2019 Giornata, Aglianico, French Camp Vineyard, Paso Robles.
Brian Terrizzi and his wife Stephanie, a highly regarded vineyard manager in her own right, are making some devious stuff, like this powerful French Camp Aglianico with its deep color and rich and earthy character, which is very much true to the grape’s classic profile with dark berry fruits, dusty spices, hints of iron, umami and leathery tones. Brian started his career making wine for Zinfandel producer Rosenblum Cellars, after which he says, he traveled to Italy to work with the famous Paolo DeMarchi at Isole e Olena in Tuscany, cementing his love for Italian varietals. Terrizzi says his Aglianico comes from a block of Aglianico at French Camp Vineyard that thrives in one of the warmest sections of the Paso Robles AVA. He goes to add that, this site is often the last fruit to be picked in any given harvest, as Aglianico ripens slowly, retains beautiful freshness and acidity at relatively low sugars. Thick-skinned and intense, this grape looks to have a solid future in California and from what I’ve tasted I think the potential is huge for this Southern Italian varietal, especial Giornata’s delicious example that hugely benefits of rustic and meaty cuisine, things like lamb and steak are great pairings for this stuff. The full bodied palate of this 2019 is dense, but lively with black raspberry, plum and blueberry fruits leading the way, along with touches of cedar, licorice, crushed flowers and a sanguine element, reminding me of its Italian cousin quite a bit, though it has a California supple ripe textural feel in the mouth and the firm tannic backbone makes me think that it will age beautifully. Terrizzi gets these grapes from the Miller family, who have been growing and selling grapes since 1976, from their one acre of Aglianico at French Camp, which is set on Alluvial soils that are composed of sandy loamy soils at an elevation close to 1600 feet above sea level.
Winemaker Brian Terrizzi’s Giornata label, which features wines inspired by their Italian counterparts, is one of the most interesting alternative wineries in Paso Robles and from his spot in Tin City is putting out an impressive collection of Cal Itals from his excellent skin contact and amphora raised Falanghina to his signature Nebbiolo, as well as Barbera and this Aglianico. As mentioned and noted in prior reviews, Giornata is specializing in Italian varietals or Cal Itals and focuses on the Piedmonte grapes of Nebbiolo and Barbera, but they do a stylish set of Southern Italian wines too, including their Fiano and Falanghina offerings, as well as this incredible Aglianico, a grape which hails from Campania and the famous Taurasi region and is called the Barolo of the South. Some wineries in recent years, like Giornata, Idewild, Uniti, Aeris (sister label to Rhys), Ian Brand (Arneis and Pinot Grigio) and especially Ryme Cellars, plus some others, have taken California to the next level in Italian varietal wines, beyond Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio, and there is much more to come. I’m very excited in particular for the potential of Aglianico, with Terrizzi’s 2019 French Camp Vineyard version being a fantastic effort. For this wine Terrizzi uses 100% de-stemmed small berried Aglianico and fermented it with all native yeast and aged it more than a year in mostly used French oak, with just 10% new. Overall, Paso Robles provides limestone soils and weather that suits these Southern Italy grapes, with warm days and cool nights allowing big ripe flavors, but also retaining lively energy in the wines with natural acidity, all of which is showcased in these Giornata wines. Brian also does a set of Fatto a Mano wines, translated as “made by hand” in Italian, consists of Arneis, Falanghina, Fiano, Ramato of Pinot Gris and Vermentino aged with amphora and seeing some skin contact. I highly recommend these latest Giornata wines, they have really impressed me for quality, both their whites and reds, and are reasonably priced for what you get in the glass.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive