'A Vita Rosato 2019
If Champagne tastes like the stars (as so aptly put so long ago by the cheeky monk Dom Pérignon, when he first slurped the fizzy accident that has since so seduced the world) then 'A Vita Rosato tastes like sunset: pure and unadulterated. I’ve always liked that word: unadulterated. I didn’t quite know what it meant when I first started using it as a young raconteur but I liked the sound of it and knew that it was at the very least less in the sphere of the not-so-good and more in the sphere of the pretty-effing-good; to say something is pure and unadulterated is really an act of repetition as pure more or less means unadulterated and unadulterated more or less means pure and so it really would only be the most lazy of writers with all the great and good words available to us that would describe something as pure and unadulterated. Oops!
And when I say sunset I really mean the kind of sunset that stops you in your tracks—the kind of sunset that you cannot help but be transfixed by, however caught by the ripples of polluted air it might be, however made luminescent by the decay we’ve wrought in the skies—a pure sunset with pink and orange edges that shines unadulterated and has the glow about it like that of a flame in the last throes before extinction.
It’s made from a grape called Gaglioppo, (which is a fantastic word with which to practice your Italian accent, should your Italian accent need practising) though if you were to tell me it was made from watermelons I’d believe you. Just as I’d believe you if you said it were made from the dried out husks of blood oranges or if you’d found some stones in Calabria and through sheer will alone been able to actually get blood from them. I was once punched in the face. I hadn’t exactly been on my best behaviour on this particular occasion and the woman that hit me had a fetish for garish finger jewellery and so when she smacked me with her fist one her rings caught (and cut) my lip. As my blood coated my teeth and the sting of the blow hit my heart I was left with the taste of regret in my mouth. The taste of regret turned quickly to sadness and the taste of sadness turned, as it curled with the saltiness and mineral slant of blood, to the sea. And drinking the 'A Vita Rosato I’m left with an almost similar taste: of salt, of sadness, of something having been crushed, of hearts torn and fruit stripped bare. And as I sit at the table, at the notebook, I can’t help but lick my saline lips and hope for more of the sappy wonder, more of the muscular and tannic Rosato that is itself like a tender hand to a deserving face, like a tall water to a starved fool.
Gaglioppo is native to Italy and the star player in the Calabrian DOC of Cirò, in the ball of the foot of the famed boot. ‘A Vita, a husband and wife winery, also work with Magliocco, Greco Bianco & Mantonico to spin wines that truly spark of the rustic and savoury treats of old, before the sweet palettes of the Americans and the English so effected the wine world at large at the tail end of last century; a trend we can safely say we have been swinging away from since the turn of the millennium. ‘A Vita are a small wonder in a region dominated by a much bigger production house turning bland swill; a small wonder I’m happy to only whisper about for fear their wines take flight amongst the masses and slip from my grasp (and wallet). The vineyards that Francesco and Laura de Franco farm are situated between the Ionian sea and the Sila mountains and benefit from maritime proximity and diurnal swing; certified organic, think: minimal tilling, cover-cropping and a healthy diet of copper, clean air, wild herbs, insects; certified delicious, think: gravity draining, light extraction, lees ageing, hand harvest, 12 hour maceration, 8 months on lees in steel, minimal sulphur, handsome label, handsome wine, heartbreaking drinkability.
The ‘A Vita Rosato is 100% (massale selection) Gaglioppo and (like it’s kin Nerello Mascalase and Sangiovese) is generously grippy and savoury flavoured with a chorus of dried fruit and many verses of exotic spice. To eye it in the glass it’s all amber and rust. It looks more like wood-stain than wine. And had me thinking more of the sorbets and granitas of imitation trattorias than wine. The nose is very shy. And slight. And though it’s subtlety is its strength there is a dried orange and sea breeze whisper to it that, like the strange echo you can hear pressing your ear to an empty shell, beckons you to drink, beckons you to dive naked and thirsty into the clear ocean with it’s tender foam and deep mystery and swaying motion and taste of the orange hue that so lavishly, and never in the same way twice, hits the horizon.
It’s as refreshing as a Campari and soda paid for by someone else. It’s as satisfying as a cold beer after a heated argument. It’s as comforting as that first cuddle from your Nonna after a long lockdown during a pandemic. It’s all I want for Christmas. It’s all I want in a wine. A little perfume. And a lot of punch. It gives hibiscus and dried apricot and could be the washed out hair dye of a redhead trying to keep the natural glow she'd been so blessed with in her youth that now seems to be fading. It’s sappy and bone dry and carries the splash of water on rocks across the mouth. I’m sure there’s crushed ice in the bottle. And an umbrella. And a small picnic. And big beach towels. And sea salt itself. And blood. And bone. Something, like a sun that illuminates the apocalypse, whether then or now, unadulterated and pure.
tasted July 2021