“We try to respect as much as we can each grape.”
R-E-S-P-E-C-T seems to be the name of the game for Italy’s Casa Paldin. At least, that’s the sense I got after (virtually) meeting and tasting with Casa Paldin’s Francesca Paladin recently. Casa Paldin was founded in the Veneto in 1962 by her grandfather Valentino, though they now operate throughout northeastern Italy, as well as in Tuscany, and Franciacorta in Lombardy.
In their case, respecting the grape essentially translates to doing only what’s absolutely necessary to it after it gets into the winery; e.g., “harvesting in the early hours of the day [so] we don’t have to use as much refrigeration… most of our wines have at least 50% less sulfates [than normal]” according to Paladin. You get the picture. “My grandfather learned how to cultivate the vine from his own grandfather,” she explained. “He took this dedication, and he taught it to us.”
Their lineup of wine offerings is varied, branded specifically to place, and, in my experience from our tasting, going beyond respect for each grape, and bordering on downright devotion to it. This is a very good thing, and in some cases an excellent thing, because it results in bottlings that offer significant bang for the buck…
2019 Paladin Pinot Grigio (Veneto, $15)
6-8 hours of maceration puts this in almost rosé territory, imparting a bit of copper color and a sense of strawberry-tinged fruit skin to the melon, mandarin, and lemon notes that rally around the zesty core of this white. Textural, fresh, but with nice rounded edges, the fruits are tasty, if not complex, but also come off as very well crafted and harmonious. This makes a compelling argument for the specialness of Paladin’s “Caranto” soils (silty clay and gravel/minerals in the Lison Pramaggiore area by the Adriatic). Another example of why you basically shouldn’t shop for Grigio anywhere else but northeastern Italy.
2019 Paladin Prosecco Millesimato Extra-Dry (Veneto, $14)
A vintage Prosecco that rises above the norm, this is mineral, fresh and, at turns, elegant. Apple, pear, and white flower aromas and flavors mingle with slight white grape hints and a mild toasty note, floating on citric freshness on the palate. Lovely and refined, especially for the price.
2019 Paladin Prosecco Rosé Brut (Veneto, $17)
A lovely wild raspberry note opens things up on Paldin’s entry into the so-new-it’s-obligatory Prosecco rosé category. Next come rose petal, and a bit of cherry and minerals. The red berry action really shines on the palate, which comes off as exceedingly fresh, pithy, and poised. This is surprisingly well focused for Prosecco in general, and a nice way to elevate (or justify, or both) a weeknight drinking decision.
2017 Vescine-Castelvecchi ‘Capotondo’ (Chianti Classico, $22)
As far as histories go, Paladin’s Castelvecchi property in Raddia in Chianti has most of the Italian wine world handily beat. It’s “one of the most ancient wineries in the Chinati Classico area,” according to Paladin, dating back before the 11th Century. “It has always been producing wine since 1043.” Sitting 400-600 meters above sea level, their vineyards have mainly three types of soils: Macigno (light in color and structure, poor in organic substances), Galestro (pebbly limestone and sandstone), and Alberese (deep, with small stones and more organic material).
This is the entry-level ambassador red for Castelvecchi, a Sangiovese with 12% Canaiolo added. It’s got fantastic color, with a sense of transparency both in the glass and in the nose. Pure cherry and red plum fruits, hints of earth and cloves, orange peel, and a slight smokiness all mark the nose. The palate is abundantly fresh, juicy, and pure. It’s expressive and fruity, with depth, but always buoyant and fine throughout. Gorgeous drinking.
2015 Vescine-Castelvecchi ‘Lodolaio’ (Chianti Classico Riserva, $35)
100% Sangiovese, spending 24 months in new barriques, this red has a savory nose, and is deep with dark cherries, tobacco spice and earth, vanilla and cinnamon, but all sporting the same purity and juiciness as its little sister CHianti Classico. Sweet plum, roses, and dried orange peel show up, as well. The palate is soooo fresh, it’s almost screaming for food. It feels focused, pristine, powerful, and young. It has assertiveness, yet never feels tiring. Well done.
2013 Vescine-Castelvecchi ‘Madonnino della Pieve’ (Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, $55)
From a single vineyard with a Madonna shrine at the top of its hill (hence the name). The fruit comes from a mass selection of their oldest Sangiovese clones (from plantings that are about 40 years old). It’s a tale of two wines, really: earthy, savory, and deep with red fruits and leather on its serious side; joyful, floral, juicy and fragrant on its more playful side. While the nose is showing some earthy maturity, the palate still seems youthful, and quite deep. Great savory plumpness, plum flavors and cloves ride out on a long finish. Just fantastic stuff.