Not so long ago, tariffs were the only thing that seemed to be getting in between the winemaker and consumer. That threat is now miniscule compared to Italy’s battle with COVID-19. Sadly, over 30,000 Italians have died as a result of the pandemic and it’s only now that citizens can return to work and daily life, now coined the “new normal.”
It’s our love for Italian wine (and food) that has made Italy the largest wine-producing nation in the world. The impact on Italy’s food and wine industry may be astronomical, but there is a beacon of hope still connecting our shores: nature. Mother Nature’s clock does not fail us, even as pollutants have altered the landscape. Following bud break in the vineyard, the winegrower must continue to answer nature’s call and follow the appropriate measures that will ensure an optimal harvest.
With a rupture in wine tourism and slowdown in exports and imports, the ability to continue the wine dialogue has been challenged. I’ve asked a few wineries to share an impromptu message, as well as highlight a favorite wine. These bottles may yet to have reached the American market, but still have a story to tell.
Conte d’Attimis (Buttrio, Friuli Colli Orientali)
“Overcoming the harsh winter temperatures and pruning, the vine awakens, thanks to the spring sun that makes the sap flow towards the ends of the strain. For some days, until they are healed, you can even see the sap from pruning cuts. After the ‘crying of the vines,’ the plant will be covered with leaves and the buds will appear. It’s the sprouting phase, which marks the beginning of a new annual cycle. During this period, the winemaker proceeds to the first processing of the ground; it moves the ground to bring the warmth of the spring sun to the roots of the vine, to facilitate its growth.”
Tazzelenghe 2012 | 100% Tazzelenghe
Tazzelenghe grapes are from an ancient indigenous Friuli vine that has recently been rediscovered and vinified, to preserve its original and traditional characteristics. The name, meaning “cuts the tongue,” stems from the sharpness of the young wine when it is naturally acidic. However, this grape softens with the normal maturation processes associated with barrel ageing (oxidation and tannin condensation). The reddy-violet color, intense and winy when young, changes to a red with brick hues after aging. The bouquet is expansive and pleasant with slightly woody undertones. It pairs well with roasted meats and game.
Ricci Curbastro (Brescia, Lombardy)
“While the whole country stopped for the Covid-19 emergency, we managed to: plant 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of new vineyards in Rontana — our estate in Emilia-Romagna. A total of 14,000 rooted cuttings that are now savoring spring have begun to sprout. We filtered and bottled all the Franciacorta production of the 2019 vintage (about 140,000 bottles) and they are now tidily stacked in the cellar where second fermentation in the bottle has begun. Pruning is complete and we’ve replanted the dead vines on our 30 hectares of vineyards. Finally, our staff has prepared the land for planting a new vineyard in Franciacorta that is 2.5 hectares and 12,000 root vines were planted immediately after Easter.”
Franciacorta Satèn Brut Vintage 2015 | 100% Chardonnay
The Satèn Brut 2015 is sapid, elegant, rich in clear, focused aromas of golden delicious apples and white peach, with delicate citrusy nuances and hints of aromatic herbs that follow through coherently on the palate. In the mouth it proves succulent and soft, but endowed with a nice acidic vigor that accompanies it through a long finish. It accompanies any meal, from appetizers to cheeses; ideal with fish and white meats.
Run by Silvan, Marko and Boris Primosic, Primosic wines have designed a personal and unique painting of the land. Each bottle tells its own story, revealing a choice of details and colors. “Spring started earlier than usual with above average temperatures in February. For the month of March, the temperatures were in the average range, so the budding slowed down and, at the moment, we are experiencing the regular temperatures for this season.”
2016 Ribolla di Oslavia Riserva | 100% Ribolla Gialla
Intense golden-yellow color. Characteristic and dry, the fragrance evokes acacia flowers, with undertones of bitter orange rind with pervasive mineral sensation. The finish is reminiscent of apricot stone and chestnut pulp.
Scriani (Valpolicella Classica)
The Cottini family, which has held the Scriani trademark for generations, continues to hand down the art of wine farming and vinification from father to son, always respecting traditional methods, but not alien to innovation and improvement. “Since the winter awakening and the weeping of the vines, the sprouting phase begins that will cause the plant to be covered with foliage. Those sprouts will become the future plots.”
Carpanè | 100% Corvina
Carpanè expresses the harmonious diversity of Valpolicella, in which it was born, giving value to the “irregularities” compared with emerging canons of taste in the local area. Decisive ruby red, aromas of flowers and berries; on the palate we enjoy a pleasing grass sensation with notes of spice and bitter almonds. Carpanè pairs well with red meats and matured cheeses.
Azienda Agricola Biasiotto (Udine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Azienda is a family company that produces high quality still and sparkling wines and directly follows the entire production process from the vineyard to the bottle. “If there is a wine that we love very much for our home aperitifs, it’s ZERO 15, our extra brut sparkling wine. Fresh and aromatic like spring, thanks to the particular contact with native yeasts.”
ZERO 15 Spumante Extra Brut Sui Lieviti | 100% Glera
Dry, fresh, with a harmonious symphony of tastes and a remarkable aromatic maturity given by the pleasant contact with the fermentation yeasts. Enjoy this wine with first or second courses of medium/low aromatic intensity, as an aperitif on its own or accompanied by various appetizers.
Villa Mattielli (Soave Classico and Valpolicella DOC)
“Sprouting is the first moment of the organic cycle of the vine that begins with the hatching of gems. This phase depends on various factors such as temperature, area, soil and variety of vines. Now, slowly the vegetative phase of the vine continues. The gems have hatched and the leaflets grow and stretch.”
Soave Classico Campolungo | 100% Garganega
Straw yellow bright and warm, offers up to the nose intense and fruity notes. Well-bodied and with a good structure, it has a light acidity which brightens up the palate. Refreshing mineral and citrus finish. Pairs well with fresh and soft cheese and select finger food.
An SOS to the World
Spring’s celebration leads to the excitement of summer’s véraison and the anticipation of harvest. Nature will always have its ups and downs, but if we are respectful, it will never fail us. Know that in dark times, we can find hope in the vineyard. Let the wine keep flowing from shore to shore by continuing to drink Italian!
Walked out this morning, I don’t believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone in being alone
A hundred billion castaways looking for a home
I’ll send an SOS to the world.
~ The Police “Message in a Bottle”