La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni. I wish my wines to live for many years

La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni
I wish my wines to live for many years

Elena Pantaleoni is part of the “Triple A” movement; you’ll see the sign on some of her wines. What's it all about? Mostly, it is against the standardisation of wines, the dumbing down, the loss of variety, of personality, of terroir, of local grapes, of character. Agriculturists, Artisans, Artists.

Essentially, it is Elena and her equivalents in Italy, in France, in Spain, in Portugal, wherever, who are up against Big Food, Big Drink. It is for nature. Natural Resistance is a film in which Elena had a leading part. And it is not just wine. The monopolising influences are everywhere, in all sectors. So wake up, get up, get out and support your local food and drink producer. Otherwise, some boring day in the future, breakfast will be Tablet 1, lunch Tablet 2, dinner Tablet 3; interchangeable. And your wine will be white or red. No variety.

Triple 'A': AGRICULTURISTS Only who cultivates directly the vineyard can build a fair relationship between man and grapevine, and obtain healthy and mature grapes through exclusively natural agronomical interventions. ARTISANS Artisanal methods and capabilities are required to carry out a viticultural and oenological productive process that does not modify the original structure of the grapes and of the wine. ARTISTS Solely the “artistic” sensibility of a producer, respectful of his own work and his own ideas, can give life to a great wine in which the characteristics of territory and vine are exalted.

Read, a little, more on the subject here.

La Stoppa Trebbiolo 2013 (Emilia rosso IGT), 13%, €19.95 Le Caveau

This certified organic natural red is a blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) and thereby hangs a tale.

For twenty years, La Stoppa estate had been growing mainly international grapes but, in 1996, Elena Pantaleoni and winemaker Giulio Armani decided to concentrate on the Italian grapes Barbera and Bonarda.

Elena: “I wish my wines to live for many years; so that when selected, they can be enjoyed for their colour, their taste and their bouquet.”

Colour here is a vibrant medium red. Aromas are fresh and  rather complex and include red and darker berries, vanilla hints, spice too. On the palate, it is light, fruity, simple, some spice too, a very refreshing acidity, lively, lovely and juicy; good on its own or with food. A wine for all seasons and Very Highly Recommended.

I met Elena for the first time at a recent lunch in Good Things in Skibbereen and she told me that they also make a frizzante version of the Trebbiolo, an everyday wine that, helped by its pleasant acidity, goes well with the local cuisine. The name Trebbiolo, she told us, comes from a local river valley.
Elena (1st left, 1st row) at lunch in Good Things, Skibbereen.

La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2015, 7%, €18.95 Le Caveau.

And that same valley produces the fruit, the Malvasia di Candia, for this unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Unusual to me anyhow. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.

Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is a must try, perhaps with a nougat by Miena, maybe with some poached/grilled fruit such as peaches. Recommended.

La Stoppa Ageno, Emilia (IGT) bianco 2011, 13.5%, €31.95 Le Caveau

The Malvasia pops up here again and is indeed the major component in the blend for this rather amazing orange wine. Ortrugo and Trebbiano, both white grapes, also contribute. The wine is called after the founder of La Stoppa Estate, a man from Genoa. It is produced using an old traditional winemaking method, where the grapes are macerated on their skins (indigenous yeast, no added sulphur) for up to a month, or more, to create an orange wine. It is rich in colour, tannic and complex.

That colour is quite amazing. In addition to the maceration, it also helps that Ortrugo tends to orange in any case. The aromas are complex. For a second or two, I thought I was on a cider as I detected an autumnal orchard mustiness.

For all the intense colour and complex aromas and initial sweetness, this rich and elegant wine is definitely dry with a tannic finish (you notice it as your lips dry!). Made in the traditional manner, aged for a year in large barrels and two years in bottle, it is unique and Very Highly Recommended.
"The first Ageno was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena in Skibbereen and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

That unique quality is exactly what Elena wants for this wine, for all her wines. She spends a lot of time on the road selling her wines. She knows La Stoppa will makes its mark and succeed if it has a strong identity. She and winemaker Giulio have certainly achieved that with this trio.