A Vita is run by a husband and wife team, and is located in the DOC Cirò, in Calabria, southern Italy. The town of Cirò Marina is located on Italy's boot tip, nestled between the Ionian sea and Sila mountains; this geographic situation ensures that the estate sees dramatic diurnal shifts. This DOC is dominated by one producer: Librandi, who produces over 200,000 cases per year. By contrast, Francesco & Laura de Franco make only 2000 cases total. The wines are 100% Gaglioppo, a rustic variety native to the area which typically has dusty tannins and aromas of roses; it is thought to be related to Nerello Mascalese. For more words of enthusiasm (in Englaish) and a nicely produced video (in Italian) click here.
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.
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.
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.
L'Ameillaud is a family-owned winery, situated in Cairanne, in the Province of Vaucluse. The property dates back to the end of the 18th century but was purchased in 1983 by an expat Englishman, Nick Thompson, with his wife, Sabine.
Today the domaine covers a total surface area of 140 acres (55 hectares), of which 90 acres lie in the AOC zone, producing Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne and generic Côtes du Rhône. The remaining 50 acres are reserved for Vin de Pays production. Over the years, the vineyard has been progressively replanted and today, 8 varieties in all have been selected, essentially for the production of red wines and adapted to the varying soil-types on the estate. The blending of these different varieties, both during and after vinification, plays an essential role maintaining both regularity and the high quality of the wines produced on the property.
The winery, offering a total capacity for fermentation and storage of over 7000 hectoliters, is fitted with modern winemaking equipment and treats some 400 tons of grapes per harvest. Grapes are, for the most part, de-stemmed before a traditional fermentation process lasting between seven days and three weeks, depending on the varieties picked and the qualities produced. After malolactic fermentation, the wines are fined and filtered during the winter and aged in traditional cement vats and stainless-steel tanks before bottling. If one was to describe quite simply the style of wines produced at the Ameillaud, there are probably three key words : maturity, generosity and balance.
Some of the most remarkable Syrah being made today comes from a hilly area in southern Tuscany called Chiuso di Cortona. The area, due west of Siena and almost at the border with Umbria, is no stranger to international varieties, having been subject to Napoleonic occupation in the late 18th century. This was codified in 1999 with the creation of the Cortona DOC, which focused on Syrah as a noteworthy grape for the zone.
Stefano Amerighi, the young and dynamic owner of this eponymous estate, has a beautiful cru called Poggiobello di Farneta. The site was chosen and planted to Syrah in 2002 after an in-depth geological investigation identified eight hectares of land well-suited to the grape. It was the ideal exposure; southeast facing, and the ideal soil; a mix of clay, silt, chalk and a thriving base of microorganisms. Stefano planted the vines to a high density of 7000 plants per hectare and adhered to biodynamic principles in the vineyard. In the winery, the a portion of the Syrah grapes are partially de-stemmed, while some are left whole and still others are lightly foot pressed. Fermentation occurs spontaneously in small concrete vats and without the use of pumps, sulphur or temperature control. The wine is then allowed to clarify naturally in a combination of wood and cement tanks, where they are kept for 14 months before bottling. The resulting wine is sensational, with signature notes of black olive, cassis and minerals on the nose and an elegant mouthfeel. This is a game-changer for the zone.
Stefano Amerighi Syrah is Demeter certified.
In the 1960's, Erica and Peter Max Suter, a Swiss couple, bought an abandoned farm just outside the town of Roccatederighi in central Tuscany, with the idea to turn it into a rural estate with woods and pastures. They bred sheep and pigeons, and planted a vineyard; soon the Meleta winery was known for its wine and products (in Italian, 'Meleto' is an apple orchard; the winery was named after the orchard on its land.) It was at that time that Cabernet Franc and Merlot were introduced to the area.
Ampeleia, however, was born in 2002 from the collaboration and friendship between Elisabetta Foradori, Thomas Widmann, and Giovanni Podini; they saw in Ampeleia a place where they could not only develop an agricultural project but also fulfill a common vision relating to shared values and experiences. (In 2009, Thomas' intense political commitment in his homeland compelled him to forsake his involvement in Ampeleia.) The project aspires to represent the inherent diversity and huge potential of this particular area of Maremma. The estate results from the purchase of different plots of land, located far apart and on different altitude levels, with the precise aim of creating a great variability in altitude, soil type and microclimatic conditions; each vineyard has a distinctive identity that is enhanced by the uniqueness of the surrounding environment. Hence, variety is the keystone and soul of Ampeleia. In fact, variety represents the project’s constant quality, both physically and symbolically, and is harmoniously expressed in its wines that taste of the diverse and varied land of the area around Roccatederighi. Originating from the Near East, many of the grape varieties that have been planted in Ampeleia are common in Mediterranean farmlands. In past times, vineyards were not planted with just one grape variety but many types of grapes were present and they were all harvested at the same time; the vineyards at Ampeleia reflect this tradition.
The Three Altitudes:
Ampeleia di Sopra: 70 hectares, 15 under vine; this is the largest land unit of the estate. Placed between 450 and 600 metres above sea level, it is mainly planted with Cabernet Franc. The landscape here is dominated by chestnut groves.
Ampeleia di Mezzo: 35 hectares, 10 under vine. This is the land of Sangiovese. Divided into small plots that range from 250 to 350 metres above sea level, the vineyards, surrounded by cork oak woods and Mediterranean scrubland, are planted with Carignan, Grenache and Alicante Bouschet.
Ampeleia di Sotto: 15 hectares, 10 under vine. This section of the estate includes the plots closest to the sea, and are the most distinctly Mediterranean in character. The vineyards, found around 200 metres above sea level, are planted with traditional Mediterranean grape varieties, mainly Grenache.
"Once again, I was deeply impressed with the wines I tasted from Ampeleia. These gorgeous Maremma reds deserve much more love. Over the last few years, Ampeleia has emerged as one of the most exciting properties on the Tuscan coast. Proprietress Elisabetta Foradori and her team prove they can also make great wines in Tuscany, not just Trentino. My only regret is I rarely see these wines in the market, which is a real shame. Readers who can find any of these wines should not hesitate." -Antonio Galloni, from In a Tuscan State of Mind, Vinousmedia.com, Aug 2013