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The Sommelier's Box

Colle di Catone ‘Gaio’ 2014

Regular price
$50.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$50.00 USD

Region: Lazio, Italy

Varietal: Malvasia and Grechetto

Tasting notes: Beautiful Jasmine tea and kumquat notes on the nose. The palate turns nutty and savory. Fabulous minerality and an acid profile that is present without being heavy handed. An alluring and intriguing wine that demonstrates with remarkable clarity how profoundly white wine can develop with time in bottle.

Producer: Italy’s list of transcendent white wines is short, compelling and idiosyncratic. It begins with three growers famed for their obsessive commitment to the indigenous grapes of their region, as well as to their individuality in expressing them. These men are Valentini, Gravner, and Miani. But over the past 30 years, a fourth, far more obscure producer, Antonio Pulcini, has quietly been turning out white wines of similarly mind-bending complexity. The obscurity of Pulcini’s wines is in part due to his reclusiveness and how he chooses to sell his wines, exclusively from the cellar door of his estate, Colli di Catone. (He has long eschewed importers and critics.). Pulcini works in an ancient villa overlooking Rome, whose 2000-year-old, catacomb-like cellar features a 300 A.D. Christian altar. The villa itself once belonged to the sister of Trajan—the Roman Emperor in the century after Christ’s death. And in the 1940s it housed Orson Welles and Tyrone Power, when they were filming on location in Rome. More relevantly, the villa is surrounded by vineyards planted on southwest-facing slopes of volcanic tufa soils; sites rich in minerals and prized by the ancient Romans. Unlike Fiorano, where non-native varieties were introduced, Pulcini chose to focus on indigenous white varieties that once made the region famous. And so, over 30 years ago, he tore out most of his modern Trebbiano and Malvasia di Candia, and today focuses on the ancient varieties, Malvasia del Lazio (a/k/a Malvasia Puntinata) and Grechetto (a/k/a Greco Bianco). Malvasia del Lazio was long recognized as the region’s greatest historic variety; cherished for its wines’ minerality and ageability. Grechetto – unrelated to the Umbrian variety of the same name – was also prized for its minerality and lemony zing.

Vineyard and Winemaking: Pulcini’s top site is the Colle Gaio vineyard, which has long been recognized locally as the viticultural Crown Jewel of the Castelli Romani hills. Here, more than 30 years ago, he planted Malvasia del Lazio; believing that this low-yielding native variety would give him the ageworthy wines he was looking for. And, the resulting wine has become his magnum opus, “Colle Gaio 'The Old White’.” For, while the yields for all his wines are low, those of Colle Gaio average a mere 20hl/ha; achieving the concentration of grand cruWhite Burgundy. The wine spends three to four days on the skins prior to pressing and the fermentation proceeds slowly; often lasting up to four months. He then leaves the wine on its lees in stainless tanks for three, four or even more years until he feels the wine is ready to be bottled. And, the wine is then left to slumber in bottle, sometimes buried in sand, for years or decades in the estate’s labyrinthian cellars.