Marco de Bartoli Marsala Superiore Riserva Oro 2004 (500ml)


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“The 2004 Marsala d’Oro Superiore Riserva first captures your attention with its gorgeous amber and orange hue, as you swirl and watch its glycerol viscosity coat the glass. Its bouquet pulls you close, a dusting of clove and cinnamon giving way to dried florals, orange peel, incense and baked apples. It’s velvety yet not weighty in feel, with an incredibly layered display that comes in waves, as salted almonds and caramel are followed by grilled mango and peach, the gobs of minerality and brisk acids maintaining impeccable balance. This is decidedly more savory than sweet, tapering off over the course of minutes, while also leaving the senses perfectly refreshed and aching for another salty sip. This glorious effort will make you a lifelong fan of dry Marsala. Drinking window: 2021-2038. 96 points

If I were permitted only one producer on the island of Sicily to introduce readers to, it would be Marco de Bartoli. When the average person thinks of Marsala, they think of a cheap cooking wine that is the last-minute errand you run right before starting to prepare a meal. What they don’t understand is that Marsala has a deep, rich history of creating wines designed to compete with the best Madeira and Sherry. The problem is that this history was buried deep beneath decades of mass production, a muddling of grape varieties and unnecessary fortification. Marco de Bartoli turned a passion for tradition into a vision of the future, and his heirs, have held the line, learning from their father’s teachings while keeping an innovative eye on new practices and trends. Today, de Bartoli continues to release purely traditional-style Marsala, using only estate-grown Grillo, the Solera barrel aging system (which uses oak and chestnut vats of various sizes) and, in the case of the Vecchio Samperi, no fortification. The Superiore wines do see a light fortification with grape brandy when removed from the Solera system, and they are then aged oxidatively in oak vats until bottling for release. Simply stated, a Marsala from Marco de Bartoli can compete with the greatest Ports, Sherries and Madeira. However, this house is no longer just about Marsala. The current generation, made up of Marco’s children Renato, Sebastiano and Giuseppina, began to experiment with dry whites produced from Grillo, Zibibbo and Catarratto in the 1990s. Today, these wines have really come into their own, showing exceptionally well, and they are true standouts in my recent tastings. What’s more, this experimentation has now evolved even further with the next level of dry whites in the Bartoli lineup, Integer. Both the Zibibbo and the Grillo for Integer are spontaneously fermented without temperature control, spend 10 days macerating with zero sulfur added, and then go through malolactic fermentation and rest for 10 months on the lees in large botti, with a small percentage of the juice spending five months on skins in clay amphora. The resulting wines are unique and stretch the imagination, yet they are also amazingly pleasing, and with notable cellaring potential.”

Eric Guido, Vinous (06/21)