Aia Vecchia, Bolgheri | 538 Wine Notes

Aia Vecchia

2014 Lagone, Tuscany

2013 Sor Ugo, Bolgheri

Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast just south of Livorno, is one of Italy's most prestigious vineyard areas. Its winemaking zone is made up of sloping coastal vineyards at the foot of the hills between the town of Bolgheri, after which this DOC is named, and the southern part of Castagneto. Located near the Tyrrhenian Sea, it has been described as 'the golden oasis of the Maremma' (an area of south-western Tuscany and northern Lazio).

In the 1960’s the Tuscan wine industry needed a shake-up, and Bolgheri became one of the avant-garde areas that helped bring this region back to life. One of the tactics was to start a new trend of non-DOC wines, and in 1968 an innovative style of wine was named the Super Tuscan. The flagship 'Super Tuscan' wine was Sassicaia. Sassicaia returned Bolgheri and Tuscany into the limelight. Sassicaia was also the first and only Italian wine to be honored with its own single-estate classification: thus in 1994, Bolgheri and Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC were born.

The main focus of the Bolgheri DOC is the importance of terroir and for this reason, the Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Superiore wines are labeled without the mention of grapes, as terroir is considered more significant than grape varieties. It is also why Bolgheri wines are reputed for their true expressions of terroir.

Nevertheless, the varieties that put Bolgheri on the wine map are the Bordeaux trio Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Franc and Merlot. The wines from this area are incredibly compact, dark and ruby red in color, which suggests great ageing potential. The heady bouquets are reminiscent of ripe berries, with hints of Mediterranean maquis (the main vegetation along the Mediterranean coastline) and spicy oak. They are characterized by their powerful structure, elegant poise and smooth, rounded natures. A sweetness of fruit on the palate is backed by layers of velvety tannins, a lively, fresh acidity and a long, lingering finish. What makes Bolgheri oddly interesting (at least from an Italian wine standpoint) is the lack of tradition. As recently as the 1970s, most of the land in the Maremma region was used for cattle and livestock rearing. This is not unlike many of California’s premier wine regions, where rolling hills of grass and mixed woodlands were first seen as ideal for ranching before anyone looked at them through wine goggles. Because of this, approaching Bolgheri wines is more like approaching a bottle of Napa Cabernet: Who is the winemaker? What style do they offer? What is the mix of grapes they use?

Aia Vecchia, the name of an old building situated in the Tuscan countryside between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci and next the Tyrrhenian coast, is the center of the winery today. The particularly favorable microclimate and ideally suited soils of this area make the production of high quality wines possible. The position of the vineyards allows the vines to receive a great deal of light, both direct sunlight and indirect as reflected off the sea, which allows for an early harvest. The property consists of 104 acres split into two estates in Bolgheri and Maremma Grossetana. In the Bolgheri zone are planted: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot grapes, which are used to produce two of the flagship wines: “Lagone” and “Sor Ugo.”

Lagone is classified as an IGT Toscana as t is a blend of grapes from Bolgheri and the surrounding Tuscan village of Magliano. Sor Ugo is made from only grapes from Bolgheri. Lagone is predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that was aged a year in oak and six months in bottle. Lagone is considered the baby to Sor Ugo. But it’s a nice, lush wine in its own right. In the glass, the wine is deep ruby with purple hues. The scent is delicate with cherry, vanilla, herbs and a little beefy. The wine is nicely structured, elegant with plum, ripe cherries, wild berries and spices followed by a nice long finish. Allow time for the wine to breathe and notice the change of flavors as it develops in the glass!

Sor Ugo, or “Mr. Ugo” is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot all from Bolgheri Superiore. The wine is aged in 100% new French Allier oak barrels for at least 18 months, then aged a year in bottle. In the glass, the wine shows colors of red garnet accompanied by a bouquet of cherries, menthol and a hint of rosemary. On the palate, the wine is round and rich without being overpowering. It is spicy on the mid-palate and lively on the back-end, with flavors of black current, licorice and coffee, followed by a long-lasting finish that is slightly minty and boasts a juicy mouth-watering sensation. Open the Sor Ugo an hour before drinking. This wine will appreciate some time to open up.

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