Spotlight on Indigenous Italian White Wine: Kante Malvasia 2012

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Italy’s nooks and crannies are home to such a depth of great wine that even serious wine professionals cannot exhaust the possibilities. White wines in particular are underrated and often misunderstood. A discovery on recent travels, Kante well deserves inclusion among neglected greats.

Saint or Devil

Located in Corso, Friuli, Kante belongs in a similar school as Movia or Gravner, though with a distinct voice. Edi Kante began making wine in 1980 and moved through various experimental phases including with orange wine. I find is current wines to be quite moderate, perhaps a middle ground between a crystalline modern approach and the riskier ventures into oxidative and macerative white wine making. In other words, the wines are clean and varietally true but also carry interesting yeast-driven complexity, suggesting that Kante has developed a complex microbial ecosystem in his vineyards and winery. The wines are also beautifully textural and so extremely pleasing to roll around the mouth.

As for site-characteristics, soils are limestone and elevation is at about 800 feet above sea level, which at this latitude in Italy means quite cool nights. The majority of the vines are 19 years old and include plantings of Vitovska, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Terrano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Nero. Vinification is in. Ageing takes place in old wood for a year and then six months in steel.

Kante himself seems to me like a bit of a troublemaker at heart. There is a good video of him on the website, with snippets such as “I was born a saint and will die a devil because you get bored in life, you need to change”.

The Wine

This delicious Malvasia takes the grape to a much higher level than the norm, with greater mid-palate density, more complexity and superb waxy texture. The wine is more evidence that Friuli is at the upper echelon. I think with proper exposure and promotion the region’s wines could much find bigger markets in North America than they currently have. I’d like to see more of these wines on smart lists by the new generation of Sommelier in Vancouver. But first we need some importers to find a way to make the economics work better as currently most Friulian wines of merit range upwards of $60 at retail (so not much less for hospitality pricing), and therefore would be double that on wine lists.

Excellent
$30-35 USD retail at various shops (imported by Kermit Lynch)

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