The Wines of the Oltrepò Pavese

With a multi-city tour of the U.S., the Conzorizo Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese was promoting the wines of the area, located in Northern Italy. The first stop was New York and I was invited to a tasting of the wines and a light lunch at The Leopard at des Artistes on 67th Street.

IMG_8624 Carlo Veronese, director of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese and Susannah Gold, who organized the event and is the Brand Ambassador, were the speakers. 

IMG_8630Carlo said that Otrepò Pavese means the other side of the Po River from Pavia, the main city of the area, which is located south of the Po in the region of Lombardy.  It borders on the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont. For a long time it was part of Piedmont. The wine making tradition here goes back the Ancient Romans. The first mention of viticulture in the Oltrepò is attributed to the writer, Strabone who lived between 60 B.C. and 20 A.D. Strabone wrote of “good wine, hospitable people and very large wooden barrels.”  Carlo described the beautiful landscape as being hilly with vineyards and picturesque villages and even some castles.

IMG_8461Susannah said there is more Pinot Nero produced here than in any other part of Italy. She believes that it is the best Pinot Noir in Italy and I agree with her. In the 1850’s Pinot Nero clones from Burgundy were brought into the Oltrepò Pavese. Most of the vineyards are planted on the rolling hills close to the Po River where the soil is mostly clay, limestone and sand.

IMG_8457Oltrepò Pavese DOCG  “Terrarosa” Metodo Classico Pinot Nero 2016. La Versa – Terre D’Oltrepò. This traditional sparkling wine is made from Pinot Noir grapes from the Val Versa valley. The wine spends at least 36 months on the lees and one month in the bottle before disgorging. The wine has hints of currants, rasperries, hazelnut, almond notes and a touch of bay leaf. This cooperative was founded in 1905 and they began producing sparkling wines in the 1930”s. Their Gran Spumante Brut produced in 1935 may have been the first traditional method Italian sparkling wine. This is  hints of strawberry, raspberry witn a touch of cherry. $35

IMG_8618Oltrepò Pavese DOCG Method Classico “Cruasé” 2015 Pinot Nero Rosè. Soc. Agr. Mazzolino. The vineyard is 1.25 hectares with a northeast exposure at 180 to 220 meters. The soil is limestone marl and chalk substrate and the training system is simple guyot. There are 5,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand into small crates. There is a soft pressing of the grapes after 4/8 hours of maceration depending on the vintage. The wine is held in traditional vats and there is a 36 month lees maturation. The wine has hints of tangerine, red berries, floral notes and herbs. $28

IMG_8619Oltrepò Pavese DOC Riesling 2021 “Reis”  Conte Vistarino made from 100% Riesling from Alsatian clones. The vineyard is at 250 to 550 meters with a southwest exposure. The soil is calcareous clay. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot.  Manual selection of the grapes during harvest the last week of August.  This is  followed by cold pre-maceration in boxes for 24 hours at 4C degrees and a slow maturation of the must at a low temperature. This is a complex wine with nice minerality and acidity hints of white fruit, flowers and citrus notes. $20

IMG_8620Bonarda Frizzante dell’ Oltrepò Pavese DOC 2021 “Sommossa” Castello Di Luzzano made from 100% Croatina. The winery has been in the family of Giovannella and her sister, Maria Giulio for over a century. The property straddles the border between Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna, an area known for the variety and quality of its wines, with one vineyard in the Colli Piacentini DOC and the other in the Oltrepo Pavese DOC. The estate extends over 250 acres of land, over 170 acres of which are under vine. The vineyards completely surround the estate’s buildings. The vineyards feature soil that is mostly schistous marls and calcareous marls from the Pliocene era with an underlying stratum of tufaceous rock. The grapes are destemmed and crushed and left to macerate in the fermentation tanks for 5 to 6 days at a controlled temperature with short and frequent pumping over. After the winter cold the wine is placed in a pressure tank for a second fermentation and bottled in the spring. The wine has hints of blackberries, black currents and a hint of spice. $23

 Carlo Veronese said that Croatina is the most important grape in the Oltrepò Pavese.

IMG_8621Oltrepò Pavese DOC Barbera IGT 2019 “Route 66”  Dino Torti made from 100% Barbera. The winery is situated in the Oltrepò Pavese hills in Lombardy. The soil is lime, marl and clay. The wine is aged in barriques. This wine has hints of red fruit, spice, savory notes and good acidity. The winery is family run and was founded in 1910. $25

IMG_8456Pino Nero Oltrepò Pavese DOC “Tiamat” 2020 Cordero San Giorgio.  Made from 100% Pinot Nero from the Santa Gillette vineyards with an east to southwest exposure at 150 to 200 meters. The soil in mainly clay and the average age is 30 years. Vines are guyot trained. Manual selection of grapes from the beginning of August until the end of September. The 20 hectares of Pinot Noir are subdivided into plots and vinified separately. The grapes are destemmed, but not pressed to keep grapes intact and with about 10% of the grapes whole cluster vinification begins. Cold pre-fermentation maceration is done before the alcoholic fermentation which is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is a daily short pumping over. At the end of fermentation the wine is racked, and malolactic fermentation takes place in steel tanks. The wine remains in stainless steel for 6 months and then in bottle for 2 months before release. The winery is named for the legend of St. George and the Dragon and the winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of fresh small red fruit and best of all it tasted like Pinot Noir!  I felt that this wine is a real bargain at about $ 25

IMG_8454Pinot Nero Dell Oltrepò Pavese DOC 2018 “Noir”  Soc. Agr. Massolino  made from 100% Pinot Noir. The exposure is northwest and the vineyard is at 180 to 220 meters with clayey-silt soil on a surface with sandstone veins and chalky substructure. There are 5,500 vines per hectare and the training system is simple guyot. Harvest is manual. The destemmed whole fruit undergoes a pre-fermentation maceration and punching down takes place. The wine ages in Burgundy barrels of 228 liters (20% new) for 12 months. The wine has hints of raspberries, pomegranate and black cherry with good varietal character. $55

IMG_8633Sangue di Giuda Dell Oltrepò Pavese DOC  Az. Vitivnicola Vanzini Sas made from Croatina, Uva Rara, Barbera and other grapes  from same field. On the first hill slope of Oltrepo Pavese.  The soil is from disintegration of arenaria and calcareous rocks with a clay component. The vineyard is at 220 to 280 meter and the training system is traditional guyot and spurred cordon. Primary fermentation and maturation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The must obtained from the red vinification of the grapes, is filtrated and placed in steel reservoirs, where the primary fermentation begins according to the Martinotti method (the primary fermentation occurs in an enclosed environment, at reduced pressure and controlled temperature of 14-20 degrees Celsius, or 57-68 Fahrenheit) for about 15-20 days. Subsequently the resulting wine is filtrated and bottled. The wine then remains in the bottle for 25 to 30 days before release. This is a naturally sparkling (frizzante) wine with fresh aromas of fruit preserves, cherry and raspberry. The alcohol is only 7%. In many ways this may be the ideal dessert wine and at $20 it is a great bargain.

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