I'd been saving this bottle of Ribelà Garbagorba rosato since June for this exact moment, for immediately after I came home from Italy. You may be thinking, "Who needs more Italian wine after drinking only Italian wines for over a week?" and bless your naive heart. Of course you need more Italian wine when you get home from Italy, you can't just quit this shit cold turkey. Italy is the strongest drug in the world, with the hardest come down. I knew I was going to need a spectacularly dreamy wine to take the edge off returning to the states and take me back to my travels with winemaker/oenologist Danilo Marcucci and distributor/travel sage Amy Atwood, who I now never leave home without.
But I didn't realize what this bottle was when I was saving it. I knew it was Ribelà, I knew it was Cesanese, and I thought it was the red I had in April. I loved that red, so I put a tag on the bottle reminding myself not to be an asshole and drink it while feeling mischievous (which I am liable to do), and hid it in the back of my wine fridge. I had no idea it was a rosato that there were only a handful cases produced of until I was in Italy last week. We shared glasses over a few al fresco lunches, each bottle ending with a joking "Please don't write about this."
Because wines like this are not just wines, they're trysts. They are romantic in their rarity, held intimately in their inaccessibility, and are so personal that its impossible not to feel possessive. They're Bobby Darin lyrics, Humphrey Bogart quotes, and ultimately, ships passing in the night. They are idealized and nearly impossible to have, which is why I probably shouldn't write about them.
Which is why I have to write about them.
Because while you may never drink this wine, I want you to know these wines are out there. For me, and for you. With natural wines, these precious gems are often as close as your favorite wine shop. They may not be the same wines I'm drinking, but you must know there are wines in the world that are so small in quantity yet large in love, and to not seek those big hearted wines out with the same burning ambition that drives us to find anything else desirable in this life, is a mistake.
It's not about having THIS ONE.
It's about having YOUR ONE.
(Also, please note, by "one," I mean "as many as you can find.")
Anywayyyyyy. I came home from Italy, and had to have this exact wine for this exact moment. It took a long time for it to open up-- approximately two & a half hours in a decanter in the refrigerator. But like any good love, it was well worth the wait.
The Ribelà Garbagorba rosato doesn't taste like it did last week, but they never do. I don't know if the wine is lighter and more carefree in Italy, or if I'm lighter and more carefree in Italy, but it doesn't matter. Leaving Italy changes you; whether you're a wine or a woman, the distance weighs upon you. But even with barbells in each side of your ribcage, this wine does nothing but make your heart want to sing. It doesn't matter what it tasted like last week because today, it is still lovely.
This wine is so fun and spontaneous. It is a crush pushing you into the pool at dusk on a balmy summer night. All the plants have just been watered, and while you're immediately plunged into refreshing minerality, the breeze is hot and heavy with fresh cut fruit and warm flowers cooling in the shade of twilight. And while it seems like simple flirting, you know it's something you will remember until the end of time.
Ribelà is one of my favorite wineries, not just for its Roman oasis of a vineyard, but because their wines are so modern while still honoring the history of the region. I have a lot to say on this subject, which is another piece for another publication after I have more time to properly contemplate it all, which up until this moment has felt overwhelming. This trip to Italy changed me in ways that only my future work will be able to adequately demonstrate, and I'd be lying if I didn't say it has been keeping me up at night. Often with clarity comes anxiety, the "I KNOW WHAT I HAVE TO DO!" meeting the "FUCK. HOW DO I DO THAT? CAN I DO THAT?"
But with Garbagorba by my side, tackling the incredible topic of the evolution of Italian natural wines doesn't feel so enormous. It feels, and tastes, very exciting.
Tasting Notes: Looks like gauze made from the brightest tropical coral. Smells like bing cherry morning dew dripping off cold gardenias. Tastes like you're devouring a watermelon filled with pomegranate juice trimmed with limestone, lemon rinds, and almond shavings. Refreshingly modern with a depth of terroir and tradition. Mio cuore canta (one of three Italian phrases I have DOWN).
Ross Test: This is my first time Ross Testing from a decanter. And it was good, although, if you're going through the trouble to decant your wine you should probably put it in a glass. Also, you just straight up do not get enough wine when you're drinking out of a decanter without risking spilling the whole thing all over your face and wasting all this wine you are madly in love with.