The first wine of the night is from a small but very highly rated Campanian maker ‘Nativ’. Now here’s a story: In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the European wine crops were decimated by a parasite called Grape Phylloxera. This route sucking little **** killed off 90% of the wine crops of Europe. To stop a repeat of this, almost all wine producers in Europe now use a process called ‘hybridization’ where European vines are grafted onto the Phylloxera resistant American routes. This is still true of the vast majority of European wines to this day.
However, while the parasite loved vines, it hated volcanic soil. So –fortunately- some vineyards were preserved around the slopes of Vesuvius and Etna and continue to produce wines from the original European vines to this day.
This wine is a rare and excellent example of a ‘Pre-phlloxera wine from the bay of Naples. So you can thank Vesuvius for this, when it erupted killing thousands of people in Pompeii and Herculaneum, it also saturated the surrounding soil with volcanic ash which made it hostile to the Phylloxera parasite, preserving some great original European wine yielding wines, so ‘every cloud’ as they say.
Nativ’s ‘Emero San Quirico Taurasini’ is made from Aglianico Grape. Aglianico is the worlds oldest cultivated grape variety, known as one of the three noble grapes of Italy otherwise called the ‘three kings’ and this example is from old vines…and when we say ‘old’ we mean positively ancient, as in; two hundred years old.
This is one of the very finest examples of pre-phyloxera Aglianico around and will be the closest thing you’ll get to the wines you see depicted on wall art from Roman times.
It’s a very dark coloured, heavy, brute of a wine which we find is much better when it hasn’t had time to breath. It delivers a big leather, tobacco and liquorice flavour straight from the bottle which then (unusually for a big flavoured, full bodied, highly alcoholic red) has a quick finish….leaving you thinking ‘what’s just happened?’ and going straight back in for more.
Cantine San Marzano
Next up, Puglias ‘Canitne San Marzano’ with their signature multi Award winning ‘Old Vines Primitivo di Manduria ‘Sessantani’. This wine has humorously been described as ‘God in a bottle’ by one wine reviewer. One vintage of this wine even won ‘best red wine of Italy’!! That year. It has even been claimed by some that this wine is possibly the best example of Primitivo ever produced.
This wine is super silky, BIG fruit with a finish so long, your unborn grandkids will be able to taste it until they’re ten.
The third wine is the same makers ‘Anniversario 62‘. This wine is basically the riserva version of the above. The ‘Sessantani’ Primitivo was such a highly rated wine that Cantine San Marzano decided to commemorate the co-operatives sixty second anniversary of producing wine by (somewhat controversially) sticking it in a barrel for 2 years. Apparently, half the population of Italy were ready to chin them over this, but when it came out of the barrel everyone let them off (‘cos its also great).
It’s less of a fruit bomb but has a sharper more cutting edge to it, with a sublime cherry like sweetness as you breathe out. It tastes very different but is certainly not interrupted by the flavour of the barrel as many had feared it has matured in. We can’t pick a favourite between this and the ‘Sessantani’ but we’re glad the 62 exists. Tell us your preference out of curiosity.