NYTimes: Asimov on KevinHarvey's Aeris Italian Varietals...

Very nicely done article in today’s NYTimes by Eric:
NYTimes:AerisWines

on KevinHarvey’s effort at CentennialVnyd up in SonomaCnty with Italian varieties for his Aeris label.
It’s interesting that he is planting Nebbiolo in the same vnyd as a warm-climate Carricante. Kevin asserts that it’s a low diurnal cycle at his site that makes this possible to succeed.
As usual, Kevin is very thorough in doing his homework.

I have, of course, followed his Aeris project from the very start. I like the wines quite a lot, though it’s clearly a work in progress.
I wish he would get interested in Aglianico/LaCrima/Timorasso/Schioppettino.
Eric sorta implies that Kevin is the only one doing anything w/ Italian varieties. One should not overlook the original groundwork done
by SamBilbro at Idlewild. Another pioneer in Italian varieties. Nor the work of Bryan Harrington.
Tom

Eric does not imply that Kevin is the only one. He states that Italian varieties are “unusual enough” which is true. The plantings of Nerello and Carricante no doubt make the vineyard unique as Eric states.

If you are going to stir the pot, you might as well be intellectually honest about it.

2 Likes

Eric Asimov is a great writer, and I enjoyed the piece. Looking forwad to giving these a try, but I’ve been repeatedly underwhelmed by the Rhys wines and find them personally overrated. Will be interesting to see how these are. Thanks for posting the link. Somehow I missed this one.

Look no further than Italian-heavy, BD participant, Prima Materia:

  • Nebbiolo
  • Dolcetto
  • Barbera
  • Vermentino
  • Sangiovese
  • Sagrantino
  • Refosco
  • Negroamaro
  • Primitivo
  • Aglianico
    FireShot Capture 029 - PM_Vineyards_C.jpg (600×776) - static.wixstatic.com.png

Yeah, but compared to how many Pinot producers or Cab producers only underlies the point that Italian varieties are still not exactly mainstream. Massican has been doing white wines using Italian grapes, but not Carricante, so the unique aspect of that grape still holds true.

There’s just nothing wrong or controversial about what Asimov said, unless one is trying to [stirthepothal.gif] . Of course that’s Tom’s favorite sport after fencing!

1 Like

At NEB, we had some excellent Nebs grown in sites with high diurnal swings. I wish he’d have come. We learned how growers address the challenges of Neb in general, and specific cool sites. It’s an unusual grape that likes to go long on vegetative growth and grows large double clusters. Kevin ripped out his early SCM planting, as did the nearby Ascona, because they only ripened about one out of three years. Fogarty’s Gist Vineyard is right in that neighborhood and does great with Neb. Also, in attendance at that great Domenico session were the owners of Lago Lomita and their vineyard manager Prudy Foxx. Their Neb is now producing. Soquel Vineyard just released their version, which K&L has for $50. (They’re a long-time quality Italian variety producer, very under-the-radar. Us Harrington folks visited forever ago and tried an impressive Luna Matta Neb, among other things.)

Sam Bilbro is one of the winemakers planting newly released varieties Bryan Harrington brought in. I’d say part of what makes him a pioneer is his ability to get the best out of the various grape varieties he works with and highlight what’s unique and distinctive about them. That’s why Bryan likes him and what he’s expecting from the others he’s working with.

Another top-quality producer of Italian-variety wines in California not yet mentioned here is Giornata. Brian & Stephy Terrizzi’s label has been producing some of California’s best Italian-variety wines for 15 years.

3 Likes

For those who have not tried the '16 Æris Enta Rosso, please give it a try. Quite possibly one of the most exceptional Etna Rossi I’ve tried in a while.
Have another of the '14 Etna Bianco left which was the only only vintage I tried of this wine. Carricante is probably not my cup of tea, just too much variation for bottle to bottle, not just with Æris.
The '18 Bricco Rosso is a significant step up from the '17. For those who have the '17, my last taste revealed a wine in serious shut down mode, unyielding on days one and two.
'18 Barbera is a great drink. All in all I’m looking forward to seeing what is in the works.

Not just quantity/variety, but also really high quality. We finally visited Pietro at his Oakland tasting room a couple weeks ago, and it’s hard to decide what to take home.

1 Like

I had the good fortune to taste a number of the Aeris wines at Rhys a month ago with Jeff Brinkman, the winemaker. Wes Barton was there, too. They were very impressive.

2018 Aeris Carricante (Centennial Mtn @ 2,000’)(whole cluster, cask fermented. Jeff said this is a low sugar grape; hence 12/5%.)
This showed very well, with an intriguing bit of astringency, due to the high phenolics of the grape, according to Jeff. (They had to dump the first vintage because it was too astringent, Jeff said. Then they learned from their Sicilian partner Foti that you need to stir the lees to neutralize some of those.) Very distinct, with real character. Very promising wine here. It will be interesting to follow future vintages.

2018 Aeris Nerello Mascalese (with 5% nerello cappucio and carignane)
Very nice, but utterly different from Etna wines – chewy, fruity and herbaceous. Nothing austere about this.

2018 Aeris Bricco Rosso (50% nebbiolo, 20% nerello mascalese, plus primitivo and barbera)
Classic brickish nebbiolo/nerello mascalese color. Really nice – tart, good tannin and acid. ($59 – the only one currently available on the Aeris website.)

2018 Aeris Nebbiolo (cold soak; aged in 2,500 liter casks)
Jeff gave me the leftovers (50+% of the bottle) and they drank very well the following evening and at lunch the day after that (refrigerated). This is archetypical nebbiolo, very close to that from the Langhe. At this stage, with young vines, it’s more like a top-flight Nebbiolo d’Alba than a Barolo or Barbaresco, which offer more complexity. But Jeff and Kevin seem to be very much on the right track here. Another offering that will be fascinating to follow as the vines mature and they learn how to capitalize on them. (“It’s an iterative process,” in Jeff’s words.)

Jeff said the 2021 Aeris wines will “be a knockout.”

And Jim Clendenen started bottling very good nebbiolos under his Clendenen Family Vineyards label back in the 90s. (I have a '98 I bought at the Au Bon Climat tasting room in 2019.)

Unti planted sangiovese in 1992 and barbera, dolcetto and primitivo clones in 1998. They now produce aglianico, fiano and vermentino, as well, and have planted biancollela and falanghina more recently.

There have been quite a few folks focusing on Italian varieties for quite some time.

I just thought Eric should have made an aside that a number of folks have been doing Italians for quite some time.
But…Ohhhh No… I get accused of [stirthepothal.gif] by certain factions here. Believe me… I know how to [stirthepothal.gif] when it’s called for.
My [stirthepothal.gif] are never that subtle.

But none of those other Italian producers have been doing it w/ the anal focus & the research of Kevin. Mostly, they just liked an Italian example & put it in
the ground to see what they could do with it. They just threw the plate of spaghetti against the wall to see if it would stick.

Unti was the first to have a LaCrima. And JimClendenen was the first w/ Teroldego. And Sam the first w/ Timorasso.

Tom

Anal? Doesn’t sound very Italian to me. [stirthepothal.gif]

This is a terrific project, one I am very excited about. All of the wines I’ve tasted to date have been outstanding. Looking forward to the May release.

Now here’s what you call a real [stirthepothal.gif] !!
Tom