Agriverde, Ortona Abruzzo
This is a third generation estate founded in 1830 and certified organic since 1991. Their commitment to their land includes placing 25 bird nests per hectare plus using the “sexual confusion technique” (using pheromone traps which male insects mate with, leaving the females barren) to combat damaging insects as well as the refusal to use chemicals to combat fungal infections. They were one of our best discoveries at VinItaly 2012.
Agriverde Pecorino Riseis 2011, Terre de Chietti Abruzzo ORGANIC
100% Pecorino which brings both refreshing citrus and white fruit notes and a dry, almondy finish. This is one of our favorite seafood wines from anywhere at any price.
Terre Al Sole Zibibbo 2011, Sicilia ORGANIC
An insanely aromatic yet BONE DRY Zibibbo (a clone of Moscato from Pantelleria, a small island near Tunisia) that smells like orange zest, honeysuckle blossoms and the salt air of the Mediterranean. Fabulous with Pasta con Botarga (dried salted cod roe), sushi, any fish or chicken dish with a citrus element, fruit salads, brunch, you get the picture. This has amazing, food friendly and crisp acidity to balance the exotic fruit notes so it is never cloying…you should probably go to la Playita on Lincoln in Venice and get some Mariscos Muy Sabrosos, STAT!
Pietratagliata Grillo 2011, Sicilia ORGANIC Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!
Grillo? che cos’è? Grillo is a big deal in Sicily, it is one of the backbones of Marsala, once the largest production wine on the Island. Now, responding to the worldwide slump in consumption of fortified wines, many dry versions are produced. This one is sure to be a big hit at holiday parties large or small: crisp, dry, fragrant (wisps of citrus, nettles, almonds and that waxiness that top semillons have greet you when you first smell it) and refreshing, it will be wonderful with a broad range of foods (or by itself!). This wine has never seen a twig of oak yet has a rich and full mouthfeel leading to a clean, minerally finish.
Azienda Agricola Petrera Pasquale, Gioia del Colle, Puglia
This cantina has such an interesting story to tell that we don’t even know where to begin. THEY begin in their press kit with “At the beginning of the Oligocene era there was still a channel between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Seas. Between the cretaceous plate of the Bari area and the Southern Apennines, the Saddle of Spinazzola formed a broad strait that linked the Ionian Sea to the Adriatic, where the today’s territory of Gioia del Colle was then submerged….” then note that their vineyard site was used as same by the Peucetians in the 8th century B.C.. They then fast forward to the late 18th century when their ancestor Nicola Petrera picked their hillside (365 meters above sea level) to plant to vines and built a home / cantina at about the same time as local bishop Don Franceso Filippo Indellicati selected a local grape variety, known in dialect as U’pr’mati’ve, as the best in the Zona and renamed Primitivo as it is not only the first to ripen but gives TWO harvests each year, the second one (known as “racemi” and with less body and color but more sweetness and aromatics) being thrown into the fermented wine as a sort of Ripasso or Governo thus adding richness to the wine.
The current generation were the first to bottle Primitivo in purezza (in 1987) and founded the DOC Primitivo Gioia del Colle in 2000 and have taken Nonno Nicola’s motto, “Who loves and respects Nature, loves God and himself” as their own and do everything by hand and in strict accordance with Certified Organic Agriculture standards (“considered as life-style: not for business but for respect of Nature and every living creature, in primis ourselves”) and even say that they treat each vine like a person and that “We want to make our wine like mirror of the territory, the soil and the people who are its authors…the success of a wine has to be made starting from roots of the vine”. They kind of lose us at the part where they “foster tranquillity and harmony by diffusion of new-age sounds in our cellar to support the activity of the living enzymes inside our natural wines sensitive to music therapy” but, hey, what could it hurt? So, anyway, we tasted the wines and immediately ordered piles of them for ourselves (we might let you have some too if there is any left).
Fatalone Greco Spinomarino 2010, Murgia, Puglia ORGANIC
Phat, nutty and dry with a very long finish and just plain FUN, this is about as far from the stereotypical flat, boring and oxidized southern whites of old as you can get. We see this being a very big sensation with everyone from traditional Chard-o-philes to card carrying members of the ABC Movement*. Try it with your favorite fish, seafood or chicken dish or just sip some while vegging out and watching Adult Swim on The Cartoon Network.
*Anything but Chardonnay
Azienda Agricola Martilde, Rovescala, Oltrepò Pavese
Martilde is one of our favorite discoveries in the Brave NEW World of the Oltrepò Pavese: a full service vino-teria making ten or so bottlings ranging from dry and delicate whites to insanely concentrated reds, all grown with molto rispetto for nature by a couple who have become good friends of ours, Antonella Tacci and Raimondo Lombardi. AND they all have fabulous art labels (painted by Antonella) depicting the animals on the estate.
Martilde Oltrepò Pavese Malvasia Piume 2006, Lombardia ORGANIC
“Young man, I nearly fainted with delight when I tasted that Piume Malvasia last night…”. So said a customer in a lilting Welsh accent as she grabbed a case of this. The sheer audacity of the intense citrus and honeysuckle aromas and flavors of Martilde Malvasia Piume coupled with its bone dry, “give me some more right now!” finish makes it a no-brainer with any Pacific Rim cuisine, Sushi, Fruit & Cheese or just sipping while watching a Scrubs marathon on Comedy Central. Try it! You won’t be sorry and you just might catch a case of the vapors as well. Pass the smelling salts and a spring roll, please…
Here’s a second opinion:
“I have a weakness for dry white wines made from grapes that usually go into dessert wines — think about the alluring dry Muscats of Alsace, for example. So when Robert Rogness, general manager of Wine Expo in Santa Monica, enthused about a dry Malvasia from Oltrepò Pavese, a region in the southern part of Lombardy, I perked up my ears.
Azienda Agricola Martilde’s ‘Piume’ dry Malvasia 2006 smells sweet, with a lush, honeyed bouquet, but drinks utterly dry, with flavors of melon and green apple and a brisk finish that hints of lemon peel. Word of the day: ‘Piume’ is Italian for feathers, and refers to the label’s picture of poultry that live on the farm. This is a wine with the body and taste profile to stand up to challenging flavors, such as the sweet-sour of caponata, the tang of lemony vinaigrettes and marinades, and even the heat of spicy Thai and Chinese dishes.” Jean T. Barrett, Los Angeles Times 9/03/08
Martilde Malvasia Dedica 2007, Oltrepò Pavese, Lombardia ORGANIC
Our friends at the cantina explain this wine: “An entirely new Malvasia, completely different from Piume. Grapes are picked up in baskets and processed with the same technique used for red wines: they are crushed and destemmed and the skins left to ferment with the must and kept submerged. At the end of fermentation, they are left in the wine during all winter, until the full moon of easter. After an adequate amount of time, Dedica is bottled. Still showing the aromatic nose of malvasia, this wine has a tannic side and has a pleasant body. Deep gold color. To be served not too cold, ‘Dedica’ can be enjoyed also in matches not usual for a white wine. Dishes strongly flavored, salumi, raw fish and shells. On the label, in an appropriate dark setting, our black oriental Medea (nicknamed Dedica, which also means dedication), at full moon.” Our friend Ed Motta (major Brasilian music artist and SERIOUS wine freak) raved about this at a lunch in Rio de Janeiro saying “Wow! It smells like pumpkin pie spices and reminds me of when I lived in NYC…”
How good is this wine? Traveling with two broken arms and under severe airline weight restrictions, this was the ONLY bottle Roberto carried home from VinItaly 2010 out of over 500 tasted. Limited. Worth it.
Azienda Agricola Gravner, Oslavia, Friuli
Plato and Aristotle would have dug these…For those of you who want natural wines, they don’t get much more old school than this: completely organic viticulture, hand harvesting and pressing, fermentation on the skins in giant clay amphorae while buried in the ground, bottled without ANY filtration or fining. The Ribolla is fantastically fragrant and rich in the mouth and changes right before your eyes like a hologram of the Gorizia hillsides, Breg is a field blend of Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling Italico. All of these are downright cloudy with flavorful extract and you should DECANT them before serving (at cool room temp, NOT ice cold).
Josko Gravner Ribolla Gialla 1997, Venezia-Giulia ORGANIC
Josko Gravner Amfora Ribolla Gialla 2001, Venezia-Giulia ORGANIC
Josko Gravner Amfora Breg 2001, Venezia-Giulia ORGANIC
Tenute Dettòri, Sènnori, Sardegna
Young Alessandro Dettòri inherited a vineyard with ancient Cannonau, Vermentino and Franche di Piede vines and decided to just let the soil of his native Sardegna speak directly to you. No fancy scientific winemaking, he just let nature sort it out (and the result is that the cuvées are often wildly different from vintage to vintage not unlike Pepe’s killer Montepulcianos). These may well be more wine than you can handle:
Dettori Bianco 2007, Sardegna ORGANIC
To quote Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders: “This is SPECIAL….so SPECIAL”. 100% Vermentino from ancient, organically cultivated vines fermented on the skins for extra color and texture, this is not ANYTHING like your average white wine. Tasters use words like “compelling stuff”, “fantastic aromas of peaches, herbs and roast nuts”, “intensely mineral and mouthfilling”, “citrussy yet savory”. Serve it a cellar temp (55°) with savory / salty things….
Azienda Agricola Fausta Mansio
Moscato di Siracusa 2003 50oml ORGANIC
Known to the Romans as Pollio, Moscato di Syracusa was carried to Sicilia by the earliest Greek colonizers and was all the rage for centuries before falling out of the limelight in recent times. This estate has fifteen hectares (mostly dedicated to olives and citrus) cultivated under a rigorous organic regime with four hectares set aside in 1999 to revive this ancient and almost forgotten wine. The fully ripened grapes are dried till they are nearly raisins then pressed to obtain an extremely thick and exotically aromatic must which takes months to ferment into this luscious apricot scented nectar.
Tenute Dettòri, Sènnori, Sardegna
Young Alessandro Dettòri inherited a vineyard with ancient Cannonau and Franche di Piede vines and decided to just let the soil of his native Sardegna speak directly to you. No fancy scientific winemaking, he just let nature sort it out (and the result is that the cuvées are often wildly different from vintage to vintage not unlike Pepe’s killer Montepulcianos). These may well be more wine than you can handle:
Dettori Moscato Passito Moscadedu 2007, Sardegna ORGANIC
Our notes from VinItaly 2012: “Insane, tied with Laimburg Moscato Rosa for best sweet wine at the fair. It just keeps changing and surprising you…”