Tarlao Vignis in Aquieia
For three generations the Tarlao family have been caring for their land on the flat alluvial plains of this area. The vineyard is only two kilometres from the Marano lagoon which lies at the northernmost tip of the Adriatic. In the past, Tarlao wine was produced solely for sale in their restaurant but today you can buy their wines much more widely. From seven hectares of vines, they produce around 30,000 bottles of wine per year of which 70% are white.
This has been a slow evolution. The first wine to be bottled was produced by Sabino Tarlao in 1999 but things have been changing a little faster since his son, Francesco, became involved in 2009. He has studied oenology and worked in both Argentina and the United States and so he brings a different perspective to the project. However, that does not mean he is looking to change the fundamentals of the business – in fact, very much the reverse. He looks to build on what has gone before, refining and improving where he can.
Nothing illustrates this better than the first wine we tasted. Poc Ma Bon or Little But Good is made from grapes from 50-year-old vines of Pinot Bianco. So far very traditional but then Francesco adds his twist for there is a brief maceration to add colour and perfume and then the wine is matured with 80% in steel and 20% in oak. The result is a pale straw colour with a bouquet redolent of green apples and pears. On the palate there is good acidity and salinity that would make this a perfect match for spaghetti alle vongole.
Ardea Alba is a new addition to the range and is, again, 100% Pinot Bianco – only this time it is both fermented and matured in wood, spending 10 months on the lees before being bottled. We sampled the 2020 which had a medium straw colour with apples and vanilla on the nose. On the palate is a good acidity and the flavour of pears. This would accompany pork dishes very well.
The last of the white wine we tasted is called Nineve and is made from Malvasia Istriana. Again, this wine is matured 80% in steel, on the lees, with the balance in oak barriques. The resulting delight has a medium straw colour with delicate hints of green. The bouquet has passion fruit and the mild flavour of Amalfi lemons whilst in the mouth there is a medium acidity and the taste of elderflower with a salinity that is almost spicy. This is a big full wine that would go well with salmon or swordfish. A word of warning- at 14.5% ABV this is possibly not a wine for lunchtime.
The red that we tasted was nothing short of a masterpiece. It is made from a very local grape called Refosco dal Peduncolo which does particularly well in these rich alluvial soils. But there is more to it than just the terroir. Francesco works his magic by allowing around 20% of the harvest to dry for some weeks before being pressed – apassimento the Italians call this process. Dry the grapes for too long and the sugar content will be too high so judging the perfect moment is all about skill and experience. The wine matures for a year in barrique followed by a year in the big botte grande and, lastly, a year in bottle. In effect, this is a riserva. The result of all the love and care put into this wine is a rich deep ruby colour and a bouquet big with cherries and vanilla. The flavour in the mouth is full of bitter cherry with a perfect balance of tannins and acidity and a long finish. This is a wine to enjoy with red meat, mature cheese or just on its own as a vino di meditazione.
Next door to the winery is the family restaurant where they serve very local cuisine. Francesco’s mother does the cooking so you can be sure it’s good. What better place to enjoy great food and great wines!