BY: Grace Wexler
I was lucky enough to have a chance to visit Paterna earlier this year in March. Even when I’d tasted Paterna’s wines the first time, without context of place, I really loved them. They are charming and playful but have moments of profundity and seriousness. Delivering all the punch of Chianti but with more vibrance and bounce and emotion. Visiting their farm I was even more overcome by the beauty and calm that settles upon this lovingly worked organic Tuscan world. Claudia and Marco showed us around their vines explaining little interesting changes and discussions they have as agriculturalists year to year. Marco represents a generation of winemaking before Claudia so there are always little reminders of tradition vs new, memories vs now. They’re debating whether the old pruned wood should be burned ( this is the old way, the superstition is that the smoke from the burning wood will protect this years vines from frost and disease.) or if it should be chopped up and put back into the soil to nourish the vines and complete the life cycle. Marco explains that the harvest begins almost an entire month earlier than it did when he was a kid. Their work confronts them with the changing climate day to day and year to year. Their vines are the loveliest. The sun sparkles across scraggly little green mounds of cover crops between rows, nitrogen fixers like wild peas and wild barley, and illuminates an array of little bumps of color of tiny wildflowers speckled through the ground on their entire property. To go full millenial on you and really pull it back from the poetic: Paterna is a viiiiiibe. This feels immediately like a place where you can’t help but pray to the earth and feel the good she emits.
We move to a tour of their cellar two rows of old barrique. Giant stainless vats. Colorfully painted cement containers. Marco pulls samples with the thief ( legit I did have to look up the official term for that big ‘ol pipette) and empties little splashes into each glass. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit what a true THRILL it gave me everytime I tasted a wine direct from its vessel. Like…. What is this fresh magic?? Back at their Cantina, Tamara has created a true feast of beans and pasta and cured meat. Best of all we get to top everything with the olive oil they make themselves. If you ever want to see if olive oil can make you cry, theirs will certainly make you feel all the feelings. It is at their cantina table that I taste the Il Terraio for the first time and it is at my own kitchen table that I taste it again. Il Terraio is , unsurprisingly, a magical ride. A blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and a baby bit of Orpicchio, 20% of this wine sees skin contact during fermentation but the other 80% is direct press. Looking back at my notes from tasting this in Tuscany I feel very validated that the second time I drank it I experienced the same things.
It’s not a highly aromatic wine so you really find yourself burying your nose deep in there, and when you do- ripe sunwarmed lemon, fresh dreamy grass, Anjou pear…. Fresh rain?? Tasting this wine is a quiet moment, sitting, listening to the wine unfold its flavors on your tongue. It’s light, crisp, clean. Unripe mango, a twist of lemon, a lil punch of pineapple and pear. This wine doesn’t scream fruit or scream acid or SCREAM anything. A little reminder of acidity tickles your palate at the end but it’s got nothing to prove. I must truly share that sometimes tasting a wine makes me so emotional that I write incredibly cringe worthy verbose tasting notes and visuals and this is what a wrote at my kitchen table at 7:30 pm in June : A wine you have to get up close to hear, it’s not shouting anything, it’s singing a quiet self assured song. It knows itself, its not trying to prove anything, like lying in the grass at Paterna with a gentle sun and a breeze listening to the bees buzz and the dogs running……Don’t worry I know that a more annoying description of a wine has never been written but the fullness of my heart when drinking wine from Paterna made me feel like you just had to see how romantic their wine makes my senses.