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Porta del Vento and [PRIMA] Terra (Walter de Batte)

Porta del Vento and [PRIMA] Terra (Walter de Batte)   

Rustic Finds From Sicily and Liguria

A Note from Sergio


The vineyards growing at Porta del Vento trace the shape of their Valdibella hills with the organic whorls of a fingerprint. The vines face north, like long green compass hands in the summer; this direction shades them from the merciless, pounding Sicilian sun. The decades-old vines grow short, gnarled and stunted. They look like rows of old men dancing, shaking shaggy vinous heads in the summer or in the winter scraggly heads black as a fire escape in the rain. It's an old land, one so long used to grow things that you can feel the antediluvian mystery in the air.

  

Porta del Vento translates to "Gates of the Wind." Breezes blow constantly across these hills, cooling them in the summer. It's a harsh, difficult land whose great day-to-night temperature swings surprise anyone who hasn't lived there. The soil here is thick with minerals and stones. It's perfect for growing grapes that'll make wild, intense, complex, unusual wines. Like the terrain of Porta del Vento, the estate's wines are stony, laden with peaks and valleys. They could come only from Sicilia. These aren't wines for the Super-Tuscan drinker who's looking for wines that are clean and correct. These are wines for the adventurer whose idea of beauty includes a few unforeseen thrills.

  

Like Porta del Vento's visionary owner Marco Sferlazzo, the three men who created [PRIMA] Terra Srl got their inspiration from difficulty and tradition. Cinque Terre is not an easy place to grow grapes, which is why so many of the small estates have jumped ship. However difficult it is to navigate its seaside cliffs, like Sicilia, Cinque Terre has the natural advantages of sea air, stony soil, lots of sun, and millennia of tradition. Walter de Batte and his two partners, Riccardo Canesi and Pierfrancesco Donati, saw in these cliffs punctuated by crumbling stone walls a site made for the reclamation--and celebration--of Ligurian wine.

  

The result is collector's wine par excellence. They're hard-to-find jewels, not only because Walter de Batte keeps the production numbers ludicrously low but also because so little of his wine makes it out of Liguria. Every year, clients would return from Italy and, stars in their eyes, tell these wistful stories of de Batte's wines, asking plaintively if IWM had them. Rarely have we, but I'm delighted to offer them to you today.

  

This week, I'm proud to offer you these two producers' wines that come from "the road less traveled." While most travelers and wine buyers go for the known places and wines, the adventurous ones go to the lesser known places and grow mesmerized by the richness and authenticity of the people, places, food and wines. Porta del Vento and [PRIMA] Terra couldn't make wines more different from one another--each bottle is so imbued with its own land and traditions, how could they not be wildly different?--but they're united by their breathtaking honesty; their unshakeable commitment to their land, its traditions, and its grape varieties; and their wines' astonishing palates. Open a bottle of either producer with your favorite intrepid traveler and toast to the journey, which is best when it's unexpected.


  

  

My Best,  

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P.S. You can now follow me on Twitter: @Italian_Wine_SE.  
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[PRIMA] Terra (Walter De Batte) Cerico 2007 750ml
[PRIMA] Terra (Walter De Batte) Cerico 2007 750ml
Price: $79.99

Whatever you expect from a Liguria Rosso, we can assure you that Walter de Batte’s Cerico, a blend of Grenache that’s kissed with Syrah, will defy it—deliciously. This is no light-hearted seaside quaffer; this is a serious wine whose sauvage flavor profile of juicy cherries, ripe berries, underbrush and meat will bring to mind a fine Hermitage. Not only does the estate craft only about 130 cases a year of this wine, but also very little of this game-changing Rosso makes it out of Italy. They are wines for true connoisseurs of Italian winemaking expertise.