by Susannah Gold
on Apr 1, 2013
Father and son.
Sea Fossils found in the vineyard soil.
Winemaker Pasquale Petrera strongly believes in the aging potential of his Primitivos. He’s carried out vertical tastings of 10 vintages of his own “Fatalone Riserva” showing off the quality of this varietal from the Gioia del Colle DOC in Apulia. Pasquale is the fifth generation of his family to run this small winery on a rocky hilltop 365 meters above sea level and located 45 kilometers from both the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the south.
The winery was a founding member of the Consorzio di Tutela del Vino Gioia Del Colle DOC, and they were the first winery, in 1987, to bottle Gioia del Colle DOC using Primitivo as a monovarietal. Their limited production wines are also made with another indigenous grape, Greco.
Organic practices have always been important to the family, according to Pasquale, who says the winery has been practicing sustainability and respect for nature for five generations. “Getting biologically certified was only a way to put a seal on our work.” The company received certification in 2000.
The practices in the vineyards have now moved to focus more on sustainability in the winery as well. Music therapy is used to help with the aging of their barrels. “We use the energy from sound waves to help push air, delicately and rhythmically, onto the surface of the barrels. In this way, the natural process of micro-oxygenation is even more effective,” says Pasquale.
“Our wines sell very well internationally, in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. 85% of our wine is exported. Not everyone understands our wines and that is okay. What we want is for our wines to express our land, the grape varieties, our particular practices and our personality,” he said. ‘In one word, an expression of our roots.”
Apulia is known for its long, dry season and Pasquale says their main problem is not parasites or insects, but lack of water. In the vineyards they only use the Bordelaise mix of copper and sulfur. “Our production process is 100% sustainable: without the use of irrigation and with zero carbon emissions. The winery is powered only by solar energy.”
What isn’t a problem is that the grapes they use all grow right around the winery and there is no need to transport them anywhere, saving on emissions and time. They also put all of the compost from the winery such as cuttings, clippings, and the like back into the property.
In terms of climate change, Pasquale said that they are seeing more drought conditions, earlier harvests and a reduction in yields because some of the grapes are drying on the vine on account of the heat. This inevitably makes the wines fruitier.
Like many winemakers, Pasquale hopes that Italy will focus on preserving its land and the specialness of individual terroirs, protecting their 3000 indigenous varietals and traditions of the land that constitute an inestimable cultural, environmental and societal patrimony.
Priimitivo Riserva Fatalone ages for two years, one of which must be in oak, Slavonia usually. The soil is calcareous with a planting density of 3000-3500 vines per hectare. Full bodied and velvety with red fruits and oak notes on nose and palate, this wine can age for 10 years but is balanced when released.
Primitivo Fatalone is their base wine with many of the same characteristics as the riserva, full-bodied, red fruit and a velvety mouth-feel. They use open vat fermentation with manual stirring, frequent pumping over and without added yeast.
Greco Bianco Spinomarino is made from 100% Greco grapes and is a very floral wine with hints of white flowers and grapes.
Primitivo “Teres” Fatalone is also made using the Primitivo grape. This wine though is almost made like a white wine, meaning it spends little time on the skins.
by Susannah Gold
on Feb 25, 2013
While organic and biodynamic viniculture is more widespread in Italy than people realize, most producers who follow these practices still do not get certification. One winery bucking this trend is Gualdo del Re in Suvereto, a lovely town in Southern Tuscany, not too far from the Mediterranean coast. On a clear day, you can even see the island of Elba in the distance.
Teresa and Nico Rossi, the owners of Gualdo del Re, have always worked the land using organic methods, but felt that certification was a further seal of approval recognizable by consumers who want to be certain they are purchasing “natural” products. After completing the three year process for certification, they received approval in 2011 for two of their white wines: Eliseo Bianco 2011 and Valentina 2011. Their red wines will be certified by the start of 2014.
Gualdo produces a classic line-up of wines from Valentina, a Vermentino, an award winning Merlot, L’Rennero, made from 100% Merlot and aged for 36 months; 15 months in oak barriques and 21 months in the bottle. There is a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon called Federico I and an interesting 100% Aleatico from Elba DOC called Amansio. Valentina and Federico are the names of their children.
A forward-looking pair in all ways, Nico and Teresa hired a top female enologist at a time when women in the cellar were pretty rare. Barbara Tamburini, has been with Gualdo for about 13 years. She started her career working with noted Tuscan enologist Vittorio Fiore.
Val di Cornia, where Suvereto is located, only recently received its denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita (DOCG). Yet the Val di Cornia became a DOC in November of 1989. There are only six towns that may use this legislation for wine labeling and that includes Campiglia Marittima, Piombino, San Vincenzo, Suvereto, Sassetta and Monteverdi Marttimo. These towns are located in the provinces of Livorno and Pisa.
Nico and Teresa have been singing the praises of their area for years, well before the DOCG recognition. A wine industry expert said he felt the area was similar to Pomerol in terms of the terroir and growing potential of certain grapes. Gualdo del Re also cultivates olive trees and makes grappa. The soil is a mixture of limestone, sandy, and clay. This area of Tuscany has a mild climate due to the tempering influence of ocean breezes. The wines exhibit their terroir and are minerally with salinity from the sea breezes. The grapes are very healthy as well because of these constant breezes.
The woods where Gualdo del Re’s 25 hectares of vines are located were a King’s retreat in the Middle Ages. There are numerous medieval towns with ancient ruins in this Etruscan Coast area. Nico and Teresa have created a “piccolo paradiso” in this lovely spot complete with delicious wines, a fine restaurant and a bed and breakfast set amidst pine woods and olive grows. They also have an agriturismo nearby where they are very careful with their use of water. The entire area is one viticultural park.
During my visit, Teresa was furious because hunters had wandered onto her land. Wild pheasant and rabbits frolic in this area, usually untroubled by man. Part of the environmental vision that Nico and Teresa have also pertains to animals and how healthy the area is for them. Nico and Teresa also breed ducks in their pond and grow vegetables in an orchard.
While Nico and Teresa noted that they haven’t seen much excitement in Italy over organic wines, especially because of the difficult economic situation that most people are facing. However, the pair remain convinced that they are absolutely certain that this is the direction for them and for the future of their wines.
Susannah Gold is a wine writer, publicist and certified Italian sommelier.