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    When grapes become wine – a journey through harvest season, from the fields to the cellars. Wine harvest is an ancient practice whose important social value was celebrated in Greek and Latin literature. It represents a moment of gathering and
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  • Located in Caldaro, one of the largest wine districts of Alto-Adige (800 hectares of vineyards, second only to the Municipality of Appiano) the Kettmeir Cellar represents the northernmost corner of Santa Margherita’s precious oenological mosaic. The Marzotto family has owned
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8P4A9768 Wine Culture - Exploring Taste Magazine

8P4A0268

From the colonnade of his winery, Kettmeir oenologist Josef Romen looks out to the bottom of the hill.  “Can you see that white house? I was born there,” says smiling. His profession has brought him back to his birthplace, to the very same scrap of land. Opposite lie the mountains of Alto Adige, behind lake Caldaro, and all around the vineyards and apple trees that are so typical of this area. ‘Tradition’ and ‘territory’ are two words that often recur during our interview. “After all, the winery is about to turn 100 years old,” Romen remarks.

 

It all started in 1919, when the founder Giuseppe Kettmeir, agronomy student in Wien and wine buyer in Zurich, decided to set up a company in his homeland. 60 years later, Kettmeir had become the biggest winery in the South Tyrol, the first with an automated bottling plant.

2017 is an important year – it is the 25th anniversary of the Metodo Classico Brut, which over the years has become one of the most celebrated products of this winery. Even sparkling wines have their own history. It was 1964 when Franco, Giuseppe’s grandson, started producing his first spumante. At the time, he used the Charmat Method, which enhanced the wine’s fruity and flowery characteristics. That first step was crucial to the
present – and future – of Kettmeir. At the end of the ’80s, the production of spumante peaked, to which followed a drastic drop in sales at the beginning of the ’90s, when wineries of sparkling wine in Champagne were so full of
unsold bottles that they caused a slump in prices and the competition became almost impossible to withstand.

Since then, Kettmeir has rethought its relationship with sparkling wines, developing the Metodo Classico that we appreciate today. “Bubbles were added through a second fermentation in the bottle,” Josef Romen explains to me, “The first cuvée was divided into: 50% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero. The wine, made from 1992 grapes, was fermented with yeast for 24 months and first launched on the market in 1995.”

That marked the comeback of a trend for South Tyrol that originated at the beginning of the twentieth century. Local documentation shows that the first spumante winery, based in Appiano, was already operational between 1902 and 1904. It produced spumante from Riesling vines for the Mitteleuropean aristocracy who spent their holidays in the area. At the time it was known as “Gold from beyond the Adige river,” but the sudden outbreak of World War I halted its production. In the years following the post-war economic boom, production recovered and today product awareness has also reached its peak. “Since the beginning of the last century, South Tyrol has gone through a deep transformation in terms of wine production,” states the oenologist. “When this was the most Southern part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, wine production focused on red wine. After the annexation, it became the most Northern area of Italy, regarded therefore as perfect for white wine. That’s one of the reasons why during the years, the ratio has been inverted: until 1985, the production of wine was 85% red to 15% white, whereas now we produce 65% white and 35% red." Sparkling wine was always a bit overlooked. “It originates from a personal passion, from a totally idealistic spark.” And this is exactly what happened here.

“The gold from beyond the Adige river” has changed considerably over the years. “Our focus is South Tyrol,” says Romen. “Our Brut and our Rosé are wines that have a deep connection to their territory, and that’s the philosophy that has guided us from the beginning. Today South Tyrol is perceived as a high-quality brand – inside the bottle you can find wine, but also mountains, agricultural products and the hospitality that characterize this area. There is a great deal of talk surrounding the area, and we want that to be sensed immediately, right from when someone puts their nose to the wine glass. When people drink Kettmeir’s Metodo Classico they should think “This is South Tyrol.” They should be able to immediately recognize what I believe to be its three main characteristics: aroma,freshness and elegance.“The Pinot Bianco confers a territorial character to the Brut. “It certainly is one of the best advocates for our territory, thanks to its distinctive mineral taste and that slightly bitter aftertaste which reveals a precise flavor. Similarly, it’s the Pinot Nero that gives identity to the Rosé.”

The Metodo Classico Riserva is the new development of 2017, exactly 25 years after the first Metodo Classico vintage. “It is certainly an ambitious product,” Josef confides. “Its profile needs to be more international if we want it to compete with sparkling wines from all around the world. That’s why we also changed the vines to 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Nero, which guarantees a stronger essence. You will still be able to smell the South Tyrol, but the 5-year-long yeast fermentation will give is a special, rounder note. The vines from this area have all the features to guarantee the future of this product, it will be less an immediate and direct but more austere and complex kind of spumante.

The possibility of producing sparkling wine at an international level is today a stronger motivation. “Since 2007, the Metodo Classico has experienced an impressive growth, is in great demand and seeing ever-growing sales. Our awareness has also changed over time. We have been able to identify the best vines for the Brut and the vines intended for still wines. We established which vineyards would be dedicated to spumante right from the beginning, and this has allowed us to use different processes for different vines – we still use arbors for vines intended for sparkling wines to avoid the risk of overripening, resulting in vibrantly acid grapes. The vineyards dedicated to Metodo Classico Riserva are also carefully selected – four of Chardonnay and two of a more ripened Pinot Nero. It is in the countryside where the characteristics of Metodo Classico Riserva are born.”

The timing is promising – Brut from South Tyrol is now widespread and esteemed. “Our clientele has developed their own taste over the years. Our sparkling wines are not just for aperitifs. Metodo Classico Rosé can easily accompany any meal, thanks to its softness donated by the Pinot Nero. Brut on the other hand, with its aroma and freshness, is more suited to main courses.

What about the future? “We will never stop,” Kettmeir promises. “The Champagne production method has remained unbeaten, thanks to hundreds of years of experience and marketing. It’s our territory that makes the difference – the peculiar lay of the land helps us producing excellent sparkling wines.” The quality of the final product however, remains to be the result of the work put in by all those who follow it through the entire process. “The people help us perfect the product; in our winery we have a team – first and foremost Francesca – that takes care of every detail. That’s why I’m firmly convinced that the Kettmeir winery still has a few surprises up its sleeve.”

An interview with Josef Romen 

Words Mattia Carzaniga
Photography Francesco Pizzo

Profumo di vino

profumo di vino

The fragrance of a wine can be likened to its breath, the delicate and magical way it reveals its deepest and most intimate soul, its own, as well as ours. The territory of aromas and the molecules they originate from is indeed mysterious, the chaotic and indivisible blending of poetry and science, bewildering aphorisms and academic treatises, exciting verses and indecipherable chemical formulas, primal instinct and analytical rationality. Our sense of smell is the most astounding of all the senses, and the one that intrigues us the most. Knowing how to describe the scent  of a wine is, more than a natural gift, an exercise in linguistic acrobatics, a leap between aerial lightness and grounded instinct, a pleasure somewhere between the ephemeral and the sublime, and thus, like any pastime, should be taken very seriously. Studying the scents of a wine and the aromas that form its bouquet will take you on a true adventure across the landscapes of the world, to discover the places and the grape varieties these fragrances come from. A voyage of inspiring self-exploration, a journey of the soul through the mysterious lands dominated by emotions and
instincts, and at the same time, through the equally charming language that is ideal for giving a semantic structure to such intangible feelings.

 

The heart of the matter lies in the peculiar architecture of our perceptual system, as pointed out by the substantial difference between the “recognition” of a scent and its “identification.” Any of us can recognize a previously encountered fragrance, in the sense of being aware of having smelt it before, whereas it is far more challenging to be able to identify it, or give it its proper semantic label. This is because the smell is imprinted at the time of perception, indelibly and permanently in the limbic system, the area responsible for emotions and instincts, while the name –
provided a minimum amount of knowledge on the subject – is deposited in a specific area of the cerebral cortex, thus
remaining not only separate but inevitably susceptible to being lost forever, unless frequently recalled. The way smells are stored in the instinctive part of the brain and suddenly resurface is a phenomenon with many examples in art, from the famous Madeleine anecdote in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, to the astonished face of the critic Ego when tasting Ratatouille in the animated film, a past sensation that suddenly and vitally explodes but is often difficult to match with an image, let alone a name.

The same goes for wine; how many times do we enjoy a scent, recognize it (“I’m sure I know this from somewhere!”), but then feel disappointed when we are unable to identify it (“I can’t quite remember – the name escapes me!”). Linking an olfactory sensation to its correct semantic label is something that requires attention, experience, and above all imagination. This can be understood as the ability to let your thoughts wander and summon the memories that the scents inevitably evoke, delicately recovering the semantic reference, be it a place, a face, a situation, a comparison with another wine already tasted or a direct reference to an object, fruit or flower. This last exercise is especially appreciated by sommeliers and aspiring wine tasters, and even we do not want to miss out on this entertaining and refined game (game in the highest sense of the word). Therefore, below we propose an image of the typical fragrances belonging to four white grape varieties that represent the main “fragrance families,” namely:

 

  • (Distinctly) aromatic grape varieties – those with an intense floral/spiced flavor already perceptible when tasting the fruit, caused by specific volatile molecules present in high concentration that are unbound in the grape. This group includes various types of Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Torrontes and aromatic Malvasia.

  • Semi-aromatic grape varieties – certain varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Müller Thurgau and Vermentino have a high concentration of flavor precursors (potentially odorous molecules). These compounds are present in the grape in bound form and only become perceptible when freed by primary yeast fermentation or bottle aging phenomena. The aromas of these
    varieties range from hints of wildflower to herbs, spices, tropical fruits and hydrocarbons (Riesling).

  • Non-aromatic grape varieties – these represent the majority of varieties whose aromas in wine mainly originate from yeast action and esterification reactions during alcoholic fermentation. They
    are characterized by classic fruity aromas, ranging from citrus fruits to white fruit (pear, apple), yellow fruit (peach, apricot) and very mature fruit (banana, pineapple).

  • Oak-aged wine varieties – this is not so much an ampelographic classification as it is a production philosophy, used for the above three (but mostly frequently for non-aromatic grapes). This category refers to white wines fermented and aged in barrels, mainly oak. The aromas are thus influenced by the process, conferring them floral and ripe fruity notes, especially vanilla, caramel, roasted coffee, with the addition of butter and hazelnut following (likely) malolactic fermentation.

santamargherita 009

These are just four examples that in terms of quantity probably add little to our knowledge, but are worth more in terms of quality, if viewed as an incentive for realizing how much delight the mind can add to the senses alone by giving semantic shape to the already fascinating aesthetic pleasure. What could be more enjoyable for wine enthusiasts than tracing a group of aromas back to the likely grape variety or region of origin, in a virtuous
circle that links personal emotions to nature and culture.

So let us venture into fragrant wine country, equipped with these few useful facts, then it will be up to unexpected assaults by ancestral scents or sudden ambushes by unknown aromas to gradually develop our knowledge over time, provided we are driven by curiosity, passion and irony – the magical qualities of those who, wanting to discover more about a wine, end up learning more about themselves.

 

 

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than words,
appearances, emotions or will. They enter into us like breath into
our lungs, they fill us up, imbue us totally… He who ruled scent
ruled the hearts of men.”

 

            Patrick Süskind—Perfume

Photography Bea de Giacomo        
Set Design Dimitra Marlanti
Words Alberto Ugolini

 

PINOT GRIGIO

PINOT GRIGIO

This non-aromatic pink-skinned cultivar is almost exclusively produced in its white version, obtained through fermentation without skin contact. It offers a fresh and fragrant aromatic range with flavor almost exclusively derived from both fermentation esters, ethyl and isoamyl, with classic notes of pear and golden apple, which may be accompanied by terpene-floral nuances of lemon zest and jasmine if grown in areas with a high temperature range
MÜLLER THURGAU

MÜLLER THURGAU

 This variety, born at the end of the 1800s when botanist Dr Müller from the Swiss canton of Thurgau mixed Riesling with Madeleine Royale, should be grown in areas with a high temperature range to guarantee the wine a wide variety of fragrant volatile molecules, belonging to the class of terpenes (floral notes), volatile thiols (medicinal herbs, tropical fruits), volatile phenols (spices) and hexanol (freshly cut grass, sage). These varietal aromas complement and overlap with those that result from the fermentation esters, with notes of fresh and ripe fruit.
GEWÜRZTRAMINER

GEWÜRZTRAMINER

The translation of the name immediately gives away the aromatic nature (Gewürzt means ‘spiced’ in German) of the wine. Together with Moscato, it is considered to be the most fragrant grape due to its high concentration of terpenes; the volatile molecules responsible for the intense perception of floral notes. In addition to linalool (orange blossom) and geraniol (geranium), citronellol (lemongrass), terpineol (lily of the valley) and nerol (rose) flavors are extremely active, obviously alongside the fermentation bouquet that confers notes of tropical fruit. This wine has great evolutionary potential given the high number of “bound” terpenes that may be freed during bottle aging.
CHARDONNAY

CHARDONNAY

Chardonnay is certainly the variety that best expresses the sophistication added by fermentation and aging in barrels, with notes of vanilla, roasted coffee, resin, hazelnut and butter complementing the yellow flower and ripe fruit aromas arising from alcoholic fermentation. The greater elegance and richness of wines not only oak-aged but also fermented should be noted, attributable to the protective effect of carbon dioxide, the weakening of  certain aromatic molecules and the exaltation of fruity, as well as spicy and mineral notes.

 

Lamole-di-Lamole_Vatieri_W3A7514 Wine Culture - Exploring Taste Magazine

Lamole di Lamole Vatieri W3A7480

When grapes become wine – a journey through harvest season, from the fields to the cellars. Wine harvest is an ancient practice whose important social value was celebrated in Greek and Latin literature. It represents a moment of gathering and sharing, where people meet and where tradition and innovation, intuitiveness and science come together.

 

Harvest is not only a time to pick grapes but also “An occasion for people to get together and work side by side for at least three weeks in a row. It’s a way of celebrating the end of the season and the final moments of working together.” Francesco, bright eyes and hands of a winemaker, takes us on a tour of Campolungo. This is a historic vineyard located in Lamole, in the town of Greve in Chianti. The area – close to Florence and bordering Siena – is home to the Sangiovese grapes that year after year constitute the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigneto di Campolungo by Lamole di Lamole, the Tuscan wine producer Francesco works for.

It is Thursday morning in early October and the harvest is well underway. Tractors and men at work are visible from a clearing along the road that gently ascends from Greve in Chianti to Lamole through a series of winding roads lined by cypress trees where men separate grapes from the branches meticulously and methodically.
The person orchestrating the operations in one of the highest points of Chianti Classico is wrapped up in multiple wool jumpers as the temperature is always cold in Lamole (the village is 500 meters above sea level). He keeps an eye on the harvesting progress, as well as the weather – the wind is blowing and the clouds are moving rapidly, shadows and patches of sun rotate regularly, which means the weather could change at a moment’s notice and have an effect on the progress of the following day.

Harvest is a very important word in this area. It is not difficult to understand why as one arrives in the village that sits on the hills of the so-called Chiantishire, a place that so many American and English tourists have fallen in love with. They fill up the restaurants and osterie in October, dining on chicken liver, truffle and of course, red wine. Rows of vines lie in neat lines, some following the slope of the land, others are planted on terracing with dry-stone walls that are typical of Chianti. The word Lamole derives from these terraces that from afar resemble tiny blades placed one on top of the other, initially caused by natural erosion of the stone, hence the name Lamole which derives from the Italian term for blade: lama.

The practice of harvesting has ancient roots and its social relevance was a core theme of the works of Greek and Latin poets and playwrights. Bacchus and the Bacchae are one of the most popular representatives of wine in ancient iconography, ranging from the all-too-famous motto In vino veritas to the scientific and naturalistic interpretations of Gaius Plinius Secundus – better known as Pliny the Elder – the scholar who analyzed the properties present in earth in relation to the cultivation of the vine and the quality of wine. In his Naturalis Historia– written in the first century A.C.– not only did he list as many as 185 variants, but he also celebrated the supremacy of Italian wine over foreign ones.

The uniqueness of this area is one of the reasons that make the Chianti Classico Lamole di Lamole so peculiar. The estate counts 173 hectares, 57 of which are vineyards, the first attribute that defines these vineyards – aside from the soil rich in clay – is the altitude, ranging from 400 to 650 meters which influences the mesoclimate and microclimate.

From May to late August, Lamole experiences an inversion in temperature, with the heat of the valley rising to higher altitudes during the evening, whilst during the period in between September 1st and the harvest season is marked by a clear temperature change, with abrupt temperature differences between day and night. Monte San Michele protects the area from cold winds, making it particularly suitable for the cultivation of the vine.

The timing of the harvest naturally also depends heavily on the climate, “In order to achieve the perfect process, one must pay attention not only to the new machinery available, but also to the aroma and phenolic ripeness of the grapes” says Andrea Daldin, who has been making wine for 22 years at Lamole di Lamole. “The harvest period is very precise. In order to time it perfectly, ancient winemakers observed the behavior of animals such as deer and wild boar, the most reliable tool to decide whether grapes were ready or not at the time. Today the techniques employed by the Tuscan company to decide the right time to pick grapes are very sophisticated and highly scientific; aromatic and phenolic progress is monitored on a constant basis.” However, numbers and projections must be combined with a good deal of intuition to produce a memorable harvest, even when that might not be the case.

“The harvest that pleasantly surprised me was actually the hardest one,” continues Daldin. “2014 was a positive year from a climatic point of view, with and plenty of clouds and rain, but for every winemaker it was a dramatic vintage. We delayed the harvest to early October, enjoying the prolonged sunny period: those grapes were among the best we’ve ever had.”

In the present harvest, a group of people move rapidly through the vineyard picking the grapes mechanically but with careful attention. The right hand parts the leaves as a hairdresser would do with long hair, then cuts the stalk. The cluster falls into a big red plastic bucket, a few grapes, however, end up in the mouth. They are sour and sweet at the same time. This is the very first stage of the harvest – according to the protocol, one can pick up 75 quintals of Sangiovese grapes per hectare, at most. In the case of Lamole di Lamole, the picking process is done entirely by hand. “Technology has made a great deal of progress; machines that pick grapes can deliver excellent results nowadays,” says Andrea Daldin, “But we choose not to use them. Not only they are not suited to the type of land we have here in Lamole, where the edifices and vineyards are so close to each other, but we also wanted to respect the plants. The human factor matters a lot to us, even in grape harvests machines can’t select the grapes as a person would.”

Next year will be crucial for Lamole di Lamole as the Tuscan wine producer will obtain certification that verifies its organic authenticity for its products produced from grapes harvested in 2017, the final stage of a process that started long ago. “Organic farming is not a fad, at least not for us,” continues Daldin. “It’s a real philosophy. First we assess the earth and subsequently the plant, as one is a direct consequence of the other. Our technological and scientific knowledge of the area allows us to cultivate an organic product better than we did in the past, but everything starts with respect for the land and the desire to produce sustainably. This is why an investment in machinery and technology should be accompanied by an investment in high-level professionals and trained personnel.” Over time, this personnel has replaced college students who were a natural choice to collect the harvest.

In Campolungo, part of the “human capital” of Lamole di Lamole picks grapes methodically. Marco from Figline Val d’Arno – a 55 year-old man sporting a hat for sun protection and a shirt with thin stripes – is an expert. “I’ve been involved in wine harvesting since I was 10 years old, that means I’ve been doing it for 45 years, and I think this happens to be a perfect year,” he says while he works. After the harvest, grapes are loaded onto tractor crates, which can contain up to two and a half tons each. They make a short trip before reaching the cellar, where they will be transformed into wine: all the vineyards are close to the edifices, in a matter of minutes by car.

The gray gate slowly opens and grapes make their entrance under the amused eyes of one American family ready to take a peek and taste. The beauty of harvest is really evident at this stage.

What was once done using large wooden buckets, barefoot, today is mechanized (rightly so) and checked by super attentive staff: grapes are unloaded, stalks are removed (they will be recycled, another step in making production sustainable), and grains are selected from a machine that assesses the color, size and thickness of the peel. Peels and grapes will ferment for just over a week in the same tank, to finally then be divided in the drawing off stage (called racking).

Outside, the scenario is very familiar – peering through the windows of the cellar, you can see there are some leftovers on a table. It is an “improvised canteen” for those who work here. Bottles of red wine stand out on a waxed floral tablecloth. Touché. The sight is topped off by the smell of sweet grape juice intoxicating the pungent October air and the rumbling sound of tractors in the background. Picking grapes in Campolungo does not stop until five in the afternoon. “The process is lived with feelings of participation and enthusiasm: the transformation of grapes into wine recalls the cycle of nature itself.” Once this early catharsis occurs, wine will need time to rest and to mature slowly.

It will initially be stored in large steel tanks, whose temperature is meticulously kept under control by staff, and then transferred into wooden barrels for the crucial stage of refinement – this is what the French call élévage, a term that connotates the idea of wine elevating towards higher and more ambitious goals.

 

Words Marta CasadeiI
Photography Fabrizio Vatieri

_DSC4005 Wine Culture - Exploring Taste Magazine

 DSC4005Located in Caldaro, one of the largest wine districts of Alto-Adige (800 hectares of vineyards, second only to the Municipality of Appiano) the Kettmeir Cellar represents the northernmost corner of Santa Margherita’s precious oenological mosaic.

The Marzotto family has owned Kettemeir since 1986, but the Santa Margherita brand has been present in the northern Italian region for a number of decades: Pinot Grigio is one of its signature wines, and it is here that it all began. In order to extend its business to Trentino Alto-Adige, Santa Margherita enlisted the help of some key figures of the wine making world, who liaised with local grape producers on behalf of the Venetian company, ensuring a smooth entry into the local market and the successful launch of a new branch in their business. Among them are Bruno Pojer, owner of Salorno’s Maso Reiner and Luis Von Dellemann, from Cantina di Andriano. Both have played a fundamental role in bridging the gap between the regional markets of Veneto and Trentino, choosing to believe in the Marzotto family and their passion for wine making. Both Bruno Pojer and Luis Von Dellemann believe that Santa Margherita is ‘the guardian of Alto Adige’, attributing it the merit of bringing this wine district to international fame.

 

160315 KETTMEIR 17833Bruno e Riccardo Pojer

His nickname ‘King of White’ says a lot about his personality as well as his taste in wine. Authoritative, but not authoritarian, Bruno Pojer began to collaborate with Santa Margherita towards the end of the Fifties, continuing to do so with rigor and professionalism, for over half a century.
Pojer was born 91 years ago in Salorno (Bolzano) on the very border with Trentino, to a proud family of farmers. Today, his son Riccardo manages the family business, Maso Reiner, which supplies its grapes exclusively to Kettmeir. “My family have been farmers for five generations,” Pojer explains, “but in the Fifties, it became clear that the Maso alone couldn’t support all five of us brothers. So I decided to leave the countryside to become a wine mediator, dealing with the purchase and negotiation of grapes on behalf of my clients. I’d survey vineyards and their grape production, intercepting the demand from large wine companies. I was the missing link in the supply and demand chain: between grape suppliers and winemakers in need of extra amounts.”
Pojer’s collaboration with Santa Margherita began in 1957, when he met the Technical Director. He asked Pojer to take charge of the grape purchasing operations for the Venetian brand. “I was liaising with producers from Alto-Adige on behalf of Santa Margherita. Every November, the Technical Director would check in for a wine-tasting – then he’d come back in December to sign the contracts.”
Initially, negotiations would take place before the wine was pressed and the grapes would be sold by the crate. Later, the company would purchase the wine directly. “I’d load up my bag with samples and set off to this or that market. I’ve traveled so much that I’ve gone through 27 different cars.”
In 1979-80, demand exceeded supply in Alto-Adige. “I knew about this new DOC from Trentino called Valdadige – it dealt both in whites and reds. I got all the permits in place and started negotiations with the Trentino producers, to ensure appropriate supplies for Santa Margherita. Production increased and Pinot Grigio started to earn a reputation abroad, quickly becoming a status-symbol on the American market.”
Another key development in Pojer’s professional career took place in 1986, when Santa Margherita bought Kettmeir. “In those years I was also working as a sales representative for a cork factory in Friuli. One day, while I was visiting Kettmeir for work, the owner, Franco Kettmeir, asked me to follow him into his office. He explained that he wanted to sell the company, and asked me if I knew of a potential buyer. I immediately phoned Dr. Marcer, who at the time was working as a managing director for Santa Margherita. He spoke to the president, Count Umberto Marzotto, and called me back after a couple of hours, asking me to find an engineer who could carry out the relevant financial assessments and come up with a quote. Within a month, I was able to get the governor of the province on our side and we wrapped up the deal.” This was the beginning of a new adventure for Santa Margherita.
Bruno Pojer fondly remembers all the wines from Alto Adige that the Venetian company helped bring to international fame: “After Pinot Grigio it was Muller Thurgau's turn, then Chardonnay. Without forgetting all the work done on the production of champagne – at first using the Charmat Method and later the Classic. Today Alto Adige is famous for its white wines, but 30 years ago few would have forseen this success. The Marzotto family was among the very first to take its chances in this segment of the market.”
We ended our conversation with a return to the present. When asked about the relationship between the Santa Margherita Group and the Pojer family, that to this day supplies its Maso Reiner grapes to Kettmeir, Bruno Pojer replies: “The secret of such a long and fruitful relationship lies in our mutual relationship built on honesty and trust. So long as we have these, we will work together happily through many more generations.”

160315 KETTMEIR 17861Luis Von Dellemann

Luis Von Dellemann doesn’t need an introduction. He is one of the great masters of modern oenology in Alto-Adige, having consolidated his legendary reputation over the past fifty years.
“I always say that wine making is in my DNA,” says Von Dellemann, who recently turned eighty. “I was pretty much born in a vineyard. In 1985, my grandfather founded Andriano, one of the first wine making cooperatives of Alto-Adige. He worked there as a oenologist – and so did I.”
Von Dellemann took the first few steps towards becoming an winemaker when he enrolled in the prestigious oenology school of San Michele all'Adige in 1951. After he graduated, Luis moved to Switxerland for work. He came back when he was 23 and was precociously offered a job as an oenologist at Cantina di Adriano.
Luis Von Dellemann played a crucial role in the production of the first Pinot Grigio vinified in white by Santa Margherita. “I still remember the day we met at Cantina di Andriano, to taste the wine with the Technical Director and Bruno Pojer. We had five or six barrels.” Back then, the Pinot Grigio variety was used exclusively as a secondary grape. It took Santa Margherita’s forward-thinking approach to see beyond its initial purpose. “The harvest of 1960 was excellent, making for a full-bodied wine, a little darker than usual, but very characteristic. It was the beginning of a revolution.”
In the Sixties and Seventies, however, the wine making industry of Alto-Adige was aiming for quantity rather than quality. “Luckily in the Eighties many companies started producing less, but following better agronomic strategies, such as switching from pergola to espalier farming. The production was reduced to two-thirds of its original volume, and the public rewarded our efforts with an immediate success.” Luis Von Dellemann himself was the first to have the intuition that white wine should be aged in barrique, rather than steel. It opened up a new era in Alto-Adige wine making. Von Dellman is very passionate about environmental sustainability. “Many winemakers in Alto-Adige are now switching from traditional to organic production. I think the future lies in organic wine. Our customers request it – not only from a wine making perspective, but for fruit and vegetables too.” Another imminent change is that of the climate: “With temperatures rising, we have to plant our vineyards higher and higher, as we do with apple trees.”
We ask him to list the requirements for an Alto-Adige wine to excel. “First of all, it has to have a personality; an easy-to-spot character variety. Each wine is the product of its vineyard and the area it grows on. Our winning profile is a fresh, fruity, fun product. Today there is sometimes too much of a sugary residue. Pinot Blanc is the most representative variety we have here in Alto-Adige, I think, with its apple-y fragrance and fresh character.”
Finally, Von Dellman touches upon the subject of spumante production, of which Kettmeir is a regional leader. “In terms of bubbles, our region still has a lot to give: the quality of our grapes allows us to do so. In Sud Tirol, the tradition of spumante-making goes way back to the end of the 19th Century, but it never reached large groups of people. To this day, the companies that pursue this angle of the market are still very few. It is yet another area in which Santa Margherita has set an example of excellence. But that's not surprising at all.”

Capture 77

Words – Jessica Bordoni
Photography – Andy Massaccesi, Giò Martorana

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