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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

La Stoppa Ageno

Italy (Emilia-Romagna)

malvasia di candia aromatica (60%), ortrugo & trebbiano (40%)

www.lastoppa.it

No doubt about it, it’s an orange wine. Not to everyone’s liking for sure, but I find something exhilarating about it, something that redefines the notion of wine, so far from the mass-produced, over-refined wine that stock the shelves of most wine shops as to get the wine senses pumping.

La Stoppa Ageno 2007

An orange and cloudy brew, yeasty apple, non-sulphured apricot. Nothing tame in these aromas. Medium-body, with the fullness of a red, but openly atypical of anything normally encountered in a wine glass. Strong acidity, with tannic weight. Juicy, honeyed, floral bitters. Textured. Will leave no drinker without a strong opinion!  $$

It’s orange in colour because maceration on the white wine skins has gone on for 30 days, unlike white wines which would stop the exposure to the skins early to enhance the fruitiness of the wine (and in the process retain its mild colour). At La Stoppa this is done in large temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, where fermentation takes place (using only indigenous yeasts and without the addition of sulphur dioxide). Aging also begins here, then continues in used French oak barriques, followed by two years in the bottle. No filtration. Total production: 13,000 bottles, and so not many make it across the ocean.

La Stoppa, an ancient estate located along the slopes of the Val Trebbiola, near the River Trebbia in north-central Italy, is the terroir of Elena Pantaleoni, whose family purchased it in 1973. The previous owner (Ageno, after whom this wine is named) had planted mainly French red varietals. The Pantaleoni family invested heavily in the property, renovating the cellar and restructuring the vineyards, with an additional focus on indigenous grapes. Today the majority of wines are still red, but wines with that amber glow have taken their place at centre stage.

Daughter Elena assumed control in 1997 and since that time has run the 58-hectare estate, with Giulio Armani as winemaker for most of those years. Both are strongly committed to organic production. Thirty of the hectares are under vine, and it is to the vines that the owner has directed much of her energy. “Wine is born in the vineyard,” she says. Her wish for the wine drinker: to “recognize and feel my passions and my land.”

At La Stoppa all vineyard work is done by hand, leading to a careful harvest of only the best fruit, for the production of young wines as well as those with more aging potential. La Stoppa produces ten different bottlings, both red and clearly brilliant orange.

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