• Dolomiti Crescendo:   Foradori Trentino Whites & Reds

    Dolomiti Crescendo: Foradori Trentino Whites & Reds

    The magic of the wines coming from Elisabetta Foradori's estate in Trentino's Dolomite Mountains has been well documented here before. Today, I'm happy to turn to some new arrivals covering a huge diversity of colors and styles.

    In a world where skin-macerated whites seem to be vying for the title of orangest, haziest, apricottyest, the elegance and grace in Nosiola is a reminder of the possibilities. Aged on the skins in amphora, the result is a bright, orchard and citrus mountain stream with an amazing texture that never once makes you think orange wine. As compared to Elizabetta's Pinot Grigio and Manzoni Bianco, Nosiola is leaner and less obviously skin contact. Its subtlety is what impresses the most.


    Nosiola is an ancient variety that's native to the Trentino. Plantings have reduced drastically over the last centuries, and today is primarily in these hills in the 
    Valle dei Laghi above Trento and Pessano. Nosiola really strives in porous soils, planted here on just two hectares of a limestone/clay mix. The delicacy and more reserved nature of this white is largely attributed growth on these depleted soils. And, long maceration on skins in clay amphora (tinaja from Villarrobledo, Spain) slowly coax out Nosiola's personality. Decanting and serving above 60 degrees is highly recommended.

    Manzoni Bianco is a cross between Riesling and Pinot Bianco, developed by Dr. Manzoni in the 20th century. It comes from the clay and limestone Fontanasanta hills above Trento. It's macerated for one week on its skins in cement tank and then pressed off into Acacia barrels for 12 months aging.


    Foradori's Teroldegos are the kinds of wines I'd like to see on the list at every restaurant I frequent, as their versatility is remarkable. The wines from this esoteric variety open with notes of dark plums and licorice, then soften allowing more floral and herbaceous qualities to come to the forefront, finishing with fine pronounced minerality. From first sip to the last, these wines of Elisabetta are always changing, and fascinating to no end. 

    Foradori Teroldego comes from gravelly soils, aged in a combination of neutral barrels and stainless steel.

    Foradori Sgarzon Teroldego is darker and more concentrated, with greater black fruit emphasis, black licorice, and wild savory spices.
    From sandy soils. 8 months macerating in amphore, with further aging in large neutral barrel.

    Foradori Granato Teroldego comes from fine silt, limestone, and gravel soils. Vines for this cuvée were planted as far back as 1938, and as young as 1956. Aged in older foudre, Granato is the most refined and understated. Textured and creamy, black cherry, dark plums, and mint. Granato was the first "riserva-level" Teroldego that Foradori ever bottled in 1986.


    Elisabetta's journey to being one of the most respected natural wine producers in the world came with challenges. Her family purchased this Trentino estate in 1934, her father bottling his first vintage in 1960. His untimely passing in 1976 meant that her mother had to manage the winery until Elisabetta finished her enology degree, then being thrust into the 1984 harvest and taking control of production thereafter. 

    The philosophical trek for Elisabetta was a winding one that began with the immediate removal of high yielding pergola-trained vines. She wisely chose massale cuttings from the estates oldest vines and trained them much lower in the guyot method. Her approach brought a new concentration to the wines that garnered awards in the 90's, but she felt their was an energy and vitality missing.

    Upon familiarizing herself with Rudolf Steiner's teachings she slowly adopted biodynamic principles and eliminated laboratory yeasts. Sulphur additions were lowered, riper stems began to be included in ferments, and a more gentle extraction protocol was used. She also began visiting Giusto Occhipinti at COS, learning about the use of clay amphora for aging.

    There's been a steady rise in awareness for Foradori's wines in the US and each release I find these have an added layer of refinement and precision. If you're curious about the best whites & reds being produced in Italy's extreme alpine setting, Foradori is the spot I recommend you turn to first.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Alpine Stars: The Best Reds from the Foot of the Alps

    Alpine Stars: The Best Reds from the Foot of the Alps

    Whenever the depth of winter creeps its way in I find myself reaching for a smaller and smaller group of red wines. Where Burgundy, Loire, Rhone, Piedmont, and Tuscany are mainstays throughout the fall there comes a time about now when I start craving something wild, different, and immensely soothing. The alpine vineyards in France and Italy just south of Switzerland are the place I continually turn, and they continually deliver exactly what I'm looking for. These moments are frustrating in the sense that each of these three producers should have their wines opened with regularity 12 months a year. However, it's now that we need to take a close look at the best of what the vineyards at the base of the Alps have to offer.

    Like her family before her, Elisabetta Foradori focuses primarily on Teroldego, the indigenous red grape grown at the base of the Dolomite mountains in northeast Italy. The decision she made to shift from industrial farming to an organic and biodynamic model in 2000 elevated her family's estate onto the world's stage.
     
    Foradori's Teroldegos are the kinds of wines that you'd like to see on the list at every restaurant you frequent, as its versatility is remarkable. It opens with notes of dark plums, licorice, and heady roasted flavor, then softens allowing more floral and herbaceous qualities to come to the forefront. From first sip to that last these wines of Elisabetta are always changing, and fascinating to no end. 

    2011 Foradori Teroldego IGT
    From gravelly soils, aged in a combination of neutral barrels and stainless steel.
    $27 per bottle.

    2013 Foradori Sgarzon Teroldego IGT
    Darker and more concentrated, with more black fruits, black licorice, and wild savory spices.
    From sandy soils. 8 months macerating in amphore, with further aging in large neutral barrel.
    $46 per bottle.

    2013 Foradori Granato Teroldego IGT
    From fine silt and gravel soils, aged in neutral barrels.
    The most refined and understated. Textured and creamy, black cherry, dark plums, and mint.
    $66 per bottle.

    The Grojean family have been farming their vineyards in the mountains of Italy's Valle D'Aoste for generations, but it wasn't until 1969 that they were recognized at a local expo and the wines began to be exported. Importer Neal Rosenthal is dialed into the alpine vineyards throughout northern Italy like no one else. His portfolio is so diverse with talents like Jean-Marie Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, and Montevertine, but it's these smaller, more modestly priced producers from esoteric regions that define the brilliance of his band of vignerons.

    The village of Fornet in the Valle D'Aoste sits in the shadow of the towering Mont Blanc. As you can imagine the high altitude conditions provide a snap and clarity to the wines here. Torrette Supériur is sourced from the Rovettaz vineyard comprised largely of sandy-clay soils. The native variety Petit Rouge makes up 85% of the blend, with 10% Furmin and 5% Cornalin. The wine is aged in stainless steel preserving the bright and electric fruit personality. Black raspberry, red licorice, and wild herbs all meld together here to craft an absolutely delicious wine completely reflective of its unique place.

    2010 Grosjean Torrette Supérieur Vigne Rovettaz 
    $24 per bottle.

    Domaine Belluard is home to the most thrilling and complete wines in France's Savoie. Dominique Belluard took over his family's vineyards in 1988, at that time the estate was also home to dairy cows, apples, and a mix of agriculture. Just 30 miles from Mont Blanc the village of Ayse is greatly influenced by the towering Alps, but plantings for all of the vineyards are kept at a relative low altitude to allow for maximum ripening.

    In addition to Dominique's monumental Mont Blanc sparkling wine, he produces Mondeuse, a native red variety of the region. Of all Dominique's wines his Mondeuse is the rarest with less than one hectare planted. This wine in fermented and aged in amphore and sees no oak or steel at any point of aging. Mondeuse shows a vivid purple quality that calls to mind both Syrah a Gamay. This stands out for its pitch perfect balance, and absolutely singular notes of wild herbs and beaming purple and black fruit characteristics. Their is a softness to the wine that makes it just so easy to drink, but it's structure and mineral backbone is still totally present and vivid. Allocations of this wine are usually less than 12 bottles per year. We were lucky enough to secure a few different vintages here. These wines age beautifully, as primary fruit softens and notes of wild flowers and minerality come more to the forefront.

    2014 Domaine Belluard Mondeuse
    $57 per bottle. 

    2013 Domaine Belluard Mondeuse
    $57 per bottle.

    2012 Domaine Belluard Mondeuse
    $57 per bottle.


    Posted by Max Kogod