Æris Centennial mountain bianco and bricco rosso blend – organic
Æris Wines are produced from their estate vineyard called Centennial Mountain which is situated just south of Rockpile AVA and just outside of the western border of Dry Creek Valley AVA . Both Rockpile and Dry Creek Valley are known for being Zinfandel country, but the topography changes dramatically where Centennial Mountain is located. It is here that Kevin Harvey and his team found a location that has what they believe to be the necessary climatic and soil conditions to grow Nebbiolo, which is notoriously difficult to cultivate outside of Piedmont.
Eric Asimov, New York Times: “Kevin Harvey of Rhys Vineyards makes terrific Pinot Noirs. Now he sees Nebbiolo and two Sicilian varieties as great options in a warming climate. The ten acres of Nebbiolo growing on this remote ridge about 25 miles west of Geyserville and 10 miles from the Pacific in northern Sonoma County make the vineyard unusual enough in California. The other grapes make it positively singular.No other vineyard in the country but this one, as far as I can tell, has blocks of Carricante and Nerello Mascalese, the two most significant white and red grapes grown on Mount Etna in Sicily.”
Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle: “One of the most coveted white wines from Italy, rarely seen in California, is finally coming into the spotlight. Carricante, a grape variety from Sicily, is now considered by some experts to be the finest white-wine variety anywhere in Italy, and wine geeks have developed a craze for it in recent years….Carricante can result in intense white wines: creamy and full, yet nervy with a tingling acidity, explosive with flavors and aromas like jasmine flower, honeysuckle, and beeswax. Reds from Sicily, made from grapes like Nerello Mascalese, are often effusively aromatic and light in alcohol, tasting both fruity and earthy.
The wines are made using strictly organic viticulture with minimal input to allow the site to dictate the character of the wines. Reds are fermented primarily using open-top vats, many with submerged cap, a common practice in Piedmont. White fermentation is done in temperature-controlled stainless steel to capture and preserve the delicate aromatics of Carricante. The wines are aged in large oak casks to allow for gentle maturation in the cellar without disguising the wines with new oak barrels.
In addition to Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Nerello Mascalese, Æris Wines are the first to plant Carricante in the United States using cuttings from producer Salvo Foti in Milo, Sicily. Carricante is rightly known as a major workhorse grape in white wines from Etna, Sicily and like Nebbiolo, has rarely found homes outside of its region of origin. Kevin Harvey and his team are well known for their meticulous attention to detail when planting vineyard sites and have found a new home for this exciting white grape.
Æris Centennial Mountain Bianco
The entry-level Carricante bottling is 100% Carricante, and is the first Carricante grown in the US, with vines coming from Æris’ vineyards in Sicily. Vinified in a mix of stainless and 1000 liter seasoned oak casks. 2100 bottles/175 cases produced.
91 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: We planted this Carricante around five years ago,” winemaker Jeff Brinkman says. “It sprung from a trip to Italy, and it took a long time to get it into the country. To our knowledge, this is the first-ever Carricante planted or made in California. We made a little before but we didn’t release it, so this is the first vintage of our Carricante. We want people to buy this for quality, not as a novelty.” The 2017 Carricante Centennial Mountain Vineyard opens with soft notes of white peach, apricot, cashew and melon with dried flowers, pithy citrus, spicy perfume and a stony undercurrent. It’s light to medium-bodied, minerally and very lively in the mouth, with juicy acidity and a long, mineral-driven finish. This is very Chardonnay-esque, and I look forward to revisiting this with some bottle age.
90 points, Jeb Dunnuck: Also all Carricante from the first plantings of this variety in California, the 2017 Carricante Bianco Centennial Mountain offers a light gold hue to go with a more subtle bouquet of white flowers, tart pineapple, crushed citrus, and a kiss of saltiness that shows on the nose as well as the palate. Beautifully balanced and medium-bodied, it opens up nicely with air and has good acidity as well as a clean, crisp finish. It’s a delicious white to enjoy over the coming 2-4 years.
Æris Centennial Mountain Bricco Rosso
This blend of 50% Nebbiolo, 15% Nerello Mascalese, 15% Nerello Capuccio, 15% Primitivo and 5% Barbera – all destemmed – was vinified in a mix of seasoned 225-2500 liter oak casks. The vines were sourced from Piedmont and Sicily. 7500 bottles/625 cases produced
94 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: Tasted from foudre, the 2017 Nebbiolo Centennial Mountain Vineyard is very promising, exhibiting a classic Nebbiolo bouquet of balsamic cherry, dried herbs, rose petal, and licorice. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, ample and succulent, with a sappy core of fruit and supple, fine-grained, and varietally typical tannins. The finish is quite long. It’s going to be fascinating to see how this comes together as it matures.
93 points, Vinous: The 2017 Etna Rosso Centenari takes its time to fully blossom in the glass, but it’s well worth the wait for a rich and captivating display of crushed black raspberries, plums and licorice mixed with hints of mint and camphor. Here I’m finding depths of silky, elegant textures, and a polished display of blackberries and currant lifted by cooling herbal notes. The concentration of primary fruit is something to behold, but even more impressive is the perfect balance that’s maintained. Sweet tannins linger, yet as more of an accent than an obstruction, as this finishes long and lightly structured with dark inner florals. The 2017 is already pretty, but it will also benefit from a short stay in the cellar.