Red wine in the passing lane

Christian Eder paid us a “wine visit” in 2017, then decided to immerse the readers of the European wine monthly Vinum in the world of Romagna Sangiovese. With Francesco Bordini as his guide, Eder explored the sub-zones of our Sangiovese and the wineries that flourish there. His article, then, is an exploration of terroir and identity.

For quite a while now, Sangiovese di Romagna DOC remained in the shadow of its big Tuscan “brother.” However, now that 12 sub-growing zones have been identified and a new generation of winegrowers stepped into the spotlight, everything has changed, and momentously. The hills between Imola and the Adriatic coast are witnessing a kaleidoscope of terroirs where crisp flavours and clean aromas are the stylistic byword.
“In times past, winemakers strove to imitate the great Sangioveses of Tuscany by liberal use of oak barrels and generous extraction.” Winegrower Mauro Giardini adjusts his glasses and put the ruby-red liquid up to his nose. “For a long time, we didn’t realize it, but crisp freshness is actually the main characteristic of our wines. Sangiovese di Romagna showcases aromatic, fresh fruit and youthful tannins. Keeping it in oak barrels is totally wrong, and ends up damaging its stylistic forte.”
In the midst of the gently-rolling hills of the Longiano sub-zone, right in the heart of Romagna, lies the Villa Venti winery. All around the small cellar complex are vineyards trained to the traditional alberello a cespuglio, the bush-trained method that, surprisingly, one sees quite often in Romagna. “We want to give as much character as possible to the wine,” says Giardini. “And the requirement for that are healthy vines, in balance with each other and the environment. That’s precisely what we get with our alberello style.” Since 2003, the winery has been using traditional methods and cultivates the vineyards biodynamically. “The Longiano area has sandy, calcareous soils, and these give all our wines their elegance, but above all to Sangiovese.” That elegance is the hallmark of Villa Venti wines, in particular Primo Segno, which exhibits at one and the same time crisp, radiant fruit with fine acidity and perceptible tannins. And all this with no use of oak barrels, points out Giardini, before showing me another container that he firmly believed in: the amphora. He leaves his native centesimino rosso wine to macerate in them for 6 months. What emerges is a wine that marries together classic wild berry and a decisive, self-confident personality.
Christian Eder

Great team-work!