Italian Indigenous Varieties: Centesimino Nero from Emilia Romagna

I had never heard of this grape before Vinitaly this year. Within Vinitaly there was a special section of “natural” wines called Vivit. Many of the producers in that section seemed to be from Tuscany, Trentino or more familiar regions but I did happen upon one from Emilia Romagna called Fondo San Giuseppe which made a host of funky wines that I really enjoyed.

Among them was one called Collanima, a blend of two indigenous varieties from the region: Albana Nera and Centesimino. A beautiful ruby red wine with interesting and intense flavors with great acidity for a red wine, apparently a characteristic of this variety. The tannins were also quite firm and grippy and wines made from Centesimino are capable of aging.

The grapes are picked together in a sort of field blend as Centesimino grows interspersed within rows of Albana. The grapes remain on the skins for up to three weeks, only wild yeast is used and the wine is fermented and ages in cement for 10 months before bottling. I was excited to find this new variety and I loved the wine. In fact, I liked all of the wines from this winery.

The winery is owned by Stefano Bariani. This is how he describes his farm:

“My farming company is at Brisighella, 400 metres above sea level. The soil is clay and limestone mud with stony marl, and is rich in organic substances. I decided to buy the farm in 2008, to satisfy a need that had become very strong for me. After working for ten years in other vineyards, I wanted to express my own sentiment and my own vision, as a producer and a vintner.
I chose Brisighella because I find it to be a town set in a valley that is still unspoilt and where nature has remained intact, with its river, hills and olive groves, and its many woods. Philosophically I feel close to the natural wines movement, and personally I see wine as a spontaneous fruit of the land, influenced as little as possible by the technical operations of men.

My company is an organic farm, certified by the ICEA Environmental and Ethical Certification Institute. For me, organic farming is a belief, and not something done just for convenience. I was already convinced of the effectiveness of this method twenty years ago, while I was still an agricultural student and began to understand the destructive impact of chemicals on the environment and on the healthiness of agricultural produce. The farm has four and a half hectares of vineyards, one hectare of pastureland and eleven hectares of woodland. The woodland is indispensable for the well being of the agricultural and environmental system.”

In addition to this great wine from Centesimino, he also makes a wonderful Trebbiano and other wines using the following grape varieties: Albana, Trebbiano, White Riesling, Chardonnay, Marsanne, Red Albana and Centesimino. The wines are certified organic by ICEA, a Consortium that controls and certifies companies that carry out their activities in respect of people and nature, defending workers dignity and rights of consumers.

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