It's only January and already the new drops are coming thick and fast, with not one, not two, but THREE of our very own Gnarly Vines portfolio producers just landed from Italy with another stellar vintage.
Azienda Agricola Camparo
At the bottom of the Alps, Piedmont (quite literally foot-hills) borders France and Switzerland at the north-west corner of Italy; A gastronomic paradise famed for white truffles, hazelnuts, Juventus but above all Nebbiolo, the grape responsible for Italy's greatest red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco. Throw in Barbera d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba, Moscato d'Asti, Gavi and Roero, and Piedmont's status as the star of Italy's winemaking crown is hard to dispute. You can imagine our excitement then, when we came across Azienda Agricola Camparo, a small family estate working organically right in the heart of the prime grape growing area, just east of the town of Barolo itself. Currently tended by third generation vigneron Mauro Drocco, Camparo's vines are all located on prized south and south-east facing slopes, whose long sunlight hours are particularly crucial for the notoriously slow-ripening Nebbiolo, and grow in the calcareous-clay soil widely considered to be responsible for the tremendous longevity of Piedmont wines.Seeing the intrinsic value of a more natural approach to vineyard management, Mauro began the conversion to organics in the 1990s, and Camparo became on of the first estates to become fully certified in the area in 2000. The family follow the mantra that great wine is made in the vineyard, and in the cellar the wines are made in a very traditional sense, with slow, natural fermentations lasting up to 4 weeks, élevage in large, neutral oak barrels, and extended bottle-ageing before release.
Quando Langhe Bianco: 90% Arneis and 10% Favorita from vines grown at 250m above sea level in Diano d'Alba. A complex, gastronomic white with an enticing mix of citrus and stone fruit, alpine herbs and a mouth-watering salinity.Adesso Langhe Rosso: 50% Dolcetto, 25% Nebbiolo and 25% Barbera aged for 12 months in wood and 6 in bottle. A fresh and harmonious blend with aromas of cherries, roses and smoky cigar box spice.Sempre Diano d'Alba: Dolcetto from 40 year old vines grown in the Dolcetto-dedicated appellation of Diano d'Alba. Velvet soft and full-bodied with wild berry, roasted almond, and earthy, gamey notes coming through on the finish.Cosi Langhe Nebbiolo: Sumptuous Nebbiolo aged for 18 months in old oak barrels and a further year in bottle. Typically haunting Nebbiolo aromas of rosewater, tar, strawberries and white pepper with the tannins well integrated.Domani Barolo: A superlative rendition of the king of Italian wines from vines growing in the fame La Morra sub-region of Barolo. Aged for 24 months in French barriques and a further 12 in bottle, this is wonderfully open already with enchanting aromas of roses, violets, tobacco, cherries and vanilla.Domani Barolo Boiolo: Boiolo is a natural amphitheatre of vines with a perfect south-east exposure within La Morra. Camparo's top wine, this is immense and contemplative with layers of red fruits, spices, flowers and coffee and a firm structure that suggests a long life ahead.
Podere Tenuta Mattei
Tenuta Mattei is a bucolic organic estate set amongst the Esino hills of Marche, a short drive inland from Italy's Adriatic coast. Set atop one of Marche's countless hills and with sweeping views out to the stunning medieval village of Corinaldo in one direction and the shimmering azure blue of the Adriatic in the other, this is one picturesque place to grow grapes.The vineyards themselves are equally beautiful, teeming with butterflies and other insects that are attracted by the long grass, flowers, olive and chestnut trees that are grown in abundance among and around the vines. This is the work of current custodian Danilo Mattei, who took over the family farm in 1980s and has tended the vines organically for over 30 years. With the historic centre of Jesi less 30km away, this is prime Verdicchio dei Castillo di Jesi territory, but Danilo also grows the beguiling local varieties Pecorino and Passerina, as well as Montepulciano and Sangiovese, all on hillside sites composed of clay soils laced with marine fossils.
Passerina Marche Bianco: Passerina is an ancient Marche variety prized for producing wines of intense minerality. This one also has a lovely floral bouquet of lilies and acacia as well as zesty grapefruit acidity.
Falerio Pecorino: A gorgeous rendition of the classic central Italian variety Pecorino made organically in the Falerio sub-region of Marche. Green pear, citrus blossom and steely mineral notes with touches of bitter almond on the fine finish.
Lacrima di Morro d'Alba: This is the Lacrima, a vivid, intensely aromatic wine with floral aromas of roses and violets alongside wild cherries, crushed raspberries and sappy pine.
Rosso Piceno: This is a beguiling organic red made in Marche on Italy's Adriatic coast. Comprised of the classic Piceno red blend of Marche marrying the gorgeous red berry aromatics of Sangiovese with the deeper, savoury, and brooding blackberry, earth and leather of Montepulciano.
Società Agricola Masot
Andrea and Daniele Da Ros set up Masot (meaning small landowner) back at the end of 2009 in the fairytale Treviso area of Sarmede, a collection of hamlets and stone houses lying on the slopes of the Cansiglio hills and the Pre-Alps. This area, with its meadows, woodland and vineyards, has been home to the family for generations, with the siblings following in the footsteps of their grandfather, Arturo who was the first to plant vines here.
Combining this traditional knowledge with a formal education from the prestigious Cerletti School of Oenology in nearby Conegliano, they've pushed the bar higher and higher with each new vintage. Now certified organic, with biodynamic viticulture, and minimum intervention for maximum vibrant taste, there's a lot to love about Masot, not least the super fun labels!
Masot Discesa Frizzante: The Discesa Frizzante (lightly sparkling) made from organic Glera in Sarmede. Wonderfully fresh and mineral with saline aromas of preserved lemons, green apple, fresh cut herbs and toast.
Masot Strobe In The Night Spumante: Spumante (full sparkling) Glera made from organic grapes in the heart of Treviso. Fine, persistent bubbles carry waves of lemon curd, chalky minerals and baking spices. Linear and direct on the palate with invigorating acidity.
Masot Dry Under A Pinot Grigio: Chiselled and mineral organic Pinot Grigio with mouth-watering green pear, lemon zest, cut grass and pine aromas. Lean and steely on the palate with tense acidity.
Masot Merlot Why Not: Deep and intense organic Merlot with ripe blackberry, plum, pencil shaving and cedar aromas. Full-bodied and soft on the palate with generous fruit and touches of exotic spice on the finish.