Alessia Antinori’s Alberico is a tiny gem of a vineyard within the city limits of Rome.
Alberico takes the idea of ‘small’ to a new level. There are just eight rows of vines here – half black grapes, half white – producing around 1,000 bottles in total. These are the survivors of one of Lazio’s great estates.
Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Venosa, inherited this breath-taking property in 1946. It lies on Rome’s famous Appian Way – the dome of St Peter’s and the city skyline is visible in the distance from the vineyard.
During the 1960s and 1970s, this estate was, in Ian d’Agata’s words, “often in the same quality league as Sassicaia or Solaia.” However, the Prince pulled out almost all the vines shortly before his death. It has fallen to his granddaughter, Alessia Antinori, to lovingly breathe new life into what is now a thriving estate.
The red is a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, Bordeaux-esque, ripe and with and a frisson of rocky mineral tension. The white is 100% Semillon, delicately honeyed and substantial, vinified in old oak barrels.
Corney & Barrow is proud to be the exclusive UK agent of Alberico.
THE GROWING SEASONS
The estate, whose volcanic soils lie on an ancient lava flow, is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon and Malvasia.
Following Alessia’s grandfather’s uprooting of most of the vines, the heart of the estate today consists of just eight surviving rows. It is run on organic lines. The volcanic soils are rich in minerals and basalt.
2014 was the fifth harvest of Alberico Rosso since Alessia Antinori’s revival of this tiny enclave of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines. A notoriously rainy vintage in Italy, yet the gentler fruit of 2014 gives full rein to a lovely herbal complexity and crisp acid backbone.
A warm summer balanced out the effects of a wet, cool winter and spring. Early vegetative growth countered the natural concentration of the hot, dry August. Harvest took place at the end of September, two weeks later than in 2014. Lovely vintage.
Spring temperatures were below the seasonal norm, with more average summer conditions, resulting in what Alessia Antinori describes as “perfectly healthy grapes.” At harvest, the bunches were unstressed and of optimal ripeness. A high quality year.
Alberico Bianco: Semillon grapes are harvested manually, with only the finest selected for Alberico Bianco. They are then destemmed and pressed gently before fermentation in old oak casks. Following six months’ maturation in 318 litre puncheons, the wine is bottled and given a minimum of 24 months’ bottle age.
Alberico Rosso: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are destemmed and fermented separately in temperature-controlled cement tanks. The wine is run off its skins into large old oak casks for a minimum of twelve months’ maturation, then transferred to 318 litre puncheons for a further twelve months. It then spends a minimum of two years in bottle before release.
ALBERICO BIANCO 2016
100% Semillon, from a tiny patch of over 50 year-old vines. Golden-amber in colour. Aromas of nectarine, apricot, honeysuckle and crème caramel. The palate is honeyed and rather decadent, the fresh Semillon acidity lifting the flavours through to a confident, crunchy finish. 13% abv. Recommended for immediate drinking.
Corney & Barrow Score 17+
Recommended drinking from 2020–2022
£70 / CASE OF 1 MAGNUM, IN BOND UK
ALBERICO ROSSO 2014
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot. Cassis and graphite aromas, very Cabernet, with herbal spices and garrigue. A tantalising mixture of Bordeaux and Provence. The red cherried palate is silkily cushioned, lifted by perfectly crisp acidity, firm tannins providing definition. Blood oranges, tangerine zest and tomato leaf make for an upbeat wine of verve and personality. Iodine and flint on the finish. 13.5% abv.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 +
Recommended drinking from 2021–2026
ALBERICO ROSSO 2015
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot. Brick ruby colour. Meaty, leathery aromas, with raspberry, tomato leaf and orange zest. The palate has a bright core of ripe red cherry fruit, with earthy minerality, iodine and blood orange. More savoury than sweet, with that lovely Lazio baked earth texture. Fine tannins and tangy, lemony acidity. Full of vitality and somehow quintessentially Italian. 13% abv.
Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2021–2028
£110 / CASE OF 1 MAGNUM, IN BOND UK