “Mezzanotte” (Puglia) – This biodynamic estate is farming very old bush vine Primitivo in an effort to preserve and grow interest in a disappearing form of local agriculture.  Lisa Gilbee has lived in Manduria for 12 years. She is Australian, married to an Italian. They have two young kids. She travels around the world making wine for other people, and also makes wine for a large Puglian winery. But Manduria is home, close to the seas, where they can make wine the way she wants.  Mainly Primitivo with small bits of Negroamaro, Malbec, Cabernet and Petite Verdot, it is a big mouthful of wine.
Tasting Price: $22.49/bottle | $21.24 in mixed six packs | $19.99 in mixed cases

4. 2010 Morella Primitivo/Negroamaro (Puglia) – This wine is a blend of 85% Primitivo and 15% Negroamaro, made from 40-year-old vines. Hand harvested in to small baskets and fermented at 28 degrees Celsius, it is aged in Allier oak barrels for 12 months, and then an additional 8 months in bottle before release.  It is one of the best Southern Italian wines I’ve ever had.
Tasting Price: $26.99/bottle | $25.49 in mixed six packs | $23.99 in mixed cases

A Taste of Italy – “545” Wine Tasting

This Friday, April 18th, 2013 from 4 to 7 p.m. — $5/person…..Free for Grape Nuts — Drop by the store this Friday any time between 4 and 7 p.m. to try 5 wines for $5.  The “M.C.” of this week’s tasting is our friend and Durham-based wine importer Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports.  Jay Murrie is one of the more passionate wine geeks we conduct business with, and his passion is contagious.  Jay works with the “small guys” of the wine trade, small family farms that produce tiny quantities of delicious, naturally made wines.  He travels the back roads of Italy in order to meet the people behind the wines, to eat and drink with them, and to stand on their land.  As Jay says, “The people I meet and the conversations we have in fields, on farms, at tables are my education.”

Let Jay educate you about his deliciously authentic and traditionally made wines.  Remember, when you purchase any six mixed wines from the tasting, we give you a 15% discount!  Here’s what we’ll be trying:

The Wines
Prices range from $12 to $30

1. 2012 Corzano E Paterno Corzanello Bianco (Tuscany, Italy)
Dry and delicious, this beautifully aromatic white combines Tuscany’s native Trebbiano and Malvasia with a couple of “illegal aliens” in the form of Semillon and Petit Manseng.

2. 2012 Torre dei Beati Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy)
Cerasuolo is Italian for “cherry” and it’s the local name for the dry rosé produced from Montepulciano.  Whatever, it’s delicious!

3. 2010 Fattoria Castellina “I Pogeo” Rosso Toscana (Tuscany, Italy)
From a wonderful little Chianti producer, this blend of mainly Sangiovese with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah is full of classic Tuscan flavor.  Earthy black cherry, spice and roasted herb notes galore!

4. 2012 La Casaccia Freisa Monferrato “Monfiorenza” (Piemonte, Italy)
This light and fragrant wine is a distant relative of Nebbiolo.  With notes of wild strawberry and raspberry, along with subtle floral and spice nuances, this distinctive red wine deserves respect and attention.

5. 2011 Plantamura Primitivo (Gioia del Colle, Italy)
Team Table Wine absolutely loves this wine!  Fresh and lively, with an inviting mix of red and dark cherry and peppery herb, this dry and easy to drink red is certainly a crowd pleaser.

6. 2010 Morella Primitivo/Negroamaro (Pugliga, Italy)
This is a big old wine!  Composed of equal parts Primitivo and Negroamaro from older vines, it explodes out of the glass with ripe dark berries, plum, dark chocolate and spice.  Full bodied and moderately structured on the palate, this one is crying for a big hunk of grilled meat.

Free Saturday Wine Tasting – New Arrivals From Italy

This Saturday, March 29th, 2013 from 2 to 5 p.m. — Free to the public! — Join us this and every Saturday for one of Asheville’s best free weekly wine tastings!  This week, we’re pouring a fine new batch of Italian wines brought to us by Durham-based Piedmont Wine Imports. Owner and founder Jay Murrie travels extensively throughout Italy to find incredible wines that always overachieve.  He only works with small, family owned and operated, estate wineries, and we’re constantly amazed by the caliber of wines he finds.  Join us this Saturday to taste a soulful trio of awesome”farmer wines” that will make you happier than a pig in the mud!

We’ll start with the 2012 Il Corzanello Bianco, a dry and delicious blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia, Semillon and Petit Manseng.  Boasting pure and assertive aromas and flavors of apple, pear, mixed citrus, and white flowers, this is perfect candidate for springtime drinking on the back patio! Next up, the 2012 Torre Dei Beati Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a dry rosé of Montepulciano.  It’s packed with pretty little notes of cherry, wild strawberry, pomegranate and spring flowers.  And we’ll finish up with the2010 Fattoria Castellina I Pogeo, a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Featuring an array of ripe berry aromas and flavors and a hint of spice and sun baked earth, this fresh and inviting red is the perfect type of red to drink as the temperatures rise.  Join us to taste and learn about wine one sip at a time every Saturday at Table Wine!

The Wines
All tasting wines are 10% off by the bottle or 15% off if you mix any six of them. 

1. 2012 Il Corzanello Bianco
(Tuscany, Italy) 

2. 2012 Toree Dei Beati Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
(Abruzzo, Italy) 

3. 2010 Fattoria Castellina “I Pogeo” Red Blend
(Tuscany, Italy)

New Italian wines from Piedmont Wine Imports at Table Wine in Asheville, NC.

New Italian Beauties – Free Saturday Tasting – Saturday, April 20th., 2013 – 4:00 to 7:00 pm

Come out this Saturday to support both a North Carolina importer and your favorite Asheville, North Carolina wine shop.  Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports is coming up from his home base in Durham to pour some incredibly delicious and fairly priced red wines from Italy, with a focus on Tuscan wines.

For those of you who don’t know, Jay used to be the head wine buyer at a Southern Season and was one of the founding partners in 3 Cups, both in Chapel Hill.  He has travelled extensively throughout Italy during his long career and now he’s bringing in a treasure trove of wines from tiny family farms from various parts of the country.  If you’ve ever travelled to Italy, these are the types of wines you drink when you’re there and only wish you could find back in the states.  Now you can!  Stop by anytime between 2 and 5 to meet Jay and taste his wines.  Go ahead and get the Italian sausages thawed because you’re going to want to cook up an Italian feast to pair with your purchase Saturday night.

The Wines
Prices range from $15 to $22

1. 2010 Da Capo Barbera d’Asti (Piemonte, Italy)
This wine just snaps, crackles and pops with red fruits.  It is classic Barbera d’Asti that goes down extremely easy with or without food.

2. 2010 Pietralta Chianti (Tuscany, Italy)
From a 17 acre, organically farmed, 40 year old Sangiovese vineyard, this tastes like a $20-$25 Chianti.

3. 2011 Fattoria Castellina Ipogeo (Tuscany, Italy)
A 90/10 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the northernmost part of Chianti, this is pure, bright and joyous red wine.

4. 2008 Pruneto Chianti Classico
Want to sample one of the most traditional, pure expressions of Chianti we’ve ever tasted?  Stop by this Saturday and Jay will fill you in on the rest of the fine details!

“545” Wine Tasting – Exploring Italian Wines

We’re feeling like supporting another fellow North Carolina resident this week.  Last week, we tasted wines from Chapel Hill based importer Andre Tamer’s portfolio and this week, we’ll be featuring wines from Durham based importer Jay Murrie’s collection.  His company, Piedmont Wine Imports, is packed with delicious tasting wines from tiny, organic/biodynamic, family estates from various regions of Italy.  We are excited to be selling these wines and working with such a passionate person.  You don’t want to miss this one!
$5/person…..Free for Grape Nuts 

Here’s the lineup:

The Wines
Prices range from $14 to $20  

1. 2010 Orsolani Erbaluce “La Rustia”
This isn’t one of Jay’s wines, but I think he would approve.  This is white wine nirvana for me!  Come by and we’ll tell you all about this obscure little grape from Italy’s Piemonte region.

2. 2011 Case Ibidini Insolia
Also not Jay’s, but we’re just getting started with him.  Insolia is native to Sicily and it produces a white wine full of energetic, minerally goodness.

3. 2010 Castellina Chianti Montalbano
Jay’s wines start with this gorgeous rendition of Chianti from a certified organic estate.  Pure, vibrant and packed with classic cherry and red berry notes.

4. NV Caparsa Rosso di Caparsa
Proprietor Paolo Cianferoni drinks a liter of wine every day and says his wines have to be made in a healthy way.  Certified organic, pure Sangiovese goodness.

5. 2010 La Casaccia Freisa di Monferrato “Monfiorenza”
Freisa is one of the many obscure but delicious grapes of Piemonte.  Giovanni Rava is the man behind this wine and his vineyards are certified organic.  This is the type of wine I could drink all day – fresh, floral, spicy and chuggable!


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