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A Solitary Super-Italian

The flagship Etna red from Pietradolce
"Pietradolce boasts some of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen. I cannot exaggerate this point. The Vigna Barbagalli is located a steep 900 meters on the volcano's flank. Once you climb up there, you are treated to a panorama of ancient, knotted pre-phylloxera vines hidden in a little amphitheater of volcanic rock." Monica Larner

Pietradolce vineyard planted on lofty terraces

2015 Vigna Barbagalli, Pietradolce
£342 in bond per 6  Drink 2019-37

Vigna Barbagalli has now taken its place as one of the great new classics of Italy. Nerello Mascalese - Italy's Pinot Noir-a-like - in vineyards of bush vines planted at 900 metres on the north-facing slopes of Mount Etna produces wines of enormous class and character. And these vines are ancient: 80-100 years of age.

I tasted the 2016 vintage the other day in London and was, quite simply, astonished. Lie this in your cellar alongside your grands crus burgundies. They will make for fascinating comparison in the years to come.

"There's a firm tang of red hedgerow fruit to a nose punctuated with scents of warm earth and oranges. This is backward and intensely grippy across the tongue; a palate dense and fully determined. Length is quite simply off the charts, the fruit concentration holding within a core of granular mineral structure. A juicy wine and very age-worthy. Just fabulous." My note

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Oh, and for those yet to order one or other (or indeed both) of the white rhone wines offered in yesterday's email, I have located my video note for the Ventoux Blanc, which can be found here on YouTube.

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