Emilia-Romagna is one of the oldest wine-growing regions of Italy, with a viticultural heritage that goes back to the 7th century BC. Its terroir offers both low mountains to the west and flat plains to the east. The area is best known for having one of the oldest universities in the world, wonderful food, lovely landscapes and of course delicious wines from several varieties. Wines made from Marzemino, Spergola, Lambrusco, Malvasia, Trebbiano, Barbera, Bonarda and Sangiovese show up in bottles from Emilia-Romagna.
We are happy to say that Vinotas Selections is discovering some hidden talent from the area, as you’ll discover when popping their corks.
Azienda Agricola Il Farneto
Azienda Agricola Il Farneto is a small 8 hectare (19.77 acre) winery located between the hills Scandiano and Canossa in Castellarano in Western Emilia-Romagna. It was founded in the mid-90s by Marco Bertoni who dreamed of making natural wines that reflected their terroirs. His winemaker Flavio Restani crafts lovely wines using ancient techniques that take into account the long-term health of the soils.
Certified Biodynamic, everything is done by hand and with the utmost respect for Nature. The rows here are densely planted to 4000 vines/hectare and are on average 15 years old, all planted to sandy clay soils. While they do use large French barrels that can hold up to 500 liters, these are all old and used, just to really soften the wines a tad.
The range of wines is named after a local river in a valley known for its geological character as well as its wilderness, the Rio Rocca. All fermentation is done with wild yeast, and sulfur use is minimal to non-existent. Despite this, there is a wild freshness to the wines that is really lovely. When tasting these wines, your mind and soul go directly to the deepest heart of Italy.
WINESThe Rio Rocca Spèrgle Frisante is a wild version of the native Spergola grape. Flavio loves Spergola so he makes a pet’nat version just for fun. Like the still wine, it comes from 15+ year old vines grown in sandy clay soils. Hand-harvested, wild yeast fermented, it’s all in stainless tanks. After the first fermentation, he adds back frozen juice from the same vintage, allowing the 2nd fermentation to take place in the bottle. This is unfined, unfiltered and not disgorged, with no dosage, so it is extremely dry and there will be sediment. The nose is bright effervescent grapefruit and lemon with white flower and hay as well as mineral aspects. The medium/light structure delivers similar notes but on a shockingly clean frame, ending with a long fresh finish.
The Rio Rocca Spèrgle is 100% Spergola, a grape native to Emilia-Romagna and almost lost. Flavio loves using ancient varieties, and this is a perfect example. Few other producers make Spergola, and few make one as lovely as this one. Grown on sandy clay soils and from vines that are 15+ years old, this is hand-harvested and wild yeast fermented in tank. Half of the wine sees 6 months in used 500 liter French barrels. It is then bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with a drop of sulfur for stability. The result is a bracingly bright wine that offers a rich nose of grapefruit, lemon, white flowers and hay. The palate is surprisingly elegant, offering up similar notes along with a lovely mineral aspect that ends in a lip-smacking long, grippy finish.
Finally, Flavio’s Rio Rocca Berzmèin comes from an ancient, almost forgotten grape called Marzemino. The wine comes from 15+ year old vines of indigenous grapes grown on a mix of clay and sand soils. All hand-harvested, it is wild yeast fermented in cement, then transferred to used 500 liter French barrels. Finally, it is unfined, unfiltered, and lightly sulfured at bottling. The wine offers bright earthy red tones with lovely herbal nuances. The medium frame carries the flavor profile through to a very long lip-smackingly delicious finish.
Azienda Agricola 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, Gabriele and Adriano 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.