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5218 Lawton Avenue
Oakland, CA 94114


Oliver McCrum Wines has been importing small production Italian wine and distributing to fine retail and restaurant establishes throughout California since 1994. Over time, our portfolio of producers has steadily grown to over 45 producers from 15 different regions of Italy. We look for typical Italian wines with clarity and freshness, usually made from indigenous Italian grape varieties using clean, transparent winemaking techniques and no obvious use of oak. 


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Filtering by Category: Organic Farming

Harvest Report 2015: Podere Salicutti, Tuscany

Michele Boscia

Harvest beginning date 09/14 with 6 workers for picking and manual selection of grapes and 4 workers for carrying and second selection of the grapes before destemming.

Harvest duration 6 days.

Cool and windy weather.

Grapes maturation almost perfect in all the vineyard. Integrity of the fruit also very good.

Mechanical destemming and whole berries discharging without crushing into steel tanks, just by gravity.

Sugar level medium/high, but not stratospheric, in perfect balance with a relevant structure and extract and an unusually sustained acidity.

Spontaneous fermentation start within 24-48 hours. Fermentation last almost 10 days.

Maceration, longer than the historical average value, last 4/5 weeks.

The malolactic fermentation of all selections performed and completed in stainless steel.

First rating of the wines ranging from very good to excellent.

--Francesco Leanza, Owner & Winemaker

Sandi Skerk on orange wine

Michele Boscia

Sandi Skerk uses a lot of skin contact for his whites, but they aren't orange, they aren't oxidized, and they are lively and delicious. I asked Sandi why this was; why were his 'orange wines' not oxidized, and why were they not orange? He answered:

With regard to oxidation:

'When in 2000 I decided to go in the direction of natural wine, my main goal was to make natural wine but not to lose the elegance of the wine, which is to say not to neglect the aromas. I too have had wines in my cellar that were oxidized and that had unpleasant aromas, but if you make a mistake you just have to throw the wine away.

In any case, there are no secrets or magic. You must:

1) work well in the vineyard, and harvest grapes that are healthy, ripe, and balanced but above all free of any spraying residue (Bordeaux mixture only)
2) take great care not to oxidize the wine during and immediately after the primary fermentation, and while it is in the cellar

This means that:

a) during the first 10 days of fermentation the fermenters must not be more than 60% full, so as to leave a headspace full of CO2 that separates the grapes from the oxygen in the air
b) it is necessary to perform 5-6 punchdowns a day
c) one should use open-topped fermenters, so as to allow the heat from the fermentation to disperse, given particularly that wood is an insulator [Sandi uses open wooden vats for fermentation]

d) you should have the good luck to have a cold cellar [Sandi's cellar is entirely under the Karsk limestone, and very cold], so the heat of fermentation doesn't go above 30°C
e) as soon as the alcoholic fermentation is finished you should cover the fermenter, and fill to the rim
f) you should top the fermenters and aging barrels every week
g) you should keep all the wines on their lees until bottling

It is natural that cleaning the equipment is fundamentally important when you make natural wine. Microbial problems can throw off the fermentation.'

With regard to color:

'In my experience, color is not that affected by the time of maceration, but rather by:
a) the use of sulfur immediately after the fermentation (sulfur increases extraction from the skins)
b) contact with air during the maceration, which causes oxidation, increasing extraction from the skins
c) overly high temperatures during the fermentation (40 or 50°C)
We avoid doing all of these things.

However, in my 2010 and 2011 vintages where I have done macerations of 40 days, even of 4 months, I have noticed a drop in color. Sometimes the skins re-absorb the color during the maceration.'

It takes a gifted, meticulous winemaker to make clean, perfumed wine this way. 

-Oliver McCrum

Coming Soon: Verdicchio Metodo Classico

Michele Boscia

Italy's best classic method sparkling wines are made of native grape varieties that are high enough in acidity to provide the right base wine, and Verdicchio is a perfect candidate, particularly from Matelica. The vivid, lively flavor of the Verdicchio grape grown at some altitude is complemented here by the smoky, leesy note from aging on the lees. Excellent aperitif or seafood wine from this longtime (certified) organic producer.

Fabio Marchionni, owner and winemaker of Colle Stefano, is finally coming to CA after 10 years of working with us. He will be in San Francisco all week next week showing off the first commercial release of his sparkling Verdicchio. Please contact us to find out how to meet Fabio and taste the bubbles. In addition to touring around with our SF sales team, he will be pouring his wine for both the trade and the general public at the Slow Wine Tasting on Thursday January 29th and he will be pouring his wine at dinner service on Friday evening at A16 in Rockridge along with our producer of Cesanese from Lazio, Casale della Ioria.