The island of Gorgona, described by Andrea Bocelli as ‘the wildest, most luminescent of Aphrodite’s pearls’, is a paradise of surprise and delight. This jewel of the Tuscan archipelago is home to dolphins surfing cerulean seas, majestic sperm whales … and a hundred Italian prisoners, who inhabit Europe’s last remaining island prison. An unlikely place to discover fine wine, you may think. However, in this case you would be pleasantly surprised.

Gorgona (so-called in reference to the legendary Gorgon of Greek mythology) has been a penal colony since 1869 and remains a rehabilitation facility to this day. Prisoners participate in many different work projects … including winemaking. A joint project between Gorgona and the ancient Frescobaldi winemaking dynasty sees prisoners tending to vines and assisting in the creation of the ‘Gorgona’ – one of Italy’s most expensive and sought-after white wines.

A Taste of Tuscany

The Chelsea Vintners team recently joined together to taste this extraordinary white wine at our offices in Battersea. It takes something truly significant to surprise such an experienced group of wine lovers, but the Gorgona 2018 delivered before the seal was even broken.

An intriguing blend combines one of Italy’s more prolific white grape varieties, Vermentino, with the obscure Ansonica. Ansonica (or Inzolia) is a Sicilian native most notable for its role in the island’s fortified Marsala wines, now enjoying a new vogue as a complex, nutty dry white wine. The total number of Vermentino-Ansonica blends produced can easily be counted on one hand, and so anticipation in the office was high as the cork was removed.

The verdict? The Gorgona 2018 is an unctuous, gold-tinted treasure, complex and beguiling. Few wines reflect their terroir as intensely, with wild island rosemary and sea salt complementing the natural hazelnut tones of the Ansonica. The Frescobaldi family are well-known for their prolific portfolio of charismatic Tuscan wines – but this collaborative effort must surely be one of their greatest feats.


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