The visit to Marco De Bartoli's cellars was the highpoint of a press trip I took to Sicily a few years ago, and I can still taste the wines now if I think about it. Alas, much has happened since then, and Marco has left us (Giulia remembers him beautifully), but I was happy to find his son Sebastiano pouring the wines he and his father made at Vin Nature this spring.
Marco De Bartoli Marsala Superiore DOC 10 Anni
This is fortified; it's tawny amber with white rim, and has an elegant bouquet with rich sweetness mingled with walnut skins and hints of dark brown sugar, vegetal accents, considerable alcohol, and warmth. Great depth. On the palate it's rich, with powerful savory walnut skins and warmth that flow into a long warm walnut skin finish. Terrific elegance and complexity, and will be beautiful far from the table. It's one of those wines that make you forget all else and talk to your glass. 93-4
Marco De Bartoli Vecchio Sanperi Ventennale
Despite its high alcohol content, this is not fortified. Just the grapes. Pale tawny amber. The bouquet is rich, with some walnut skins and hints of bitter honey and alcohol supported by spice and savory accents; one could go on but it displays a harmony that is simply extraordinary; the stuff of gods and one could sniff for hours. On the palate it's bright and rich, with clean powerful minerality laced with sea salt and warmth and walnut skins and vegetal hints, with hints of sweetness -- the alcohol -- that take the edge from the dryness of the walnut skins, and it goes on and on. Beautiful, and a wine you simply won't forget. 95-6
Marco De Bartoli Marsala Superiore DOC 1986
Tawny amber with white rim. The bouquet is rich, with hints of dark brown sugar supported by alcohol and some walnut skins, and deft dried orange peel, almonds, some cedar, caramel, and more: rare harmony. Extremely pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's rich, and fairly sweet, with elegant minerality and sea salt -- one can taste the region's salt pans -- supported by brown sugar and walnut skins that flow into a long clean walnut skin finish with dried orange peel acidity and lasting warmth that slowly fades into savory accents. An extraordinary tour de force, and the real regret I have in drinking it is that I couldn't wait a few more years, because it will be eternal, gaining layer upon layer of complexity as the decades pass. 95-6
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.