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Foradori Fontanasanta Nosiola 2017

Foradori Fontanasanta Nosiola 2017

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"This wine sees extended skin contact in clay amphorae that lasts up to six months. The 2017 Nosiola Fontanasanta opens to a beautifully luminous and light appearance. In fact, you'd hardly know the wine had so much skin contact if you were only to consider its clear and transparent appearance. However, the key to reading this wine is through that extended skin maceration, because the Nosiola grape tends to offer very neutral aromas in its natural state. The chemicals in the skins add layers of candied orange, beeswax and chamomile flower. There are terpene tones of dried sage and white pepper as well. Some 10,000 bottles were made. Drink: 2019-2030. 94+ points

The big news at this celebrated estate in Mezzolombardo is that Elisabetta Foradori has handed winemaking responsibilities over to her sons Emilio and Theo Zierock. I tasted these wines with Emilio at the winery. The 2017 vintage was very difficult, with bad weather and hail that destroyed much of the Teroldego harvest. As a result, the 2017 Teroldego Foradori and the 2017 Pinot Grigio Fuoripista were not produced. Because of the reduced harvest yields in 2017, a new wine called Lezèr was born. It is made with Teroldego and sees very short skin maceration times (a mere 48 hours) in order to safeguard the wine's crunchy freshness. The most exciting news from this estate is the launch of two single-vineyard expressions of Teroldego (Sgarzon and Morei) aged in long amphorae called cilindrica."

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (240)

Put simply, Elisabetta Foradori is the foremost exponent of Italy's ancient Teroldego grape and is largely the reason why we can still enjoy its fruits today. Her estate is nestled in the Dolomites' Campo Rotaliano (above), Teroldego's historic ‘grand cru’, a sandy-gravelly plain borne of the alluvial deposits of the Noce Stream and Adige River. This terroir benefits from the mountains to the north blocking the cold winter winds while the cool summer breezes flow up the valley from the lakes further south. The distinctive air flows here also create large diurnal temperature changes which aids the grapes' complexity. 

However, the path to here hasn't been easy. In 1939, Elisabetta's grandfather bought a near bankrupt estate and it has been in the hands of the Foradori family ever since. The first vintage was the 1960 but, tragically, in 1976, her father died prematurely and, as a result, her mother entrusted the running of the estate to Carlo - a local winemaker. In 1984, Elisabetta decided to take over the family estate immediately after finishing her viticultural and oenological studies.

At this time, cooperatives ruled the roost and the fashion was to plant international varieties such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Elisabetta was persuaded by her then future husband, Professor Rainer Zierock, to keep to local varieties such as Teroldego, Nosiola and Manzoni Bianco. Furthermore, the local wine culture had become largely industrial with quantity ruling over quality.

Elisabetta thus began her lifetime quest to improve the quality of the Teroldego stock. When she took over, she began to replant her vineyards using mass selection. This involves choosing the best vines from the vineyard, taking cuttings from them and then propagating new vines from those cuttings. In 2000, this quest was supported by creating another generation from the seeds harvested from the fruit of her oldest vines.

Then, in 2002, on the advice of a close friend, Alsace's renowned Marc Kreydenweiss, she commenced the conversion to biodynamics. The first few years were extremely difficult but the vineyards are now in rude health and the winemaking  is considerably easier –  just bring in the great fruit and let the grapes make the wine on their own!

Then, through another of her friends, Sicily's Giusto Occhipinti, she discovered Tinajas (Spanish amphorae). She began replacing all of her barrels with amphorae and today she has more than 150 in her cellar. Clay, the amphora's raw material, gives a completely different result to that of wood or of concrete. This is because clay is a more porous material and, therefore, it allows more oxygen in.

In 2007, a vineyard just above Trento became available and Fontanasanta was born. Here, the Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc were uprooted in order to replant the 'more suitable' Nosiola, Manzani Bianco and Teroldego.

Today, Elisabetta's eldest son Emilio is currently in charge of the cellar and also takes care of the vineyard in collaboration with Alessandro, the vineyard manager.

Thus, to reach this point has been a path of constant questioning, experimentation and intuition involving biodynamics, mass selection and amphorae. All of this has supported the estate towards its goal of making wines respectful of the terroir and its local grapes.