Dylan here! This week we have the new vintage of two wines we absolutely love. Just about a day's train ride apart from each other, they are in one of the most beautiful areas of the world -- along the Mediterranean in Italy and France, where the warm sun and complex soils full of slate, iron, quartz, and limestone, create wines of wonderful ripeness balanced with mouthwatering minerality.
This week's wines are from Liguria, Italy, and Courthezon, in Southeastern France
Our first stop is in Liguria, Italy, part of the Italian Riviera, tucked between the border of France and magical Tuscany. This is a picturesque area of quaint, pastel villages dotted along the seaside, including the medieval towns of Apricale and Camogli, and the famously charming Portofino. It is also a hidden gem for wines, of which there are only small amounts produced. This is because the steep slopes and challenging terrain make the area hard to farm.
We love this Vermentino produced by Giobatta Vio and his two daughters who lean on generations of experience growing grapes on their steeply terraced vineyards above the Mediterranean. With a deep care for nature, they have been at the forefront of the organic movement in this area and do everything by hand, from harvest to winemaking. The 2021 vintage is full of coastal gentian flowers, kiwi, and wild aromatic herbs -- something the wines in this region are famous for. It strikes a perfect balance between fresh acidity and concentrated fruit, and it's deep, saline quality, reminiscent of the coastal air it grows in, lends itself to sipping with seafood. Try it with spaghetti alle vongole for a real treat.
From the Italian Riviera we travel west along the Mediterranean coast into France. Turning north from Marseille and a bit inland to the Rhone Valley, where we find our red this week -- a wonderful new vintage from an exceptional vineyard. It started in 1955 with a rebel winemaker who took a stand against convention and began making wines on this plot of land that he deemed exceptional for growing vines. The area had previously been used as a hunting reserve, and as it was mostly made up of forests and reservoirs, it was excluded from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine appellation upon its creation in the 1930s. The decision to deforest and plant vines here was heavily criticized by locals, but he persevered and created the renowned winemaking estate it is today.
The soils in these vineyards feature large quartz river stones from dried out riverbeds, which help mitigate temperatures. The stones absorb heat during the day, and then release it slowly at night leading to a very smooth ripening process. The 2020 vintage is an incredibly complex and silky wine with the signature perfumed ‘garrigue’ notes of lavender, thyme and rosemary, all of which grow naturally in-between the vines. Made up of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre, this wine offers bright notes of ripe raspberries, licorice, black pepper, black olives, mushrooms and those local herbs. This would go great with pork sausages or a classic cassoulet.