Allegrini 2018

Oltrepò Pavese looks to Burgundy to shape the future of Pinot Nero

“Conversations on Pinot Noir”, a meeting between producers, Armando Castagno and Filippo Bartolotta, between red wine making and the classic method
Oltrepò (ph: E.Vaccaroli)

It is no coincidence that Oltrepò Pavese is the third largest Pinot Noir production area in the world, behind only Burgundy and Champagne. Here, just a few dozen kilometers from Milan, on the banks of the river that symbolically divides Italy, Pinot Noir has found a particularly suitable territory since the 19th century, without, however, succeeding in making a real impact on the international consumer market. This is why, now, the producers of the Oltrepò Pavese area are being called upon to find a new direction, to relaunch an elegant and multifaceted variety, the focus of “Talk ’n’ Toast - Conversations on Pinot Noir: terroirs compared from Burgundy to Oltrepò”, staged yesterday in Milan, which discussed the terroirs and characteristics of these two great areas, which have always been suited to the production of Pinot Noir, in an interesting discussion between Armando Castagno, critic and author of the book “The vineyards of the Côte d’Or” on Burgundy, and Filippo Bartolotta, communicator of Italian wine in the world, with 23 companies: Alessio Brandolini, Ballabio, Bruno Verdi, Cantina La Versa, Cantina Scuropasso, Castello di Cigognola, Conte Vistarino, Cordero San Giorgio, Finigeto, Frecciarossa, Giorgi, Giulio Fiamberti, La Genisia, La Piotta, La Travaglina, Manuelina, Marchesi Adorno, Monsupello, Montelio, Pietro Torti, Quaquarini, Tenuta Mazzolino, Travaglino. In Oltrepò, Pinot Noir has historically been able to successfully express its two souls, that of red winemaking and that of classic method bubbly: This is due to the characteristics of the soil and its particular climate, as well as the ability and initiative of the vine-growers and wineries, who are looking to the future, also inspired by the myth of Burgundy, and continuing to invest in experimentation, sustainability and research to increasingly define the identity of the products, so that they know how to win over enthusiasts, enhancing all the characteristics of the territory and with an increasingly international imprint.
“These producers are proving that the time has come to take honor and responsibility in announcing that they are the most important Pinot Noir district in Italy. 3,000 hectares of this extraordinary grape grown in a terroir that is historically and geographically unequivocally defined: an equilateral triangle with the base formed by the Po River and the Via Emilia that rises to 1700 meters to the south. A wedge, in the furthest northern edge of the Apennines, bordered to the west by Piedmont and to the east by Emilia Romagna, with Liguria that can be reached on foot along with the “Via del Sale”. Mountain vineyards with slopes that can reach up to 45 degrees, leaving the view as deceived as if they were of the same verticality as a building wall. Dozens of hills that look like the wings of a Chinese theatre. Here Pinot Noir found its birthplace in the mid-19th century and, in 1865, the first Italian metodo classico was born thanks to the work of Count Vistarino and the entrepreneur Carlo Gancia. A story built by a community that has now decided to believe in it a little more and to reveal more decisively the work carried out in recent years”, explains Filippo Bartolotta. “In the classic method glasses, we can already see a nice continuity of expression. In the Pinot in Rosso, despite a few labels that for years now have been able to tell the story of the Oltrepò with great transparency, we can perceive that there have collectively been fewer vintages behind them. The important thing is that the journey has now begun and all the producers present seem to be fully aware of their limits and resources, and I am sure that this year there will be more Pinot Noir from Oltrepò on our Christmas tables”, concludes Bartolotta.
“The revelation of the exceptional nature of terroir is not such an anomalous event: it is the norm, in the history of classic world wine areas, and Italy itself has provided clamorous examples in the recent past. The meaning of terroir is precisely this: its territorial definition is the achievement that comes at the culmination - not at the end - of a path of knowledge that the human community undertakes on the reciprocal interactions between various elements of its environment”, says Armando Castagno. “The action of man on the landscape, of geology on the vine, of man on the vine, the sharing of technical knowledge in viticulture and enology, are fundamental elements of terroir. I believe that the winemakers of the Oltrepò, who have been working with Pinot Noir for almost two centuries, pursuing its extraordinary talents - rendered in different declinations - are all marching together, with a cohesion that is a fundamental condition, along this path of knowledge. This will not be a short journey, of course, but in any case it will have revealed something that is not yet fully known and will therefore have been invaluable. I believe that the word that will have to mark out this itinerary is “rigor”: at the level of the association, of wine-growing, of production, of specifications, of communication, of economic sustainability, essentially at all levels. A rigor that rhymes with coherence and sobriety already brings reputation and consensus, from critics and the public alike. Also because, in this case, it is used to promote the fruits of an area with extraordinary potential”.
“Promotion”, the 23 producers (Alessio Brandolini, Ballabio, Bruno Verdi, Cantina La Versa, Cantina Scuropasso, Castello di Cigognola, Conte Vistarino, Cordero San Giorgio, Finigeto, Frecciarossa, Giorgi, Giulio Fiamberti, La Genisia, La Piotta, La Travaglina, Manuelina, Marchesi Adorno, Monsupello, Montelio, Pietro Torti, Quaquarini, Tenuta Mazzolino, Travaglino) who organised the event say, “is important if it gives us the opportunity to tell the story of everything that makes a wine unique: the vine, the land, the climate, the winegrowers who produce it using innovative procedures but in continuity with a history that goes back to the traditions of the place. Moments like these are useful both for us producers - to spur us on to raise the quality bar even higher - and for those who have to talk about our wine, which in fact becomes our voice to consumers”.

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