Massimiliano Croci is the third-generation member of his family managing Tenuta Vitivinicola Croci in Emilia, Italia. After his grandfather Giuseppe and father Ermanno, he is now doing some of the most sought-after wines in his country and beyond its borders. One special feature of his wines is that they are made the traditional way, and in Emilia this traditional way is sparkling wines which are refermented in the bottle. For many people this seems to be just a fashion or a way to adjust to the current market tendencies, but far from that, Massimiliano is doing wines the way his ancestors did wine back in the day. Moreover, of course, his wines are natural. No chemicals used, no sulphites added, no wine levels control, his wines are the way they grow themselves. Again, the traditional way.
The estate, located in Piacenza province, dates back to 1935 when his grandfather bought it and it was in the 1970s when his father decided to move from cattle management to grape farming as this was the only way to make decent money for living in the region. Now the cellar has grown and established itself as one of the best wineries in Italy for sparkling and frizzante wines, always using autochthonous grape varieties.
Tenuta Croci is also one of the few wineries in Italy producing an Ice Wine, a typical wine from Canada and Austria whose grapes are left in the vineyard to shrunk and dehydrate while the sugar levels raise and then they are harvested between November and January when the temperature is around five degrees below zero. This wine, Emozione di Ghiaccio, is produced using typical local varieties Malvasia di Candia Aromatica 70% and Moscato Bianco 30%. The wine stays in small oak botti for two years.
Tenuta Croci’s vineyards are trained with the Guyot system and the soil is marked by clay and sand with its origins dated on the Pliocene Period. All labors at the vineyards located in Monterosso – Castell’Arquato, and at the cellar are hand-done.
Massimiliano Croci produces two sparkling wines: Alfiere, for which he uses the local Ortrugo variety. Alfiere Rosé is a blend of Barbera 48%, Bonarda (aka Croatina) 48%, and Malvasia Nera 4%. Both Alfiere wines stay in the lees for eighteen months.
Gutturnio Sur Lie is a Gutturnio D.O.C. Colli Piacentini frizzante wine refermented in the bottle. It is a blend of Barbera 60% and Bonarda 40%. This wine stays in a tank for eight months then it goes to the bottle where it stays at least ten more months.
The two still red wines of the Tenuta are Coronino, a Vino da tavola Rosso elaborated with a blend of Merlot 60% and Sangiovese 40%. This wine stays in a tank for eight months then it goes to oak barrels for sixteen more months. San Bartolomeo, whose name comes from the old denomination of Monterosso, is a Gutturnio D.O.C. Colli Piacentini blend of Barbera 60% and Bonarda 40%. Eight months in tank, then oak barrels for eighteen more months.
Tenuta Croci also produces three Orange Wines. As with the sparkling wines, Massimiliano produces them because this was the way white wine was traditionally made in this area. Lubigo Sur Lie is a single-varietal Ortrugo refermented in the bottle frizzante wine. Twelve days of maceration on the skins, then eight months in a tank and ten more months in the bottle. Monterosso Val d’Arda Sur Lie is a D.O.C. Colli Piacentini blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica 60%, Ortrugo 35% and Marsanne 5%. Maceration on the skins for seven to eleven days. This wine stays in a tank for eight months then it goes to the bottle where it stays at least ten more months. Finally, Val Tolla is a single varietal of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica. Its maceration period goes to around thirty days. Ten months in tank and twelve months in the bottle.
Wine production and agriculture are all key elements of the territory’s identity. Precisely for the fundamental role that farming plays, Tenuta Vitivinicola Croci, especially if driven by a young man as Massimiliano is, must be able to make wines with dynamism, transparency, quality and genuineness.
Soon we will talk to Massimiliano about his winemaking roots and philosophy. For the interview, we will count with the help of our common friend Antonio Sicurezza, owner of the Wine Attack wine shop in Madrid.
Photos (c) Tenuta Croci