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Maria Gioia Rosellini was born and raised in the Venetian city of Treviso but childhood memories of time spent in the countryside never left her. Eventually, she and her husband found the Ca’Orologio in the beautiful setting of the Colli Euganei hills, and it was love at first sight. The 16th century building was originally constructed as a holiday retreat for a wealthy Venetian but over its long life it has seen many incarnations, serving as an oratorio and a farmhouse amongst other things. As we all know the course of true love is rarely smooth but a five-year programme of restoration did not dampen the couple’s enthusiasm.

In 1995 Maria began growing grapes, progressing to making her own wine in 2002. She now produces around 25,000 bottles per year from 11 hectares of vineyards. She has two main vineyards one on volcanic soil and the other, by contrast, calcareous. She has no formal wine-making qualifications relying on practical experience and reading to shape her ideas. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and indeed she produces some wonderful wines.

The wines from this area have their own DOC appellation but the variations allowed are so generous as to make the rules almost superfluous but, within those rather nebulous regulations, Maria produces some notable wines.

Calaóne is a blend of 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet, and 5% Barbera. Fermentation takes place partially in steel and partially in an oak tini. The wine is then matured for 2 years, spending 12 months in barriques, 6 months back in the tini and, finally, another 6 months in the bottle. I sampled the 2019 that had yet to spend its full six months in the bottle but it had already become a wine of note. The colour was a rich deep purple that comes from a relatively young wine. The rich bouquet of bitter cherries, prunes, pepper, and cinnamon filled my nostrils and on the palate it was full-bodied with tannins that were present on my tongue but not, for some reason, on the gums. The acidity will let this wine cut through any fattiness so it will go equally well with steak and lamb. The ageing potential for this is good – Maria says at least 10 years.   

Ca’Orologio is more than just a vineyard; it is also an agriturismo where you can stay in the most elegant of surroundings but its focus is the wine and if you choose, at the right time of year, Maria will invite you to become involved in the winemaking. She makes a wine called Relógio which is made from 80% Carmenere and 20% Cabernet Franc, all from the limestone vineyards. After harvest the wine must be macerated to extract all the goodness from the grapes. Left to themselves the grapes float to the top forming a cap that inhibits the extraction of all the goodness. There are several sophisticated ways of circumventing this problem but Maria has certainly found an original one. The wine is fermented in an old oak barrique and guests are invited to help by stirring the cap, breaking it up and helping the extractive process. There follows 2 years of maturation, 12 months in French oak barrels, 6 months in a stainless steel tank and a final 6 months in the bottle.

Again, I sampled a 2019 that had not yet completed its full time in the bottle. It has a deep purple colour with a bouquet of cherries, raspberries, and plums. On the palate the balance of tannins and acidity is good and clearly this is a wine that will age well. At 14% alcohol I would recommend it for a casual lunchtime or, alternatively, as an accompaniment to an indulgent dinner of red meat it would be fabulous.

The Ca’Orologio wine list stretches to six wines covering white, spumante and rosato. Two of them are made using only the native Raboso grape so I would suggest booking into the agriturismo for a relaxing stay and an opportunity to try them all.

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