Going natural: ViniVeri offers the best of the unexpected
Just pour, don’t filter.
You should never expect whatever you might consider “the normal” when exploring Italy’s wine country.
That “suspension of expectations” was reinforced earlier this month during ViniVeri, a wine fair and tasting at La Fabbrica, an immense and tastefully repurposed brick building in Cerea, Italy, an half-hour or so south of Verona.
The Consorzio ViniVeri promotes the annual event as featuring “wines as nature intended them,” this year’s theme emphasizing diversity and authenticity.
Maybe that should include a bit of audacity, as well.
That this wasn’t an ordinary wine tasting was cemented when one of the first tables poured a cloudy wine from a bottle bearing an imposing handprint and the words “Shake before use.”
These are truly “natural” wines – use your own discretion as to what that means – but certainly there is a shared interest in minimal intervention (no herbicides or chemical fertilizers, hand harvesting, etc.) in the vineyards and the winery.
And no filtration, which means most of the wines will throw some sediment once in the bottle, hence the advisory about shaking before drinking.
A photo on this page shows the Lammidia bianco carbo from long-time friends and winemakers Marco Giuliano and Davide Gentile, a young duo from Abruzzo that Italian writer Raffaele Mastrovincenzo dubbed “the new boys of Natural Wine.”
Their motto is “100-percent grapes is enough.”
The wine is made from a clone of Trebiano d’Abruzzo, which under most situations (meaning filtered) would be clear but this, after a two-week skin contact maceration in concrete tanks and no filter, shows a slightly cloudy, very pale amber shading and tightly overlaid flavors.
The Consorzio offers a few “guidelines” that ask members to balance “human intervention and nature in the winemaking process.”
“I know there are some rules but I do that already,” said winemaker Gianluca Piernera of Cantina Ninni. “We try to intervene as little as possible, preserving the natural evolution of wine.”
It’s both organic and biologic, without the squishy interpretive baggage usually associated with those terms.
“We care for the land, our family and our wines,” said Marina Bea, wife of renowned noninterventionist winemaker (and one of the Vini Veri founders) Paolo Bea of Montefalco.
Their philosophy is one of being a minimalist in the vineyard and the winemaking.
“Yes, it can be more expensive but what’s health and happiness worth?’ asked Marina.
Difficult? Ask Lammidia, whose name roughly translates to “the evil eye” in Abruzzese dialect. The winery’s first vintage had a stuck fermentation, which can happen when relying on indigenous yeasts, and apparently the solution was a special potion and spell cast by a local grandmother to restart the fermentation.
Now, the ritual is part of every pre-fermentation.
And who would have expected that?