2018 Castello di Stefanago Aró Bianco
Region: Oltrepò Pavese > Lombardia > Italy
Grapes: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Müller-Thurgau
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming, clay/limestone soils, made in the ancestral method with refermentation in bottle; bottled under crown cap, unfined, unfiltered and undisgorged with no added So2; zero-zero; 12% ABV; 380 cases
Winemakers: Antonio and Giacomo Baruffaldi
Castello di Stefanago is located in the hills of Oltrepò Pavese, about 45 minutes from Milan’s airport, where Antonio and Giacomo Baruffaldi have always farmed organically – certified even, for over 20 years. The Castello has been continuously occupied since it was built in the 11th century and sits on 135 hectares of land, but only the best 20 are planted to vines, and done so in tiny plots scattered around the property. They also make craft beer and operate a hipster brewpub across the street from the Castello. For the wine, everything starts with the land. Each plot is studied and analyzed throughout the growing season so that precisely the right caretaking regimen is applied. Pruning, sowing, copper + sulfur use (if any) and biodynamic treatments are all carefully planned to produce the most healthy grapes possible for that vintage and build their internal defense mechanisms for future vintages. When grapes are this pampered, it follows that cellar work needs no fancy tricks, so they lean heavily on ancient, hands-off methods of winemaking.
We first discovered this wine at last year's RAW WINE fair, and were instantly smitten with the soft bubbles and sprightly aromatic fizz. Called 'Amico Frizz', this is friend's frizz, an easy-drinking, playful beverage meant for sharing with, well, friends. The grapes are aromatic, but the wine isn't perfumed - the aromatics play out on the stone fruit side, rather than honey and flowers. It's bone-dry, crisp, zesty and alive, a fantastic Pet'Nat value in these times of rising bubbly prices.