Welcome to the Club
The Bergamot Italian Wine Club is an exceptional representation of the diverse and delicious world of Italian wines. Once a month you receive four hand selected small batch production bottles of wine. We will share with you the stories of the people and terroir behind each one, the grape variety that makes the wine, and the regions of Italy that bring the whole bottle story together. While normally one would say “crack ’em open!” at Bergamot Wine Co. we encourage you to take an extra moment to pause, dig in to the Field Notes for each month’s collection, and start expanding your wine knowledge one bottle at a time.
Free Shipping & Perks for Members
As a Club Member there are no additional shipping costs for retail wine purchases. Load up on bottles from our bottle shop, make sure you are logged in, click the “free shipping” button upon checkout and VIOLA! your wines will be packed up with your next Club shipment. Besides that awesome perk, Wine Smarts (for both budding and experienced wine nerds), trips to Italy (two trip options each year), and a whole lot of hand curated shenanigans are our monthly promise to you.
When you sign up for the Bergamot Italian Wine Club your card will be charged upon purchase and your Club wines will ship within that week. After your initial payment, your card is always charged on the 1st of the month, and your wines will again ship within a week of the charge. When you purchase from our retail shop you will also be charged upon purchase and your bottles will ship either with your Club wines or separately, depending on the date of purchase. You can update your billing and payment preferences any time from your Account Manager page.
This is not your Nonna’s fiasco basket.
This is Italian wine like you’ve never tasted or experienced before. Brought to you by Kevin Wardell, a serious wine nerd and sommelier with a truly fabulous approach to wine education. He is dedicated to varietally correct wines, absorbing stories, respecting culture, and celebrating all the Rock Star winemakers across Europe that are making absolutely amazing juice.
So that’s us. Join the Club. Learn some Italian Wine Smarts. Add some cool wines from our Bottle Shop to your cupboards. Expand your palate. And most importantly, Drink Good Juice.
FIELD NOTES from our FEBRUARY 2019 ITALIAN WINE CLUB
Read the Field Notes about other past Club months HERE.
JANUARY 2019 : COASTAL CAMPANIA
Coastal Campania is truly an unforgettable place to visit; as rugged as it is beautiful, as formidable as it is majestic. It is a place that really needs no introduction, from the legendary picturesque Amalfi Coast on up to the crater of Italy’s most famous volcano, Mt Vesuvius. The Phlegraean Fields (or Campi Flegrei- translated: ‘burning fields’) make up the Northern fork of the bay and although it is less iconic than the aforementioned geological legend, it may just be the more dangerous of the two volcanic hot spots in the near future (relatively speaking, of course – don’t let it stop you from booking tickets). Campi Flegrei is considered a ‘super-volcano’ made up of 24 different craters that have been showing recent signs of ‘awakening’ leaving the world’s volcanologists simply titillated. The combination of volcanic soils, the dramatic mediterranean coastline and the deliciously warm Southern Italian sunshine work their magic together to help make wines that have truly unique character. This area surrounding the Gulf of Naples has its very own identity and history when it comes to viticulture and the wines produced today are something pretty darned special. We sure hope you enjoy these as much as we do.
WINE NO. 1
Aglianico 60% + Piedirosso 30% + Sciascinoso 10%
Penisola Sorrentina, Campania 2016
Grape: AGLIANICO + PIEDIROSSO + SCIASCINOSO
The first two will be discussed in further detail in the other wines so let’s talk Sciascinoso. This is the only place, anywhere, you will find this grape. It is a local blending variety (sometimes called Olivella; shaped like olives) that adds a dark inky coloring and juicy fruitiness to wines. Collected from tiny little vineyard plots peppered in the high coastal hills of the Sorrento Peninsula from 50+ year old native rootstock vines. Perhaps someone, someday will champion Sciascinoso, and attempt to unlock its potential as a mono-varietal wine, but for now we will settle for the occasional cameo appearances amidst more historically esteemed grapes.
The Iovine family have been working their total of about 15 hectares of vineyards for over a century and deserve a hearty pat on the back… obtaining their grapes is no easy task as they are tucked away in multiple small sites and on terraces with insanely steep inclines of up to 45% gradient. They are located in places that are barely accessible by road and clearly can only be worked and harvested (very carefully) by hand. These own rooted vines are trained overhead to make the best of the sun exposure and perhaps to insure that only the fittest and most masochistic of vineyard workers can survive a harvest. The harvest is brought down from these extreme sites by mule. Of course.
Stop. WAIT! Do not open. Is it cold? Like white wine cold? Gragnano is actually a slightly sparkling red wine that should be served chilled. And with pizza. It’s considered by the local Napoletano to be THE ultimate wine for pizza. You simply can’t question that authority. Just do your best to have it with a pizza that looks prototypically Italian, please, and preferably out of a wood fired oven. This wine is cherries buried in ash, brambly blackberries and sweet plums. It has no tannic bite like a Lambrusco sometimes can, but it sports an edge that comes more from bitter herbs and ground black pepper. Super pleasing on the palate, with or without food, but when your wine tells you that it wants a really good pizza hopefully you are happy to oblige. Almost too easy to drink, a good friend once dubbed it ‘Amalfi Coke.’
Gragnano is still a wine for those in the know as they certainly don’t tell you much else on the label. Iovine also makes a ‘Lettere,’ which is essentially the same thing, if not perhaps slightly sweeter. Gragnano and Lettere are subzones named for the villages they surround. You may even know the name Gragnano if you’re into vintage Italian poster art; its notoriety is actually for its history in pasta production and there are some fabulous vintage images to be found.
Poggio la Noce ‘Bàja’
Campi Flegrei, Campania 2016
She is an ancient grape whose recent success has played a big part in the commercial recognition of the wines from Campania as a whole. Through the recent (and behemoth) undertaking of sorting native Italian grapes through their genetic makeup, it would seem that there are in fact two (maybe 3?) different grapes that share the name. This Falanghina in Campi Flegrei is the oldest genotype but the more common examples that we see here in the US may in fact be its own independent variety. Stay tuned. I wonder who gets to keep the name? Regardless it’s as fun to drink as is to say (FA-LAN-GHEE-NAH), from the easy guzzlers to the more complex examples such as this wine.
Italian flair and French finesse are what make up this Poggio la Noce duo, despite the fact that their home and winery are actually near Florence (Tuscany!) Enzo was born in the Campi Flegrei area and these roots are the foundational inspiration for the production of this wine. His wife Claire is from France and the wines they produce, although distinctly Italian, seem to have a delicate style that to me is more reminiscent of French sensibility (never before have I encountered a Rosé of Sangiovese that channels Provence like theirs… ) Organically farmed and consistently pure in their winemaking, Poggio la Noce wines are a unique standout for Tuscany. This particular Falanghina is clearly a rare treasure, and a passion project that pays homage to Enzo’s family home.
Seashells, sand and salt with quince and white peaches. Flinty smoke and volcanic ash on the finish. Even though it has such layered minerality and crisp fresh acidity, it still shows plenty of ripe saturation due to its warm and sunny climate. There is almost a Riesling-like sweet petroleum scent (something, incidentally, that makes every Sommelier weak in the knees) which also reminds me of another incredible volcanic and Southern Italian white variety: Carricante from Etna. Falanghina grown in Volcanic soil like this one shows much more mineral character than other examples, but I appreciate that the ‘smokey’ qualities of this wine are not overbearing. The variety, in my opinion, sometimes doesn’t have the weight to balance that kind of aggressive flavor as opposed to Fiano or Greco, but Poggio la Noce has found a stunning balance in this bottling that hits all the classic Falanghina notes beautifully.
The bottle has all the information one could ask for and I personally love the graphic- a sort-of half ocean wave and half stain from the foot of a wine glass (at least, that’s what I see, Dr. Rorschach.) The only thing that bears mentioning here is that you would never know that the wine is actually made in Tuscany unless you happen to know where Fiesole is. Slightly confusing, even for Italy, but due to how good this stuff is, I’ll give it a pass.
Marisa Cuomo ‘Furore’ Rosso
Aglianico 50% + Piedirosso 50%
Costa d’Amalfi, Campania 2016
AGLIANICO + PIEDIROSSO
These two share the spotlight around the Gulf of Napoli, but there is little doubt that for all of Campania, Aglianico is the true powerhouse between the two. Along the coastline, however, Aglianico tends to showcase more elegance than the muscular examples from the more famous inland appellations. It has even found a home grown in the atypical non-volcanic soils South of the Amalfi Coast in the Cilento region with producers like Bruno De Conciliis showcasing distinctly different expressions of the grape.
arisa Cuomo is a legend for Italian wine lovers, but upon meeting her, she is one of the most humble in that class. The vertically terraced maze of vineyards that scale the cliffs above the village of Furore are truly something out of a fantasy series. The farming here can only be described as heroic, similar to Iovine but with the Mediterranean Sea right there to catch (or swallow) you if you stumble. Marisa describes her home as ‘magic harmony of rocks, sea and unique wines’ and although her white blends are her more famous wines, her reds can be equally alluring. And in great years such as this, this red is downright dynamite.
Leather and cherries and, in fact, cherry leather! Bitter orange rind on the nose and just a waft of sweet pipe tobacco. Peppercorns as well as some grilled herbs on the back of a juicy steak. It has a beautifully velvet texture, but think old velvet as in a vintage fabric or furniture. Differentiation is important here- too often ‘velvety’ describes a more luscious and opulent modern wine. Not the case here. Mushrooms and damp leaves provide an earthy umami goodness; ripeness is clearly not an issue with this wine. It is so much more about balance. As a 2016 this wine is still young and would only benefit from some more time in bottle, but there is nothing about the drinking experience now that would indicate it’s too early to enjoy.
If you’re at all familiar with Marisa’s wines, the labels are very recognizable, and as old school as the are iconic. The absolute most important thing they convey about her wines is that they reflect where they are from. The soils and climate, the locations (Furore, Ravello) and the spirit of the Amalfi Coast are everything she wants you to experience when you open this bottle.
La Sibilla ‘Vigna Madre’
Campi Flegrei, Campania 2014
Translated this means “red foot” and is a most important grape around the area of Mt. Vesuvio. It is a lighter skinned variety with bright red stalks and stems that tend to look like the red feet of a pigeon. The name does not refer to the color of ones feet after they’ve been stomping on Piedirosso grapes (the romanticised story I was first told.) Quite the contrary, actually, as this grape is notoriously difficult to extract much color from at all, causing winemakers to account for several days of a presoak maceration in order to coax pigment from the skins.
La Sibilla is the quintessential product of a multigenerational Italian family who has stewarded the grapes of their land to the point that these two living entities are virtually inseparable. The di Meo family is as rooted here as the vines themselves; I say that in earnest as these vines are amongst the very rare remaining historical ‘own rooted’ vineyards in Italy (and all of Europe.) When the phylloxera insect nearly took out the entirety of Europe’s native viticulture in the late 19th century there were only a minute number of sites the pest was unable to infest. Very sandy and volcanic soils are the two most notable aspects of vineyard survival and the di Meo family were thankfully spared this devastating onslaught.
Volcano Juice! The first thing that enters my mind and the wine follows through on that thought in every way. Smokey and slightly tar-ry, spicy with cinnamon, clove and dried potpourri shining through the blanket of intense tart black cherries. The Piedirosso grape seem to show much more lean fruit in the more famous wines of Lacryma Christi on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius, but this wine gives a more saturated and weighted example of the potential of this grape. The finish lingers with some soft tannins, but it’s still that lick of volcanic stone that is left standing as the remainder of the melange of juice and spice fade to the background. A bit shy at first; even the slightest amount of patience with this wine will be rewarded.
This is a single vineyard wine. Get the picture? Well, there it is! Pure and simple. The back label provides the answers to any further questions you may have, complete with bonus epigraph from Horace (big Piedirosso fan.) This wine is wonderfully complex, please use your largest bowl glassware and drink slowly and contemplatively in a dimly lit room amongst close friends who can hang with free form fits of audible wine descriptors.