Pinot Nero has long been grown in certain areas of Italy such as the Valle d’Aosta, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Oltrepo’ Pavese. The Franciacorta region in Lombardy also has its fair share of Pinot Nero which it uses for sparkling wine. At Vinitaly last month, I had the occasion to taste a truly noteworthy Pinot Nero from Tuscany of all places. The wine was from a Tuscan winery called Podere la Fortuna.
Podere la Fortuna is one of 12 wineries that were part of the Castello di Cafaggiolo, a Medici property in the Mugello, an area of Tuscany that I am very partial to and where my dear friend Francesca lived.
Wine was originally produced at La Fortuna in 1465 when it was owned by Lorenzo de Medici.
The vines were replanted in 2001. Different pinot nero clones from Burgundy were planted in six separated areas, each with its own particular micro-climate and soil, in order to make wines which are complementary when blended.
In terms of viticulture and wine-making techniques used at La Fortuna, the grapes are picked by hand and then have to pass a double selection before being lightly pressed. No cultured yeasts are added to the wines. Instead, only natural yeast from the grapes and what is in the cellar are used for fermentation. Generally, the wine ferments for anywhere between 12 to 25 days in large oak barrels before being pressed again lightly and put into barriques where it remains for 12 months. The next phase is a blending of the different lots. Once the blend is made, it spends six more months in cement before clarification and bottling. The wines then spend another 12 months in the bottle before being sold into the market.
I tasted two of their wines, Fortuni 2006 and Coldaia 2006, at the fair. I was lucky enough to taste Fortuni with the enologist/agronomist who made it, Andrea Paoletti. Paoletti and his team are very well respected in Italy and work with many wineries. Paoletti also makes a wine of his own called Rancore, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Pinot Nero. Paoletti has been experimenting with ancient Tuscan varieties such as Pugnitello at a number of wineries in Tuscany. A fascinating chap, he is a true devotee of Pinot Nero.
I went back the next day with David Buchanan author of Wine Openers to try the wines and see what he thought of them.
I was impressed and thought that both wines had great acidity and were well-balanced with elegant fruit and dried flowers notes as well as some leather, spice and meaty aromas and flavors. I found them both to be lovely and refined. The wines are imported by DKR Imports.
I can’t write about Pinot Nero in Italy without mentioning Franz Haas, a producer from Trentino-Alto Adige who has produced wonderful Pinot Neros year in and year out since 1880. The wines are so well known that I will not comment on them at length. Suffice it to say they are true gems that are worth trying for all Pinot Nero lovers. Haas is distributed by Winebow. Their website gives a long and detailed description of the wines and the winery.
A third Pinot Nero that I really enjoyed this trip was that of H.Lun from their Sandbichler line. It was elegant with mushroom notes and some barnyard aromas which I enjoy. The wine was complex, well balanced and a real pleasure to taste.
There are many other Pinot Nero based wines in Italy and I look forward to my next occasion to try a few “on location.”