It is a genuine delight to be able to travel back to Italy for the first time in 19 months, due to the restrictions of Covid 19. But I am finally back here and it was tempting to kiss the concrete of Bologna airport! I am the guest of Consorzi Vini di Romagna who have put on a special, slightly longer version of Vini ad Arte, the release of the new Sangiovese vintage that would normally happen in spring. The visit has been organised by Well Com, excellent PR agency in Alba, who have been so helpful to me during lockdown, organising countless video calls with producers for my book, The Wines of Piemonte.
We have started with a bang in the garden of the Grand Hotel Rimini, which for once lives up to its name. Welcome to Romagna indeed!
The first evening was given over to a tasting of Rebola, accent on the first syllable. I had not tasted this wine on either of my previous visits to Romagna. This is not the grape variety from Friuli but the name of a wine made in the Colli di Rimini from Grecchetto Gentile, perhaps better known elsewhere as Pignoletto. In the general, the wines are perfect for a relaxing moment on the terrace of a grand hotel or by the seaside – fresh, light to medium weight, lemon and something herbal, sufficient acidity to make you want to take another sip. But there were also some fascinating contrasts in style and winemaking.
Podere Vecciano, Vigna La Ginestra is made to create a wine of more substance and depth of flavour. One third is made and aged in barrels, half and half of acacia and oak. This choice of wood is made as acacia is less invasive, confers less wood flavour than oak but still adds structure to the wine. Fermentation temperature can rise to 22 C in this part. The rest of the wine is made more typically in stainless steel with temperature up to 16 C and some whole bunches are included in the tank for four months. This is a very good example of a single vineyard wine of high quality.
Tenuta Saiano, Ama, 2020, 12.5% pushes the boundaries of Rebola harder. This is made in a Georgian quevri (terracotta) buried in the ground. Organic viticulture, very low yields of 40 hL/ha, wild ferment, contact with the skins for seven months gives you the picture. A very intense nose with floral, herbal, orange peel and light oxidative notes, quite full bodied and really quite tannic. This needs a couple of years in the bottle and it would be fine to go.
Enio Ottaviani, 2020, 13% happened to be on the same table as the preceding wine and made a wonderful contrast. It is made reductively, that is, with minimum exposure to oxygen, in this case in concrete tanks with just one night on the skins. The result is a brisk, super clean wine with lemon fruit and a real tightness of flavour. Rebola made as close as possible to Chablis!
All in all this was an excellent start to the trip. I was able to post this immediately as, today, it is raining heavily so might best intention to go for a swim was thwarted! Even summer here can surprise. Welcome to Romagna!