Pinot Noir in Italy, a world to be explored
Difficult, fragile, fickle; but brilliant, exciting and unpredictable. Pinot Noir can be both a blessing and a curse, désordre et génie: an unpredictable but incomparable player, if it is in the right mood on the day. Precisely because it clings to the rare territories where it really feels at home, i.e. in Burgundy, its native land, and Champagne, it is subject to a kind of attack of melancholy if it leaves. Even the individual elements of the “terroir” influence its bad mood, and all of them need to be present if it is to be perfectly at ease: factors of geology, climate, altitude and exposure.
The best terroirs from Tuscany to Alto Adige
It should be made clear that our study is limited to the results of Italian Pinot Nero vinified Burgundy-style, i.e. fermented on the skins, dry and still. There are several interesting areas in Italy: Oltrepò Pavese and Alto Adige have led the way, but interesting results have also been achieved in Trentino, in certain areas of Tuscany, Valle d’Aosta, Franciacorta and even in the Marche and Veneto. In some districts, Burgundy grapes have been used as a project, verifying the simultaneous presence of favourable territorial elements in terms of climate and altitude; in some cases the experiment seems to be successful, but more often than not, it isn’t. Elsewhere the grapes have found a personal and intriguing way to express themselves, although alien to the Burgundy archetype, especially in the areas of Tuscany where the territorial characteristics are more evident than the mark of the grape variety, whichever one it should be (Pinot nero di Voltumna, in Mugello, or Case Via di Fontodi, in Panzano should be mentioned).
Alto Adige was the first to import Pinot noir in Italy
Alto Adige was the first area in Italy to import it: Bourgogne Noir rootlings were supplied to the Tyrolean Agricultural Association in 1838, when Alto Adige was still Austrian. The areas of Gries, Novacella and Rametz were making good still wines from Blauburgunder (Pinot Nero) at the end of the nineteenth century. At the turn of the century, other areas of Alto Adige were also making it, though production was low in terms of figures, but already famous for its quality. These included the town of Mazzon, in the municipality of Egna, rightly considered one of the best areas for Pinot Noir outside of France today.
10 italian Pinot Noir to try
Ottin – Pinot nero Valle d’Aosta Doc
Tenuta Mazzolino – Noir, Pinot nero Oltrepò Pavese Doc
Weingut Abraham – Pinot nero Alto Adige Doc
Castel Juval Unterortl – Pinot nero Alto Adige Doc
Manincor – Mason, Pinot nero Alto Adige Doc
Carlotto – Filari di Mazzòn, Pinot nero Alto Adige Doc
Girlan Cornaiano – Trattmann Mazon, Pinot nero Alto Adige Riserva Doc
Elisabetta Dalzocchio – Pinot nero Vigneti delle Dolomiti Igt
Podere Santa Felicita – Cuna, Pinot nero Toscana Igt
Podere della Civettaja – Pinot nero Toscana Igt
by Armando Castagno
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