ANDREA OCCHIPINTI, TUSCIA, Lazio – Organic
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ANDREA OCCHIPINTI, TUSCIA, Lazio – Organic
This estate is based on the slopes surrounding the Volcanic lake of Bolsena; the region is part of Maremma (called “Tuscia”
in Lazio), just about 15 minutes’ drive from the Tuscan border, a spectacular terroir known for the infamous “Est Est Est”
white, now fortunately making something else as well...
Andrea works essentially with Aleatico di Gradoli (the local aleatico, stylewise a bit more on the delicacy and spicyness than
Massa Vecchia) and with Grechetto Rosso (called Grechette due to proximity with Umbria, but part of the Sangiovese family,
although it tastes completely different than any sangiovese I ever tried). These are real wines of terroir, pure and natural.
fell in love with the vineyards of Gradoli while he was at the Agrarian University of Tuscia, so much so that they
became the subject of his master’s thesis in 2004.
1990’s. They are set at 450 metres above sea level on the volcanic slopes of Bolsena Lake, the biggest volcanic lake in Europe.
Situated just one hour north of Rome, the lake provides a unique microclimate that together with the particular terroir and
Andrea’s objective to preserve and promote the local indigenous varietals, Aleatico and Grechetto Rosso, produce wines with
the flavour of tradition and the effervescence of innovation.
The vines are farmed organically and harvest is manual with particularly low yields. The grapes for the Aleatico Bianco are
destemmed into stainless vat and cement and pressed without maceration (because it is a red grape)
Ambient ferment proceeds with indigenous yeasts and the wine is matured in tank undergoing a natural malo with a light
filtration and a little SO2 added just before bottling. The wine is delightfully “shelly” with a leesy bite -almost like a very
grown up Muscadet.
Rosso Arcaico is an equal blend of Grechetto Rosso and Aleatico. The grapes are destemmed into amphorae for a 30-day
maceration. The natural fermentation takes place and the wine matures in clay vessels of 250 – 600 litres. The fruit is generous
with notes of liqueur cherry, macerated soft summer berry fruits and a bittersweet aftertaste. The tannins are very gentle and
the texture is chcocolatey but certainly not heavy.
Alea Viva is 100% Aleatico. Very expressive, aromatic nose combines floral raspberry, licorice, quinine, cinnamon and white
pepper. Breezy, pure, fresh flavours hint at red cherry, dill and gunflint, complicated by a strong note of nutmeg. This intensely
flavoured, classically dry wine finishes with polished tannins and outstanding energy and perfume. This is a rare example of
dry Aleatico, a wine that is usually sweet.
ALEATICO BIANCO “ALTER ALEA”
GRECHETTO ROSSO/ALEATICO “ROSSO ARCAICO”
ALEA VIVA ~ Aleatico
DAMIANO CIOLLI, OLIVANO ROMANO, Lazio – Organic
Damiano only makes wines from the local Cesanese grape on a total of 4.5ha divided between 2 plots. Olveano is surrounded
by three mountains around, including Mount Simburini, which screens cold air from Abruzzo making it quite a windy
microclimate which benefits the vines. The red volcanic soils confer delicacy and minerality.
The vineyards are farmed organically - only copper and sulphur are used, with compost from local cows mixed in with wild
boar compost! He has used some very old vines from his grandfather’s time (0.5 ha) near an orchard to create a massale
The grape is the aforementioned Cesanese di Affile and the Cesanese Comune (the “neglected” clone, yielding bigger bunches,
used for lightness and freshness). Damiano harvests early to prevent high alcohols even if phenolic maturity is not perfect,
preferring to retain acid.
Things are kept simple in the cellar with steel &cement being used, whilst the top red sees some large barrel ageing.
The Silene undergoes a 3-7 day fermentation on its own yeasts in stainless tanks and a further 11 months ageing in cement.
This vintage is delightful, being fresh, easy drinking, mineral and delicate with a medium body.
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Situated in northern Italy, with its eastern border on the Adriatic Sea, the region of Emilia-Romagna includes nine provinces, divided into
two sectors. In the west, in Emilia, are the provinces of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena. In the east, in Romagna, are
Ferrara, Forli, Ravenna and Rimini. Bologna straddles the two and is the region’s capital. This is gastronomic heaven. Parmigiano-
Reggiano cheese is the first solid food a baby in this region is fed. It comes in 75-pound wheels and has been made by hand in the same
manner for 700 years. It is unmistakably nutty and fragrant, is delicious to eat on its own–it will melt in your mouth—or you can grate it
over pastas or vegetables. The animal of choice in Emilia-Romagna is the pig. Italians will tell you that the pig is like the music of
Verdi—nothing goes to waste. Nose-to-tail eating indeed! Indeed, the pig gives its heart and other bits to make charcuterie that is
unrivalled anywhere in the world for delectability (says me). Most famous is the silken prosciutto di Parma, the exquisite air-cured ham.
Bologna loves its mortadella, a delicate sausage studded with pistachio slivers and eaten either in slices or chunks. Modena favours
zampone, stuffed pig’s trotter (feet) that is boiled and served at New Year’s with lentils. Ferrara likes salama al sugo, a very soft sausage
that crumbles when cooked and is served with mashed potatoes. Eggs and abundant flour make the sheets of fresh pasta for which the
region has no rival. When cut, these become tagliatelle that will be tossed in ragù, a delicate meat sauce sweetened with carrot and
softened with milk. Tortellini, cappelletti and tortelloni are pastas of various sizes that embrace such fillings as prosciutto, mortadella,
ricotta and chard, or pumpkin with candied fruit. The region also boasts gorgeous fruits and vegetables. And, of course, it has grapes.
Emilia-Romagna grows a great quantity of them—and up until recently, quantity was prized far more than quality. Traditionally, the
people of the region preferred their wines young and frisky rather than mature and complex. In this regard, they went against the wisdom
that bold sturdy food called for bold sturdy wines. Here, instead, a fruity and lightly acidic wine was thought to complement rich food
because it contrasted with it. But in the past ten years there have been subtle changes on both the food and wine fronts. For one: As the
food is getting lighter, in accord with heart-healthy dining, the wines are getting bigger. The other great change is a movement toward
excellence. In the early 1970s, they were direct and uncomplicated, pleasing to drink but not world-class like those from Friuli-Venezia-
Giulia, Piedmont and Tuscany. The most famous red was the very agreeable Lambrusco, which bore little resemblance to the confected
horror that still stands on supermarket shelves in this country. The Lambrusco the Italians enjoy has an agreeable dry, grapey flavour and
often (but not always) a light sparkle and the best examples of this wine merit reconsideration as a companion to food. With its
remarkable ability to enhance the flavour of pork and cut the fattiness that can accumulate in the mouth, it is the perfect wine to go with
the region’s charcuterie.
Less well-known are Bonarda and Gutturnio, reds from the province of Piacenza. These grapes grow in profusion near the banks of the
nearby Po, Italy’s largest river. Bonarda is similar to a less fruity Beaujolais, and does not age well. It pairs admirably with charcuterie,
vegetable soups (especially those incorporating beans) and many meats. Gutturnio is made either as a still wine, or with a slight sparkle. It
has gained more acceptance recently because it has a structure that allows it to combine with either light or more substantial dishes.
Barbera, lighter than its Piedmontese cousin, is seen on its own, or as part of a blend (usually with Bonarda). Try with Piadana
Romagnola, a sort of griddled doughy pancake stuffed with ham and grilled zucchini or spinach and parmesan. Albana di Romagna was
Italy’s first white wine to be awarded the DOCG designation in 1987. Produced from the grape of the same name, it comes in four
different types, though usually only the secco (dry) and 270mprovi (richly sweet) are seen.
In Praise of Lambrusco
Slow food pilgrims who take their hunger, scrip and staff to Bologna and environs know that it’s possible to find interesting,
well-balanced Lambrusco from artisanal producers and go-ahead co-operatives. We are talking frothy and refreshing wines that
one can sip on the piazza or enjoy with a pizza. Little of the quality Lambrusco escapes Emilia-Romagna; this is a happy little
warbler from the land of Verdi. The grapes are picked the first week of October. Vinification takes place with the maceration of
the grapes on the skins to obtain a wine rich in colour and body. After a gentle pressing of the grapes the must is repeatedly
pumped over to extract the most possible colour and body. The wine goes through a natural fermentation. It is then left to rest
until December or January. This process allows the wine to filter naturally from impure substances. The wine is then put into
temperature controlled tanks where a secondary fermentation takes place for about 1-2 months. The wine is an inky dark purple
colour, almost black, and it pours out with a bright and very persistent raspberry-colour froth. Black plum and strawberry aromas
tickle the nose with a touch of fizz and the cherry-berry flavours are slightly sweet, more prickly than fizzy, shaped by crisp
acidity and distinct peach-stone bitterness in the finish. At 11% alcohol, it’s on the light side for a table red but carries more
weight than low-alcohol, mass-market Lambruscos. It’s a fine quaffer. Traditionally sipped as an aperitif or pizza wine, it works
well with hot-and-spicy dishes. “Red like wrath, sparkling like life itself, as clear as friendship, Lambrusco invites to a high
tones bouquet with this land’s such different flavours blending them in a unique hymn of joy, the bright joy of this Lambrusco. In
these lands only, finds its birth a wine which merges with air, rich of scents and chants while merely pouring it out. These are not
ordinary hymns, on the contrary they are lively, sparkling, uncommon arias inspired by Verdi’s operas. Only the places that
inspired Giuseppe Verdi’s music could generate such a wine... it has the power of a companion’s song, of a friendly drink, of a
debate between old experts in food and women. This Lambrusco only is able to arouse strong emotions, to move your soul, to
always surprise.” It pairs wonderfully with cooked salumi such as Mortadella di Bologna and the typical deep fried with a splash
of lard bread puffs of Modena/Reggio Emilia/Parma, known as gnocco fritto (or torta fritta in Parma). Often served along with
gnocco fritto are the small baked bread discs known as tigelle, that have a texture similar to piadina, the signature flatbread of
Romagna, which is the area stretching from Bologna to Fellini’s hometown of Rimini on the Adriatic. Another Modenese
specialty that works beautifully is borlengo, a super thin flatbread rubbed with cured lard, rosemary, pancetta and
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Cammino nel ricordo dei miei pensieri,
quando lungo la riva dei miei 271mprovi piangevi,
divorando I miei silenzi.
E’ un vagare dolce e malinconico in mezzo a questi sentori e profumi d’autunno.
Vedo danze di vecchi fiori accarezzati dal vento
e timidamente baciati da moribondi raggi di sole .
Nulla copre o nasconde il profumo di Te che dai miei ricordi riaffiora.
L’essenza della vita e quella della morte danzano abbracciate sul prato.
Tu non sei qui e piove.
Piove dai miei occhi fino in fondo al mio cuore
ma non si spegne il bisogno di Te che lentamente mi consuma.
ALBANA DI ROMAGNA
The origins of Albana di Romagna are so ancient that it is no longer easy to distinguish between history and legend. It is reported that in
435 AD Galla Placida, the beautiful daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II, arrived early one morning in a small village
in the Romagna riding a white donkey. The princess’s beauty astonished the inhabitants of the place, who, as soon as they saw her,
offered her a large terracotta jug of the area’s sweet and excellent wine, the Albana. Galla Placida was so taken by the wine that she
remarked, “You should not drink this wine in such a humble container. Rather it should be drunk in gold (berti in oro) to render homage
to its smoothness.”
Since then, the village has been called Bertinoro. And, at the court of Ravenna, Albana was thereafter drunk exclusively in precious
goblets. Bertinoro is today an important centre for the production of Albana. There is also a report that the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa,
who was a guest of Countess Frangipane at Bertinoro, was another great admirer of the wine. Setting aside legend, the first historical
account concerning Albana di Romagna is contained in the celebrated treatise on agriculture written by Pier de’ Crescenzi of Bologna in
century. The treatise contains in fact the first description of the wine and of its production area: “a potent wine with a noble
flavour that is quite drinkable and moderately subtle...the best of this type of grape can be had at Forlì and throughout the Romagna.”
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CAMILLO DONATI, Emilia – Biodynamic
The Donati estate is a family estate started in 1930 which is now run by the third generation of Donati – Camillo Donati, his
wife and their children. They cultivate 11 ha of vines (7 of which they own as Tenuta S. Andrea and 4 which are leased at
Tenuta Bottazza) using organic and biodynamic practices They are about 20 km away from Parma in the hillside at an altitude
of around 250 m with an eastern exposition. There are a number of diverse strains of the Lambrusco grape family, but the
main Lambrusco grape of the Parma zone is Lambrusco Maestri and it is planted on flat plains because of its characteristic
resistance to humidity and mildew, and also for its relative abundant fruit. For this reason, the Donati do a severe pruning to
produce low yields of better quality. All the grapes, including the white, are fermented like red wines (with skin contact),
without temperature control, and use no other controls or enhancers at fermentation, no fining, no acidification or de-
acidification, no selected yeasts, etc. These are natural petillantwines deriving from the traditional method of refermentation in
bottle, a method that does not require preservatives and which makes this wine, unlike those produced in charmat method, age
better. The wines are not filtered and are topped with a crown cap (a traditional closure for some decades in this region).
There may be resulting sediment and the bottles should be poured somewhat carefully without a lot of intense movement.
The Donatis make real (biodynamic) red wine that happens to be Lambrusco except that this is a traditional, unfiltered, bottled
fermented Lambrusco that is quite dry and only gently sparkling. Slow food pilgrims who take their hunger, scrip and staff to
Bologna and environs know that it’s possible to find interesting, well-balanced Lambrusco from artisanal producers and go-
ahead co-operatives. We are talking frothy and refreshing wines that one can sip on the piazza or enjoy with a pizza. Little of
the quality Lambrusco escapes Emilia-Romagna; this is a happy little warbler from the land of Verdi. It has a deep, brilliant
crimson colour. It has soft brown-sugar and strawberry pulp aromas, with a little hint of briar. On the palate, it is frizzante,
with quite a robust, serious, earthy chewy-cherry fruit and a quite intense plum-skin grip. Mouthfilling and well-textured, there
is plenty of racy raspberry acidity and lovely balance. It pairs wonderfully with cooked salumi such as Mortadella di Bologna
and the typical deep fried with a splash of lard bread puffs of Modena/Reggio Emilia/Parma, known as gnocco fritto (or torta
fritta in Parma). Often served along with gnocco fritto are the small baked bread discs known as tigelle, that have a texture
similar to piadina, the signature flatbread of Romagna, which is the area stretching from Bologna to Fellini’s hometown of
Rimini on the Adriatic. Another Modenese specialty that works beautifully is borlengo, a super thin flatbread rubbed with
cured lard, rosemary, pancetta and parmigiana.
This is a style of wine, however, that would happily unite Klingons, Dick Swivellers, ardent neckgrazers and the King of old
Dunfermline town in an orgy of uncritical guzzling. I invite you to cast aside your preconceptions and bring your lambruscos
to the slaughter. Emilia-Romagna, of course, is Lambrusco-shire. Ask for a glass of house red in any Bolognese tratt and, as
likely as not, you’ll be given a beaker of unapologetically foaming purple-red liquid. Like so many wines Lambrusco has
become adulterated in the translation – usually in the confected, sweetened shambrusco versions that have rocked up on our
shores for so many years. This one delivers rasping toothsome satisfaction
and then some.
The Trebbiano has already gained a bemused following. Trebbiano – workhorse grape, right? Sparkling Trebbiano – what’s
all this about? This is about making a wine naturally, with no disgorgement or filtering. It is so natural you can see the yeast
doing the backstroke in your glass. Cloudy and smelling uncannily of fermented apples the wine is bone dry on the palate,
refreshing and with surprising depth of flavour.
The Malvasia secco is one of those sparklers where spring flowers are entwined with autumn windfall. Malvasia, from
northern Italy, usually reminds me of orange blossom honey over drooping orchard fruits coated with sweet spice and pepper.
Amber and hazy to a fault (lava lamp alert), wafting aromas of tangerine and musk mixed with pollen. Donati’s Malvasia wine
prickles, skitters and scythes across the palate unveiling the texture of bleached apricot skins and the sensation of warm peach,
as well as delicate impressions of sweet grass, jasmine and tea-rose – all teased along with breezy orange citrus. The finish is
ale and hearty, refreshing to the last hoppy drop. As the bottle is consumed – and it will be consumed – the wine mellows to a
jaunty, twinkling grapiness or maybe it is just so darned drinkable that the edges only appear to soften. The sedimentary final
glass crowns the naturalness of the wine; more often than not a thick orange powder has precipitated and these coagulated
lees glow like a phosphorescent paste (nature’s portion indeed).
TREBBIANO SECCO FRIZZANTE
MALVASIA SECCO FRIZZANTE
MALVASIA ROSA ROSATO FRIZZANTE
LAMBRUSCO ROSSO FRIZZANTE
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LA STOPPA, RIVERGARO, Emilia – Organic
La Stoppa is an ancient estate with vineyards stretching along the Trebbiola valley, not far from the river Trebbia, in
the province of Piacenza. The estate extends over 52 hectares, 30 of which are planted with vines and dominated over
by an elegant medieval tower. Over a century ago, the estate’s previous owner planted French varieties, producing
both wines of significance, as well as others of curiosity through the addition of Italian styles: Bordeaux, White
Bordeaux and Pinot Noir. In 1973 the estate was acquired by the Pantaleoni family who, within a short space of time,
had invested in and restructured the vineyards, as well as renewing the cellar. Today the company is headed by Elena
Pantaleoni, with the assistance of winemaker Giulio Armani. The naturally low yields (due to the average age of the
vines and poor soil) together with the intrinsic quality of the grapes, have made possible the creation of wonderfully
characteristic wines, which reflect their vineyards of origin and speak for themselves without the need for excessive
reworking in the cellar. This does not mean that no use is made of modern technology or small barrels. On the
contrary. However, these serve to accompany the wine towards its full maturity rather than to falsely modify it in any
way. Today La Stoppa produces a limited number of wines: some derived from the local varieties – Malvasia, Barbera
and Bonarda, others from historically introduced varieties of French origin such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
Pinot Noir. The objective is to create modern wines without betraying the history and expression of the territory,
manifesting themselves through the subtle tones and unique character of the wines produced. The Ageno is a blend of
Malvasia Aromatico (60%), Ortruga and Trebbiano from 35-year-old vines grown at 250m. The grapes are macerated
on the skins with native yeasts for thirty days and, the wine is matured half in stainless steel and half in French
barriques. Amber in colour and aromatically redolent of peach, pear and sweet apricot, this is, as Randall Grahm
might say, “like Gewürztraminer on acid”. The Macchiona is another blend of Barbera and Bonarda and is matured
for twelve months in Slavonian oak barrels. A gorgeous meaty wine with raunchy wild berry aromas and the ultimate
in savoury sour-cherry finish. We invite you to do the Macchiona! The Trebbiolo Frizzante is a Barbera/Bonarda
gentle foamer which smells and tastes like liquidised fennel salami. Reassuringly rasping it goes with fennel salami as
well as wild mushroom risotto.
MALVASIA BIANCA AGENO
TREBBIOLO ROSSO FRIZZANTE
MACCHIONA – magnum
MALVASIA PASSITO “VIGNA DEL VOLTA” – 50cl
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