Traveling anywhere these days can have challenges, but for the most part, we are used to traveling to peaceful and relaxing places. We thought just that when we set out to Italy a few months ago...a delightful trip to Central and Northern Italy without any hiccups. Insert hiccups: travel delays, lost baggage, Autogrill espresso (thank you Will!). However, the floods near Emilia-Romagna were not something that we ever expected. We were scheduled to visit the winery of Mutiliana with our friends from Portovino- the US Importer of the wines and our good friends. The issue was the road had completely been demolished in the Bologna region going to the winery. Giorgio Melandri insisted on meeting us, and the place was set to be All'Osteria Bottega, a lovely lunch spot in Bologna. Fortunately, the downtown area was spared from flooding in contrast to the dire conditions at the winery. Giorgio greets us with a huge smile and a handshake. As soon as we sit down, the house phone starts ringing off the hook - “It’s for you, Giorgio”. The host hands the phone to Giorgio, and he asks us to excuse the interruption. The plates of mortadella were making their rounds, so it made for a natural break to scarf down some tasty snacks while Giorgio assured his friends that he was ok, even though the winery's state was up in the air. It became clear that Giorgio was somewhat of a Mayor of Bologna figure.
Giorgio spent years writing for Gambero Rosso, Italy’s premier food and wine publication. While writing for the publication, Giorgio was exposed to many wines. He tasted wines from all over Italy, but three different Apennine valleys near Modigliana caught Giorgio’s tastebuds and captured his heart so much so that those are the three valleys from which he now makes terroir-driven Sangiovese and what led to his career change.
Not only did we get to make some memories with Giorgio, but we were also able to taste some new wines that we ultimately were able to bring into the shop. We are pouring the 2021 Mutiliana Bianco Romagna "Ecce Draco" by the glass—a refreshing blend of Trebbiano, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. We now have all of the wines that Giorgio produces, and you can discover the three valleys that captured Giorgio’s heart below.
From our Importer PortoVino’s website on the three specific sites where Giorgio makes Sangiovese:
Acereta: two vineyards totaling around 2 hectares, one in Castelluccio and one near a monastery in Modigliana. Acerreta is a little lower in elevation than the other valleys and the valley itself opens in with sea breezes. The three valleys' lowest elevation, with an open exposure to the plain below. The soils here are loose marl and a predominant sandstone mix. A tangy expression of Sangiovese, with lots of taut sour fruits, e.g., blood-orange and pomegranate. Historically, Sangiovese here has been linked to the old Ronchi [hill tops] of Castelluccio: long-aging wines of character that were crystalline and pure.
Tramazo: single vineyard of around 2 hectares. Tramazzo is the central valley of Modigliana: it opens towards higher ground and continues as far as Tredozio. The soils here are a mix of marl and sandstone and contain a small percentage of red and ochre clays. The vineyard is located + 500m altitude, allowing a cooler ripening and toned elegant Sangiovese profile. Usually highly herbal, with distinct amaro-like botanical notes.
Ibbola: two vineyards in Modigliana totaling 4 hectares; both are owned by Villa Papiano. Francesco Bordini (winemaker and agronomist at Villa Papiano) is Giorgio Melandri’s partner for Mutiliana. Ibbola is the highest valley with the most extreme topography– very narrow, acutely angled, steep valley walls. Here the sandstone is very pure with little marl. The vines grow at 600m, and are surrounded by woods that play a role in the quality of the grapes. Grapes mature later here than the other sites; harvested in late October. Cool fruited, super minerally; minimalist. As a side note, Giorgio makes a unique Pinot Noir from this vineyard, with an alluring cinnabar color and lithesome acidity.
Brandon and Trent