When we think about Italian wines we almost immediately think about Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello and Chianti wines. Then if we like to investigate we also know about Amarone, Barbera and Sicilian wines. Then we are wine connoisseurs and we know about Friuli wines too. But you have to know that there are many more areas in which Italian winemakers produce great wines. One of these areas is in the North, in the border with Austria. The Dolomites are a set of mountain groups spanning the Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions in Italy. Viticulture is widespread mainly in the western part of the Dolomites, in the Trentino and Alto Adige areas. Here, besides the good wines made with autochthonous Lagrein variety in Alto Adige, there is another highly interesting IGT for us: Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT. We will talk about one particular Azienda Agricola here, not only because they produce great wines using local red Teroldego and white Nosiola varieties, but also because they have a strong connection with Spain. Azienda Agricola Foradori uses amphora for ageing its wines, and these vessels, qvevri or tinajas they use, are made in Spain by a traditional manufacturer in Villarrobledo, in the province of Albacete.
Having in mind the objective of obtaining a great wine produced in amphora, you need to go through a highly delicate process for making the right vessels. The four elements present in Nature are needed for this task:
- You need the Earth in the form of the clay that must be cleared of any impurities that might affect the wine.
- You need Water, which will make the clay powder into a past that you will shape as a vessel.
- You need Fire, which will harden the clay to make the amphora ready to be used.
- You need Air, as once the amphora is elaborated it has to be left in the open to dry.
Elisabetta Foradori is the woman in charge of this small winery in the outskirts of Trento, from where the Villa Fontanasanta overlooks the city. The vineyards are scattered in the neighbor villages. Two hectares are located in Campo Rotaliano, two more are in Fontanasanta, ten hectares are in Mezzolombardo… They mostly use the two aforementioned local varieties Teroldego and Nosiola. Teroldego is planted mainly with the pergola trellising system. Back in 1971 the production of Teroldego led to the registration of the first Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) of the Trentino region. Back then, however, the goal of the wineries was to produce huge quantities of grapes, sometimes up to 17 tons/hectare, neglecting quality for quantity. In recent years, a few producers are showing a renewed interest in the conservation of biodiversity in the vineyards and a concern for the originality of wine, decreasing the use of synthetic chemicals and reducing the degree of mechanization in the different productive phases. Thus, the yields of the vineyards nowadays are lesser than those huge amounts of those times.
Teroldego is the grape mainly used by Foradori, with which they elaborate four wines, all of them Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT. Two wines age in wood and two more age in amphora:
Foradori: with 15 months in wood and cement casks and 90.000 bottles per year is the main wine of the azienda.
Granato: with 15 months in wood and 20.000 bottles per year.
Morei: spends 8 months on the skins in amphora and 10.000 bottles per year.
Sgarzon: spends 8 months on the skins in amphora and 10.000 bottles per year.
Their three white wines are also Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT:
Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco: fermented on the skins in cement tanks and then aged for 12 months in acacia casks. 20.000 bottles per year.
Fuoripista Pinot Grigio: with 8 months on the skins in amphora and 8.000 bottles per year.
Fontanasanta Nosiola: with 8 months on the skins in amphora and 8.000 bottles per year.
As we see the vinification process are very diverse, using amphora, acacia wood and cement tanks. Very interesting things that we need to discover. We will focus on the wines macerated in amphora on the skins, especially the Nosiola and the Fuoripista, as they are made with two varieties rarely used for Orange wines outside of Trento.
We will soon talk to Elisabetta about her wines and winemaking philosophy.
Photos (C) Azienda Agricola Foradori