I tasted a wine last December that has been stuck in my head for over 2 months now. It’s haunting me like a one of those really sultry dreams from which you wake up much too soon. Like a conversation started with somebody entirely too fascinating, from whom you must part without finishing what should have been said. Without exploring the entirety of the story. This wine had so much more to tell me, and I simply didn’t have the time to listen. I had to go. Had a plane to catch. Had other engagements to honor. We had dinner reservations at Da Cesare for goodness’ sake!
The elusive wine in question was the flagship wine of Giulio Armani’s Denavolo winery: Dinavolo.
Hande Leimer had chosen the Dinavolo for an Epic Natural Wine Tasting she hosted while I was in Rome. I say epic because we tasted through perhaps 16 wines in under 2 hours, and each wine was worthy of its own hour of discussion and contemplation. The Dinavolo was special though, and I was drawn to it immediately. An “orange” to be sure- completely copper and brilliant in the perfectly lit room. The Vino Roma studio is a grand stage for these wines to perform at their best.
Giulio Armani is perhaps best-known for his work as the winemaker at La Stoppa, another brilliant piece of Emilia Romagna that delivers incredible grapes, bursting with terroir. I have never been to La Stoppa, nor to Denavolo, but these wines certainly inspire me to make the trek.
The Dinavolo is made with Malvasia, Ortrugo, Marsanne and other (potentially even more ancient) local grapes, co-fermented in typical field-blend fashion. The must is left in contact with the skins for 2 months, allowing for a tannic structure similar to many red wines, as well as an elevated level of aromatic intrigue. This is the secret recipe that makes me fall in love with a wine- texture and aromatics. Those tiny tannins that coat your mouth and grip the insides of your cheeks while the fruit and body of the wine luxuriates on the mid-palate. Then there’s the seduction of aromatics- exotic fruits and field flowers and freshly-trampled grass. Wild roadside mint crushed in your fingers- saffron steam from a risotto stock- cloves and cinnamon waiting for Christmas in the back of my cupboard. I did not want to stop smelling this wine. As a gorgeous friend of mine says- I wanted to put it behind my ears and wear it like perfume.
It seems, unfortunately, that these wines are not available in California, so I will have to wait patiently for my next trip to New York City, or Italia. The frustration is palpable, the yearning so great. But isn’t is amazing when you find you’ve experienced something so genuine- so honestly beguiling- that it’s worth the wait?
“I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.”
― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets