Bruna is Back!

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For years the beneficent wine lord Chadderdon smiled upon us and permitted us to sell the beautiful Ligurian wines from Bruna (along with some Quintarelli, Bartolo Mascarello, Boxler – and perhaps a little something else that he’d send along at his whim). Happy were we, mostly, to be among his chosen. Then a couple of years ago he up and retires; a mad scramble ensues to pick up the pieces of his fiefdom, but somehow Bruna falls by the wayside. Maybe no one really cares about Pigato*, the grape that is the specialty of Bruna? But for us, Pigato has become one of our favorite white wines because of its lovely seaside mineral and saline freshness, the way it transmits the wild, herb-laden brush of Liguria ('macchia' is the Italian equivalent of 'garrique'), and for its great versatility at table. We are really happy to be able to offer the Bruna wines, especially since the prices are notably lower than in the old days.

 

The Brunas (Francesca, and her husband Roberto) have their vineyards in a river valley, inland from the sea; the air and the light feel maritime, and the valley funnels cool air and moisture from the sea to the vines. Even that close to the heavily developed shore, the valley feels ancient and mostly untouched and rustic, with groves of ancient olives on the steep slopes, terraced vineyards, and small plantations of peach and persimmon trees on the valley floor.  Strictly speaking, Bruna isn’t organic, but except for very occasional use of anti-rot products (not every year by any means) they don’t use any chemicals in the vines, and they are consciously moving away from those treatments, having greatly reduced the number of parcels of vines that might be treated. More importantly from a tasting point of view, the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts. We’ve tasted lots of Pigatos in recent years, and the great majority are made with selected yeasts. Some of those wines are certainly tasty, but they lack the clarity and precision and vivid terroir that’s present in the Bruna wines.

 

*Pigato, according to Jancis Robinson’s magisterial Wine Grapes, is actually Vermentino: “Morphological and DNA comparisons have clearly established that Favorita (Piemonte), Pigato (Liguria) and Vermentino (Liguria, Sardegna, Toscana, and Corse) are one and the same variety.”

We know as well as anyone (and better than some) the power of the label – seeing is believing, and we’ve always thought that even the same producer’s  Pigato tasted quite different from their Vermentino. Recently when we’ve mentioned this passage in Wine Grapes to Ligurians, they’ve more or less scoffed at it. They say Pigato vines and grapes look very different from Vermentino – and they think it tastes different too. Bio Vio, one of our longtime favorites, makes both grapes using the same methods (inc. indigenous yeasts), and the two wines are distinctively different. Ours not to wonder why – or at least not to pretend to understand. For the time being we’re going to stick with Pigato being its own thing.

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Bruna 2012 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Maje

Majé is a local name for vineyards terraced with stone. The vines are at about 250 metres, and enjoy a steady breeze from the sea. Francesca Bruna describes the soils as ‘blue clay, rich in small and large fossils’. 

The wine’s made in a straight-forward manner: 12 hours maceration on the skins, and fermentation in stainless steel, where it stays for about 6 months before bottling; handling is minimal.

Majé is fresh and mineral, with a lot of richness balanced by good acidity. Aromatically quite intense, like all the Bruna wines, it’s classic Pigato – lemony, a bit floral, but dominated by herbs – thyme and rosemary – and lovely peach and apricot notes. A fine intro to the Bruna wines, and as we’ve noted before, the perfect wine for pesto. JR & JW

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Bruna 2011 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato U Baccan

U Baccan – the Boss, in local dialect. This is made from a rigorous selection of fruit from the oldest vines – at least 50 years +, and from vines on both types of soils – the blue and red clays. The winemaking is an extended version of the Russeghine, with a longer maceration, more batonage in tank, and longer aging (all in steel). Francesca says the wine ages very well, and that when they taste the 1999 recently (the first vintage of U Baccan) that it’s showing beautifully. We’d love to taste it, because recent vintages have been fantastic. JR & JW

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $35.99