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Aia Vecchia – Quality and Value from Coastal Toscana

As I’ve said before, one of the great joys of wine loving is discovering wines you can enjoy without having to spend a large sum. Aia Vecchia is a great source for exactly that sort of wine.

Aia Vecchia is a Tuscan producer with estates in Bolgheri and Maremma.  I met up with Elia Pellegrini to taste their wines and discuss his family’s business. The Pellegrini family has been in the wine industry for generations, but did not found Aia Vecchia until 1996, when they set out to make quality super Tuscan blends at a good value. In addition to their Bordeaux blend I.G.T. wines, they produce two wines made from classic Italian varietals, a Vermentino and a Morellino di Scansano (Sangiovese).

Elia, who recently took over global marketing for Aia Vecchia after his professional soccer career was ended by injury, told me that one of their most important goals is to make wine with great QPR (quality to price ratio). Having tasted there wines, on multiple occasions, I believe that are achieving that goal.

A big factor in getting these to the American consumer, at the such reasonable prices, is the role of  Dalla Terra Direct wines, who’s business model minimizes middle men and mark-ups. These wines make their way to the consumer without taking on too much price baggage, typically reducing mark-ups by 20%. Aia Vecchia is one of eighteen wineries currently imported by Dalla Terra.

Aia Vecchia’s production is fairly modest at 250k bottles per year, which allows this family run enterprise to focus on quality. Fifty percent of that production goes to the American market.

2011 Sor Ugo Bolgheri D.O.C. Superior 15% ABV, $35

Starts off with a beautiful nose of perfumed black cherry flesh and black currant with a rich core and nice complexity. Dark chocolate, tobacco, dried blackberry, and violets all intermingle and provide plenty of nuance. The palate is firm and dark with black cherry skins, and dried herbs with subtle underlying savory notes. The structure is solid, but finessed with nice juicey acidity and a fine coating of tannins. Nicely balanced and satisfying. 30 days maceration and 18 months in French barrique. 91Pts

50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cab Franc, 5% Petit Verdot

2012 Aia Vecchia Lagone IGT 14.5% ABV, $15

Named for a small stream the passes through the estate, the Lagone is a wonderful value that straddles the worlds of “modern” and “traditional” wine making. There is solid extraction and ripeness here, but it is balanced and well structured. The nose is rich, and serious in its first impression, with dark plum, blackberry, and pomegranate fruit, brambles, dried floral notes, mint leaves, and faint green pepper. The palate has a soft attack, and is medium-weight, with more dark plum, a little charred sandalwood and nice aromatic action on the back of the palate. The acidity is present in good measure and lends energy to the large profile, while the tannins are fine grained, but sufficiently pronounced to complete the impression of quality. I would not be surprised to see it age gracefully for 5 years, which is saying something for a bottle at this price point.

60% Merlot / 30% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Cab Franc

90 Pts

2010 Aia Vecchia Lagone IGT 14.5% ABV, $15

Big, pure, dark plum fruit wafts out of the glass on first pour, with dark berries, blueberries. Rich, ripe, and pretty with off-setting notes of aromatic underbrush, dark chocolate, sweet tobacco, and coffee. The palate has solid energy, with more dark plum and blackberry, juicy tannins, great dark acidity, dried herbs and underbrush, a dusty grip and plenty of backbone to offset the ripe fruit. Plenty of enjoyment for the low price. 90 Pts

2014 Aia Vecchia Vermentino Toscana 13% ABV, $12

Fresh citrus and stone fruit comprise the nose, with some white peach, and lemon rind, underscored by subtle salinity. The palate mouth-watering, and clean, with some good weight of fruitiness, but also nicely balanced. The same fruit elements show on the palate, with fresh acidity, subtle structure, and fine minerality underneath. A lovely white for everyday enjoyment, but still showing solid quality. 88 Pts

 

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