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Camerani Marinella, of Corta Sant’Alda fame, and her eldest daughter produce this remarkably fresh wine from 5 hectares of vines in Valpolicella. The grapes (35% Corvina, 35% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara) are hand harvested, destemmed, and gently pressed. In the cellar, the juice is vinified using native yeasts in stainless steel. The nose is floral, with dark flowers. There is a hint of tilled earth along with more pronounced aromas of cured meat and red berry. The mouthfeel is relaxed, with exceptionally low tannin for wines of the region, and a thread of acidity that works to carry the cherry fruit on the palate. Pairing with hearty, earthy foods like Thanksgiving carrots, potatoes, and yams will work beautifully. David Hatzopoulos
Pietramore produces both an array of classic Italian wines as well as Olive oil, all from their biodynamically farmed vineyards. The vineyards are located in the Chieti and Teramo provinces close the to eastern coast. The grapes are pressed with ~15% of the juice drained off to intensify the concentration of the wine, and then aged in vats for 6 months with no oak aging.
Ausonia’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Anfora is made using an ancient method of fermenting and storing wine in clay vessel (or amphora) which originated in Georgia and was used by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. The amphora helps protect the wine from oxidation and gives the wine a tannic and earthy, yet mineral-driven character. Ruby red in color, this Montepulciano has an intense aroma of red fruits, sweet spices, dried flowers and turned earth. The palate is full-bodied and complex with a dense core, lush tannins, bright acidity, and flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry compote, dark chocolate, dried violets and a distinct minerality. The finish is long and earthy and full of licorice and herbal notes. This wine would make an excellent complement to hearty dishes, red meats, roasted vegetables, and grilled mushrooms. Anna DeBeer
From the higher part of Feudo di Mezzo (640 metres), and vines over 60 years old.Frank writes "A challenging location in order to achieve perfection in maturation. It has the power as well as refined elegance... A complete wine." 2000 bottles produced.
A 'feudo' is a farm; the Feudo di Mezzo is a large farm (now with many different owners), and this is from the lower ("Sottana") part of the farm, with elevations of about 580 metres, and 40 year old vines. Frank writes: "Although lower in the valley floor, the wines are of an unusual elegance which characterizes this area. Relatively deep soil which, in humid vintages can create some problems although the well ventilated site helps to get ripeness. Burgundian elegance and roundness, even in hot vintages makes this a special wine with finesse as it’s personality." 2500 bottles produced.
A blend of Nerello Mascalese grapes taken from each of Cornelissen's single vineyards; the vines are over 60 years old. 12,000 bottles produced.
Made from Natalino Del Prete's small holdings of Aleatico (and possibly Malvasia Nera). The vines are between 30-60 years old. After harvest the grapes are dried, leading to the wine's eventual concentration. On the nose, deep fruits and dark floral notes share the stage with more tertiary aromas of bark and warm field grasses. The palate has plummy flavors of spiced red and black berries, with undercurrents of earth. The wine's sweetness is masked by its freshness, but it is still definitely a bottle for sipping and sharing. David Hatzopoulos
Natalino Del Prete farms 10 hectares of mostly Negroamaro and Primitivo vines just north of Lecce in southern Puglia. Certified organic since 1994, his vineyards are never treated with any chemicals (they look quite wild!) and the vinification is decidely old-school, with minimal intervention and no sulfur added at any point, including bottling. The 2017 Negroamaro Anne is from a plot of 30 to 60 year old vines planted on clay soils. Rustic and slightly barnyardy on the nose, this wine opens with black cherry, black plum and a general medley of dark fruits, and finishes with notes of dark cocoa and earth. Medium plus bodied, with very good acidity, this is a wonderful example of "farmhouse" wine from the Italian South. Oskar Kostecki
Natalino Del Prete farms 10 hectares of mostly Negroamaro and Primitivo vines just north of Lecce in southern Puglia. Certified organic since 1994, his vineyards are never treated with any chemicals (they look quite wild!) and the vinification is decidedly old-school, with minimal intervention and no sulfur added at any point, including bottling. The 2018 Primitivo is from 30 to 60 year-old vines planted on clay soils.
Foradori's Teroldego feels like a benchmark. Not that there is excessive opportunity to do comparative tastings of this lesser-known grape, but of the ones that we've tried, this wine is neither over-oaked, nor reedy and thin, but always perfectly balanced in its intensity and expression. A medley of brambly red and dark fruit (blackberries, plum) interwoven with dark spice, earth and green notes of blackcurrant leaf. The 2016 vintage is quite reserved when first opened, but some air reveals its true potential. One of my favorite pairings with roast pork. It's a great testament to Elisabetta Foradori and her family, and the hard work that has been done in the vineyards and winery for nearly 40 years, that this expression of Teroldego has risen from relative obscurity to be a true staple. Oskar Kostecki
Il Fortunato aced it with their Rosato Spumante; another lively sparkler produced from organic vineyards with only a minimal addition of sulfur. The nose is playful with a mix of bright berry fruits and fresh red cherries cut by tart apple skins. On the palate, a delicate mousse lifts the wine showing some weight, great acidity, and just touch of sugar. Absolutely lovely! Pair with charcuterie, simple pasta, or simply drink on its own. Andy Paynter
2017 was a much riper vintage than 2016, and this wine shows it. Francesco added a tiny bit of sulfur just at bottling. The nose opens with notes of plum, a hint of prune, dark forest fruit, stewed raspberry and blackberry, dried cherry, grape jam (a high quality one), baking spice, nutmeg, and a hint of forest undergrowth. The palate is juicy, still with a lot of energy and acidity to retain balance. Though lacking some of the subtlety and fascination of the 2016 vintage at the moment, it may be best to hold for a year or two, as I feel this will be a wonderful wine with some time to settle. That being said, there is no harm in opening it now, and indeed at a recent tasting some folks preferred the more forward aspects of the 2017. Oskar Kostecki
Wow. Full-bodied and full-blooded, this Primitivo is an intense and profound example of this variety. As with the 2017 Negroamaro, Francesco added a small amount of sulfur at bottling. The nose shows notes of red currants, black currants, black cherries, raspberry preserve, plums, raspberry leaves, cedar, dried herbs, and a hint of earthiness. On the palate there is a similar mélange of red and black fruit, with a hint of dried fruit and raisin. The wine has prominent tannins and quite warming alcohol, though with good acidity and still some modicum of freshness and lift. A serious wine. A bit edgy at the moment, this will perhaps be best in 3-5 years, though if enjoyed now, give a decant of an hour or more. Oskar Kostecki
From a one hectare site of 120 year-old vines planted on the slopes of Mount Etna, this is volcanic wine at its best. The nose opens with a lovely bouquet of ripe raspberry and overripe strawberry, red currant, macerated cherry, deep red forest fruits, and dried orange peel. There are hints of nutmeg and other pungent spices, sage, thyme, and a hint of something green, perhaps tomato vine. On the palate it is medium bodied, with bright acidity and medium but soft, very finely integrated tannins. The palate introduces more citrus (blood orange) and pomegranate on top of the red fruit. The volcanic minerality really shines here, melding the fruit and herbal notes with ash and smoke. There is beautiful grip and intensity on the palate, which leads to an incredibly long finish. Paired perfectly with grilled sausages, but this is a very versatile food wine. Drink now with an hour's decant, this will continue improving for the next 10+ years. Oskar Kostecki
This white comes from some of the oldest vines in Italy, most being over 100 years old, and some almost 300. Monte di Grazie was started by a doctor in 2004 in the town of Tramonti, high up in the Lattari Mountains of Campania. The wine consists of 40% Ginestra, 40% Biancatenera, and 20% Pepella, from volcanic soils. The grapes are destemmed before pressing, and fermentation occurs naturally in stainless steel. The wine spends 6 months aging in stainless before bottling.
Sisma bottles come from a single vineyard in the crater of the Monte Rosso cone at the base of Mount Etna. The 2016 vintage conditions were excellent; it had the appropriate amount of sun and rain, all at the right times. This led to perfect fruit maturation. The nose offers wild fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) with pepper and spice. The palate offers flavors of plum (and plum peel), Provençal herbs, and pepper. There is a plush tannic framework – engaging but far from mouth-drying. David Hatzopoulos
The Sisma by Monterosso is structured, with bright acidity. The 2017 vintage was hot compared to the 2016. Earthy aromas of smoke, iron, and crushed black stones mix with dark cherry and cassis on the nose. On the palate, the flavors are framed by ripe, firm tannins, with bursts of earthy red plum and blackberry/raspberry fruit. This is an assertive Nerello Mascalese, especially in contrast with the gentler character of the 2016. A few years in the cellar should allow the flavors and structure to integrate. David Hatzopoulos
In addition to farming their two hectares, the Monterosso team sources organically-farmed Nerello Mascalese for their Volcano bottling. The 2017 vintage was hot and had very little rain, resulting in an extremely small harvest. Grapes were picked two weeks earlier to ensure freshness. The wine is bold and robust. The fruit on the nose is dark (blackberry, cherry), with a hint of amaro-like aromas and smoky earth. The palate has a character of bitter and herbaceous red/black fruit and savory cured meats. David Hatzopoulos
Monterosso is named for the reddish Etna soils of sand and pumice in which their vines are grown. The Volcano Rosato is produced using 100% Nerello Mascalese, sourced from vineyards that Monterosso either manages or knows are being farmed with organic practices. In the glass, it shows an elegant shade of rose gold. The nose is redolent of cherry, wild raspberry, white and red flower aromas, with a lean accent of green herbs. The palate is more assertive, with cherry, cranberry fruit, and laced with iron minerality. David Hatzopoulos
The Lagnusa Nero d’Avola vines ranging in age from 20-50 years old, and they give the wine remarkable depth and complexity. It has an opulent, silky texture, but it’s also a juicy and racy wine, with intense red cherry fruit, herbs like mint and thyme, and a hauntingly long stony finish. This shows the quality of much more expensive wine, and it’s full-on competition for the best Nero d’Avola from Vittoria and Pachino.
Sourced from 50 year-old vines trained in pergola and farmed biodynamically, this is a more profound expression of the grape Schiava than one usually finds. The wine is fermented with 30% stem inclusion and macerates for 6 weeks in large conical vats followed by elevage in old oak and cement tank for 10 months. 2015 was a warmer year, and the wine shows more exuberance than previous vintages. The nose is full of dark cherry, ripe plums, plum skin, dark wild forest fruit, violets, cracked black pepper, and blackcurrant leaf (my original note reads: "smells like a pristine forest"). The palate introduces more red fruit: raspberry and cherry. The wine has great verve and acidity, with medium tannins that are quite soft and well integrated. Well-rounded and well-balanced, this is at a great moment now, showing a bit of development, yet still retaining nice primary elements. Very giving, yet relaxed. An engaging food wine, that has the ability to pair with a wide range of dishes. One of my first choices for Thanksgiving dinner. Oskar Kostecki
Vittorio Savino, owner of Fenicotteri, joined Foti’s small association of producers called i Vigneri (some of whose wines from Mt. Etna we always have on our shelves). I Vigneri offers unparalleled expertise in every aspect of viticulture and production (including the services of Ciccio, the group’s mule). Foti’s work at Gulfi, and his knowledge derived from the vines in Pachino must have been very valuable when trying to restore a vineyard that’s virtually on the shore of the lagoon. The farming is impeccable (only copper and sulfur and sheep manure are used on the bush-trained vines) but it’s the location that brings an incredibly compelling mineral and saline lift to the wine. Called Fenicotteri (flamingo, in Italian) after the migratory flamingoes who visit the lagoon next to the vineyard. JW Firmly medium-bodied, the 2015 shows beautiful notes of black cherry, blackberries, black currant, raspberry jam, a hint of leather, cut hay, cocoa, coffee grinds, with hints of black pepper and a black olive brininess. Well integrated and soft, but quite present tannins and medium acidity. Wonderful complexity which just keeps unfolding the longer the wine is open. There is a certain plushness, without anything extravagant. This wine is very compelling all the way through the bottle. Oskar Kostecki
Unlike the other sparklings that we offer from Terraquila, this wine has been disgorged. The ‘zero’ in the name represents the fact that there are no lees left in the bottle. Like the Falcorubens, the varietal is Lambrusco Grasparossa, and it delivers intense savory profiles on the nose and palate. Aromas of heavily charred meat and grippy dark forest fruits match a lean palate of prickly plum skins, dried red cherry, and Provençal herbs. Dry, tannic, rustic, but bright and lovely. David Hatzopoulos
In Emilia-Romagna, Terraquila creates red méthode ancestrale sparklings from organic Lambrusco Grasparossa. Aromatically, the wine offers roasted coffee and dark forest fruit, with a touch of barnyard and earth. Similarly, the palate is full of burly flavors like smoke, plum, raw herbs, and espresso. David Hatzopoulos
Tasting Vinica’s Tintilia makes me wonder how this grape ever fell out of favor in Molise in the first place. It seems particularly well adapted to the high altitude vineyards of the region, showing a balance between ripe fruit and fresh acidity. The grapes are crushed at low pressure and allowed to ferment naturally in open top vessels before being held in steel tanks for two years. There is no temperature control at any point, which allows malolactic fermentation to occur naturally over time. The wine has a pleasant herbal tone of green pepper that peaks out on the nose over tart berry fruit, red roses, and moist earth. The palate is quite fresh and marked by bright acidity and soft tannins with a pleasant, earthy finish. This may not be a wine to cellar for ten years but it is a wine that casually conveys a sense of joy and is a carefree food pairing choice. Give it a try with rich pasta dishes, roast pork, stuffed mushrooms or open it at your next summer barbeque. Andy Paynter