Above: Winemaker Donato D’Angelo and his wife Filena Ruppi at Vinitaly 2013.
Last summer, as Rory Harrington and I were preparing what we believe was the largest offering of Aglianico del Vulture by-the-glass in the U.S. (for our fall 2012 list at Sotto in Los Angeles where we co-curate the wine program), one of our favorite wine salespeople brought in an Aglianico del Vulture that reported “D’Angelo” on the label.
“I know the wine in the bottle,” I told him, “but I’m terribly sorry that we can’t sell it here at Sotto.”
“But you love the wine!” he protested. “Why can’t you carry it?”
“Because this wine was stolen out from under the people who made it,” I said.
And then I recounted the story of how Donato D’Angelo’s winery and brand was wrested away from him by his crooked sister-in-law and her children.
When Donato’s brother and partner in the winery died prematurely a few years ago, his clan used its majority ownership to force Donato and his wife Filena out of the picture, even though Donato was the founder and winemaker and even though he single-handedly revived the Aglianico del Vulture appellation after returning to Basilicata from Conegliano where he studied enology as a young man.
Above: I am very pleased to share the news that we now offer Donato D’Angelo by the glass and by the bottle at Sotto.
It’s one of those sad Italian stories of a family fractured by greed, deceit, and betrayal.
The good news is that Donato and Filena have launched a new label, “Donato D’Angelo,” and the wines are now imported to the U.S.
We had to special order them for California and Sotto is the only venue on the west coast where they are available.
And I am extremely proud to share these wines with our guests.
But Donato’s wines achieve an unrivaled elegance and delicacy.
I first met Donato and Filena in New York in 2005 and I have followed the wines ever since. And when I tasted with them at Vinitaly this year and stuck my nose into the “Donato D’Angelo” signature wine, I was thrilled to find that unmistakable floral note that he so masterfully attains.
As far as I am concerned, no Aglianico del Vulture is “D’Angelo” unless it’s “Donato D’Angelo.”
I’m currently on paternity leave from my monthly visits to Sotto (I’ll be back again in September once we’ve settled into life with our new baby, due in July). But if you happen to dine with us, please ask Rory to pour you a taste.
Buon weekend, yall…