February 1, 2019
Monteversa Primaversa 2015, Veneto
Filippo Voltazza runs his small family vineyard in the Euganean Hills, just west of Venice. Vineyards here are packed into terraced rows, at heights up to 600 meters. Filippo’s family used to sell their grapes to local wineries, to be used in their best bottlings, until they took back all their vines in 2006. Now their 17 hectares face in all four directions to maximize exposure. The vines are densely planted to 4,000 per hectare on chalky-clay volcanic soil. Farming is organic, harvesting is by hand, and most of the wine is fermented and aged in cement, then bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Primaversa is a gently fizzy pet-nat of Moscato Giallo fermented in stainless steel. It’s dry and herbal, a bit honeyed and nutty.
Cantina Marilina & Federica Paternò Sikele Bianco and Sikele Rosso, Sicily, Italy
Angelo Paternò worked for 25 years as the winemaker and technical director for the Sicilian wineries Cantine Settesoli and Duca di Salaparuta before purchasing 60 hectares of his own on a hill in the southeastern Sicilian province of Siracusa. He thought this land represented one of the best viticultural areas in Sicily.
Angelo’s daughters Marilina and Federica are now in charge of the property, although Angelo still helps in the cellar. They grow organically and favor minimal intervention and no additives in the winemaking process. They are influenced by local natural winemaker Frank Cornelissen. 35 hectares of their vineyards are planted to grape varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Grecanico, Muscat Blanc, Moscato Giallo, Insolia, Merlot, Tannat, Viognier, and Chardonnay. The rest of the vineyards are various flora to encourage a diverse ecosystem.
Sikele Bianco Terre Siciliane IGP 2016
Sikele Bianco is 100% Grecanico (aka: Garganega, of Soave) that’s macerated on the skins for 13 hours before pressing, followed by fermentation and six months’ aging in concrete. It’s unfiltered, unfined, and is bottled with just a dash of SO2.
This orange (in color) wine is quite aromatic and actually smells a bit like oranges, and nuts, with a brisk, salty-air influence wound throughout. It has a beautifully rich texture, and is full of sweet & savory spices, peaches, and the same brisk-salty sensation that’s on the nose.
Sikele Rosso Terre Siciliane IGP 2012
Sikele Rosso is 100% Nero d’Avola, fermented and aged in concrete for 9 months, also bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with just a dash of SO2. 2012 was a very hot and dry vintage across southern Italy and Sicily, but it was saved from producing hot clunkers by cooler temps and rain right before harvest time. This wine is aging quite nicely, with the red fruit becoming less primary, tobacco notes emerging, and a stony-minerality throughout.
G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2016, Piedmont, Italy
G.D. Vajra was officially established in 1972 but the family roots in the region go back over two centuries. The estate, well-known and respected for Barolo, sits 400 meters above sea level in the village of Vergne, in the commune of Barolo. Today the estate is over 40 hectares, 10 of which are planted to Nebbiolo for Barolo production. Farming here is organic, grapes are hand-harvested, and aging is done in traditional Slavonian casks.
The Langhe Rosso is a blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Freisa, Pinot Noir, and Albarossa. Grapes are fermented separately in stainless steel, then aged for 12-16 months before blending, followed by 3 months in bottle before releasing. It’s fruity, floral and spicy, with a touch of brambly underbrush and black pepper. It’s lively and bright, and a perfect dinner party wine.