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Thoughts From Trentino

Rockliffe Hall’s Head Sommelier, Daniel Jonberger, reports back on his recent wine tasting trip to Northern Italy.

In the hunt to further my wine knowledge, I do have to go away sometimes to marvel at the wine making process. Sometimes I do get an aversion to certain wine making - those are the large companies that are mass producing wine, usually with no skill or thoughts for the final product.

Reading about Mezzacorona, I did get that last feeling. So with a hint of hesitation, I packed my bag and set off to Trentino in Northern Italy, to visit just that Vineyard. What I discovered was a breathtaking landscape with the dramatic Dolomite mountains as a backdrop. Flowing hills, full of Vines. I learnt very quickly that there are almost 1500 growers in the Mezzacorona family. The area is about 2500 hectares, so each grower has a relatively small area for their Vines. They are carefully managed by families that help each other during harvest.

The specialised Pergola system for the Vine growing maximises the grapes’ growth and also gives shade during the hot summer days. With the steep valleys it also means that all grapes have to be handpicked. After picking they are transported to Mezzacorona’s massive Vine plant. This was the stage I was worried about.

I was so wrong! Each grape batch that arrives, and each grape variety, is treated very differently. In the huge stainless steel vat area (there are 2000 of them) each batch is fermented differently to maximise their potential. Then the ingenious use of oak barrels comes in. New oak, 3 year old oak and older oak, are used to give the small batches their identity, decided by the wine maker.

Then there is the blend of all these small batches. The five winemakers sit down and taste, taste and taste before any blending takes place.

It is a beautiful place and everyone there is proud of its heritage. The family growers on the hillside pay huge attention to detail – harvest, fermentation and ageing, and have a minimalistic approach to pesticides.

I left, after some very inspirational tastings, happy that even large companies do care of winemaking. And I mean truly care. The enthusiasm was everywhere to see and the huge pride in what they produce.

Daniel Jonberger, Head Sommelier.