Aia Vecchia's Elia Pelligrini, who was a former soccer star and now is the fourth generation in his family's wine business, visited New York City recently to show his wines.
The family owned vineyards are in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany, close to the Tyrrhenian coast - an area known for legendary super Tuscan wines including Ornellaia. Yet Aia Vecchia offers high quality wines at an affordable price point.
Unlike areas of Tuscany further inland, the vineyards here receive, "double sun" according to Elia. Grapes ripen more fully as the sun shines on the vines and also reflects off the water. The coastal site also gives vines an ample breeze, which helps keeps the plants naturally healthy and free from pests.
The dinner at A Voce began with the Vermentino, which Elia said is a "coastal grape." The lemon and white flower nose was inviting and this was a wine that was terrific and showed the extra body of its aging on lees. The Solidio Rosato is a Sangiovese dominant rose that was refreshing with savory strawberries and spice.
Advancing to reds, the Lagone Toscana is their calling card wine. Elia said it is "a luxury for everyday." This rich blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc offered dense dark fruit flavors and had a plum and leather nose - delicious and satisfying for a terrific $15 price.
The premier offering is Sor Ugo Bolgheri Superiore 2014. This wine has been aged for two years before its release, as required by the DOC. With a super Tuscan mix of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Petiti Verdot), this is a wine made with the precision expected from this area known for greatness. After a month of temperature controlled fermentation with manual punch-down, the wine is aged in barrique and then rests in bottle. This showed greater complexity than the Lagone, with ample black fruit and spice and firm tannins. I would continue to age this bottle.
The wines of Aia Vecchia are widely available in the states - look for them for a taste of the Bolgheri and a price within reach.