Led by Andrea Gori
The IT sommelier, March 2018
Acidity, grape variety and altitude: how altitude affects the natural acidity of a grape variety
It is always fascinating to tell family stories that find a common thread in wine that runs through the generations. More and more often today, we witness the moment in which the child decides to leave the confines of the home and try new paths, only to then decide to return, recalled by nostalgia for the land .
This is the story of Gianni Bianco , who returned to the company in 2000 because he realized that he could not live according to other rhythms and other philosophies. There were not many years in which he worked as a mechanical expert but they were enough for him to understand how important innovation and research are also in the field of wine, a traditional product par excellence.
Gianni believes in experimentation , in the desire to know and improve his work in the vineyards, to which he dedicates himself with the love he reserves for his children.
In Monferrato, a UNESCO heritage site since 2014, his family has been producing wine for more than a century, in Montegrosso d'Asti, deepening, in the 6 hectares of land, the knowledge of Barbera, Dolcetto and other grapes that can be enjoyed and exalted in a special microclimate.
We are 250 meters above sea level: the high latitude, the climate, the calcareous-clayey subsoil, with the presence of sand and the great slope which prevents the mechanization of work in the vineyard create the ideal conditions for artisanal wines rich in depth, freshness and acidity .
To enhance the natural freshness and acidity of the wines, Gianni focuses on the first phase of processing in the cellar ( cryomaceration ) and processes the pomace and must at low temperatures with dry ice, to preserve the primary fruity and floral aromas of the grapes : a technique that succeeds to make Barbera and other local grapes give their best.
We are in Dicomano (Florence), right under the Apennines, where we find vineyards that reach up to 300 meters in height: many are surrounded by woods, which allows us to reduce the heat and keep biodiversity high.
We meet Marzio and Valeria , heroes of Voltumna .
The agricultural company exists thanks to them, who in 2012 faced the cessation of the activity of the agricultural land for which they worked (consisting of 2.5 hectares of vineyards and the same number of olive groves), deciding to take a risk and take over the land rather than move away from the land they cultivated for 10 years now.
They were credited with having introduced natural winemaking (with native yeasts and with attention not to introducing artificial elements into the wine). The varieties present in the company are sangiovese, pinot noir, pinot grigio.
The inspiration of the name comes from the ancient Etruscans: Voltumna is the ancestor of the Roman goddess Fortuna. The one that rewards courageous people, the one that rewarded Valeria and Marzio, passionate winemakers.
In Sicily, as we know, one encounters the most surprising territories and landscapes: from poignant beaches to the snow of Etna, passing through almost desert areas and others of lush vegetation. Sicily's encounter with the vine occurred millennia ago and led to a unique wealth of expressions.
In the hinterland of Palermo, along the Val di Mazara which leads to Trapani, in Camporeale (in the center of an area rich in architectural traditions, natural beauty and famous for the processing of solid wood) we find the vineyards of the Alessandro family, who look after these hills since the early 1900s and only decided to create its own winery in the 2000s.
The future had to be prepared and the latest generation of Alessandro has taken up the family legacy: the protagonists are the cousins Benedetto, Anna and Benedetto . Working alongside their fathers, it is the fourth generation that has given a boost to production by focusing on local varieties and the typification of Syrah in these valleys, managing to highlight how much this "international" variety has benefited from the encounter with Sicily, especially where the altitude ( we are over 400 meters ) allows you to preserve its freshness and agility.
But they have certainly not forgotten nero d'Avola and historic Sicilian vines, which in these conditions express a genuine and intriguing character, far from the stereotypes of the region's wines.
They are young, full of energy and focus everything on quality, to best express the soul of the territory they take care of .
THE SELECTED WINES
Amoris Barbera d'Asti 2016, La Ballerina
A wine with a stupendous and intriguing nose that contains all the enchanting character of a young and lively Barbera . Notes of black fruit (blackcurrant, cassis, blackberries), red fruit (strawberries, raspberries) and then notes of almond enriched by the spiciness of cumin, pepper and liquorice enliven a nose that is truly surprising in terms of complexity.
A complexity that also envelops the palate: this wine asserts its youth in a bold manner by starting the drink in a grim manner and then flowing lightly and well sprinkled with tannin and balsamic notes. The natural and characteristic acidity of Barbera is played in a sweet and gentle way, without jerks, with an overall freshness increased by the balsamic notes that enliven the palate.
An immediate and direct, yet complex wine, capable of achieving these levels of quality and clarity.
Zeno Toscana IGT 2015, Voltumna
It is the best-known wine from Voltumna, born in 2010 with the desire to combine sangiovese and pinot noir vinified separately. The result, however, does not convince Marzio, who therefore decides to experiment and start combining the two varieties well beforehand.
Taking advantage of the difference in the ripening age of the two grapes, he harvests the pinot noir at its ideal time (generally at the end of August). About a month later (slightly ahead of complete maturation), at the end of the fermentation of the first grapes, he harvests the Sangiovese and starts it in the Pinot Noir.
The result is a sort of review or, better yet, a wine born from continuous fermentation between two vines .
The result (steel only) is of rare freshness and pleasantness : the combination takes the best of the two wines and multiplies them.
It captures the nose with its jaunty air: aromas of scrub, juniper, raspberries, black cherry, blueberry, a sweet, balsamic, spicy note, creating an intriguing, pleasant, tense and fresh whole. Likewise, the sip is penetrating and thirst-quenching, savory and tasty, with a nice dose of light-heartedness thanks to the tannin, spicy but delicate.
Excellent on first courses such as chestnut tagliatelle and duck sauce and white meat second courses.
Donnatà Nero d'Avola, Alessandro di Camporeale
A Nero d'Avola that will manage to change your idea of this vine , too often proposed in the past combined with international varieties that diluted its character and unmistakable qualities of fruity freshness.
This wine comes from vineyards planted in the 2000s, when the company decided to bottle on its own and begin the adventure of direct marketing, and is the result of the desire to demonstrate the ability of Nero d'Avola to "read" the clayey subsoil and the microclimate and to react accordingly: here are inviting, sweet and fresh notes of raspberries, strawberries and mulberries, Mediterranean scrub, rose and hints of cocoa.
On the palate it is a wine that involves and immediately pleases with notes of strawberry and tobacco, fresh touches reminiscent of orange that linger in the vigorous finish in which fruity softness and fresh hints alternate thanks to acidity and tannin that are always present.
Infinitum Monferrato Rosso 2010, La Ballerina
Monferrato is not only known for Barbera but also for being a hospitable land towards foreigners. So it was with the "French" merlot and cabernet. The operation conducted by Gianni in this wine is experimental because here merlot and cabernet meet a terroir that directs the expression of the grape towards a constant freshness and a unique style .
The Infinitum is rich and penetrating with spicy blood notes (cocoa, bergamot, coffee and cassis) plus black cherries and caramel which combine the classic aromas of Barbera with those of other grapes.
The mouth is sharp, with the Barbera that challenges the Bordeaux , resulting in a nice original mix with tannin and acidity in perfect balance.
Silene Pinot Noir, Voltumna
The Pinot Noir vineyards in Voltumna were planted in 2005 to take advantage of the cool climate and thin air, suitable for elegant, streamlined wines. The idea behind this wine is to produce a clean pinot noir , a simple but refined expression of the grape variety that brings crunchiness and flavor to the table and is capable of tickling the palate in a spicy way.
The wine has a beautiful transparent color, with notes of red and black berries, then a light black pepper and pomegranate slowly emerge, combined with coffee and touches of cocoa and bergamot.
The sip is jaunty, complete, slim and very satisfying, with a dry and crunchy finish that calls for the second glass on a nice plate of baked meat or game from the pen, as in tradition.
Kaid Syrah, Alessandro di Camporeale
This wine comes from some of the oldest (we are in 1989) Syrah vineyards planted in Sicily and such a choice is not surprising. The high altitude, the ventilation, the clay and limestone subsoil do not make the vine feel nostalgic for the Rhone valley which, on the contrary, here receives a surplus of sun and Sicilian energy .
On the nose it is a real riot of blackcurrant and blueberry with a spicy component, as well as the balsamic note between sandalwood, mint, eucalyptus and a touch of smoke.
The Mediterranean character emerges on the palate with rich and exuberant notes together with a Moorish elegance given by the solidity of a well-ripe tannin that extends well on the palate. Long and surprising finish that relaunches in flavor and freshness, balancing the always rich and fleshy fruit destined to age in a surprising way over the years if well preserved.