I have known Riccardo Galletti for some time now and the first thing you notice when talking to him is the love he has for the land, agriculture, wine and the ancient traditions linked to our Island of Elba. His passion has long roots and when I started writing this article on the “King of Elban wines”, the Aleatico, he was the first I thought of in order to get the most reliable information about it. I would have been satisfied with some news, but Riccardo did better, writing this article himself for our blog.
Aleatico of the Island of Elba told by an elban citizen
According to historical accounts, the Aleatico was imported from Greece about 2000 years ago by the Romans and spread not only to the Island of Elba, but also to Puglia, Campania and Sicily. In Elba, it originally took the name of Aleatico di Portoferrajo and became commercially famous thanks to the commitment of the Foresi family, historic owner of the “Chiusa”, the oldest winery on our island.Over the years, its name changed several times until, about fifteen years ago, it was definitively called with the name of DOCG Aleatico Passito dell’Elba. The “passita” version of the wine is the one that made it famous all over the world: it is harvested quite early, at the end of August / early September; the black bunches with a bluish bloom and one single side wing are collected (about 1kg of production per vine) and spread on racks to be dried in the sun or in the shade, according to the methods, but, as the ” old ones ” say, should not be touched until the stem of the stalk becomes dry.The drying process evaporates the water of the grape dehydrating it and making it rich in sugar, thus raising both the alcohol content (15/17 °) after vinification and the degree of sweetness. The disadvantage of this method is that the yield drops by 25/30% per quintal, so with 100 kg of grapes we only make 25/30 liters of Aleatico, instead of the classic 70 liters of a normal wine. Here is the reason why a good Aleatico cannot be too cheap.Today bottling takes place in March and this is because, technically, the high sugar content can give a second fermentation at the End of winter. Instead, traditionally, in Elban families, the Aleatico was drunk at Christmas, young young, accompanied by the schiaccia briaca, the typical dessert of the Island of Elba. The disciplinary saved our black gold from a forest of “fake” commercial brands that offered substitutes for our original Aleatico, in the guise of fortified wines or with unlikely names such as Pasito or Aiatico or other misleading nicknames. Now (fortunately) all of this is prohibited, the Aleatico is sold by producers in a 375ml format and exclusively with the DOCG strap which guarantees its authenticity.
Thanking our source for the information he gave us, we are here that we enjoy a glass of Aleatico accompanied by a square of dark chocolate because, although it is excellent also drunk alone (not surprisingly it belongs to the category of so-called “meditation wines“), chocolate enhances the taste.
At the reception of our Residence Villa Teresa in Porto Azzurro it is possible to book visits to the best wineries where in addition to tasting and buying Aleatico directly from the producer, you can also taste all the other fine wines of the Island of Elba.