October 2018 Selection

Old vineyards, immortal wines

October 2018 Selection

Vigneti Massa Sentieri 2016 (2 bottles)
Casa d'Ambra Ischia Biancolella Frassitelli 2017 (2 bottles)
Calabretta Nerello Mascalese Vecchie Vigne 2007 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £92.01
Club Discount Price: £77.42
You save: £14.59 (15.85%)

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About this selection...

Although the production cycle of a vine plant varies roughly from 5 to 20-30 years of age, wines coming from very long-lived vineyards are enjoying great success and often represent the spearhead of the production of numerous wineries. Undoubtedly the old vine responds better to the strain of the land and the climate. Simply because it has known the terroir for a long time and, therefore, knows how to extract the best, for example, by developing particularly deep roots. The old vine therefore produces concentrated and very characteristic wines, which are generally more complex, because they enrich the varietal notes, given by the vine, with territorial notes, given by the soils. Of course, considering the age and the productive effort, old vines produce little fruit and low yields, but this enhances even more the quality. From the Valtellina terraces to the Pantelleria saplings, Italy brims with vineyards not only thirty or fifty years old, but even hundreds. The merit is the soils, like those of Etna, which have protected the vines from phylloxera and numerous pathogens. And also the winemakers who have preserved their heritage as a vine shrine, immortalising ancient strains as twisted sculptures or protecting ancient and often excellent breeding techniques.

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Vigneti Massa Sentieri 2016 (2 bottles)

Red. Vigneti Massa Wines without GI, Italy Uva autoctona a bacca rossa

Bottle: £8.07 club members / £9.85 non-members


Among the award-winning and exceptional Barberas by Walter Massa, the person who rediscovered Timorasso that needs no further introduction, Sentieri is its most candid, precise and sincere interpretation, based on a perfectly balanced conception of freshness and softness. It is dedicated to the "paths among the vineyards of Monleale", the epicentre of the Tortona wine hills, terroir of great mineral vocation located between Piedmont and Lombardy, to be precise, in an agricultural area traditionally linked to Milan.

The calcareous soils are the ideal scenario for those fifty-year-old vineyards from which Sentieri is admirably drawn out by Walter Massa. This Barbera is clean and without excess, without too many compromises with fatness and structure, which ferments spontaneously and rests only in steel. Naturally, it is bottled with very little sulphur, thus confirming the fact that territoriality does not clash with genuineness.

Immediately pleasant to the palate, Sentieri is a splendid intense ruby red colour, with violet innervations typical of the vine. On the nose there are scents of fruity notes of cherry and delicate floral hints, albeit counteracted by spicy echoes, which is a sign of a progression in time that potentially can be discovered. On the palate, it is at once juicy, full, gentle, but also dynamic, snappy and refreshing, with a sapidity that further harmonises this complex gustatory apparatus.

Persistent and tasty, Sentieri is a Barbera for the whole meal, ideal with even slightly well-seasoned spicy cheeses, with full starters, up to simple meat seconds.

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Vigneti Massa Sentieri 2016
Front and back

Casa d'Ambra Ischia Biancolella Frassitelli 2017 (2 bottles)

White. Casa d'Ambra Ischia, Italy Biancolella

Bottle: £12.52 club members / £15.57 non-members


In Ischia, and not only in the western part of the island where it abounds, Frassitelli is not just a vineyard: it is a legend, an institution of great Italian wine. The first white from Campania to obtain the Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso, managing to amaze from vintage to vintage, Frassitelli takes its name from the best cru of Ischia, an incredible small amphitheatre perched just below Pietra Martone, on the slopes of Mount Epomeo, from which one enjoys a spectacular panorama of the Ischian coast.

Andrea D'Ambra, visionary oenologist inspired by Luigi Veronelli, created here the temple of Biancolella, a native vine that owes to this company an actual codification of the rank of great grapes. The four hectares of Frassitelli are located overhanging the sea at an altitude of about 600-700 metres: these characteristics undoubtedly qualify the viticulture of Casa d'Ambra as heroic. Here too, as in the Cinque Terre, a wire carriage is a fundamental ally of the grape harvest, and here too, the apparently Mediterranean viticulture is incredibly mountainous. The soils, which cannot fail to be noticed among the rocky outcrops that rise from the steep terraces, are of a green tuff typical of this area of the island. A very draining tufa that slowly returns the collected water and that once upon a time was dug by the farmers to obtain tanks and small houses, today gives the wines a sensational minerality and guaranteed longevity.

Ischia is, of course, one of the thousand volcanic areas of Italian wine, in direct continuity with the wonderful skyline of the Campi Flegrei. Here, however, it is Biancolella who is the master, and to produce, with Frassitelli, a wine of sensational complexity. Vinified since 1985, Frassitelli has a straw-yellow colour with golden reflections. On the nose it opens with a complex bouquet of aromatic herbs, rosemary, thyme, loquat, white currant and broom, followed by saline and iodine notes. On the palate it is greedily flavourful, with a round but slender body and a long honey finish. Excellent served with appetizers and first fish courses, such as linguini with scampi.

  • Alcohol content: 12,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 6ºC and 8ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2023.

Casa d'Ambra Ischia Biancolella Frassitelli 2017
Front and back

Calabretta Nerello Mascalese Vecchie Vigne 2007 (2 bottles)

Red. Calabretta Sicilia, Italy Nerello Mascalese

Bottle: £18.12 club members / £20.59 non-members


With the fourth generation of winemakers, the Calabretta winery is today led by Massimiliano. The wines come from certified organic vineyards located along the north side of Mount Etna, at about 700 metres above sea level, in the heart of the most significant and renowned crus of Solicchiata and Passopisciaro. The vineyards of the Calabretta maison are a veritable treasure trove of the Etna vine heritage: it comes, in fact, from ungrafted vines of 80-100 years of age, if not older, that make up many of the bottles of this historic winery.

Vecchie Vigne is a Nerello Mascales, the child, in fact, of these plants, that are so used to the harsh conditions of the volcano that they represent, almost in magical symbiosis, the most direct and sincere quintessence. Production, which is artisanal and very limited yields, meets the criteria of minimum intervention in the cellar too, where, after spontaneous fermentation and very useful malolactic, this wine of great verticality and hardness becomes extraordinarily elegant.

Usually put on the market almost ten years after the harvest, the colour is a delicate ruby red which seduces the nose with ethereal hints of graphite and peat, blueberry, undergrowth and red spices, with inevitable touches of sulphur and flint, to then bloom into a palate of rare and austere elegance and very deep minerality. It’s powerful but not overflowing on the palate, decisive but very fine, straightforward in its salinity, allusive and cordial in its gentle tannin. Persistent like few others and long-lived like the greatest reds, it is sublime paired with spicy grilled meats, braised vegetables and seasoned and blue cheeses.

Cheeses with herbs

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Calabretta Nerello Mascalese Vecchie Vigne 2007
Front and back

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