I’m on a bit of an authentic wine craze at the moment. There’s something liberating and feel good in the down to earth aromas of place, in the sharpened edges of tannin and acidity and in the weightless purity of fruit that can only be achieved without the cumbersome burdens of excessive sugar and thick new oak.
I’m not saying oak is bad. Clearly it isn’t. But when used excessively alongside super ripeness it more often than not leads to uninteresting wines. Add to this the nuts and bolts of industrial wine making and it all becomes a bit of a turn off.
Do you have to get through some volume before this becomes relevant on the palate? I’m not sure. Maybe it is an issue rarely noticed by casual consumers. For my part, I have dispatched that volume and served my time; now organically or biodynamically produced wines seeking to let nature take its course (as far is viably possible) are an absolute breath of fresh air.
My deep inhale has come from Vino di Anna’s Amphora Rosso, of which just a mere 1800 bottles were produced. This truly is low production, hand crafted wine if ever such a definition could exist.
Bunch pressed Nerello Mascalese (which adds a streak of green) is fermented in large but old oak 15 hectare litre barrels (low surface area ratio ensure little oak flavour) for about 6 weeks. The wine is left to its own devices during this period so as not to overdo extraction.
In typical Italian fashion, the resulting wine is brimming with fresh cherries enveloped in swirling floral aromas of violets and perfumed flower. It is in these subtle aromas that the magic, and the reason wine has been eulogised for thousands of years, can be felt. The extent of Vino di Anna’s minimalist approach is demonstrated in what happens next. The wine is left to mature where it is for around nine months without fining, filtration or more importantly the addition of SO2. Without the noise of traditional cellar fiddling, the land, vintage and grape variety can be heard, free to speak however it please. (As nature intended?)
In this case, we can hear the distinctive prickly spice of Etna’s mineral rich, black volcanic soils. You can taste the stone, or at least you think you can. But it is refreshing, each contemplation on the palate requires another. Flashing past this freshness are evening aromas of lavendar, tobacco, wild herb and wood smoke. This is, like much of Etna’s authentic, a fascinating creation.