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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 an offspring of Sangiovese and a cousin to Nerello Mascalese. For a nicely produced video (in Italian) click here.
Eduardo Torres Acosta, a young winemaker from the Canary Islands, first began working with vines in Tenerife, where his father, a local postman, had a small plot of land. In 2012 Eduardo moved to Sicily, where he apprenticed with Arianna Occhipinti. He soon got a job as enologist for the well-known Etna estate, Passopisciaro. Despite Eduardo’s outsider status, he managed to rent several fine parcels on Etna. The grapes are harvested and then trucked to Arianna Occhipinti’s estate in Vittoria. As the winemaking facility is not on Etna, the wines are not allowed DO status and simply carry the IGT Terre Siciliane designation.
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.
Alta Maria is a partnership between winemaker Paul Wilkins and 9th generation Santa Barbara native and viticulturalist John Ontiveros, they have access to some of Santa Barbara’s finest sources and oldest vines. Embracing the region’s cooler climate, their wines show modest alcohol, balance, and restraint. In the cellar they avoid doing anything that might obscure the elegant expression of Santa Barbara’s terroir.
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.