Archive for the ‘Ezio Voyat’ Category

How sweet it is…

October 10, 2008

Presenting four passito dessert wines

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Originating with the Greek passum, a wine made from partially dried grapes as early as 800BCE, comes one of the world’s finest wine traditions. The drying of grapes after harvest results in added aromatic complexity and naturally concentrated sugars that produce sweetness in the wines. In Italy, this style is most commonly referred to as passito, but can be found under a number of names more specific to the traditions of a particular region.

Vin Santo Chianti Rufina 1999 Travignoli
Although it is perhaps Italy’s most famous passito, there is some debate as to the origin of the name Vin Santo, or “Holy Wine”: some say that a 16th-century Greek humanist compared it to the wines of Xantos when he tasted it on a visit to Florence; others believe the name derives from the wine’s “miraculous” second fermentation in the spring, just coinciding just the resurrection of Christ. One thing is certain: Vin Santo represents an entirely distinct tradition of winemaking unique to Tuscany.

Picolit 2005 Ronco dei Tassi
Picolit is one of Italy’s rarest and most coveted dessert wines. Unfortunately, the wine due to the difficulty of cultivating the Picolit grape variety, and many producers have abandoned it in favor of more profitable international varieties. Ever true to tradition and great believers in their Friulan terroir, Enrico Coser and his father Fabio continue to produce this excellent, sweet wine.

Sulé Caluso Passito 2001 Orsolani
Often compared to the Greco variety of Central and Southern Italy, Erbaluce is a white grape grown exclusively in the Canavese district of Northern Piemonte. For his flagship wine, of which he is the fourth-generation winemaker, Gian Luigi Orsolani uses late harvest grapes, some affected by botrytis, dried on mats through winter. Slow fermentation in oak casks lasts up to a few months, followed by three years in casks.

Ambrato Le Muraglie 2000 Ezio Voyat
The name of late winemaker Ezio Voyat‘s Ambrato Le Muraglie refers both to the wine’s rich “amber” color, and to the ancient cloister walls (“le mura“, in contemporary Italian). Partly due to technique and partly a result of this narrow valley’s extreme conditions, the wine has a unique flavor and aromatic character. Ezio’s daughter, Marilena, tells us that she recently enjoyed bottles of the Ambrato from the 1950s: this dessert wine is ready to drink but also offers remarkable aging potential.