2018 Stefanago Pinot Grigio Macerato
Region: Oltrepò Pavese > Lombardia > Italy
Grapes: Pinot Grigio
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming, clay soils, 29 year old vines; whole clusters spend 5 days on the skins in stainless steel tanks, followed by a 15-day fermentation, then aged 6 months on the lees with stirring every 3 days; bottled unfiltered with minimal So2; 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 fell instantly for this coppery wine that looks easy breezy like a rosé, but packs a surprising textured, tannic, savory punch. The skin contact tones down the floral and tropical fruit notes of the Pinot Grigio, bringing out the herbal, savory, saline qualities. This is not a simple porch pounder - it’s an intellectual wine, for savoring, or food wine for pairing with all sorts of plant things. Or seafood. Serve it cool, but not too cold, or you’ll bring out the tannic beast.