100% Ansonaco (70-year-old vines) from Giglio, a tiny island off the coast of Tuscany. Isolated on the south side of the island, the only way to access the vines is to take a small dirt road that can only be navigated with four-wheel drive then walk down to the vineyard. During harvest, cases are walked back up to the truck.
The wine macerates for the entire time of fermentation in stainless steel, about three weeks. It is then racked to barrel for aging. A small amount of sulfur is added at press.
Francesco and Gabriella Carfagna live in an abandoned grain mill overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea. Their tiny cellar is in the basement.
The Altura project is an homage to the island of Giglio and how it transformed Francesco Carfagno's life. for those unfamiliar with Giglio, it's a small island 10 miles off the coast of Tuscany and only accessible by water ferry. the island is small, mostly mountainous and 90% covered in vegetation. while it densely populated in the summer, fewer than 600 people live there year-round. francesco carfagna is one of them.
originally from Rome, Francesco would vacation to Giglio as a child. as a young man, he worked as a professor and moonlit as a street performer. in 1985, sick of the rat race of the city, he decided to quit and move to the island, the place he'd fallen in love with in his youth. while there he fell in love all over again: once more with Giglio and then with a young woman vacationing there (his wife Gabriella).
in 1987, Francesco opened a restaurant called Arcobaleno in Castello, the main town of the island. there he served what he referred to as "Vini Vivi" ("alive wines"). he ran it full time with Gabriella until 1999 when they found some abandoned vines and terraces and set out to refinish the drywalls and rehabilitate the old vines and planting new ones on a high, granitic cliff directly above the Tyrrhenian.
with a posse of friends and family, Francesco decided the time had come to bring back ansonaco, the native grape that at one time covered this island. it's a variety of golden colors with grapes of ovoidal shape. in Francesco and his daughter irene's hands, it makes rich white wines bursting with the sea's umami.
all of this work was and is done by hand, as the vines are in no way mechanizable. you can only access them with a 4x4 vehicle, and even that is considered very risky. all 3.5 hectares are planted in albarello and guyot, mainly in ansonaco, though Francesco also planted some massale selections of red from old vines on the island. after ten years of hard work restoring the terraces and experimenting in the cellar, the first Altura wine was released in 2009. over the years, the Carfagno's were able to acquire two additional parcels, both much older at around 70 years old.
the vineyard work is without herbicides or insecticides and low treatments of sulfur and copper. the yields are about 40 hl/ha. as the last stretch to the vineyard is not accessible by car, cases of grapes must be walked back uphill to the truck. vinification starts in the ramshackle basement of the ancient grain mill the Carfagna's converted into an apartment (no we didn't make that up). a small amount of sulfur is usually added on the grapes once they've been brought back to the cellar, though some years none will be added. with the exception of the rosato, the wines see long macerations before being racked off the gross lees and then into stainless steel vats for fermentation and finally barrels for aging. no filtration or fining, just racking.
- Louis/Dressner Selections
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