2017 Peter Dipoli, Alto Adige Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon "Iugum"
2017 Peter Dipoli, Alto Adige Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon "Iugum"

2017 Peter Dipoli, Alto Adige Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon "Iugum"

Alto Adige, Italy 2017 (750mL)
Regular price$59.00

2017 Peter Dipoli, Alto Adige Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon "Iugum"

 If I told you that one of the most profound expressions of the classic Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, outside of Bordeaux, could be found high in the Alpine valleys of Northern Italy, it might sound a bit far-fetched. But it’s true, and that is testament to the pioneering talents of one man: Peter Dipoli. With meticulous care that even the Great Growth Châteaux would find inspiring, Peter crafts “Iugum,” a towering, complex monument to both his own winemaking talent and the (now) realized potential he saw in the terroir of Alto Adige. Super Tuscans and Culty Napa Cabernets, costing three or four times as much, rarely reach the heights of this powerfully built, perfectly balanced, red wine masterpiece. With seven years of age it’s just hitting peak drinking, and will stay there for many years to come. Do not sleep on this one.

There’s really no better word than “Maverick” to describe the now iconic Peter Dipoli. When he first purchased a small parcel of vines in 1987, he decided that the local specialty Schiava was not what he wanted to make, and so tore up all the vines and replaced them with Sauvignon Blanc. Grape growing in the Northern Italian region of Alto Adige, aka Südtirol, is tough work despite the awe-inspiring background of the Dolomites, and so for generations the vigneron here have relied on early ripening, high production grapes like Schiava. Peter saw that the special combination of ancient, glacial soils, warm daylight sun, and cool, Alpine nights was actually perfect for noble, aromatic varieties like Sauvignon Blanc–as long as you were willing to do the work and let those grapes hang on the vine longer into the fall.

That maverick spirit turned out to be spot on, and in just a few decades the Alto Adige has switched from producing mostly bulk wines to a region that is known as one of the most important white wine producers in all of Italy. But Peter wasn’t going to rest on his laurels, and a few years after his Sauvignon Blanc, labeled “Voglar,” began receiving international accolades, he purchased another plot of land with the intention of making red wine. The parcel, above the village of Margreid, is slightly lower in elevation, at about 1000 feet, and faces east/southeast. Crucially the soils here are dominated by heavy clays over limestone. Again, local varieties like Schiava and Lagrein were rejected (and don’t even mention Pinot Grigio), and the vineyard was planted entirely to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Despite being surrounded by snow capped mountains, Alto Adige is actually surprisingly close to the northern reaches of the Adriatic, and that Mediterranean influence gives extra warmth to the daylight sun. Of course it cools off rapidly at night, and that allows Peter’s Merlot and Cabernet to ripen slowly, gaining depth and complexity, before harvest which is usually in late September or early October. The hand-picked grapes are vinified separately in large vats, then aged in French oak barriques–new for the Cabernet, second and third use for the Merlot–for 12 months before blending and then aging another eight months in concrete tanks prior to bottling. But that’s not the end of the journey, as Peter then ages the bottles for at least three more years before release.

That brings us today’s vintage, 2017, which was perfectly warm and dry and has resulted in a suave, richly textured wine that is ready to impress any and all after a good hour or so in the decanter. The Merlot, at about 80% of the blend, takes the driver’s seat with a healthy dose of Damson plum, wild blackberries, and cherry liqueur. The Cabernet adds a bit of cassis to the mix, but is also there to provide additional savory notes of dried mint, graphite, cedar, and a hint of iodine. The full, lush body never becomes heavy or unbalanced as it is always supported by a backbone of fine grained tannin, Alpine acidity, and a long, mineral laden finish. Indeed, this is a wine that has many years of aging potential ahead of it (if you can keep your hands off those precious bottles for that long!). Serve with a perfectly grilled steak, smothered in herbs and butter, and enjoy the good life!

2017 Peter Dipoli, Alto Adige Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon "Iugum"

Daily Discovery

Build a Case is a one-of-a-kind subscription service that allows you the freedom to explore our expansive wine selection and consolidate your orders into a custom case over time — without the cost of shipping.
View all