Bukkuram Passito di Pantelleria Sole di Agosto
100% Zibibbo. Featured on the label of both De Bartoli passitos, the word Bukkuram is key to understanding both wines. It is Arabic for "father of the vineyard" and was the original name of this historical district on the island of Pantelleria to which North African settlers brought Zibibbo (aka Muscat of Alexandria) from their homeland many centuries ago. While once a whole area's name, Marco De Bartoli took it on as the name of his Pantelleria estate on this wind-swept, sun-kissed Zibibbo vineyard terrace near the sea when he lacquired it in 1992. His first commericial vintage was in 1986.
De Bartoli makes two passitos, the traditional dried-grape wine of Pantelleria: Sole di Agosto and Padre della Vigna. Both wines come from these 4 flat hectares of very low, bush-trained Zibibbo vines on very sandy, light, volcanic soils planted 40 to 45 years ago. Some parcels are believed to go back 80 to 100 years; the entire vineyard is a true clos, surrounded by a low stone wall. The grapes for both wines are hand-harvested in two stages. The first occurs generally in mid-August at a normal ripeness level; these grapes are spread on mats and dried in the sun for 2 to 3 weeks. Then the rest of fruit on the vine is harvested in September at a much higher ripeness level. This second round of fruit is crushed and begins fermentation with natural yeasts; then the dried grapes from the first harvest are destemmed and added to the fresh fermenting wine and left to macerate for three months.
The essential difference in the wines is at this juncture of aging. This one, the Sole di Agosto, spends 6 months in small barrels, then a few months in steel tank, before bottling around May in a 750-ml format. Its residual sugar level is generally around 180-185 grams/liter. Sweet though that sounds, there is a light, fresh, brightness and an accessible priimary-fruit character about the Sole di Agosto. Then there is the original wine of the De Bartoli Bukkuram estate, the Padre della Vigna, which is aged for a minimum of three years, and often longer, in barrel before going into 500ml bottles. It finishes at a much higher RS level of 195-200 grams, technically sweeter and of a more developed, oxidative, savory nature with a much darker color. Aging aside, there is also a difference in fruit selection for Sole and Padre, with the finest going into the long-aging Padre--often the decision is made for an entire vintage, so rarely will the two wines be made in the same vintage.