I hope this letter finds everyone happy and healthy. If you are new to the Raffaldini Wine Club, welcome! With each semi-annual wine club package, you will receive a letter from me describing the wines, why they were chosen, and updating you on all activities happening at Raffaldini Vineyards.
This package includes the following:
2 bottles of Raffaldini 2020 Sagrantino
2 bottles of Raffaldini 2020 Montepulciano Riserva
2 bottles of Raffaldini 2021 Desaria
The Winemaker’s Notes associated with the wines
Recipes that we encourage you to enjoy with the wines
Invitations to upcoming signature events at Raffaldini
I begin the first section with some happy news I had not been able to share during the last three years. We had a normal spring with no late frosts or freezes so we will have a bountiful harvest of grapes! Of course, in terms of quality it all comes down to the weather in the August 15th to September 30th window but as of now things are looking very good. This is especially exciting coming on the heels of our best quality harvest ever in 2021.
As is the case with every Raffaldini wine release the whites and reds come from different vintages (years). Specifically, the reds are usually at least two years prior and whites the prior year. Given the variability of the weather in our wine region we can often get vastly different styles of wine which we try to mitigate through the Appassimento drying process and varietal blending. Unlike the superb 2021 weather, 2020 was a very challenging harvest and second only to the utterly miserable 2018 harvest. So when we talk about the two reds in this package from 2020 and the white from 2021 we want to emphasize the saying that when the weather is great “wine is made in the vineyard” and when it is challenging “wine is made in the winery cellar”.
The 2021 Desaria is our Vermentino based white blend wine which thinks and acts like a red wine as that is how we made it. Wine club members will remember that two years ago we decided to split our Vermentino production and diverted an equal amount to the production of Superiore and the other to the production of Desaria. In a nutshell the difference is that the Vermentino Superiore is made in a style more common in Sardinia with a technique called whole cluster pressing fermented in stainless steel which increases aromatics and freshness. By comparison, the Desaria uses our Appassimento drying process on the grapes which are then fermented and aged in oak bottis. Also for the first time this year we blended in some white (yes white) Montepulciano aged in oak. This created a rich and a very full- bodied white wine closest to the style of Vermentino made in the beautiful Tuscan seaside of Bolghieri. This is a white wine that pairs perfectly with fish and is also full bodied enough to go with white meat like chicken, turkey, or pork.
Our expectations for the 2020 reds were low given the challenging weather we endured that year. One early signpost of our ability to overcome this was the success of the earlier release of the 2020 Sangiovese Classico. Of all the grapes we grow Sangiovese is the most susceptible to not being able to stand up to a challenging harvest. My winemaker Chris and I spend countless hours blending through endless permutations including down to the half of one percent level. The wine turned out incredibly smooth with classic Sangiovese fruit and earthy dustiness and soon become very popular in the Villa Tasting Room. Using that roadmap, we turned out attention to the Montepulciano and Sagrantino.
As difficult as Sangiovese is to grow here, Montepulciano is as easy, given its grape structure (thick skins, medium sized berries and loose clusters), so we had a strong foundation from which to start. The 2020 Montepulciano is very fruitful and structured with softer than usual tannins which makes this wine enjoyable immediately. It will age for five years but can not go the distance of a decade or more like the 2019 vintage. It’s an excellent enjoyable wine.
Finally, the 2020 Sagrantino turned out to be and I quote my winemaker Chris, “sneaky good.” Sagrantino continues to excel in the vineyard with the only downside being it is a low yielding grape, so we struggle to get enough of it. We are going to plant another acre or two but unfortunately, we are nearly planted out so there is not much more we can do. The 2020 Sagrantino has those famous gripping tannins that I adore but is also framed with bracing acidity to allow this wine to go on well into the next ten to fifteen years.
Speaking of the vineyard we are planting a new grape called San Marco which is a cross of two northern Italian varietals from the region of Alto Adige. Those grapes varietals are Teroldogo and Lagrein, both of which can produce very dark and deep wines. I am determined to have one wine made from northern Italian grapes and I believe I have finally found the right grape after twenty years of searching and replanting.
On a personal note, I am very gratified to see the vineyards around us take shape and find their branding. My long-term plan was to always have Raffaldini Vineyards surrounded by other vineyards run by likeminded souls, and this is happening now as new tasting rooms and Villas are under various stages of construction. One day in the not-too-distant future you will have four (and possibly five) Italian style vineyards adjacent to each other which is unlike anything anywhere. So exciting!
As a diehard fan of Star Trek (the original and Next Generation, not Voyager nor Deep Space Nine) I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Spock -
“Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”
Our warmest wishes to all of you.
Jay Raffaldini on behalf of La Famiglia Raffaldini
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