2016 Cirelli Trebbiano Anfora
Region: Abruzzo < Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; fermented with skins for 20 days then aged 18 months in anfora; bottled unfined/unfiltered with <20ppm SO2; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Francesco Cirelli
Francesco would stand out as rising star in any of Italy’s big famous regions, but in the decidedly non-shiny region of Abruzzo, better known for recent geological disasters (earthquakes, avalanche) than wine, his aura is almost blinding. Here is a farmer and winemaker who worked high-profile jobs in several of France and Italy’s famous cellars and could’ve rooted his own project anywhere, but chose to return to Abruzzo, his homeland, in 2003, buying a small estate just 8 km from the sea. And he’s been challenging conventions and pushing the boundaries since he landed. His organically-farmed estate includes not only vineyards but olive trees, garlic, spelt, wheat, barley, figs and geese – a complete ecosystem. In the cellar, he’s experimenting with amphora (of his own design, with special stainless steel seals on the top of them that assist in preventing oxidation), adds nothing but tiny SO2 at bottling and basically lets his wines evolve as they wish. He trying to make authentic wine, not important wine – wine that is “a magic potion for joy and communion”, in his words. And this anfora-aged Trebbiano is a shining example of his potential. It rivals some of the best natural wines in Italy – comparable to Emidio Pepe’s Trebbiano, at a fraction of the price. Textural and unctuous, with ripe pear, bright herbs, and fresh acidity, the wine is interesting and intellectual, but not weird in any way – you could serve this to your mama who likes Chardonnay and even she would be happy.