Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France


Majolini – hills, wine, art

Elena Majolini takes a break from her doctoral studies on the writer A. Manzoni to show us around her family’s winery in Ome, on the eastern edge of the Franciacorta DOCG.  What is immediately noticeable is that we have risen into some hills, 260m above sea level, in fact the only hills in the area, with the vineyards being terraced.  Majolini owns 22 hectares of vineyards but in many parcels.  The soil is a mixture of a very pure limestone (see the picture of the stone wall below) and clay.

In this beautiful and mostly very traditional setting, Majolini built a brand new winery.  Initially, they wished to hide most of it below ground level but the geological testing showed that the rock was not really suitable for that. Instead, they built a low rise building, partly recessed and in a traditional style. Today, 30 years later, it looks entirely in keeping with its surroundings, enlivened with works of art outside and within. 

They make quite a large range of wines here including still whites and reds and they have their own grappa.  The ‘riserva’ policy is quite unusual. Basically it is the same wine as in any other year, it is just that they only declare a riserva very rarely, twice in 20 years. Once they have decided that they have a riserva in the making, they then let that wine stays on the lees in its bottles for 10 years.  The last riserva was 1999/2000 but they have high hopes for one of the mid-2000s vintages. 

We tasted the Franciacorta Brut and the Satèn.  Majolini Brut NV (in reality 2008), a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, has spend 24 months in the bottle on the lees and had a rich lemon colour and lots of fine bubbles across the glass.  The rich notes continued on the nose and the palate, with fine fruit and floral notes. Interesting it went well with the aged Parmigiano, the fruit and the acidity of the wine both matching up to and cutting across the salty tang of the cheese.   Satèn 2007, 100% Chardonnay, has by contrast spent three and a half years on the lees with marked autolytic notes on the nose, complex and fine.  Part of it is fermented in wood for a little extra texture.  There was noticeably less fizz in line with the Satèn style – a sparkling wine in a softer style.   We also liked the Ruc di Gnoc Terrefranca DOC 2008, an easy drinking blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot – good red fruit, medium weight, attractive use of oak and a mildly herbaceous palate. 

Finally, it is clear that Majolini doesn’t shy away from engagement with other sectors, especially fashion.  Milan is only an hour away. We loved the ‘dressed bottles’ (top left and middle), not to mention the sculptures made by local artists.  With many thanks to Elena – and all the best for your studies!

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