Sartori Wine Empire Sees Organics As Part Of Company Strength

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Today’s post is about a special wine family from the Veneto. I drank a wonderful Ripasso from the Veneto to celebrate the New Year yesterday and realized that I had never posted this story I wrote earlier this year about Sartori.

Anyone who has every met Andrea Sartori would be hard pressed to immediately guess where he is from. Blond and blue eyed with a decidedly American tinge to his accent when he speaks English, he is incredibly approachable for one at the head of a group like Sartori in the Veneto. Among the most important winery groups in the region, Sartori also heads many intergovernmental organizations and wine related groups that work on a plethora of issues from E.U. regulations to climate change. It would also take a bit of time to understand the growing importance that Sartori places on sustainability and organic farming.

Mostly known for their Amarone, Sartori is actually a partner in two wineries in two Italian regions that focus exclusively on organic grapes – Mont’Albano in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Cerulli Spinozzi in Abruzzo. I was told that they pick wineries to invest in that represent something unique and specific not only about the winery but also about the region where they are located. The Sartori family seems to have felt a kinship both with Friuli and Abruzzo as well. The link is undoubtedly family oriented firms as all three of these wineries are family run.

Having met Andrea numerous times throughout the years, nothing surprises me any longer. He and his consultant winemaker, Franco Bernabei, are always involved in interesting projects such as making the wines to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s death. The Foundation of the Arena di Verona launched a red and a white wine that celebrated the local wines from the Consortium of Bardolino, Cutoza, Soave and Valpolicella. It was the first time that some 4,900 producers and growers from the Verona area worked together to support one of the region’s most important cultural landmarks.

Arena di Verona

The white was a Garganega Verona IGT 2012 and the red was a Corvina Verona IGT 2011. Sartori is the official partner of the Arena Foundation and was behind much of the logistics and technical support for the project, including the packaging. Franco Bernabei was asked to create the wines together with the various Consorzi. The wines were offered and sold in local restaurants and wine shops, with part of the revenue given to the Arena Foundation for future initiatives.

Additionally Sartori launched a special edition of their Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 and donated part of the sales from that wine to the Arena Foundation. The wine has been served at a number of events, including one in Hong Kong that also involved the Gino Strada’s non-profit Emergency.

As to the interesting wines from Mont’Albano in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Sartori acquired the winery in 2008. Mont’Albano was ahead of its time and has been organic since the mid 1980s. Not only are the grapes organically grown but also the bottles they use are thinner and lighter in weight and the labels are all done using recycled paper.

Mauro Braidot is the founder of Mont’Albano, which is located in Colloredo di Monte Albano in Friuli. The winery has a host of organic certifications for each of its important markets such as the U.S. and Canada. Mont’Albano is in the Friuli Grave Denominazione d’origine controllata (D.O.C.) zone. The wines they produce are a combination of indigenous and international varieties, including a Pinot Grigio, and a Merlot/Refosco blend of note.

Fontanta - Verona

Another project that the Sartori/Bernabei team worked on together is the Cerulli Spinozzi winery in Abruzzo that Sartori bought into in the early 2000s. The winery was started in 2003 and the vineyard lands were a merger of two properties – that of the Spinozzi family and that of the Cerulli Irelli family,
The winery produces wines made from indigenous varieties from Abruzzo such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Pecorino. The grapes are organically grown. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo comes from the area known as the Colline Teramane, Abruzzo’s only Denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita (D.O.C.G.) wine, awarded in 2002.

It’s interesting to note that a modern, large group such as Sartori expanded its holdings in these areas and with properties that are interested in sustainable development and organically grown grapes. Sartori while not using organically grown grapes in all of its wines does have every certification on record, no small feat, for the entire winemaking process. One can hope that they are a symbol of what is to come for other large groups in Italy but that might be wishful thinking. In any case, Andrea Sartori’s international style has translated into a very innovative group without sacrificing tradition or territorial connections, a winning combination it seems.

Happy New Year!

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