Cincinnato ‘Castore’ Bellone, Cori, Lazio, Italy 2018
GRAPE: 100% BELLONE [beh-LOH-nay]
Bellone is yet another one of those rare grapes that defies logic as to how and why there are not more champions for it when it is capable of producing incredible wines. I often refer to Ian D’Agata’s book, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, to see his take on matters such as this: “Bellone is a magical grape but I believe that very few producers who make wine with it realize that.” In fact, he goes so far as to call it one of Italy’s best grape varieties. Damn, Ian. You’ve got my attention (always). Bellone seems to hit all the marks that one could look for in a great white wine grape (even makes stellar sweet and sparkling wines!) So how has it not flourished above the rest in the area? It seems the answer lies partially with variety misidentity (yet again) as well as the seemingly endless Lazio trend of making wine (all wines) in a very simple manner.
GROWER: Cinncinato is actually a really great co-op winery model consisting of 126 growers, with a total of 250 hectares of vines. Remarkably this co-operative of farmers have stuck to their guns in their belief in their local grape varieties. Cinncinato is one of the very few producers who produces single varietal Bellone wine, as well as the high potential red grape, Nero Buono di Cori (the authority on these local grapes is actually Marco Carpineti, who we also feature this month.) The vineyards are all located in the volcanic hills southeast of Rome towards Campania. They are also organically farmed, officially so, as of 2019. The magic here, besides the incredible quality of the wine, is their unbelievable price point – Yay co-operative pricing! Always a treat to know about treasures like this before they’re ‘discovered.’ But fear not, I feel like we’ve probably got a few years before we get Bellone as a staple at our favorite restaurants. Tragically.
GLASS: First thing to jump out in this wine is the beautifully light white floral nose mixed in with a minerality that is straight up petrichor – a rare olfactory treat for wine nerds and best scent name ever! And I will never forget the first time I bit into a ripe white peach in Sydney, Australia as a young and wide eyed backpacker. This wine has that same glorious mouthwatering ripeness that brings a smile to my face. This is the kind of lively bright wine that has a sneaky complexity, one that can quickly shift it into the thought-provoking wine camp. It is So. Very. Easy. to fall in love with.
SIDE NOTES: Why the different shaped bottle? Although there are some practical reasons for certain wine bottles out there, this is most likely due to a local glass makers traditional preference. Something you still find here and there in the old world.