2019 Castello di Stefanago 'Talpaca'
Region: Oltrepò Pavese > Lombardia > Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming, clay/limestone soils; 6 hours skin maceration with the skins then fermented in stainless steel and rests for one year on the lees; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 12% ABV
Winemakers: Antonio and Giacomo Baruffaldi
A baby orange wine for the skin-contact curious, from our favorite natty producer in Lombardia, Castello di Stefanago! This idyllic estate 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 these guys after literally stumbling onto their property in the Oltrepo Pavese countryside two summers ago, so were very excited to find that one of our favorite importers started bringing in their lineup of unique and fiercely authentic wines.
Talpaca is a super cool wine made from the Bronner grape, a variety that is a crossing of a white we've never heard of (Merzling) bred with another random cross (reds Zarya Severa x Sankt Laurent) in the former Czechoslovakia in the 70's to be completely mildew and rot resistant. Meaning it is ideal for organic farming, no need to even think about spraying. This guy gets just a kiss (6 hours) of skin contact, giving it a the palest orange hue and a fleshy texture. It also accentuates the stone fruit, tangerine notes in the wine, making this a perfect beginner orange, sans tannins and the mouth puckering dryness that longer skin maceration will often impart. Try it icy cold for apertivo, with cheese and salty snacks.