Every week, Simon selects an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed his attention. View the whole series here.
This wine is one of relatively few standard bearers for the extended skin contact revival that’s not from Collio or Slovenian Brda. La Stoppa are based in Emilia Romagna, home to a rich, meaty cuisine and of course Lambrusco (itself experiencing a bit of a quality revival). Elena Pantaleoni makes this very typical local blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Ortrugo and Trebbiano in honour of the estate’s founder Giancarlo Ageno.
Ageno spends 30 days on its skins, and is not for the faint of heart. The 2010 has a definite whiff of sour apple, along with exotic aromas of black tea and spices, but then leads to such a gorgeously nutty, fruit-driven palate that it gets away with the slightly volatile nose. I love the texture of this wine, and the crunchy red fruit. Red you say? Well, just try serving this really blind (ie: so that the liquid can’t be seen), and I guarantee these are the flavours that come through – cranberry & redcurrant in particular.
I read Jamie Goode’s review of the previous vintage (2009) with interest – he suspects there is considerable brett influence in the wine. I didn’t pick up any unwelcome stinkiness in the 2010, although there is certainly some clove/medicinal character which is associated with the rogue yeast.
Best of all, and perhaps for the first time in this so far short series, this wine is available in the UK. Purchase it online from Ottolenghi, £26.50 or see wine searcher for other outlets.
In Amsterdam, buy Ageno and other wines from La Stoppa at Vleck Wijnen.
Update: Ageno 2011 is a quantum leap on from the 2010 in terms of its focus. It’s also much cleaner, with no detectable brett influence at all. It triumphed at Decanter’s natural wine tasting in 2017, where it scored top marks from all three tasters including me.
Want to read more about this style and other great skin contact wines from Emilia Romagna? Pre-order Simon’s book Amber Revolution now!
OK, so I have now tried the 2009 as well. It is indeed more brett influenced – and quite volatile. But somehow it all comes together as a hugely satifying and captivating drink. Rather in the manner of a Belgian sour beer (geuze).
One of those wines that would look terrible if subjected to technical analysis, but provides a wonderful drinking experience.