Fattoria di Fubbiano Vermentino Colline Lucchesi doc 2016
Winegrower: Fattoria di Fubbiano
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Available: Fall 2017
“Vermentino is an excellent variety from which great wines can be made.”
- Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, 2014, page 472
Today’s wine is about magic. It also demonstrates the big difference between ‘cheap’ and ‘inexpensive.’ Even in the $25 and under category you can do better than the ‘run of the mill’ simple, generally sweet, chemically enhanced ‘commodity’ wines that dominate the market, and if you have any real interest in wine you should endeavour to try. First seek out lesser-known grape varieties that haven’t achieved mainstream status and become overpriced; then check out similar wine regions where these grapes are grown. Our Vermentino Colline Lucchesi doc 2016, from the hills just north of the town of Lucca in west Tuscany, checks both these boxes while being delicious and distinctive – as in showing real terroir – at the same time. This is not a commonplace, business as usual Vermentino; it is something special, exceptional! At $25 the price to quality makes it one of the best values around, it’s simply impossible to beat, and this is where the magic comes in. From its bouquet of wild sage and fennel, fresh cut flowers, lemon and peach, and low alcohol, it clocks in at a mere 11%; this is a wine to buy by the case to enjoy throughout the year. So invite some friends over, open a few bottles of this Vermentino, and prepare a delicious Fritto-Misto-di-Mare for a quick escape to the Italian Riviera.
The Colline Lucchesi DOC is basically a string of foothills in the northwest corner of Tuscany that extends from the Mediterranean Sea east to the Apennine Mountains. It was established in 1968 and is named for the hills just north of the town of Lucca. The climate is a touch cooler than is usual for growing Vermentino and experiences significant diurnal temperature fluctuations in the summer. This helps to maintain acidity and produce vibrant, edgy red and white wines despite the hot summers. The area has a wine growing tradition that dates back well over 2,000 years. The town of Lucca was founded by the Etruscans before it became a Roman colony in 180 BC and is a near perfectly preserved example of medieval architecture.
According to parish records, the history of Fattorio Di Fubbiano dates back as a working farm to at least 1694, but some of the estate’s vineyards and buildings date to the 14th century. Owned by Alfred Schiller since the mid-1990s, the estate has 45 hectares of which 20 are devoted to vineyards with the rest to olive trees. Marco Corsini, who was born on the estate, is the winemaker, and followed in the footsteps of his father Sauri, who held the job before him. The estate produces around 100,000 bottles of red and white wine each vintage. Farming is organic and all vineyard work is by hand. Indigenous yeasts are used to ferment the wines and gravity moves both juice and wine in the cellar.
The origins of Vermentino are somewhat hazy. Italians like to believe it is native to their country, and both the French and Spanish claim it originated in their respective homelands. There are also those who believe it migrated to Italy from Greece. What is certain is that this grape is a child of the Mediterranean basin and is mostly cultivated in Italy. As for the “magic” of Vermentino, part of it lies in that it is one of Italy’s top grapes for the expression of terroir, provided it’s handled with respect. Much like Muscadet from France or Albariño from Spain, Vermentino can capture the broader concept of terroir that includes the total environment of the vine including such things as the fragrance of the local scrub brush or salty sea air. This is what the French refer to, as ‘garrique’ and the Italians as ‘mocchia’ and to me is as much part of terroir as expressions of the mineral components of the soil. Vermentino, when handled with respect, excels at this and therefore deserves a place on anyone’s list of top Italian wines.
Today’s Vermentino Colline Lucchesi doc 2016 was handpicked from south facing hillside vineyards and fermented in stainless steel. The wine had contact with the grape skins for two weeks and was then left to age on its lees, again in stainless steel tanks, for six months before it was bottled lightly filtered and with minimal added sulphur. In the glass it is golden in color with slight green hints. The nose is full of wild sage and fennel, fresh cut flowers, lemon and peach. On the palate it is bone dry and medium bodied with bright acidity, an ample mineral grip and a touch of salinity that reminds you how close you are to the sea. Serve at 10˚ to 12˚ in standard white stems with freshly prepared seafood and friends or family, and then reminisce about your last visit to the Tuscan seaside. This wine is sure keep your spirits high throughout the year; a perfect house wine at a great price that clearly says something about where it came from. Why would you settle for less?