March 2020 Selection

When the wine is hard... it's not hard to be happy

March 2020 Selection

Casella Friuli Colli Orientali Tazzelenghe 2015 (2 bottles)
Tenuta Bellafonte Sagrantino Collenottolo 2013 (2 bottles)
I Borboni Asprinio di Aversa Vite Maritata 2018 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: 130.91 €
Club Discount Price: 115.00 €
You save: 15.91 € (12.15%)

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About this selection...

What is the "hardness" of a wine? The expression may evoke harsh, difficult, in short, unpleasant sensations. It is not so. The hardness is, in fact, the sensory heritage of the wine. Your passport for the future. A guarantee of longevity and at the same time of drinkability. Hardness is acidity. That makes the wine refreshing, satisfying, crunchy. And which constitutes the most powerful antioxidant in wine, that is, its natural "preservative". Hardness is sapidity. So flavour, tension, territory. Sensations of minerality that begin with the bouquet ends with the taste.. And, for the reds, hardness also means tannin. That fine, elegant and dynamic astringency that makes reds, especially young ones, lively and decisive, with character. And that, over time, gradually becomes rounded in a concert of silkiness.

How important is terroir in all this? Very. Volcanic or mountain soils naturally enhance the hardness of the wine, also because of the extreme climates that buckle little under the sirens of softness. But the vine plays an even more decisive role. We can safely say that the greatest autochthonous Italian vines offer wines naturally prone to hardness. Tannic, subtle, fresh reds. Vertical whites, sharp, sometimes citrine, extremely mineral. A lot of hardness that for too long international wine-lovers have turned up their nose at it. But now, in an era that seeks sumptuous but direct and vertical wines, they receive unanimous appreciation.

This is the history of Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Garganega, Verdicchio and many other grapes that today we consider the expressive peak of Italian wine. Grapes that we Italians, more than a hundred years ago, were reluctant to vinify in single-variety because they produced wines that were too harsh for domestic consumption then prevalent and, above all, were, peasant-like. But when, thanks to the modernisation of winemaking techniques, we were able to wait for these wines and ennoble them with long ageing, pearls such as Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino were born, maximum expressions of single-variety Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.

Does the story end here? Of course not. If the Italian autochthonous grapes almost all start with that certain amount of hardness and rusticity, this cannot be just the story of Nebbiolo. And in fact the history of Nebbiolo, in Italy, repeats itself every day. The country with the highest heritage of native grapes continually discovers pearls which produce great wines. Pearls which express themselves with difficulty. Acid and tannic, sometimes almost extinct. Which, well vinified, as Cavour in Piedmont and Biondi-Santi in Montalcino foresaw in the nineteenth century, outline the future of the DNA of Italian wine excellence.

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Casella Friuli Colli Orientali Tazzelenghe 2015 (2 bottles)

Red. Casella Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy Tazzelenghe

Bottle: 15.65 € club members / 17.90 € non-members


The Casella winery was founded in 1960 in Friuli, when Francesco began to devote himself with great commitment to viticulture. His son Lino, today at the helm of the new Albana di Prepotto winery, made the leap in quality by modernising the management of the vineyard and oenological practices. Over the years Lino has dedicated himself in particular to indigenous vines, cultivating and recovering old vineyards that risked dying off after fifty years of abandonment. The enhancement of the mythical terroir of the Colli Orientali del Friuli and Collio, characterised by an alternation of marl and sandstone protected by the rigid alpine winds, has recently reached its crowning glory with the use of spontaneous fermentation for white wines.

Three and a half hectares of vines with vineyards with an average age of forty years, managed completely eco-sustainably, are the calling card of this family business. As is, also, the link with the native vines, especially red. Among these, the Tazzelenghe certainly stands out, which owes its name to a dialectal expression that means "tongue cutter".

A relative of Refosco, Tazzelenghe is in fact characterised by a particularly rough and sharp tannin, which has long discouraged its vinification with a single-variety vine. Today, after risking dying off, it is again vinified by producers, such as Casella, who are innovative but tied to traditions. It is harvested at full maturity, sometimes slightly overripe (in the third week of September, in this case), and it is aged for a long time in wood. In this way, its angularity is rounded off and its quality and depth strengthened.

Intense ruby ​​red with violet reflections, on this nose this Tazzelenghe is characterised by notes of marasca cherry and red fruits, while the secondary hints of leather and light roasting confirm the decisive and already evolved character of the wine. After two years of barrique and a year in the bottle, the palate expresses an interesting combination of tannins, fruity notes of cherry and blueberries, and freshness. The tannins are sustained and characteristic, and accompany a very long, vigorous, sylvan persistence. It is typically paired with grilled dishes and traditional second courses from Friuli such as duck fillet, brovada and musetto, as well as, of course, aged cheeses.

Stufato / filetto in crosta / anatra stufata / cured cheeses

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Rosso rubino / riflessi violacei
    • Bouquet
      Frutti rossi / marasca / rabarbaro / cuoio / tostatura
    • Palate
      Di corpo / tannino vivace / fresco / fruttato / persistente
  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Casella Friuli Colli Orientali Tazzelenghe 2015
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Tenuta Bellafonte Sagrantino Collenottolo 2013 (2 bottles)

Red. Tenuta Bellafonte Montefalco Sagrantino, Italy Sagrantino

Bottle: 30.81 € club members / 35.00 € non-members


Tenuta Bellafonte represents, without a shadow of a doubt, the new way for the Sagrantino di Montefalco. The beautiful project of Peter Heilbron, a wise, convivial and pragmatic man, has its centre in Bevagna, a municipality located in the northern part of the Umbrian denomination. Where nature offers a fresh climate, excellent exposures and a vineyard to be rediscovered compared to the historical Montefalco plots.

The principle that governs the Bellafonte project is clear: to produce a Sagrantino as subtle and elegant as possible, harmonious and complex, enhancing its longevity without giving up its distinctive features, that is, strength and tannins. In short, a Sagrantino which is modern, pop, with excellent drinkability. Judging by the results and the awards, Peter hit it out of the ballpark.

The cellar is a gem of modernity and technology. Moreover, in Bellafonte you can breathe the perfect combination of eco-sustainability, and therefore tradition, and technological innovation. In addition, the project makes use of the oenological collaboration of personalities of the calibre of Beppe Caviola and Luca Franchetti. Located, like the vineyards, at about 300 metres above sea level, the cellar, which is heated and controlled in a completely natural way, is populated by large Slavonian oak barrels where the wines rest without undergoing filtration.

The star of the Bellafonte project is the Sagrantino Collenottolo. From spontaneous fermentation, this great Umbrian red stays three years in large barrels and at least one year in the bottle before being marketed. This successful example of a Sagrantino conceived "by subtraction rather than addition", therefore oriented towards elegance rather than tannic structure, it expresses a beautiful intense and intriguing ruby ​​colour. The bouquet reveals refined aromas of iris and lavender, blueberry and raspberry jam, sweet spices and aromatic herbs. Great balance on the palate: despite the remarkable and characteristic tannic structure, the palate is satisfied with the fruit and delicate toasted notes.

Cosciotto di vitello / pasta with bolognese sauce / tacchino ripieno / manzo alle erbe

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Rosso rubino / carico
    • Bouquet
      Iris / lampone / confettura di mirtillo / spezie dolci / erbe aromatiche
    • Palate
      Tannico / fresco / fruttato / finale speziato / persistente
  • Alcohol content: 15,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Tenuta Bellafonte Sagrantino Collenottolo 2013
Front and back

I Borboni Asprinio di Aversa Vite Maritata 2018 (2 bottles)

White. I Borboni Aversa, Italy Asprinio

Bottle: 11.04 € club members / 12.55 € non-members


The history of Asprinio, an autochthonous Campania white vine from the Aversa area, is incredible. Almost extinct, it is due to the Numeroso family, at the helm of the I Borboni winery, not only its recovery, but also the rise to a consensus so wide as to deserve prestigious awards such as the Quattro Viti of the Italian Sommelier Association. An authentic biodiversity heritage, Asprinio is still bred with masts, that is, as in antiquity, with vines clinging to trees. Centenary, pre-phylloxeric vines that strenuously resist in a context where it is not yet easy to do business and produce quality.

The cellar, in the historic center of Lusciano, respects all the canons of the local tradition. Starting with winemaking in grottes, another typical feature of Asprinio. Asprinio means "sour". And in fact this grape has a natural acidity which makes it exceptional not only in the long term, in aging, but also as a spumante base. But the hardness of Asprinio is not only due to the grape variety. It also has to do with the terroir. Which is sandy and almost entirely volcanic. And, moreover, growing has something to do with it, because the distance between the root and the bunch found in the vines clinging to the trees forces the grapes to mature, so to speak, which is always partial, green, vegetable. And therefore tense, vertical, sharp wines. Of extraordinary territorial drinking.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the harvest of the Vine Maritata, the entry level Asprinio of Casa Numeroso, usually takes place in late September or early October, therefore late. The result is a wine with a beautiful straw yellow colour but with a splendid greenish reflection that anticipates its perky and cheeky character. The bouquet opens up, thin and sharp, with a delicate aroma of citrus fruits, flowers, gooseberries, Mediterranean scrub and orange peel. Aged for about six months in steel on its lees, it represents the quintessence of this grape. On the palate, in fact, it is medium-bodied, brackish, fresh and balanced. It’s excellent paired with buffalo mozzarella.

Mozzarella di Bufala / antipasti / crudo di gamberi rossi

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Giallo paglierino / riflessi verdolini
    • Bouquet
      Agrumi / scorza d' arancia / macchia mediterranea / fiori bianchi / uva spina
    • Palate
      Agile / fresco / agrumato / sapido / teso
  • Alcohol content: 12,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 6ºC and 8ºC

I Borboni Asprinio di Aversa Vite Maritata 2018
Front and back

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