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January 2019

Calcarius Biancopuglia


Calcarius Biancopuglia; hmmm, what do I know about this wine?  It's made by Valentina Passalaqua and Danilo Marcucci down in Puglia, but at the northern edge of the region.  This is from land on Valentina's family estate that has an extremely high proportion of Calcerous rock in the soil.  Valentina makes natural wine and got to know Danilo (of Umbria) through crossing paths in the wine world.  At some point Danilo visited her winery and was intrigued by this piece of land.  They started talking, bouncing ideas around....and now they make wine together.  

The grape is Bombino Bianco, which I'm told is a version of Trebbiano.  But there are many versions of Trebbiano which all have various qualities (Trebbiano Giallo, Trebbiano Verde, and Trebbiano Spoletino being three others).  Bombino is reputed to have larger berries and larger looser clusters than other versions of Trebbiano, so I think it's fair to call it by this different name.  I haven't had too many straight Bombinos but this bottling at least certainly does not have the qualities I usually associate with Trebbiano.

Aroma: Well, there's a fresh lemon/lemon zest/lemon grass kind of smell.  Maybe also a tiny bit of aromatic leafy herbal something....not mint although that would be convenient since this pretty much smells like dry made from scratch lemonade.  Confession: I'm drinking this from a rocks glass so it's not the ideal kind of vessel to detect nuance....


Taste: Crisp and vivacious, lots of lemon and lemon zest, also sort of a tart, almost but not quite ripe, apricot: there's bitterness of the apricot skin and lushness of the flesh.  It's got a zippy little prickle that kicks in on the mid palate alongside a bit of stony minerality, but then a bit of the body I sort of associate with Trebbiano comes in and makes the wine a touch rounder and more friendly.  The Calcarius Bianco is super thirst quenching and fun, but at the same time it does have some interestingly complex flavors all working together.  This Bombino is energetic and fun and up on the balls of it's feet.  To give it personality it tastes like just nothing get's it down; it's unflappable and just dances through life soaking it all in and enjoying it on it's own terms.  Hell yeah, I appreciate that kind of spirit.

Turns out we've mostly sold the Calcarius Bianco to restaurants!  The only places to get it retail at the moment are Maine and Loire and Eat More Cheese in Belfast.



Cantina Marilina Sikele Bianco Grecanico


Cantina Marilina Sikele Bianco Grecanico: I've been trying to get this wine for at least half a year but none was available.  Finally!  So anyway this is an approximately 150 acre estate in south east Sicily, sort of inland from Siracuse.  It was bought by Angelo Paterno, a professional wine maker who decided to settle down with his own estate.  He has since handed off to his daughters: Marilina and Fedelie.

The soil is dry and limestone rich.  The family farms organically and ferments with natural yeast.  No fining or filtration happens here.  Yes, this is a "natural" wine.  This Grecanico spends 13 hours on the skins and then 6 months in cement tanks before bottling.  


Aroma:  At the same time the Sikele smells like fresh orange and peach juice but also the spicy aroma of umbrella pines baking in the Mediterranean sun.  If you've never smelled umbrella pines baking in the Mediterranean sun....I'm sorry.  There's an briney aroma of salt and a hint of almonds as well.  So basically this skin contact Grecanico smells like the coast of Sicily in the summer.  It's glorious!

Taste:  The Sikele is juicy, rich and sunny tasting.  It's rich and salty and on the fuller side of medium bodied but still a taught dynamic tasting wine.  The aroma is fruity but also equally briney and spicy.  It's an interesting spicy taste; kind of a dry ginger kind of thing.  This isn't a classic kind of profile like white burgundy, but it's a classic wine profile in that this is probably like what a lot of white wines made on the coast of Sicily and in the Peloponnese.  This has got such a wonderful honest sense of place!  And it tastes great too!