Marsala Superiore Riserva


100% Grillo. The Superiore 1987 is the top of the 3-wine line of Marsalas that starts with the La Miccia 5-Year and continues with the 10-Year Riserva. It is essentially a longer-aged, more oxidatively aged version of the 10-Year.

As with all of De Bartoli's Marsala-style wines, the only grape used is Grillo, grown organically and harvested by hand on the De Bartoli estate in the contrada of Samperi. The wine was fermented with natural yeasts and aged in oak and chestnut vats in the solera system, topped with new wine at the rate of 5% of the total volume annually. But then in 1987, what was to become this bottling was removed from the solera. This wine was lightly fortified and sweetened with mistella, a mixture of  fresh De Bartoli Grillo must and Grillo brandy, and then aged untopped, thus oxidatively, in barrel. Superiore riserva by law requires a minimum aging of 4 years before bottling; this one was aged for 26 years, starting in 1987 and ending at bottling in 2013. Naturally, there is a finite supply of this unique bottling from De Bartoli.

This entire process is virtually identical to that for the 1988 Vergine Riserva; the two are considered to be in different De Bartoli Marsala families mainly because of the notable difference in sweetness. While the 1988 was born of the secco tradition of unfortified, unsweetened, dry style which starts with De Bartoli's Vecchio Samperi, the 1987 is a bit sweeter or semi-secco ("semi-dry"), given its dose of mistella.

90 points
"The 1987 Marsala Superiore Riserva displays a deep orange/golden amber color. It washes over you with a dusty, savory display of exotic curries, crushed hazelnut and hints of clove. It’s silky and pliant in feel, showing a noticeable inner sweetness, counterbalanced by an intensely spicy wave of acids and minerals. This finishes long, bitter and mineral, revealing only hints of roasted nuts and burnt citrus. While still in balance, the 1987 has an edgy and sharp feel to it that, without having tasted it at a younger age, comes across to me today as a dropping out of its fruit component. That said, it will be many, many years before all pleasure is lost."
Eric Guido,
Vinous Media
June 2021

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