It was a very cold Sunday night in January, it felt as though winter had finally arrived. Myself a winter baby it has been strange to have such 'clement' weather this time of year. Taking advantage of the snow-free streets I rode my bicycle down to Archive Wine Bar to taste the unique wines of Foradori and to meet Emilio Foradori. Emilio, oenologue and viticulture since 2013 is here on a multi-city tour of Canada presenting his first vintage as 'winemaker' of this family run winery. Emilio has taken over from his graceful and elegant mother Elisabetta. Emilio 27 yrs old, himself a student of Viticulture from SupAgro 'the' school of Viticultural Sciences in Montpellier (South France) and raised in the way of biodynamics is expanding on the vision of his mother, and that is to produce wines from indigenous grapes, Manzoni Bianco, Nosiola and Teroldego. Creating wines with depth and character, that are world class representatives of the potential of this northern corner of Italy.
ELISABETTA Foradori, LA REGINA DELLA VAL D'ADIGE, Naturalemente
Elisabetta, is the Queen of Teroldego; from the age of 19 she was placed in charge her father's winery and estate. The father who suddenly passed away left all he had to his one daughter and dutifully she continued to tend to the vines until, intrinsically, she was lead to the world of biodynamics. Biodynamics as a philosophy and way of shepherding the vine and grape towards a more complex and dynamic wine. She completed studies in Viticulture and Winemaking and thus from a technical aspect she was capable of making correct wine from the grape Teroldego of Rotaliano. She soon grew tired of the run of the mill correct wines and the co-operative mentality so much that in the early 80's she started the conversion to biodynamic methods to allow the truth to be heard from her vines. She first focused on Teroldego as the variety to be the vehicle for her 'message in the bottle'. The wines stand alone and are an example of honest winemaking. Taste for yourself and you shall see.
TEROLDEGO of the Rotaliano Plains
The grape is found for the most part in the central valley below the Dolomiti Mountains. The 'plain' is called Campo Rotaliano for which the grape receives it's classic name Teroldego Rotaliano. Now interestingly enough the grape is genetically related to the majestic Syrah of France. It is also the cousin of the Lagrein of Italy, and the lesser known Mondeuse and Dureza of France. The growth cycle, as explained briefly by Emilio, is like that of Syrah, it is quite vigourous, the leaves will fall, as in lop over from their own weight unless they are managed and will produce medium sized grapes that are harvested usually in September. The grape tends to produce wines of elevated acidity, with dark savoury fruitiness and are deep in colour.
The beauty of the Foradori vineyards is that vines for all of their vineyards are originally from a massal selection ( 15 select cuttings of old vines) from 4 of their oldest vineyards. These 4 vineyards were planted within the years of 1938 and 1954 and contain the original 'DNA' for the Teroldego that they use today. These 4 vineyards produce the grapes for the top red cuvée called 'GRANATO'.
Foradori does not use 'clones'. The reason is that as a result of agricultural crossings, certain 'clones' of the same variety are made to be either very productive and/or resistant to disease for whatever purpose suits the needs of the winemaker and though they can produce palatable wines these specimens will never reach the same complexity and depth of flavour as original massal selections. Foradori has chosen quality over quantity.
message in the bottle, a session with emilio foradori
We began the tasting with the 2014 Manzoni Bianco 'Fontanasanta'. Manzoni Bianco isn't that what we clean hockey rinks with? Not quite. It is in Emilio's opinion 'one of the few crossings by man that were successful'. The Dr. Manzoni was responsible for crossing Riesling and Pinot Bianco, thus Manzoni Bianco. The Manzoni Bianco populated vineyards within Friuli, Veneto and Trentino producing mineral and savoury wines, with low yields and a strange growth character, in that the vine grows straight up in the air like a bean stalk, and with thick skins became an ideal candidate for wines of long maceration. it was Emilio's grandfather, who studied wine in Conegliano (Prosecco country), that found that the grape adapted well to the clay soils of the hills in Trento near a village called Fontanasanta. The wine itself spends 5-7 days of maceration with skin contact and then 7-8 months in Acacia casks. I found the wine to be quite lovely and engaging with a lovely floral, then smokey and white stone fruit character with a palate of mountain flowers and bright herbs. With time this wine will be quite charming.
We had the pleasure of tasting two vintages of the Nosiola 'Fontanasanta' both 2010 and 2013. The Nosiola grape variety is local and indigenous which today is limited to 50 hectares in the entire world. 50 years ago there were more than 850 hectares dedicated to the grape before the 'co-operative' system forced out this rather 'non-aromatic' and 'Shy' grape. The majority believed in Pinot Grigio, the almighty saviour and provider. Foradori stuck by Nosiola and this wine is a fantastic example of what Foradori is about.
Enter the amphora, the spanish styled clay vessel called the 'Tinajas' [tina'has}. We talked of the 2 prevailing traditions of 'clay' Amphora wine making, 1. that of the Georgians and 2. that of the Spanish that use 'clay' as the material for the vessel. Why I asked, and Emilio explained that clay gives oxygen and helps in the 'life processes' of the wine as it moves through it's natural transformation from grape to wine. The clay keeps the wines bright and alive without imparting additional flavour. The Foradori Nosiola spends 7 months with skin contact in amphorae and tasting the two vintages side by side the progression is remarkable. 2013 Nosiolo 'Fontnasanta' was rotund with pear, melon, then savoury of mountain herbes and dried mountain flowers and another moment, waxy like honeycomb. The wine is very persistent in flavour. Whereas the 2010 Nosiola 'Fontanasanta' was evolved with red and green apple skin, the texture of tannin subtle and salted, the herbs moved to something caramel and luscious 'super dope' flavours I exclaimed, like nothing I've tasted before and the perfume. I was compelled to eat and drink. To put this wine into context, there are only 3 other producers working with this variety in a region that is dominated by 2 very large co-operatives that account for 95% of the wine produced in the region. Now think Trentino-Alto Adige contributes maybe 5% of Italian wine production. The co-operatives generate 70million bottles and Foradori generates 8,000 bottles of this near forgotten grape Nosiolo! Get some it's great!
We then proceeded to the reds which are all 100% Teroldego 'vigneti delle Dolomiti' from 2011 and 2013 vintages. Emilio describes the vintages in very direct terms. 2011 was a 'Primadonna' vintage of generous and sexy wines and the 2013 vintage was more 'German' in style. My notes in brief are as follows.
2013 Foradori Teroldego. A wine that spends 1/2 it's time in oak and the other in concrete was redolent of violets and purple flowers (what are purple flowers) and dark berries, the flavours were earthy and textured with a subtle burnt orange skin with soft grained tannin that was gentle and savoury. This is the classic Foradori Teroldego from the plains of Rotaliano. (in Bordeaux bottle for wines that have spent time in oak)
We then moved to the (2)single vineyard expressions of Teroldego. Wines of long maceration in the 'tinaja' styled amphorea. Both wines were presented in Burgundy bottle
2013 Sgarzon Teroldego. Emilio describes this wine as 'nervous' and bright with acidity as it comes from a cooler site with sandy soils. Indeed the wine is bright and floral, with sweet fresh red berry like a creamed soda. The texture of the wine is remarkable in that the tannin is evident but not pronounced. The wine is earthy but carries none of the tell-tale signs of amphora aged biodynamic wines. It was a Teroldego that I had always wanted.
2013 Morei Teroldego comes from one of the hottest vineyards that receives an extra 2 hours more of sun exposure and is on stoney soils. Morei means dark in the Trento dialect and the wine is indeed warmer and richer in all facets. Think dark cherry, sweet purée of tomato with red liquorice. I imagines red twizzlers made of wine. The structure of the wine was just that much more beefier than the Sgarzon but you could identify them having the same hand in wine making. The acid hound that I am loved the Sgarzon but the Morei had a certain hedonistic pleasure. Both wines would be handsome at the dinner table and fitting for any and every mood. Balanced, focused, complex and of character.
2011 Granato Teroldego. The flagship wine of the family. Before tasting I had to ask Emilio 'Why is Granato Granato?" His response was that as a wine that started in the 80's it was meant to be a big fat wine from Teroldego, at the time the common examples were fresh, floral and lighter in body. Though the Granato has evolved with time, the wine has become concentrated, focused and the strongest expression of what Foradori Teroldego is.
Granato = Pomegranate. I have had 2009 vintage of this wine and it is such a charming and sexy wine, the 2011 was nothing short of lovely, with minted dark forest berry, savoury and bright profile on the palate with a soft braised mushroom, umami like texture, call it depth of flavour and I reminded myself that Granato is sourced from the 4 oldest mother vineyards, planted between 1938 to 1954. The 4 main vineyards being Regin, Redot, Pasquari, Cesura and occasionally Noval.
I must say it was a fantastic and casual session of tasting and talking wine with Emilio and Foradori, one of Italy's brightest stars of wine. Thank you to Archive Wine bar for hosting us and 'The Living Vine' Agency for bringing us such a elegant and lovely wines. Emilio was quite charismatic despite just getting off the plane 3 hours previous. I can only imagine the power and grace of his mother. Emilio having studied in France, has also worked at Cheval Blanc, has recently spent some time in Patagonia and is part of a generation of modern and connected winemakers that will only bring the public closer to the true 'message in the bottle'.
That's it for now. a la proxima