La Stoppa Macchiona


We may live in a world that values youth above all else, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty that can only come with age. Take the redwoods in Muir Woods for example - would they be so awe-inspiringly beautiful at four feet tall? Sure, they’d have potential, but that’s about it.

The same is true for this rare gem of a wine. A blend of Barbera and Bonarda, it’s aged for three years in large Slavonian oak barrels (known as botti), followed by another two years in bottle, before even being considered for release. The result? A wine that mirrors the beauty of those mature groves. Earthy, with hints of dried leaves, tobacco, and smoke, and with a refreshing brightness, like tart wild blackberries, shining through.

This wine takes a moment to open up and reveal its many layers, so I recommend decanting the bottle while you prepare dinner. And what do you pair with a wine that mirrors the beauty of an 800-year-old wonder? Something simple but high quality, like a...

~ Perfectly seared steak with crispy, salty roasted potatoes

And if that doesn’t sound delicious to you, then how about...

~ Lamb chops with greens and sorrel salsa verde
~ Classic bolognese pasta
~ Turkish stuffed eggplant


Curious to learn more?


La Stoppa is a 125-acre property located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The vineyard site was planted in the late 19th century by a wealthy lawyer named Gian-Marco Ageno, and because it was post-phylloxera he planted a wide range of international varieties to see what would perform well.

Today the site is run by Elena Pantaleoni and head winemaker, Giulio Armani, thanks in large part to the dream of Elena’s father who passed the site every day on his bicycle during WWII and dreamed of someday purchasing the land for himself. He finally realized his dream in the early 1970s and began managing its eclectic array of vines.



In 1996, Elena and Giulio decided to replant the entire estate with Barbera and Bonarda after determining that the international varieties were simply not suited for the climate and soil type of the region. It was a painstaking process and one that involved more than a little risk given the lack of demand on the international market for indigenous grape varieties, but they persisted. In addition to returning to the historic grape varieties, it was crucial to Elena and Giulio that they return the vineyard to traditional farming as well. Under their care, the vineyard has been worked organically since the 1990s. Wines are now fermented in stainless steel and concrete vats and then racked to oak barrels for aging. Additionally, the wines are fermented on their native yeast - as opposed to commercially purchased yeasts - and nothing is added or subtracted from the juice before bottling, not even sulfur.

Perhaps most interesting though, is their approach to aging and releasing their bottles to the market. Under their care, it’s common for wines to age in barrel for years before bottling, and then again for many more before being determined “ready for release.” There are no set rules for when each cuvée is ready - a younger vintage is often bottled before an older one, and the vintages are frequently released out of chronological order. The determining factor is simple - which vintage is showing best at that particular moment. It’s an incredibly challenging and risky way to make wine (and run a business) - to hold onto wines until the perfect moment rather than release a new batch every year for necessary cash flow - but Elena and Giulio wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.



Images of the winery and producers are by Jake Halper and provided by Louis Dressner.