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I first met Joy Kull in 2013 when I was in Italy with Kevin McKenna, Jules Dressner, and a small team from Louis/Dressner Selections. I was admittedly surprised to meet someone from America (let alone Connecticut) at a tiny natural wine fair in the middle of nowhere in Italy, but there was of course an explanation! At the time, Joy was working at an estate called Le Coste, in Lazio, the region in central Italy that surrounds Rome. She was there to learn firsthand about winemaking and had already "caught the bug" by the time we met. Her dream was to find a little plot of land, plant vines, and make her own wines, and it seemed obvious to me that it was only a matter of time before she realized it. Fastforward to present day, as we share a few wines from Joy's second vintage!
Joy was born and raised in Connecticut and developed an interest in wine while working with her father at his wine shop. After spending some time taking classes in school, moonlighting as a sommelier and exploring options in the U.S., she realized that she wanted to get her hands dirty and learn by actually farming and making wine. She set her sights on Italy, with Rome as a starting point, and as luck would have it, was introduced to the Le Coste wines before her trip. After reaching out to the winery, she was taken on as an intern and the stage was set. While working at Le Coste in Lazio, Joy developed a love for the region, in particular the area around Lake Bolsena, a tranquil lake surrounded with sandy volcanic soils about half way between Rome and Florence and 10km from Tuscany.
It was here that she was eventually able to settle and begin her project. With the help of her husband, who is a local shepard (hence the colorful sheep on the labels), Joy was able to find small vineyard parcels and take them over from old villagers who didn't want to see their land go fallow. Focusing on only local grape varieties, she also planted vines overlooking the lake, and will soon have some Procanico, Malvasia, Roscetto, and Petino grapes for white wines, along with some local red varieties. She now has about 2.5 hectares spread across multiple small parcels, and 1.5 hectares that she planted on her land (equivalent to about 10 acres total).
For anyone familiar with the wines from Le Coste, Joy's wines are inspired by a similar spirit. There is a commitment to non-interventionist farming, indigenous varieties, indigenous yeast, and no-sulfur winemaking. Though she does produce an ageworthy Aleatico, and will eventually make a special expression from her high altidude (600m) vines, the wines on today's offer are simple, enticing and delicious, and meant for early or immediate consumption. We suggest serving them chilled and enjoying with friends. Eben Lillie
For more information about Joy and her wines, we highly recommend visiting the Louis/Dressner Selections website for more information, and an interview with Joy at http://louisdressner.com/producers/villana/ and checking out the interview on Levi Dalton's podcast "I'll Drink to That." Click here for link.
Primarily Procanico, with a small amount of Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia, Roscetto and Vermentino. Foot crushed and direct press. There’s a mysterious and quite fascinating opaqueness in the glass, and notes of lemon verbena and melon on the nose. One side of Procanico seems to offer tropical melon and lychee, and the other delivers fresh, tart acidity to balance the fleshy texture and viscosity. Eben Lillie
Our friend Joy Kull went to learn winemaking in Lazio, Italy. After several years learning from local farmers and winemakers, she found her own plot of land and began her project, called La Villana. This is a straightforward charming red made from Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a bit of Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo. Destemmed by hand, with one week of maceration. It’s silky, pure, and meant for the moment. Not tannic at all, with pleasant acidity and filled with ripe red and blue berry fruit. We’d recommend it with lighter fare: meats and cheeses, hot-dogs, burgers, and veggies, or on its own. Serve lightly chilled. Eben Lillie
"Mix" was created by taking a still white wine of Procanico from 2015 and passing it through must from red Aleatico grapes. It's an interesting idea - macerating wine (or fermenting juice) with crushed skins of another grape, and from my experience tasting wines made this way, it can yield some very interesting and delicious results. Here, the result is a wild and intriguing wine with some Aleatico spice and funk on the nose, and hi-toned stone fruit and acidity from the Procanico. It's reminiscent of cranberry juice in it's subtle tart and astringent character that's coupled with zingy red fruit and thirst quenching benefits. The wildest wine of the bunch, it's a bit volatile and seemed to be best in the first couple of hours after opening. At first, it's vibrant and entertaining with texture and crushed berry fruit, and after a bit the volatility stands out as the pretty fruit mellows. So! that basically means chill it (it acts like a dark rose), and consume with friends. Eben Lillie