What did wine taste like 100 years ago? Marco Zani has spent his life trying to find out.Backed by the steep cliffs of the Dolomites sits his medieval castle, Noarna, complete with drawbridge and watch tower. Once the site of a Roman fortress, the inhabitants of these hillsides overlooking the Adige river have made wine for centuries. Marco found himself enthralled by the castle's storied history, and he yearned for a window to the past.But the once-prized viticultural and winemaking traditions of his ancestors were disappearing.He watched his neighbors rip up their interesting indigenous varieties for high-yielding internationally recognizable ones. He saw the pergolas used to shade the grapes and keep room for vegetable gardens below dismantled. He saw sprays and additives and big machines in both vineyards and cellars. Marco, who treasured the old ways (no chemicals, no fancy equipment, pure wine from the soil to the glass) wanted to go back.Thirty years ago he bought the ancient castle and its vineyards, with the goal of making wine reflective of his ancestors: no artifice, no make-up, just grapes. Luckily these vineyards had all the trappings necessary for excellent, low-manipulation wine: high altitude, limestone slopes, warm summer days, cold nights, and long, dry autumns.Marco’s choices in the winery are thoughtful: some fermentation in stainless steel to retain freshness and some in used wood for controlled oxidation, a few days skin contact for phenolic extraction which help with aging (even his whites age for 15 years). The rest is up to the grapes. The wines are yummy. Fresh, cooling and lifted like mountain air, textured and edgy—perfect with food, thoughtfully crafted and balanced in structure, with minimal fruit and maximum minerality.These may not be replicas of wines of the past, but they are a reflection of times past, and probably a lot better.
Aromatic , Crisp