Where does it come from:
The origin of Altesse has been the subject of some debate. It has been suggested that it's identical to Furmint, the noble Hungarian variety used to make the great sweet wine Tokaij. However others suspect that it is indigenous to the hills of Savoie. Today there are fewer than 1,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in France, though there is a small quantity in Switzerland.
What's it like for the farmer:
Altesse needs gentle care, as it is quite to susceptible to the most common forms of grape rot.
Anima Negra, "A/N2," Mallorca, Spain, 2012
Distributed by: Winebow, 236 W. 26th St, New York, NY 10001
Blue Ribbon Brasserie
Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen
Blue Ribbon Brooklyn
We've talked here in the past about how different island wines taste, even from wines made on mainland coasts. When vines are planted on an island, they are being condemned to a life lived at the mercy of the elements. On an island like Mallorca, sitting about 150 miles off the Spanish coast, the vines must contend with wet stormy winters, hot summers and bracing winds that blow all year round. The intense weather conditions leave their mark in the bottle. Taste the wines of Anima Negra and you will see what we mean.
Humans have been growing vines on Mallorca for nearly 2000 years (the great Roman general and scholar Pliny wrote about the wines in his studies). But like much local Spanish wine, they were little known outside the region until quite late in the 20th century, when a younger generation of growers who had gained experience in more developed regions began to bring new growing techniques and fermentation technology to the table.
Anima Negra was started by two old friends in 1994, who were convinced that the old native varieties on the island held great potential. They were specifically focused on Callet and Mantonegre, which thrived in the hard rocky limestone soils. They started with two barrels in 1994. Now twenty years later, they make nearly 200,000 bottles, both red and white and are considered among the preeminent growers on the island.
As with nearly every producer we support, huge emphasis is placed on the health of the vineyard, first and foremost. The vines are farmed according to both organic and biodynamic principles and careful selection (along with old vines) keep the yields low.
"A/N2" is the baby and the Callet and Mantonegre see the addition of some syrah, to soften the hardest edges and make the wine approachable younger (the 100% Callet "Son Negre" can take years to be ready to drink.) All the aging is done in oak, with about twenty five percent done in new barrels. But the wines are not at all overtly oaky. What we are presented with is a bottle full of red fruit and allspice, with a pronounced smoky note from the ancient Callet vines. It is round but not plush and perfect for these cold winter nights. So why not come take a little Mediterranean vacation with us this week at Blue Ribbon and share a glass or three?
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants