Ten years have passed for Maria Grimolizzi and her husband Raffaele when they purchased a 30-year old vineyard in Barile in the southern Italian region of Basilicata. They have always been involved in the cultivation of olives and cereals but the decision to venture into wine making had been very fruitful for them. From the first vintage of 2013 of the Aglianico del Vulture DOC, Cantina Il Passo had received the most prestigious Platinum award of Decanter World Wine Awards of 95 points. And from then on, the line of international awards and recognition didn’t waver. Il Passo maintains only one label, the Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture DOC keeping keen attention to high quality with their oenologist Fabio Mecca, who was recently awarded as the “Oenologist of the Year 2021” by Food and Travel Italia. And to celebrate this milestone, they came out with their first Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG from the year 2019 with a very limited production of 2,000 bottles.
Barile was an ancient Arbëreshë settlement, founded by groups of Greek and Albanian immigrants who settled in the area in mid-15th century. It is dubbed as Città del Vino (City of Wines) for its set of cave cellars dug in the volcanic tuff of the hill called Sheshë. Originally, these caves hosted the first Albanian settlers but later on, they have discovered that the caves were ideal environments in conserving agricultural products and Aglianico wine which has been produced in the area for centuries as introduced by the ancient Greeks.
Named after the farm in the area of Alberi in Piano, that’s been owned by their third grandfather, Alberi in Piano was chosen as the name of their singularly-produced label. It is a way of linking their family’s history, bearing in mind that there was big agricultural work that preceded them and that the future is in their hands. Coinciding with their 10th year anniversary is the 140th year anniversary of the Alberi in Piano farm as well.
The wine production of Cantina Il Passo is averaged at around 5,000 bottles per year with only one label. The area of cultivation is at around 500 meters asl in volcanic soil with calcareous elements in 4 hectares of land dedicated to viticulture, a small portion of their 50 hectare-land with cereals and olive orchards. The climate is typically Mediterranean with substantial temperature variations between day and night, giving rise to structured wines with aromatic spine. The grapes are harvested manually in October then fermented with the skins for about 15 days with controlled temperature of about 28°C. During the entire fermentation phase, 3 daily pump overs are performed. At the end of fermentation, the wine is transferred into large Slavonian oak barrels where it stays for about 2 months. It is then moved to tonneaux for the refinement for about 18 months.
The Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2017, like the previous vintages, is also multi-awarded internationally and it has received 90 points at DWWA, awarding it with a Silver medal; Rosso (90-92.99 points) at WineHunter; and Gold medal at Certamen Topwine. The wine has a vibrant ruby red color which is evolving beautifully drawing out elegance and great structure, expression of mature dark fruits of black berries and plums, notes of dried spices and dried flowers and distinctive thin layer of smokiness. Acidity is notable, as well as sapidity with velvety tannins, as it ends with length. The Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG 2019 (10th year anniversary) expresses the quintessence of Il Passo’s personality well at its youth and promises to evolve marvelously over the years to its maturity.