One of the wineries which I visited in Basilicata are the cantine del Notaio in Rionero 10 miles from Venosa.The way to the winery from Venosa is through a winding road from 1000 feet to 1600 feet. Around I could only observe the beautiful rolling hills full of vegetation and vineyards. The air was crispy almost chilly but the sun was warm enough to make the whole experience memorable. After all it was the middle of December and all around the Christmas festivity was in full swing.
As we approached the small, town of Rionero, I could only be delighted by its quaintness but above all by its quietness. Lunch time is sacre here, we could tell that people were enjoying an afternoon nap. It was a day dedicated to some wineries, a day when they were supposed to be closed but they were opened instead just for the visitors on this special day. December 8th is the Immaculate Conception ( a well observed religious holiday in Italy). Antonio welcomed us to the showroom of the Cantine del Notaio.
He was very passionate in his storytelling , he was also extremely familiar with the interesting history of the winery. From the beginning with just one hectare inherited from the grand father who used to grow grapes to be sold into the markets to the current 40 hectares under vine to produce almost 200,000 bottles.
Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti ( Antonio told us that it is the longest last name in Italy... I haven't verified this statement, but I want to believe him; just because he was so passionate in his story). The passion for winemaking is not new to the Giuratrabocchetti's family and has been handed down for generations. In 1998 the Cantine del Notaio wine estate was born from this same tradition, when both Gerardo Giuratrabocchetti, with his degree in Agricultural Science, and his wife Marcella, took up the Aglianico del Vulture challenge. They decided to combine tradition, innovation, history and terroir in the vines growing in their vineyards. Together with Luigi Moio, Full Professor of Enology at the University of Naples, they start a valuable collaboration and an extensive research on the winemaking potential of this grape, the most important in Southern Italy. A proud but difficult vine, capable of yielding wines with extraordinary personality.
Antonio took us in the caves underneath the showroom, caves built originally as storage space by people from Albania , they were excavated from the Tufo rocks, offering a special and natural place to age the wine in barrels.
Cantine del Notaio was also voted the winery of the year at the Vinitaly trade wine show.
We walked for 1/4 of mile in the caves , inside there was also a nativity set with all the figures having a very special meaning.. Antonio walked us through all of them .. of course the House with the Notaio couldn't have missed , reminding us that we were at their wineries after all. The Actual cave with Baby Jesus was set in the back of the set, just resembling a real old cave , giving the old scene a touch of reality.
The visit finally ended with few tasting of their fabulous wines. ( Follow us on the wine voyager for a personal detail wine tasting notes in the near future).
Of course Aglianico is the star , with most of the wines being a different vinification of grapes harvested at different times and macerated longer or shorter depending upon the wine style to be achieved. The range goes from an easy light wine to be used as every day table wine to an "Amarone" style wine with late harvested grapes.
As we ended the visit and loaded the car with their wines for future tasting, we headed back to Venosa through those winding roads, with the sun almost setting and dark clouds announcing rain on our ride back to Bernalda ( Francis Coppola's family town of origin in Italy) 1.5 hours away.
The following are some of the extraordinary wines made by the Cantine del Notaio.
L'Atto is an IGT red wine obtained from Aglianico del Vulture grapes exclusively. Grapes: 100% Aglianico del Vulture. Harvest time: first decade of Octobe from the youngest vineyards. Maceration: 7 days in stainless steel tube with controlled temperature. Aging: in more than fifth passage french oak barriques, placed in natural caves into the volcanic tufo rock. Alcohol content: about 14 degrees. Serving temperature: 18° C (64° F) Organoleptic characteristics: L'Atto is fresh, pleasant and perfumed wine; it's good structure and full ending remoinds one of fresh fruit. Food matching: ideal with sauces, roasted meats and also ripe cheeses. Bottle size: available in 0.375 and 0.75, liter bottles.
The name Il Sigillo refers to the seal at the end of a notarial act. Il Sigillo is a DOC wine obtained from Aglianico del Vulture grapes from a single historic vineyard, located on Contrada Cerentino hillside in the village of Maschito. It is a modern style interpretation of Aglianico as produced in this area in the past. The grapes are harvested fully over ripened towards the ending of November and a long maceration lasting about a month.
Grapes: 100% Aglianico del Vulture. Harvest time: manually in crates in the last days of November, early days of December. Maceration: about 30 days with a full extraction and a full maturation of tannins. Aging: 24 months in french oaks barriques or tonneaux, placed in natural caves into the volcanic tufo rock. Bottle aging for 24 months Alcohol content: about 14,5 degrees. Serving temperature: 18° C (64° F) Organoleptic characteristics: wine with a big structure at the same time very elegant. Food matching: ideal with big structure dishes, roasted meats and very flavour cheeses. You may try also with chocolate dessert. Bottle size: available in 0.75, liter bottles.
The name La Firma refers to the signature at the end of a notarial contract. La Firma is a D.O.C.* wine obtained from Aglianico del Vulture grapes. The grapes are harvested at the beginning of November. After a long maceration lasting some 25 days, the wine obtained is transferred to the aging cellar - a series of natural volcanic tufo grottoes - maturing in mainly first passage French oak barriques for some 12 months. La Firma is a wine of structure and long life, with aromas of black forest fruit, liquorice, fenugreek and carob. Its aromatic complexity ends on a sustained balsamic note, supported by soft and elegant tannins.
Grapes: 100% Aglianico del Vulture. Harvest time: at the beginning of November. Maceration: long maceration lasting some 25 days. Aging: in mainly first passage French oak barriques for some 12 months., placed in natural caves into the volcanic tufo rock. Bottle fining: 4 months. Alcohol content: about 14 degrees. Serving temperature: 16-18° C (64° F) Organoleptic characteristics: La Firma is a wine of structure and long life, with aromas of black forest fruit, liquorice, fenugreek and carob. Its aromatic complexity ends on a sustained balsamic note, supported by soft and elegant tannins. Food matching: it is excellent with roasted meats. Bottle size: available in 0.375, 0.75, 1.5 and 3 liter bottles.
Il Repertorio refers to a repertory or archive, of notarial contracts. Grapes: 100% Aglianico del Vulture. Harvest time: manually in crates in the second/third decade of October when the maturation process is in the crucial stage. Maceration: maceration for 10 days in stainless steel tube at monitored temperature. It is a more traditional way to produce wine. Aging: in french oak barriques for 12 months placed in natural caves into the volcanic tufo rock. Alcohol content: about 14 degrees. Serving temperature: 18° C (64° F) Organoleptic characteristics: Il Repertorio is well balanced, rich and full flavour. Food matching: ideal with roasted meats and also game meats and dishes. Bottle size: available in 0.75, liter bottles.
Grape: Moscato (70%) and Malvasia (30%), traditionally grown in the Vulture area and dried on the plants and on the racks. Harvest time: manually in the last decade of September. Vinification: in new barriques. Aging: at least 12 months in barriques and 12 in bottle. Organoleptic Test: Color: Golden yellow with amber reflections. Nose: to the nose it reminds of honey , white flowers, dried and citrus fruits. Palate: in the mouth is full of sweet notes, hints of candied orange and apricot jam, honey and dried fig that balance with a good acidity. Matching Suggestions: ideal with dried fruit, dried biscuit and pastries and aged cheeses. Traditionally matched with Cannoli, Pastiera, Cassata and almond pastries. Serving Temperature: at about 14 °C Size: 750 cl
Grape: Aglianico del Vulture worked in white, Malvasia, Moscato and Chardonnay. Harvest time: by hand between August and September. Vinification: fermentation in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Aging: at least two months in bottle before releasing.
Organoleptic Test: Color: bright straw yellow. Nose: to the nose it smells of exotic fruit, pineapple mango and papaya. Palate: it has a marked flavor and a crisp taste with a carpet of green and fruity notes. Matching Suggestions: ideal with fish dishes, especially with raw shell fish and river fish. Serving Temperature: about 12°C Size: 75 cl