2007 Paolo Bea PassitoRosenthal
Bea’s super-rare and mind-bendingly complex passito comes from pure Sagrantino harvested at a high brix level and left to dry on straw mats completely naturally in the upper level of his grand winery, with no artificial temperature control and no additions whatsoever. After several months of drying, the bunches are destemmed and crushed, and fermentation skulks along until the sugar levels reach 16% to 18%, at which point an infinitesimal amount of juice is pressed forth from the ultra-shriveled berries. The final product carries around 100 grams per liter of residual sugar and delivers a visceral blast of pure Sagrantino essence: spice cake, cured tobacco leaves, peppery black fruits, old leather, and a deep sense of umami. Always released after a significant amount of aging (thereby increasing its already stunning complexity), it’s an idiosyncratic, deeply enveloping wine that feels like a message from another era.