Guest Series Finale: A Virtual Trip Through Southern Italy

Guest Series Finale: A Virtual Trip Through Southern Italy

Written by Claire Paparazzo

We topped off the Summer Guest Series with a virtual guest experience. I introduced the group to Bruno De Conciliis and led them through the wonderful world of Southern Italy and the wines of Vigneti Tardis. I wanted this tasting to be dynamic, so I did something that I had never done before.

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I took the group on a virtual journey through the vineyards in Cilento, Italy with Google Earth, shared videos and showed photos compliments of Bruno. I was able to share all the wonderful parts from my 16 years of watching him become the master of his craft. It felt like Bruno was in the tasting with us! It was an honor to share the energy of Bruno and Jack Lewens. It truly translated to the wine.

 

 

It was 2002 when I first became familiar with Bruno’s wines. I had my first job in wine as Patrick Bickford’s assistant and he had built an exclusively Italian wine list. At the time, it seemed so foreign...Patrick would tell me stories about producers as I helped him put away cases and cases of each wine. The repetition of the labels ingrained these stories in my head. Today, each label inspires memories and stories about Bruno’s wines and his family’s winery, Viticoltori De Conciliis. I remember one in particular—the black label and red stripe of Naima 100% Aglianico from Paestum, named after the John Coltrane ballad. I tasted that wine and was forever changed. It was earthy and brooding but elegant. While at the same time it was moody and chewy. It made a statement. I felt the energy. My journey began.

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Today, each label inspires memories and stories about Bruno’s wines and his family’s winery, Viticoltori De Conciliis.

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Flash to 2005 when I took over a beloved wine program and finally had the chance to meet Bruno. It was the equivalent to meeting Serena Williams (if you are a tennis fan), or meeting Mick Jagger (if you are a Rolling Stones fan), or trying on a pair of Jimmy Choo heels (if you are me!) I remember literally leaping out of bed that morning. From then on, Bruno has been a true mentor—answering flurries of my questions with care.

 

 

Bruno has always insisted on honoring the truth of the wine. Balance in wine is reached when you listen and pay attention to the taste. I told the group, “Bruno makes wine with his hands.” There is no technology to make these wines—no computer analysis.

 

He strives for more holistic farming practices. As Bruno puts it, “Making wine is a process of understanding.” It’s very special to be connected to your art in this way.

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“Making wine is a process of understanding.” - Bruno De Conciliis

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Bruno has another project—one that is a departure from solely working at Viticoltori De Conciliis. Started with Jack Lewens, long-time friend, Sommelier, and owner of Leroy restaurant in London. It’s called Vigneti Tardis.

 

The first vintage of Vigneti Tardis was in 2017. The range of wines is named ‘La Settimana.’ Italian for “the days of the week.” The labels don illustrations of corresponding planets and gods.

 

 

The idea is to work with the local varieties: Red grapes Aglianico, Aglianicone (the forefather to Aglianico with larger berries and a thinner skin) with small amounts of Primitivo; White Grapes Fiano, Malvasia, Trebbiano & Coda di Volpe. The grapes are sourced from three different vineyard sites. According to Bruno, “In the Acciaroli vineyard, we grow the Aglianico for Martedi and Giovedi, and Primitivo for Lunedi. In the Casalvelino vineyard, we grow the Fiano for Mercoledi and Soledi, and the skins of Fiano are used for Lunedi and Venerdi. Lastly, the Prignano vineyard (a Viticoltori De Conciliis’s vineyard), where we grow the Trebbiano and Malvasia for the Venerdi wine.” The soils are diverse and include limestone, slate, sand, schist, and quartz which are unique to Cilento, Campania’s Southern Provence of Salerno. The Taurasi and Avellino areas are more inland and are famed for their volcanic soils. The diversity gives these wines their own identity—defining the region and its Mediterranean way of life.

 

These wines are for everyone, pure and elegant, clean and classy in a land where alcohol levels can get quite high. The challenge is balancing and, in my opinion, they are a huge success. These are some of the most exciting wines I have tried in years.
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Wines From Our Tasting:

Vigneti Tardis, “Mercoledi” Fiano, Paestum Bianco 2018:

Paestum is an ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea that dates back to 550 to 450 BC. It is known for its ancient Greek temples and ruins. Deemed a World Heritage site by Unesco, this land now sits forever preserved and protected from developers. These wines are made from organic grapes, with Biodynamic preparations, #500 Horn Manure made from cow manure buried inside a cow horn during the winter months. This enhances the life of the soils and the relationship between soils and plants. These sprays help bring plants the nutrients they need to be more resilient to pests, disease and extreme climate conditions.

 

This wine is named Mercoledi—Italian for Wednesday. This was the day of the week that we tasted this on. It felt like the universe aligned as the wine unfolded and changed in front of us. The color of this wine was dazzling with a yellow-gold, due to one day of maceration with the skins, with spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. This wine is unique as it is fined with bentonite (an absorbent, natural clay formed by volcanic ash which collects any particles suspended in the wine) and a little SO2 added before bottling.

 

Early in our tasting, I had everyone jot down what their first impressions were of the wine—in silence—so we all had a chance to comment at the moment. My initial notes were chalk, sedimentary rock, and bright acidity, unripe pear, and wax. That was the beginning of this story as the wine spent many nights showing me its true colors. Day 2 tasting: the aromas were more pronounced: butterscotch, honey, sandstone, bergamot, golden raisin, and nutmeg. This wine has a long finish. It is bright but completely coats your mouth. Day 3 tasting: soft peach skin, dried pineapple, and a briny finish. I was thinking of pairing this with monkfish, red mullet, chicken in a mushroom sauce, or a cheese plate. This was an inspiring bottle, to say the least.

 

 

Vigneti Tardis,“Martedi” Aglicanicone, Paestum Rosso 2018:

This wine is named Martedi—Italian for Tuesday. Named for Mars the god of war and energy. Coming from the Acciaroli vineyard harvested by hand. The wine has a five-day maceration on the skins with spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts.

 

My first time tasting Aglicanicone on its own, it got my attention immediately. My initial descriptions were bruised cherry fruit, with diverse tannin structures. The color of this wine was garnet with a slight cloudy hue. Day 2 tasting: Black cherry, Nicoise olives, sage, spice, wet leaves, and cola. I savored this wine because it just made me happy. Day 3 Tasting: sour cherry, sweet tarts, smoky baked fruit, dusty tannins, and lively on the palate. I could feel the energy, I could taste the intense sun. This wine was very giving and it was also incredibly balanced – it felt clean with a brightness of acidity. I would pair this with squab, venison, or roasted pork. I would drink this wine with just about anything and also be very happy to sip this on its own with no food in sight. These wines are full of soul. To explore wines from a region where I have family history connects the past to the present. I keep learning and evolving. I’m vulnerable and grateful that I can connect to my art in this way.

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If you would like to buy these two wines please contact Shiraz Noor at Acker Wines. LBV Social Club members get a discount through our partnership!

 

Claire Paparazzo is an LBV Social Club member who also leads some of the Club's wine tastings. This is her reflection on the tasting that took place on July 14th, 2021. Find her on Instagram at @clairepaparazzo and @wineifyouwantto.

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