Wine from the cellar of Luigi Veronelli : Vernaccia di Oristano and Marsala

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Two marvelous fortified wines, both obscure - or at least ignored. Here we are in Sherry and Madeira territory - wines that last forever, wines that improve with age.

 

 

Ian d'Agata* writes: "A good Vernaccia di Oristano can be a thing of beauty, exuding aromas and flavors of dried apricots, hazelnut, almond paste, orange rind, fresh aromatic herbs, white chocolate, and faded flowers." Vernaccia di Orestano is a Sardinian wine that in the past was frequently vinified in the same manner and style as Fino and Amontillado Sherry; I assume that the following selection, with 15.5o alcohol, fits that description.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marsala - the wine named after the Sicilian town -  will also remind you of good Sherry - nutty and savory; these have great balancing acidity that keeps them fresh. They weigh in at 15-16o alcohol and are dry with the exception of the wines labeled 'Dolce'. Most Marsala is aged in solera - that is, a blend of many vintages; the Florio shown here with the date 1840 might be a vintage wine - actually from 1840 - but I am guessing that it indicates wine from a solera founded in that year. Marsala's reputation has been almost destroyed by industrial production of cooking wine, but it was once an equal of Madeira at the top of the international market. At the same time they were making cooking wines, the big Marsala producers like Florio had stocks of their best wines on hand - magical stuff - and would periodically release them. But the real savior of Marsala was Marco de Bartoli, who more or less single handedly maintained the best parts of tradition, and who made brilliant wine. Fortunately for us, his children are carrying on, so the true art of great Marsala is not lost. Two of their Marsalas (from De Bartoli, not from the Veronelli cellar) are offered today.

 

 

A Marsala labeled Superiore must be made from wine that's aged for at least 2 years;

A Marsala labeled Superiore Riserva must be made from wine that's aged for at least 4 years;

A Marsala labeled Solera must be made from wine that's aged for at least 5 years;

A Marsala labeled Vergine must be made from wine that's aged for at least 5 years;

A Marsala labeled Stravecchio must be made from wine that's aged for at least 10 years.

These terms can be used alone or in combination, as per the De Vita label shown here - I suppose whiy not cover as many bases as possible? Jamie Wolff

 

 

 

*If you only have room for two books about Italian wine, one should definitely be Ian d'Agata's "Native Wine Grapes of Italy"

 

Luigi Veronelli in his cellar                                     

 

The Veronelli cellar was very hard on labels – too humid for paper (fine for corks). We sometimes clean old bottles to remove years of dust and dirt so that they are more conventional in appearance, but this time we’ve decided that you would enjoy sharing the kick we get out of having the wines as-is, direct from the cellar; it’s part of the pleasure of the history of these bottles. Jamie Wolff

Read more about Luigi Veronelli and his fantastic cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

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