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Discover with us  the magic of Italian wine heritage


krater-wineOenotria, “land of vines”, this was how the ancient Greeks called  Italy. Its variety of landscapes and climates, from the Alps to the shores of Sicily through  chains of hills, mountains and volcanoes, offers an astonishing range of grape varieties that have been cultivated for thousands of years  in their terroirs.

mappa-x1 vectorized

Under the Romans,  vines were planted throughout the Empire, grapegrowing and winemaking techniques became more advanced, the varietals that best matched soil and climate were selected to improve  quality.

The concept of vintage already existed, as the ancient books report that the fabled Opimiam wine of 121 B.C., an excellent vintage of Falernum, was aged and drunk decades later. 

This red thread that leads to modern times was never cut, though invasions, wars and fights split the country into city states, duchies, kingdoms along two thousand years of entangled events . 

Enjoy a glass of History!


PostHeaderIcon Tuscan winegrowers of Pinot Noir, united!

In our imagination the Tuscan landscape is all but rolling hills with wondrous roads flanked by cypresses, olive groves and vineyards of Sangiovese. Too hot to grow difficult Pinot Noir, that prefers cooler climates.
But in the northern part of the region there is the Tuscan segment of the Apennines chain, where the mountains are high and the climate cooler and rainier than the hot Chianti and Orcia regions. Just before and just after year 2000 , independently from one another, winegrowers following the organic and natural philosophy decided that that particular terroir was suitable to grow Pinot Noir. 8 of them wrote a “Manifesto dei Viticultori”, deciding to band together and follow the same guidelines. Judged by most a bizarre experiment, year after year those stubborn winegrowers have tendered their vines with passion and have succeded : their Pinot Noir is excellent!

pinot noir  luccaI tasted them on April 13th in beautiful Lucca, where these small producers gathered to present their 2012 Pinot Noir, each one explaining the pros and cons of their vintage and the characteristics of their terroir. The four areas where they come from are Garfagnana (near Lucca), Lunigiana (near Massa Carrara), Mugello (near Florence), Casentino (near Arezzo). There are only 16000 bottles per year from these artisans  that share the same passion for winemaking following organic and biodynamic agricolture, the same love of these territories under the sign of friendship, commitment and integrity.

They exchange their views and their experiences, organize wine-tastings to publicize all together their wines, cooperating to promote knowledge of the Appenine as the ideal

environment for Pinot Nero.

rocco eccopinot Our Rocco, on the left, last year at “Eccopinò”

The vintage presented , 2012, was particularly difficult because of the heat waves and absence of rain for 76 days. Phenological maturity shifted of one month compared to 2011, when harvest took place in the last week of August.eccopinot lucca2015 “Eccopinò”in Lucca

 

In  2012 the grapes had to wait the September rains before the harvest. But then, the grapes were ready and balanced, different from those of the previous year, as is always the case with Pinot Noir, an interpreter emblematic of the vintage as well as of terroir.

20 km. north of Lucca we find a hill entirely covered with Pinot Nero produced by the two Barsanti brothers who named their winery MACEA.

marssanti

Ruby red, aromas of mixed berries, then a bit of licorice and tobacco, good acidity, pleasant tannins, it will improve in time. No use of added selected yeasts, unfiltered and not-tarted up, certified organic. You have to get used to the genuinity of these wines, drop your prejudices against some smells. They quickly go away.

Not far from Lucca, near the hometown of poet Pascoli, Podere Còncori too doesn’t use additives and yeasts of any kind, and is certified organic and biodynamic.gabriele

 

This is what Gabriele says in his website :

Every day the roots of the vines, like the roots of the vinegrowers, dig deep into the earth, extracting through the grapes, and later concentrating in the wine, the character that makes us who we are: this is what I want to convey.

His Pinot is light ruby red, has a lovely transparency and aromas of berries and pomegranate. In the mouth it’s thick, hot and tannins are harmonious. Good lenghth.

Il Rio, small winery of Paolo and Manuela Cerrini, presented the Pinot nero more corresponding to the Burgundy model. Orange tinged, elegant, with delicate aromas of violet and black cherry, fine tannins, it has also the right body and softness. The grapes undergo a partial carbonic maceration and then  a alcoholic one at controlled temperature. The malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrels, where the wine stays 12 months with systematic batonnage. Then one year in the bottle before being released.

There is no certification, but Cerrini follows the principles of organic farming : only manure and compost, wild grass just mowed, a great attention to hygiene to keep sulphites within the limits allowed by organic guidelines (72 mg per liter).

cerrini  ventise

The other Pinot nero of Vicchio del Mugello is called Gattaia, of winery Terre di Giotto (the painter Giotto was born in Vicchio), owned by the oenologist Michele Lorenzetti. He follows the biodynamic guidelines, managing to avoid even the use of copper against peronospora.

michele lorenzettiHe is a consultant of many famous biodynamic wineries such as Podere Forte and Corte Sant’Alda  (fantastic wines!).

He said to have experimented carbonic maceration and to have added whole bunches on top of the berries during fermentation to give the wine extra heft.

His wine is not clarified or filtered, the colour is deep ruby red, the aromas of red and black berries, but also cherry and herbs, it’s hot, sapid, medium bodied.

I don’t know if I am influenced by what he said about putting some stems during the fermentation ( (Pinot nero has typically a low amount of tannins), but I feel my mouth a bit dry. Surely tannins will be tamed with time.

Still in Mugello, we find the Fattoria del Lago, with 21 hectares of vineyards at 300/600 mt on hills that experience  a good temperature range. They also produce Chianti, Syrah and Vin Santo.

Their Pinot is ruby red with orange nuances, nose of wild strawberries and cherries, a good body, young tannins,  mineral and balsamic notes on the finish.

Near Arezzo, in Pratovecchio, at 500 MASL, we find Podere della Civettaja, 2,5 hectares of organic vineyard planted in the year 2000, on clay/limestone soils. Manual harvest and destemming, no filtration, the minimum amount of sulphites possible, then in used barriques for a year.

Ruby/purple red, has a nice nose of strawberries and currants, good body, good acidity, round tannins, with a balsamic note on the end. Long.

CasteldelPiano in Lunigiana, in an untainted environment in the National Park of Appennino Toscano, is the home of 2,5 hectares of vineyards cultivated according to organic principles, surrounded by woods, chestnut trees and olive groves. The owners firmly believe in biodiversity.       Just look at the picture, at how the grass is left between the rows : when you see a vineyard that is too tidy, then you can suspect they have been using herbicides (unless there has been tillage).

melampo

The wine, Melampo, is made with natural yeasts, very low doses of sulphites and without filtering.                          Ruby red, raspberry and strawberry on the nose, good acidity, mineral, tannins yet to be tamed, spicy on the finish. It will definitely improve in the bottle.

Set in Dicomano, Voltumna is the youngest winery of the group. The name refers to the Etruscan God of Earth, which the owners venerate with their biodynamic winegrowing, adapting to the rhythms of nature, manual harvesting, fermenting the grapes with their own yeasts. Mr Politi explains that he needed more tannins, so he left the stems throughout the maceration, and wants to see what happens in the next years. I think the tannins are actually a bit green, and I would be curious to know if it helped the ageing of the wine. It is left for 18 months in second or third use oak barrels, 14% abv, sulphur only 64 mg per liter.

Drawing conclusions : if you want a genuine wine, organic or biodynamic, grown in an unspoilt environment, and you love the noble Pinot Noir, choose one of these wines , made by thoroughly committed , honest winegrowers.

The wines were all different, to the eye, to the nose, to the mouth. Be ready to experience the real and raw, far away from the conventional and the fashionable. Be ready to taste wine as it was “before” the technological era, but with the help of the scientific knowledge we have now, used to intervene as little as possible to make wine as natural as possible.

Are you ready? Yeaahhhhh!

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