2018 Vini Conestabile Case Sparse Umbria Rosso
Region: Umbria < Italy
Grapes: Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: zero-input, organic farming; 3 days skin contact then aged in stainless steel until bottling in the Spring, with zero sulfur additions and no filtering or fining; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Danilo Marcucci
WHY IS THIS A UNICORN? A light, bouncy red potion from Umbria that mesmerizes, leaving you starry-eyed and thirsting for more.
WINEMAKER RECAP: Danilo Marcucci travels the length of Italy working as a consultant to several wineries, but instead of trying to leave his own stamp on each project he collaborates with the owners to maximize the expression of their own fruit and terroir (try to explain this one to the French!) Each wine has its own personality but uniquely represents its place and the people behind it. Luckily, he married into a family, the Conestabile della Staffas, who happened to own a bit of land. This is a minor understatement as this noble Umbrian family formerly oversaw hundreds of acres of agriculture in the 1700s, producing over 10,000 hectoliters of wine. Production gradually declined and the two World Wars effectively ended it altogether with the last wine produced in 1956. The property and vines were left untended, but no chemicals were ever used. Enter Danilo. Years after marrying heiress Alessandra, he finally focused his efforts on the family property, rehabilitating the vineyards and making wine with the indigenous varieties that had been growing there.
We drank a bottle of this wine with Danilo himself this summer in Umbria, while listening to him talk about how he tries to coax the minerals out of the soil to marry with the yeasts on the grape skins to create a sort of alchemy that not only presents as “terroir” but also helps stabilize and preserve the wine without additives. It was transformative, like going to church (or wine) and seeing the light. This rosso from his new project, Casa Sparse, was also mind-blowing in its purity and simplicity -- especially after days of drinking big Umbrian reds in 100+ heat. It tastes like cinnamon Red Hots-infused cherry juice sprinkled with forest floor dust, and the texture is so silky and sexy that you literally purr with delight. Somehow, Danilo has managed to capture the earth, fruit and soul of Umbria without the weight that often comes with. SERVE CHILLED.