From the Colli Orientali del Friuli to the hills of Langhe: Tenimenti Civa and Marchesi di Barolo in an evening dedicated to innovation, history and tradition
Verona, 16 April 2018
On Monday 16 April, on the occasion of Vinitaly, a special evening entitled “From the Colli Orientali del Friuli to the hills of Langhe: Tenimenti Civa and Marchesi di Barolo in an evening dedicated to innovation, history and tradition”. Distinguished journalists and wine lovers took part in the event organized at the I Masenini restaurant in Verona, along with the owners of the wineries: Valerio Civa of Tenimenti Civa and Ernesto Abbona of the Antiche Cantine Marchesi di Barolo. They were joined by the President of Unione Italiana Vini.
Eight wines were tasted, four from the Tenimenti Civa 2016 vintage: Ribolla Gialla Spumante Extra Brut Biele Zôe, Ribolla Gialla Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15, Friulano Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15, Sauvignon Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15; and a rare and memorable vertical of Barolo Riserva DOCG from four vintages, a decade apart: 2010, 2000, 1990, 1980.
Two excellent Italian wine-growing areas, known throughout the world for the value of their wines, from either side of Italy, with different histories and traditions, and characterized by their own unique climates, soils and grape varieties. Tenimenti Civa was established in 2016 as a result of a passion for the land and wine. Instead, it was in 1929 that the Abbona family bought Antiche Cantine; their love for the vineyards combined with great stubbornness made Barolo known throughout the world.
THE FOUR WHITE WINES FROM THE 2016 VINTAGE
The 2016 growing year was particularly well-suited for the harvesting of excellent quality grapes. Flowering, which was slightly delayed due to a slightly colder spring, was followed by a summer with normal weather, which allowed balanced development of the fruit on the vine. In August and September, the summer temperatures were cooled by daytime air circulation. Furthermore, the diurnal temperature range encouraged the concentration of aromas and substances in the grapes.
All the wines were vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel containers. Resting on the fine lees also took place in steel wine vats in order to preserve the sensory profile.
THE RESULTS OF THE TASTINGS
Doc Friuli Ribolla gialla spumante extra brut Biele Zôe 2016
The faint straw yellow hue is followed by a nose of citrus fruits, sage and wild strawberry. In the mouth it displays a good balance of freshness, rich flavour and a delicate carbon dioxide pungency. Excellent length.
Doc Friuli Colli Orientali Ribolla gialla Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15 2016
The intense straw yellow hue paves the way for an attractive nose of sage, citrus and blueberry, with hints of autumn leaves. The particularly inviting palate is underpinned by fresh tanginess, and elegant progression reveals solid but never overpowering structure. This has all the elegance of a thoroughbred. The Ribolla Gialla received the highest quality award in 2017 with a top score of 5 Bibenda Grapes from the Fondazione Italiana Sommelier.
Doc Friuli Colli Orientali Friulano Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15 2016
A straw yellow hue combines with a nose of almond and summer flowers. In the mouth it is well-rounded, boasting a perfect balance of natural acids and richness of flavour. On both the nose and palate, this beautifully leisurely wine shows excellent length, offering well-typed hints of bitter almond.
Doc Friuli Colli Orientali Sauvignon Biele Zôe Cuvée 85I15 2016
Ha il colore della paglia con bagliori verde chiaro. Ricco nelle sfumature odorose, si riconoscono note agrumate, fiori, peperone giallo e melone. Si distingue per morbidezza carezzevole intrecciata a freschezza e nota sapida. Di ottimo corpo e persistenza.Showing straw yellow in the glass with light green tinges, it offers complex aromatic nuances, with citrus, flowers, yellow pepper and melon. On the palate, caressing softness intertwines with tangy freshness and a savoury note, for a wine with outstanding body and length.
FOUR VINTAGES OF BAROLO RISERVA
Tastings of the Barolo Riserva started with the 2010 vintage, then the 2000 vintage, and the exceptional 1990, ending with the excellent 1980. Abbona pointed out that the wines had common production characteristics:
- controlled-temperature fermentation;
- racking carried out when the wines were completely free of residual sugars;
- post-fermentation maceration was not carried out;
- the transformation of malic acid into lactic acid, which has a decidedly more pleasant taste, took place during the winter, before racking into barrels;
- maturation and barrel ageing for five years, with the exception of the 1980 vintage, which it was decided to bottle in 1984;
- in 2011 the original cap was replaced for the 1980 and 1990 vintage bottles.
THE RESULTS OF THE TASTINGS
Barolo Riserva 2010
The prolonged cold of winter, the abundant rainfall in early summer and the excellent temperature range in mid-August enriched the grapes with full aromas and flavours. The garnet hue with ruby highlights paves the way for the well-typed nose, with characteristic floral notes of rose and wild violet, over spiced notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate is underpinned by chafing yet well-integrated tannins. Excellent structure and length.
Barolo Riserva 2000
The 2000 vintage was characterized by early vegetative growth and a particularly hot summer. The harvest took place about 20 days earlier than the average of the previous thirty years, giving grapes rich in alcohol, structure and mild tannins. The bright garnet hue is followed by aromas of toasted hazelnut, vanilla, fresh flowers and hints of apricot jam. On the palate, firm structure and silky tannins combine with good length. The 2000 is considered a great vintage of rare drinkability. Its polyphenolic content and structure bode well for good longevity.
Barolo Riserva 1990
Beautiful sunny days alternated with those of rain, mitigating the summer heat, and were followed by a warm, dry autumn, with minimal rainfall. Harvesting, in the first ten days of October, yielded perfectly ripe grapes. The garnet red hue with an orange rim is indicative of its development. A captivating nose with hints of spice, liquorice and wild rose, is followed by an austere palate of tar, truffle and autumn leaves, where elegant progression combines with nuanced complexity. The vintage is considered exceptional with great ageing potential.
Barolo Riserva 1980
Spring and summer were characterized by normal weather conditions, with regular rainfall, which provided the soil with the necessary, but not excessive, levels of moisture. Perfect ripening was achieved in the second ten days of October. In the glass, the wine shows a garnet hue tending to purple with an orangey edge. Attractive pot pourri and fruit compote of blackberries, plums and peaches make for a particularly intriguing nose. The palate is enriched with sweet spice, in addition to a hint of “freshly laid tarmac”, underpinned by imposing, solid structure and silky, caressing tannins. This is widely considered to be an excellent vintage.
THE I MASENINI TRATTORIA
The cuisine of I Masenini, the Trattoria that hosted the Event, is mostly traditional Venetian, with some Mantuan influences. The starter, particularly appreciated by the guests, comprised a tasty Langhirano raw ham, Masenini’s well-known pickled vegetables and artichokes in oil, Mantuan style breast of Guinea fowl, steak tartare, and creamed salt cod on crispy polenta and, as a first course, seasonal green asparagus risotto. These were paired with the four white wines from Tenimenti Civa. Dinner continued with spit-roasted meats: suckling pig, fiorentina steak of Fassona beef from Piedmont, and veal shank. Accompanying the main courses were the four Barolo Riservas, with comments from the producer Ernesto Abbona.
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THE TWO WINERIES
BELLAZOIA, THE HOME OF THE HEADQUARTERS
Tenimenti Civa is based at Bellazoia, an enchanting area between the Julian Prealps and the high plains of Friuli. The owner is Valerio Civa, originally from Parma, an expert of the wine markets with over thirty years’ experience in the sector. He founded Effe.ci Parma, which distributes major brands and labels that today represent the excellence of Italian production all over the world. He was among the first in Italy to distribute quality Italian wine to the large-scale retail trade.
THE TENIMENTI CIVA AGRICULTURAL PROJECT and HIGH QUALITY IN THE TROLLEY
In 2016 Valerio Civa decided to establish Tenimenti Civa, creating an innovative “agricultural project for the large-scale retail trade”. The wines are produced exclusively with grapes from the estate and from very small, constantly monitored local growers, whose grapes are analysed before being used for winemaking. The growers are promptly paid at a fair price. The goal is to guarantee wines of medium-high quality, targeted at a wide audience of consumers through the large-scale retail trade, which is increasingly attentive to the satisfaction of its customers. The latter in turn are interested not only in the quality of what they buy, but also in product traceability.
VINEYARDS AND WINES
The vineyards, both owned and rented, are located in the Colli Orientali del Friuli: Bellazoia, Povoletto, Siacco, Manzano and San Giovanni al Natisone, for a total of 54 hectares. These vineyards were planted many years ago, a factor that plays an important role in achieving wines of quality. In addition to Ribolla, produced in both still and sparkling versions, Friulano (formerly Tocai), Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schioppettino, Merlot and Cabernet are vinified.
VALERIO CIVA AND THE RIBOLLA GIALLA PROJECT
Valerio Civa has invested in the Friuli to make great wine from Ribolla Gialla, a native variety whose home is to be found in the Colli Orientali del Friuli and the Gorizia Hills. The goal is to gradually increase quantity, without ever sacrificing quality. Straddling Manzano and San Giovanni al Natisone there is a single plot of about 12 hectares reserved for this vine, whicb is destined to triple in size in the near future. This is probably the largest single-variety plot in Friuli. The control of the entire production chain is thus simplified to guarantee the quality of the final product. A further two hectares have recently been planted in Bellazoia.
THE BIELE ZÔE LINE
In a desire to strengthen the bond of his wine with the place of its birth, Valerio Civa baptized the line intended for catering with the Friulan expression “Biele Zôe” (“Beautiful Jewel”), derived from the location of Tenimenti Civa. The line comprises Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Sauvignon, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Merlot (and is soon to become Biele Zôe Collezione Privata). The other Biele Zôe line is for supermarkets, and includes: Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Schioppettino. Both lines are produced according to the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC production protocol. Instead, the wines produced according to the more recent DOC Friuli protocol are: the extra brut sparkling wine Biele Zôe from Ribolla Gialla grapes (for the horeca sector), plus two white wines (Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio) and two reds (Merlot and Cabernet).
The range of wines sold in large-scale retail outlets is completed with a sparkling wine from Pinot Grigio grapes.
The Friulan term Biele Zôe derives from the Bellazoia area where the company is based. Its meaning of “beautiful jewel” translates in an auspicious way the fertility of these gentle hills of sandstone and marl, where quality of the products and aesthetic enjoyment of the landscape are indivisible.
WORK IN THE VINEYARD
At Bellazoia, Manzano and San Giovanni al Natisone, the soil was carefully studied to ensure optimal farming and to aid selection of the rooted cuttings. Chemical weedkiller is not used in the rows, and fertilizers are used only where necessary. This is what we could call precision viticulture. Careful work in the vineyard, low yields, and the harvesting of the grapes by hand make it possible to obtain better quality in terms of fruit and wine. The deciduous woods that almost completely surround Bellazoia form a natural barrier to the cold north winds. This means that the neighbouring vineyards benefit from a unique microclimate and provide grapes with territorial character. In addition to the great biodiversity of trees and herbaceous plants, the wood is home to an infinite variety of insects, and represents a harmonious environment whose benefits are also felt by the vineyards, contributing to their optimal agronomic management.
Since 2016, the winery has adopted farming-environmental standard 4.1, which requires the use of certain active ingredients in the fight against vine diseases, and in particular establishes when and how often interventions can be made. Since 2017, the winery has decided not to use herbicides in management of the vineyard topsoil, which is carried out exclusively with mechanical means.
Particular attention is paid to environmental sustainability, with “drift recovery” sprayers used to reduce the quantity of pesticides. The upcoming purchase of weather stations will further reduce the number of interventions in the vineyard. Low yields (8,000-10,000 kg/ha) is one of the objectives, aimed at obtaining quality raw material.
THE PRODUCTION PHILOSOPHY OF TENIMENTI CIVA
All the grapes are processed in the newly renovated cellar at Bellazoia, a modern facility where vinification in steel is used to produce fresh, elegant wines. For some wine selections wooden vats and barriques are used. The cellar houses 78 temperature-controlled tanks for a total capacity of 700,000 litres. In 2017, four 6,000-litre pressurized vats were purchased for the production of sparkling Ribolla Gialla. In addition to this cellar, the company is building a new facility scheduled for completion in late summer 2018.
The production philosophy is summarized in the 8515 logo shown on the labels, reflecting the fact that the wines are produced using 85% of the DOC grape variety, with the remaining 15% represented by the estate’s best varieties.
The 2017 production is estimated at around 700,000 bottles.
ANTICHE CANTINE MARCHESI DI BAROLO
THE BIRTH OF BAROLO
The magic of Barolo stems from a beautiful love story: that between the Marquis of Barolo and Juliette Colbert de Maulévrier, a French noblewoman, who married at the imperial court of Versailles in 1806. Arriving in Barolo, Juliette realised that the surrounding vineyards enjoyed the perfect conditions for the maturation of Nebbiolo grapes, but there was no suitable place for winemaking or a real winemaking culture. She had magnificent cellars built for this noble, precious grape, where the wine was aged in large fine oak barrels. Thus was Barolo born.
THE BIRTH OF BAROLO RISERVA
Barolo Riserva is made only in the great vintages, when the ripening of the grapes takes place in periods with a significant diurnal temperature range. The alternation of cool and hot air increases the concentration of aromas in the skins, and helps achieve a balance between the various components of the berry. The soil is typical of the Langhe, with white soil rich in limestone and clay. This results in grapes and wines with abundant tannins, but above all impressive structure. This richness requires long maturation and ageing in uncharred Slavonian oak barrels of 12,000 – 18,000 litres.
THE PRODUCTION PHILOSOPHY OF MARCHESI DI BAROLO
Marchesi di Barolo manages the vineyards with respect for the environment and its biodiversity: practices such as spontaneous grassing between the rows and minimal tillage of the land aim at safeguarding the soil and its natural fertility. Particular attention is also paid to the training of vineyard staff and to the professionalism of the workers, who have to implement the quality control decisions made by the technical staff.
“Respect based on knowledge” is the production philosophy of the winery, and requires “knowing” the characteristics of the grapes that arrive in the cellar, which vineyards they come from, the weather conditions of the growing year, what interventions have been carried out in the vineyard, and how all these factors may impact on grape quality.
“Respect” means maintaining or even enhancing the qualitative characteristics of the grapes. To achieve this, the company has purchased a versatile winemaking system that allows different production approaches to be adopted from vineyard to vineyard and from year to year. The types of barrels range from 225-litre barriques to increasingly larger barrels of various ages: 3,000, 3,500, 10,000, 12,000, 12,500 and up to 18,500 litres (i.e. barrels 82 times larger than barriques). The intent is, therefore, to modify production methods to express the intrinsic quality of the grapes from the different vineyards as far as possible.
At the helm of the prestigious winery today are Anna and Ernesto with their children Valentina and Davide, faithful and passionate interpreters of tradition, territorial diversity and native varieties.