2018 Valentina Passalacqua Calcarius BiancoPuglia 1L
Region: Apricena < Puglia < Italy
Grapes: Bombino Bianco
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; rocky, limestone, marble soils with calcified seashells; 4-day maceration in stainless on the skins with no temperature control, and bottled unfined/unfiltered under crown cap with <30ppm added SO2; 11.5 % ABV
Winemaker: Valentina PassalacquaValentina Passalacqua is a trailblazing young natural winemaker in Puglia, a region not exactly known for biodynamic, no sulfur wines. She took over her family’s land (used only for cattle grazing since 1900), located inside Gargano National Park, to create a diverse farm that includes indigenous grape varietals. Her family considered the land too difficult, too poor, for crops, not realizing that they were actually sitting on a precious marble mine – or soil that happens to be amazing for vines. The rocky, mineral-rich soil does not retain water (also great for vines), and proximity to the sea means cooling breezes and ventilation (another plus). Valentina’s wines are pure, elegant, never soupy as you sometimes see in wines from Puglia (it’s hot there). Because, she is careful about canopy management (to ensure grapes don’t get cooked) and picks early to retain freshness and acidity.
Calcarius is her project with famed natural wine consultant Danilo Marcucci, with whom we visited last summer. He is the ultimate "wine whisperer" who works with producers all over Italy to teach them the low-intervention, no added BS ways, helping them coax the soul from their native soils and translate it in the wine. Which he has done brilliantly here with Valentina in Puglia. Like in this lovely liter of Bombino Bianco (a local Puglian grape related to Trebbiano) that smells very lemon zesty, even lemongrassy, like an herbal lemonade. It tastes a bit like tart lemonade, or maybe lemon kombucha, with a touch of barely-ripe apricot and stony minerality. While the ABV is low (11.5%), it feels nicely round and friendly in the mouth, with a tongue-tingling prickle that wakes you up and reminds you it's alive. A big jug of joy to brighten up your shelter-in-place days!