As you crest the hill the dusty, rocky ground gives way to ancient, gnarled creatures that seem reticent in their sagacity, hiding amongst the overgrowth. This is what you have been seeking for decades. A lost world, songs no longer heard, wisdom no longer heeded. You step gingerly through the grasses, being careful not to stumble and break the vines that will soon become your hearth. A feeling of deep, soulful well-being comes over you.
This fantasy speaks to most of us because we long to unveil a sustenance in the earth that we feel deeply connected to but are now so abstracted from. There is little direct contact with ecosystems that feed our bodies and minds any longer. This, I think, is what is so attractive to us about craggly, unkempt vineyards lost and then rediscovered, brought to their fullest expression through careful tending, but offering what they do only because of a long lapse in human presence. It is this longing that explains why wines like this hold a special place in my heart.
A Life Amongst the Vines
Grifalco was founded in 2003 by the Piccin family whose life business seems to be recovering old vineyards. It began 20 years ago in Tuscany where the Piccin family found and rebuilt an ancient vineyard. Now, moving to the south with their three children, they began again, looking for the purest, most honest expression of Aglianico from Vulture they could muster from a long-neglected vineyard.
There are new plantings too for the everyday bottlings, but the most unique wine comes from this vineyard of 50+ year old vines called Bosco del Falco. Soils in Vulture are volcanic, and this vineyard is no exception. In particular, the soils are called “tufa” to reflect the influence of sub-lava from volcanic flows. The wines of Vulture are powerful, and can be very tannic and bitter if not managed well. With the Bosco del Falco Grifalco masterfully tames the aggressive side of Aglianico while retaining its highly unique character and avoiding a more international style of wine.
A New Southern Italian Blue Chip
The Bosco del Falco is vinified using three ageing methods: slavonian oak, toasted barrique and untoasted barrique. The winery ages the wine in bottle for several years before releasing it (the 2007 was released in 2014).
This is wonderful, traditional, soul-wine. Rich, ripe red fruit; intense herbs and bitter chocolate. Potent but balanced and an authentic example of how great Aglianico from Vulture can be. It will assuredly conjure images of lost vineyards, and is a wine that deserves much more attention as I think it will one day be considered blue-chip southern Italian.
Excellent and Highly Recommended Value
$29 at Garagiste (Grifalco is imported into California by Oliver McCrum)