1989 Tenuta Frassitelli d’Ambra Biancolella dell’Isola d’Ischia

For those lucky enough to visit Ischia in the spring, summer or fall, Tenuta Frassitelli offers one of the world’s ten most beautiful vineyards, clasping the crooked crags up on Ischia’s almost 2000 ft. high Mt. Epomeo. As you stand right above Frassitelli, you'll marvel at a sea of intense green vines hanging out over a mesmerizingly blue sea , and will have your gaze wander over the Mediterrranean towards the islands of Capri and Ventotene before you. Beautiful, yes, but very steep: so steep in fact that grapes picked from vines growing in the vineyard’s upper reaches need to be brought down by a monorail train, as humans and donkeys would never be able to manage. Frassitelli is the island’s most famous cru for Biancolella, a native grape that gives lovely lemony wines characterized by noteworthy saline bite and complicating hints of white flowers and botanical herbs. Wines that few realize can age remarkably well: in fact, my last 1989 is still a beauty. This now 26 year-old white wine is still clean and lively, offering notes of faded flowers and fresh stone fruit along with Biancolella’s telltale saline edge. In my line of work, I need to study how wines evolve and have enough cellar space to hang on to bottles as long as needed, but you won’t need to, as Biancolella wines offer lovely liquid refreshment already in their first year of life! 90/Drinking window: 2015.

-- Ian d’Agata