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Cirò wine can be traced back to antiquity, when is was allegedly served to the winners at the ancient Olympics. Run by husband and wife team Francesco and Laura de Franco, ‘A Vita is located on the arch of Italy’s boot tip, nestled between the Ionian sea and Sila mountains; this situation ensures both coastal influence and dramatic diurnal shifts. DOC Cirò is dominated by one producer: Librandi, who produces over 200,000 cases per year. By contrast, Francesco & Laura make only 2000 cases total.
The red wines are 100% Gaglioppo, a rustic variety native to the area which typically has dusty tannins and aromas of roses; it is an offspring of Sangiovese and a cousin to Nerello Mascalese. The vineyards are certified organic, and no fertilizer is used. Instead they plant cover crops, and are careful to not work the soil so as to favor natural biodiversity. In the cellar, there is zero technological input: the wines are fermented spontaneously without temperature control, decanted naturally, and are never rushed. A small amount of sulfur is used at bottling. The wines are often aged in bottle for an extended time before release.
The white wine is a neew addition from 'A Vita!
To view their website click here.
For a nicely produced video (in Italian) click here.
45th Parallel is a small, family-owned craft distillery in New Richmond, Wisconsin. When they opened their doors in 2007, they were one of 50 craft distilleries in the United States; there are now more than 1,000. They have seen consistent growth over the years, doubling in both physical size and production capacity, and have gone from making a single vodka to producing gins, whiskeys, aquavits, and citrus liqueurs as well. Their name comes from the fact that they are located on the 45th parallel, halfway between the equator and the north pole.
They take no short cuts. They use only locally-grown grain, and distill their whiskeys in a pot still; afterwards, they use traditional aging techniques in Ozark white oak barrels with medium char, constructed from wood staves that are air dried three years. The whiskeys are aged a minimum of 4 years.
This micro winery is located in Chacras de Coria (Lujan), Mendoza, They farm from 3 hectares and go back 3 generations within the Furlotti family. The vineyards were planted in 1916, 100% to malbec. They only produce 1 wine which is made by famed winemaker Carmello Patti (see Carmello Patti wines) who focuses on balance and terroir. This is considered the smallest winery in Argentina and produces less than 500cs per year, with only 50cs coming to the USA every year.
Adele is our premium private label. One of the things that comes along with working with good growers is the opportunity to take advantage of those connections. That way we can source fruit from well-known vineyards made, in some cases, by our own winemakers and in some cases by others. These are limited run wines, never more than around 1,500 cases, often half that amount in total production.
We taste a number of possible cuvees before deciding what to bottle. There is no secret here: we are looking for premium fruit in a certain price range. Whether we choose the highest or lowest price is based purely on the quality. But what does that mean, quality? Well, we’ve been in the business for a few years and were wine lovers before that. We have a pretty good idea of what makes a wine good: balance, length, acidity, fruit and some complexity. And it should express where it comes from, it should be recognizable. That’s why we strive to get top appellation sources for the Adele label.
Adele is my mother’s name. She started me in the business. She is a beautiful, kind-hearted woman. That should tell you everything.
The Albany Distilling Company is a modest operation, producing craft spirits one small batch at a time. It is located in downtown Albany, not far from the site of the city’s original 18th century distillery. Owners John Curtin and Richard Sicari are proud to be a part of New York State’s rich heritage of spirit production. The Original Albany rum pays homage to Albany’s first distillery, which was established in the mid-18th century and stood just a short distance from where their distillery stands today. The Quackenbush Still House produced an unaged rum from Caribbean molasses and Hudson River water, fermented with wild yeasts in huge, open wooden vessels. They use modern equipment, better yeast, and a more suitable water supply, but follow the same recipe and use the methods of their predecessors.
Alion is Vega Sicilia’s second project in Ribera del Duero. There are 130 hectares of land divided into three large blocks, seventy of which are located on the Vega Sicilia estate itself: 30 hectares in the Padilla de Duero, and another 30 hectares in the nearby town of Pesquera de Duero. Alion is the “younger sibling” to Vega Sicilia; made with the same elegance, but aged three years before release and meant to drink within the first 15-20 years, though there is no doubt that it can age longer.
Alipus was started by Los Danzantes to provide a market for family artisan distilleries. There are still hundreds of small mezcal distilleries in Oaxaca, and a number of them make fabulous Mezcal. Hector Vasquez and later Karina Abad Rojas have worked closely with selected small producers, both to improve their distillation methods and to help them with the complex paperwork required to certify their Mezcals for export. The intent was to provide small distilleries with a wider market so that they could stay in business, and it has worked: Alipus producers have been able to add stills and – this is wonderful – to bring their children back from the USA because there is now enough work for them – as distillers! – at home. These Mezcal are distilled in remote pueblos in Oaxaca’s noted Mezcal region: craft production in artisanal family distilleries. The agaves are wood-roasted in hornos (conical below-ground ovens), carefully crushed in stone mills, fermented slowly in open wooden vats using native yeasts, and double-distilled in small wood-fired copper potstills. Artisan mezcal distillers really know their material: it grows nearby. Often the agaves come from their family’s own plantings, out in the mountains. Because the distilleries are tiny and because preparation and distilling are so much hands-on work, the distiller knows every step very well, can adjust his methods to the material in front of him. The results are Mezcals with concentration and purity of flavors and aromas drawn from mature agaves.
"This producer's fleshy, fruit-driven wines are crowd-pleasers, combining forward character with the depth to reward aging."
-Josh Raynolds, Vinous Media
In 1999 David Nemarnik began planting his estate vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. It is comprised of 78 acres of vines, planted mostly to Pinot Noir with small amounts of Chardonnay and other white grapes. The vineyard and winery are L.I.V.E certified, emphasizing Alloro’s dedication to maintaining an approach of minimal intervention.
Winemaker Tom Fitzpatrick joined the team in 2010, following stints at Domaine Hubert-Lignier in Burgundy and Hamacher Wines in Oregon. He maintains a delicate touch in the cellar: minimal handling, native yeast fermentation, and moderate use of new oak are all standard here. Nothing is used that might obscure the expression of this site’s terroir and even the winery itself is powered primarily by solar power.
Though it’s tempting to draw the comparison to Burgundy, it has become clear that Oregon has its own story to tell and Alloro is no exception. Elegant and balanced, their wines speak transparently of their origins; classic expressions of the terroir that Oregon has become famous for.
“In my naivety I thought all wine was natural until I became a commercial winemaker and hung around with other winemakers. I had been making wine on a personal level for 10 years prior and had only occasionally added small amounts of sulfites, nothing else. The wine had always turned out just fine. I was thrilled to be able to make wine from our own pristinely grown vines; it seemed completely contrary to change what we brought in from the fields into something different." —Phillip Hart
The only certified biodynamic winery in Paso Robles, AmByth Estate was started by a Welshman named Phillip Hart in the early 2000s with nothing more than a vision to farm and make wine from a vineyard that would live “forever”, a word which translates in Welsh to the name of the estate. After purchasing two properties in 2000 and 2001, totaling 42 acres, Phillip began interplanting 16 acres of vines (head trained) with 4 acres of olive and fruit trees to create biodiversity within the vineyards. The combination of steep hillsides, clay/limestone soils, and a hot, dry climate led Phillip to choose Rhône varieties, which he felt were most suitable for the terrain. The land had never been touched by chemicals, and from the start the vines were farmed organically and without any irrigation; they received biodynamic certification in 2006.
The yields at AmByth are extremely low. As a fully dry-farmed estate, their goal is 2 tons per acre every year. This may seem more than reasonable to most people, but in the drought years of 2012-15 they harvested significantly lower amounts than that, 2015 being the lowest at less than 2 tons of fruit for the entire crop! For those who are now concerned for Phillip and his family, it is worth mentioning that he also runs a successful rug importing business.
In the cellar, Phillip and his son Gelert (joined in 2015) take a completely natural approach. While the debate over the exact definition of “natural wine” has been beaten worse than a dead hipster, there is no doubt that AmByth embodies the core principles of the category: natural fermentations, no fining or filtering, no SO2 added at any point, and of course, biodynamic farming. For vessels, they use a combination of tanks, old barrels and, more recently, amphorae.
Recently, Gelert has been experimenting with cider-making, which has brought about some very interesting and tasty results. They also make delicious olive oil.