Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2020
Vermentino is the star white grape variety of the Tuscan coast, perfectly capturing the feel of an afternoon in the Maremma hills looking out at the Tyrrhenian Sea. Aia Vecchia blends in a small amount of Viognier to add an intriguing hint of tropicality.
Aia Vecchia is the name of an old building which is today the centre of a company deep in the Tuscany countryside between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci. This is an area where the particularly favorable microclimate and The Pellegrini family, Aia Vecchia’s owners, have been grape growers in the Bolgheri area for several generations and have sold their grapes to many of the most notable wineries in the region for decades. After replanting their original vineyards in 1995, the following year they took the plunge and established their own winery with the goal of creating a portfolio of small-lot, high-quality Super Tuscan blends focusing on Bordeaux grape varieties.
On one of the family’s properties there was an old building called Aia Vecchia, which would become the symbol and namesake of the company. The family enlisted the help of well-known agronomist Daniel Schuster in the selection of their vines, which were imported directly from Bordeaux. They also sought out the services of another highly talented consultant—Hungarian winemaker Tibor Gal, who had been chief winemaker at the pioneering Super Tuscan Ornellaia in Bolgheri. With this lineup, Aia Vecchia developed Lagone, their Merlot-based first wine, in 1998.
Given the success of this vineyard’s Lagone, Aia Vecchia, under the supervision of Gal, launched a Cabernet-based Super Tuscan in 2001, their top label Sor Ugo. Aia Vecchia added white wine in 2008. The Vermentino is made from estates at Orbetello and Magliano in Toscana, both of which are in Grosseto province some 60 miles southeast of Bolgheri.
Today the family farms a total of 112 acres split between the two estates in Bolgheri and Maremma Grossetana. In the Bolgheri zone they have planted Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot grapes. The estate of Magliano in Toscana (Grosseto), is planted to Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Vermentino and Viognier grape varieties. The winery and cellars, Aia Vecchia, are located in Castagneto Carducci, in Bolgheri. Elia Pellegrini now manages the estate with his father and uncle; Nicola Scottini is winemaker.
One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Tuscan wine ranges in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.
Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.
Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly Tuscan wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello, an exceptionally bold Tuscan wine, expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a red wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.
A fantastic, aromatic white grape that grows with great success in Sardinia, Tuscany and in lesser proportions on the island of Corsica. Somm Secret—Vermentino is thought to be genetically identical to Liguria’s Pigato grape and Peidmont’s Favorita. It comprises a large proportion of the whites in southern France where it is called Rolle.