I first met Tony Margiotta, owner of Gladiator Wine Distribution, at a wine tasting a few years ago. At the time he had very few producers, but I was very impressed by his selections and his passion for Italian wines in general. As his portfolio grew he invited me to taste his wines but we just could not seem to get together. Last month I saw him at a wine event and we finally made a date to meet.
Tony only carries Italian wines and he has only artisanal producers who only use native grapes. All of the wines listed below have a production of under 10,000 bottles and one is under 1,000. It was amazing that Tony was able to find such good producers that most people have never heard of — including me.
Castellucci Miano DOC Valledolmo-Contea di Sclafani-Sicily “Shiara” Bianco 2019 made of 100% Catarratto from 30/40 years old vines located on the slopes of the Madonie Montains at 700/900 meters. Training system is alberello and sapling, the pruning is guyot and spur. Soil is half sand and clay with an alkaline reaction due to active limestone. Harvest takes place in October. White wine vinification with fermentation at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in stainless steel for 6 months and then in bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints a citrus fruit, apple, and pear with a touch of cantaloupe and crisp acidity $35. *Catarratto is a grape indigenous to Sicily
Castellucci Miano “PerricOne” 2020 made from 100% Perricone on the slopes of the Madonie mountains at 700/900 meters.The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southeast/southwest exposure and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The soil is sandy, clayey, of medium texture, with alkaline reaction due to the presence of active limestone. The training system is espalier, the pruning is guyot and spur. The average age of the vines is 30 years. In the vineyard there is no weeding or the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Harvest takes place in September. Traditional winemaking with pumping over during fermentation. Selected yeasts from the vine yard are used. Malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months and in small French oak barrels for 10 months and in bottle for another 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, juniper a note of spice and good acidity $26. *They were the first producer in Sicily to make a monovarietal from the Perricone grape.
Terre Antiche “Rubino” Cesanese del Piglio 2021 made from 100% Cesanese del Piglio from 25/30 year old vines. The training system is espalier and guyot and the soil is limestone, calcareous. Harvest is at the end of September. The grapes are destemmed and there is a soft pressing in amphora followed by a spontaneous fermentation in amphora, maceration is for 10/15 days. The wine is aged in amphora, chestnut barrels and cement. Filtration and clarification does not take place. The wine is bottled the following spring after the harvest and remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is a medium-bodied fresh red wine with hints of cherry, pomegranate, rose petals and hint of spice. $30. The estate vineyards are in Piglio and Anagni south of Rome. The winery is biodynamic.
Atha Ruja “Terra Sorella” Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2020 Made from 100% Cannonau. After fermentation on the skins for a period of 15 to 20 days, the grapes mature in steel tanks for at least 10 months and a small part is aged in French oak tonneaux for a period of less than a year. The wine remains in bottle 2 to 3 months before release. The wine has hints of myrtle, raspberry, strawberry, and rosemary, with touch of spice. The grapes are grown without the use of pesticides are and the vines are managed according to biodynamic principles. $22
Antico Borgo “Campi Taurasini” 2017 made from 100% Aglianico The soil is clay and chalky and the training system is espalier. Manual harvest takes place in October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes places at a controlled temperature. Aging is for 1 year in a combination of French barriques and large American oak casks and the wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of raspberry, violets, cherry, a touch of plum and a note of leather. $25 The current vintage is 2017 *Irpinia Campi Taurasini is a sub region of the Irpinia DOC of central Campania. The classification applies to wines made from the Aglianico grape on the Campi Taurasi-the Taurasian Fields. This territory is the same as Taurasi DOCG. Campi Taurasini means “little Taurasi fields.” While Taurasi Riserva DOGG is aged for 3 years in oak barrels and can age for many years the Taurasini spends just one year in oak before bottling. It is a wine that is made to be drunk young but still has aging potential. This is the first time I tasted a wine from this appellation.
Antico Borgo “Taurasi Riserva” DOCG 2015 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay and chalky and the training system is espalier. The manual harvest takes place in October and early November. The wine ages for 3 years of which one is in large oak barrels. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation is in temperature controlled steel vats. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, cherries, blackberries. spice, leather and a hint of tobacco. $65. The current release is 2015
Battaglio Barbaresco 2019 Made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Serragilli cru. The exposure is southwest and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Soil is limestone, calcareous and vine training is espalier with guyot pruning. The fertilizer is manure with a minimal use of sulfur and copper depending on the weather. Weeding is done by machines. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation takes place with selected yeasts from the Langhe. There is up to 30 days of maceration with frequent pumping over at 30-33 degrees Celsius in steel vats. Aging is for 24 months in 20% Slavonian oak and 80% in French barriques. Only 980 bottles were produced. The wine has hints of berries, black cherry, clove, licorice and a note of tobacco. $95
Tenute Ugolini “Amarone Valle Alta” 2013 made from Corvina Gentile, Corvina Grosso and Oseleta. The Valle Alta vineyard is 3.23 hectares at 256 meters. The training system is spalliera Veronese (Veronese vertical-trellis) and there are 6,250 vines per hectare. Soil composed of fossil marl and the exposure is south/east and the vines are 20 years old. Harvest is in the middle of October. After the harvest the grapes are placed in small crates to be dried in the drying center. When the grapes have lost more than 50% of their original weight they are hand selected, crushed and fermented. Maturation is for 36 months in barriques and tonneaux and then in bottle for at least two years before release. The wine has hints of jam, cherry, dried fruit, sweet spice, licorice, a note of cocoa and a touch of nutmeg. $120 *Appassimento: Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for up to 3 months in the case of Amarone, to concentrate the sugars and flavors.
Here is a link to where you can buy the wines
Tony Margiotta’s portfolio is one to watch. I certainly look forward to trying his next discoveries.