Who makes it: Vigneti Campanino
What is it: Malvasia Toscana*
*not quite, but close, one of the multitudes of Malvasia variations
How is it made: de-stemmed, vinified without temperature control or sulfur. Aged in fiberglass, skin-contacted briefly. Unfined, unfiltered. Biodynamic.
In some ways, writing this feels like a eulogy. Campanino was sold last year, and will no longer be making wine under the auspices of the natural wine guru Danilo Marcucci. Campanino was one of Marcucci’s first projects, along with Collecapretta. It’s a rustic, small operation, only 4.5 hectares, high in the Umbrian Apennines. At 900 meters (2,700 ft!) above sea level, the grapes withstand intense weather and frost. They survive by ripening in the Southern sun, on slopes so steep you can barely walk. It’s sad to think this might be the last time I’ll be drinking Campanino, at least as it exists today.
Smelling the Bianco, I have an overwhelming sense of deja vu--I’m smelling something I know, something I’ve smelled millions of times. But what is it? Immediately, there’s this umami funk, maybe charcuterie? This underlying sweetness, salt… After a few more swirls, I’m picking up grilled fennel, meyer lemon--and then it hits me. I’m from Maine, I grew up walking across the Casco Bay bridge at low tide, smelling damp seaweed drying in the sun and the tang of salt crusting on the sand as the water recedes. This wine smells exactly like that.
That being said, the wine itself is much more approachable. It’s a juicy, vibrant wine, with tart acidity and long mineral finish that coats the mouth. Fresh citrus: think ripe pomelo complete with its massive, bitter pith. For those of us that always ask for an extra lemon wedge when dining out. I recommend drinking it with any sort of vegetable dish, perhaps an asparagus dish, to pay homage to Umbria. Or by itself, as I did, down to the last cloudy, unfiltered drop.