When it comes to importing wines from Italy, we tend not to go for cuvées made from internationally prevalent grapes, because the country boasts so many native varieties: Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Rossese, Nerello Mascalese, and Nero d’Avola, to name just a few. Every once in a while, however, if the terroir has something really interesting to say and the wine is simply too good to pass up, we make an exception. Peter Dipoli’s Iugum is one of these rare bottles. From his stunning slopes near Bolzano in Alto Adige, Dipoli crafts this blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, an outstanding Italian cousin of Right-Bank Bordeaux, with fragrant aromas of black cherries, tobacco, and plums. Enjoy now through 2030.
Peter Dipoli represents one of the wine world’s pure talents, a pioneer in Alto Adige who is producing wines on a level beyond what anyone thought possible in this mountainous region. After much research, Peter determined that the steep, high-altitude slopes near Bolzano were ideal for producing age-worthy white and red wines. He began with Sauvignon Blanc: at this altitude, Sauvignon attains great ripeness while retaining the acidity that would allow it to age in bottle. Peter’s research led him to detect a zone with a milder climate and soils of clay and limestone, ideal for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Experience the unique artistry of one of Italy's great talents, a secret largely guarded within Italy's borders, until now.
In the heart of the Dolomites, Alto Adige is Italy’s northernmost wine region. Having changed hands multiples times in its history between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (it shares a border with Austria), it boasts strong Germanic influence on its culture, language, cuisine, as well as its wines.
The mountainous geography is the principal determinant of local winemaking styles, with the high-altitude vineyards and cool Alpine climate favoring primarily crisp, racy, aromatic whites from varieties like Kerner, Sauvignon, Müller Thurgau, and Grüner Veltliner. A Mediterranean influence on climate is channeled north up the valley until Bolzano, permitting the cultivation of certain reds as well, among which Schiava, Lagrein, Pinot Nero, and Merlot fare best.
Small growers who once sold fruit to the area’s multiple co-ops are now increasingly bottling their own wines. The arrival of many quality-oriented artisans on the scene caught our eye years ago, and we now count three estates from Südtirol, as it is also known, in our portfolio. These high-acid mountain wines make for a beautifully invigorating aperitivo with thinly sliced speck, a local specialty.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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