There are almost as many ways to make wine as there are different grape varieties, so I’ve learned to keep an open mind (and palate) when working. I’ve tasted wines made in crazily various ways from Europe, the Middle East (Egypt!), Latin America (meteorite wine anyone?) and the Southern Hemisphere, and North America. One thing you learn very early on in this crazy industry is that you never stop learning.
I have to admit, however, that I was a little skeptical when I heard about a small biodynamic winery using amphorae to make wine in Emilia Romagna, not far from our other producer, Il Farneto. Yes, terracotta jars from Tuscany, just like the ancient Romans used to do. I’ve tasted more bad/oxydized/off natural wines from amphorae than I care to admit, but you never know.
And so this brought me into contact with Danila and Gabriele, who run a small biodynamic farm south of Bologna called Al di là del Fiume.
Founded in 2004, Azienda Agricola Al di là del Fiume (“The Farm Beyond the River”) is a small family farm practicing Biodynamic techniques to make gorgeously natural wines. Though Danila and Gabriele own and farm 27 hectares, only 3 (7.41 acres) are planted to vines, with Albana for white wine and Barbera for reds. Their entire philosophy is to respect the earth and create a living, breathing organism of their farm.
Everything is done by hand, from the picking and sorting of the grapes to the making of the wines. Wild yeasts are allowed to ferment naturally, and the Albana and one of their 2 Barberas undergo skin contact maceration in Tuscan amphorae according to ancient principles.
Danila and Gabriele’s Fricando is an amphora fermented and macerated Albana. This ancient, almost unknown thick-skinned grape is native to the Bologna region just north of Marzabotto. Whole clusters are added to terracota vessels and after a long, slow ferment in the Tuscan clay jars, the wine is bottled unfined, unfiltered and unsulfured, for a brightly oxydative, slightly ripe wine with herbal accents, a wonderful umami mouthfeel and a mineral-driven finish.
We are very excited to be able to bring these wines into the US for the first time. They’ve never been imported before, so it’s a fun challenge to introduce them to our various markets. Amphorae are back, after a 2 millenia hiatus!
You can see more pictures HERE.