Romandolo and Raisins
The Agricola Gori winery in Nemis, north-east Italy, is a technological tour de force. Built into a hill to minimise its environmental impact it was constructed on three levels between 2009 and 2014. Not only does it have solar panels to provide power but also geothermal heating, using pipes that delve eighty metres underground into the very foundations of the countryside. But in the midst of all this innovative technology emerges an idea both new and old at the same time. By using the three levels they are able to minimise the use of pumps. The grapes enter at the top level where they are pressed and then the must flows through gravity to the middle level for fermentation before flowing again to the bottom level where the wine matures.
This really is a fascinating place but ultimately it has to be about the wine. For what is the point of all the artistic input, environmental care and enological innovation if the end product disappoints? With a small production of around 50,000 bottles per year, organically certified, I am pleased to report that the wine is just fine, thank you. I sampled two wines made with the very local white grape variety, Verduzzo. The first has a rich, bright gold colour that is achieved by leaving the must on the skins for just a few short hours. The bouquet is full with oranges and a hint of lemon and in the mouth it is full and slightly sweet. Celeste suggests pairing it with Gorgonzola or foie gras.
The second was the DOCG Ramandolo. This is a passito wine, a process which requires the grapes to be allowed to dry before pressing. In this case the harvest is late, in November, and the grapes are then left on shelves for two months to dry with plenty of ventilation to prevent the development of Botrytis. After pressing, the wine is fermented and matured for around 12 months in barriques of French oak. The results are profoundly pleasing. The colour is a deep burnt gold and on the nose there are raisins and apricots with a honey sweetness skillfully balanced with a hint of sharpness. On the palate it is rich, full and fresh with a touch of acidity that tingles around the tongue. Again, this is a wine which would go well with either a blue or spicy cheese or fruit-based desserts.
For the record, it must be said that Agricola Gori produces a range of red and white wines but for me these two, using the Verduzzo grape, represent the best of Nimis and its particular topography. We didn't try their other wines but if they're as good as the Ramandolo then they will be very fine indeed.