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It is interesting to understand why Pinot Noir is so loved, sought-after, and in some way revered by enthusiasts from all over the world. Part of its charm comes from the difficulty in cultivating its vine. It is a delicate and precocious variety, anything but versatile: suitable for specific places and climates only. The point is that when the right conditions exist, including the hand of men capable of enhancing the grape variety, the results can reach extraordinary levels. Pinot Noir also has the particular ability to enhance the characteristics of very small areas, so the micro-differences that exist between them, in a precise and multifaceted ways. A drop of a few meters in height, or a minimal discrepancy in soil level, is enough for two parcels, even very close together, to bring essentially different wines into the glass.

The homeland of this vine is France, and in particular Burgundy, where it express the highest quality levels. It can then be found in various other areas of the world characterized by cool climates and significant temperature ranges. These include Germany, Austria, South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, especially in Oregon and California. Even in Italy it can be found in different regions. In Oltrepò Pavese, where historically it is used to produce sparkling wines, as well as in Franciacorta. In Friuli, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo. Lately it has also spread to the south, in Campania, Basilicata and Sicily, in the Etna area. And then it is found almost everywhere in the Alps: in South Tyrol, in particular, where it is also called Blauburgunder, various producers have been able to create wines that stand out for their texture and expressiveness.

Pinot Noir is a historical presence in South Tyrol, where it has been cultivated for over two centuries. To describe the qualitative peaks that it is able to reach in this region, it is necessary to explore the area of the villages of Egna and Montagna, and in particular the Mazzon plateau. Here, at an altitude of between about 250 and 450 metres, there is the Mazzon Vineyard, where in the mid-twentieth century some producers began to focus precisely on this vine. We are talking about a vineyard that covers about 60 hectares and boasts a particularly friendly position for the cultivation of Pinot Noir. Mazzon faces west. The mountains to the north perform a very important function, because in the early hours of the day they protect from the sun’s rays, avoiding excessive heat. Furthermore, they shelter the vineyard from the harsher winds that come from the north and east, leaving room instead for the Ora, the mild breeze that blows from Lake Garda. The vineyard then enjoys an excellent amount of light, which extends long into the afternoon. When the sun goes down, temperatures drop abruptly, determining the right range which is fundamental for the quality of Pinot Noir.

Mazzon features about a dozen South Tyrolean producers, who manage to obtain results of considerable interest. The wines of the various artisans who work the vineyard show some common traits. Among these a clear, fresh and sparkling fruit, often intertwined with spicy notes, for an overall profile capable of giving satisfactions after just a few years, and at the same time multiplying them over time. Among the names of these realities, Gottardi stands out, today led by Elisabeth Gottardi, who in the 1980s began a specific work on Pinot Noir, and over the course of a decade has managed to obtain levels of absolute excellence.

“Riserva Mazzon” is produced by the winery exclusively in the best years, working the grapes of the oldest vineyards. 100% Pinot Noir, ages for one year in new barriques and 14 months in large barrels, to then refine for 6 months in the bottle. The result is a complex red, a typical trait of the wines that come from this important vineyard. The 2016 vintage presents itself to the eye with a bright, shiny red. The nose smells of wild berries, with a particular inclination towards strawberries; in the background, spices and medicinal herbs. In the mouth it articulates a rich structure, with a graceful, elegant tannin, integrated with an aromatic profile of great breadth. Long, persistent, fresh and savory tolls chase and prolong the pleasant sensations on the palate. Immediately intriguing, it also has the right characteristics to remain in the cellar and evolve its profile over time.


Graziano Nani

Over 15 years in communication, today Graziano Nani is Branded Content Lead in Chora, where he deals with podcasts. Sommelier AIS, he writes for Intravino and takes care of @HellOfaWine on Instagram. He teaches wine communication at the Catholic University. He deals with the same theme in the “La Retroetiquette” podcast, of which he is co-author, and with speeches at dedicated events.


The world of taste has never stood still, over the centuries it has experienced constant evolution. These changes have always concerned both the sphere of wine and about food in general. Gualtiero Marchesi, for example, on the wave of Nouvelle Cuisine, has brought a great revolution in our country. Until then, the processing of ingredients, with very elaborate preparations, had a central role. It is precisely Marchesi in Italy who gives new dignity to the raw materials and the quality that distinguishes them, paving the way for an unprecedented style where the preparations are simplified, and the ingredients emerge with their intrinsic characteristics.

The same goes for wine. Around the eighties and nineties many enthusiasts loved full-bodied and very structured reds, produced using small barrels to ensure that the hints of wood significantly affect the wine itself. Even critics valued that type of label, and the market consequently did the same. Over the decades the picture has changed a lot and today we find ourselves in a period in which a different trend is consolidating, in some ways almost opposite. To describe it you have to take a step back.  The world of tasting, among the various approaches, uses one that divides the scents of wine into hardness and softness. In the first group there are acidity, sapidity and tannins; in the second one there are sugars, alcohol and polyalcohols. Last ones include glycerin, essential for giving the wine viscosity, therefore density and softness. A well made wine, among the various characteristics, gets a balance between these aspects, or in any case a reasoned proportion upstream. Having clarified these two dimensions, we can say that for some years there has been a tendency to enhance hardness. Let’s leave aside the tannins, which derive from the use of the skins in the wine making process, and mainly concern red wines and the so-called orange wines. In wine shops you can find more and more often wines with greater acidity and freshness than in the past, more sharp. The sapidity is also enhanced: it can be reflected, for example, in subtle, barely perceptible iodized scents, or in clearer and more marked saline notes.

The world of sparkling wines is not excluded from this new wave. Indeed, if we talk about the Classic Method in particular, the theme takes on great centrality. In fact, we know that these wines are classified according to the quantity of residual sugars found in the bottle. Extra-dry, brut and extra-brut, for example, are words that identify a specific quantity of residual sugar. We can say that, due to a game of balances between the different dimensions that we have seen, the soft component will emerge more in a sparkling wine with more sugar. Conversely, a smaller quantity of sugars will leave more room for acidity and sapidity, therefore for hardness.

Today, in line with the above trend, there is ever greater attention for sparkling wines with a very low, or even zero, sugar content. The category is called zero dosage, or pas dosé; the name derives from the dosage of the liqueur d’expédition, the one that precisely determines the quantity of sugars that will remain in the bottle. More evident hardness means sharp wines, with acidity in the foreground and sapidity which can be expressed with salty notes, or notes linked to the world of minerals, including for example graphite.

Pas dosé are versatile wines, able for different occasions. For example the aperitif, where freshness plays a fundamental role to enjoy drinks without pairing, or at least accompanied by light appetizers. Also as regards the possible combinations for lunch and dinner, the zero dosages are highly adaptable and leave many doors open. Here is a possible direction, which starts from the absence or almost no sugar, and therefore from their characteristic of essentiality. In this sense, a combination with equally essential dishes such as raw fish, perhaps tartare, can be interesting, based on the quality and purity of the raw material, which is not even cooked, but only delicately seasoned.

One of the most interesting producers in the Champagne world is Tarlant. His “Zero Brut Nature“, in particular, is produced with a blend of grapes that include Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and other ancient vines. The management is organic, with great respect for nature and an approach that aim to the least possible intervention by men. First fermentation is in steel tanks, so the wine age in barrique for six months, then there is the second fermentation and the wine rest on the lees for at least six years, finally disgorging by hand. The perfumes stay between the world of flowers and that of citrus fruits, together with references to more enveloping sensations, such as those of honey. In the mouth it shows a very fine perlage, and, naturally, a prominent presence of the tendendcy of hardness: refreshing acidity, and a saline texture as a counterpoint. It has a great persistence, with the aromas that accompany the palate for a long time, leaving a beautiful memory of this artisanal maison that is increasingly sought after today.

Graziano Nani

Over 15 years in communication, today Graziano Nani is Branded Content Lead in Chora, where he deals with podcasts. Sommelier AIS, he writes for Intravino and takes care of @HellOfaWine on Instagram. He teaches wine communication at the Catholic University. He deals with the same theme in the “La Retroetiquette” podcast, of which he is co-author, and with speeches at dedicated events.


If we had to summarize what orange wines, or macerated wines, are, we could say they are wines produced starting from white grapes, but using the production process of reds, so keeping the skins in contact with the must. The time of this contact is variable: it can go from a few hours to several months.

There has been growing interest for some years in this type of wine, which at first glance can lead one to think of a new phenomenon. In reality, orange wines have very ancient origins, we are talking about thousands of years ago. They have always been produced in Georgia using kvevri, traditional terracotta amphorae typical of the region. This is not the only area that has a historical link with the macerated wines. The area that develops around the border between Friuli and Slovenia also has a close connection with orange wines. This geographical area, in particular, has played a fundamental role in the rediscovery of this particular production method.


In recent years much has been said about orange wines. They have often been framed as extreme wines, as the right choice when you want to try something daring, perhaps even a little difficult. In short, like difficult wines. On the one hand, this perspective has some truth to it. The presence of tannins, due to contact with the skins, gives the wine a third dimension made up of hardness and edges. Furthermore, the combination of white grapes and maceration gives the wine hints that for many may be wild, or unfamiliar. Another point: often the macerated wines, especially in the case of prolonged contact with the skins for months, result in textured wines of great consistency. So much so that someone, jokingly, sometimes calls them “eat and drink” wines.

This important structure, on the other hand, opens up an equally significant and less highlighted theme: orange wines are very versatile, especially when it comes to food pairing. The reasons for this adaptability are varied. One, just mentioned, is certainly that of the body. A more present structure than that of the classic whites allows the orange wines to leave the most common pairing perimeters, which want them combined mainly with delicate dishes, often based on fish.

The maceration times, and the relative intensity that derives from them, are decisive for precisely evaluating the most suitable combinations. We can say, for example, that it is often a good choice for white meats and medium and long-aged cheeses. Going more specifically to wines characterized by long macerations, a fundamental point is the resulting intensity.

Precisely this intensity opens up various pairing opportunities, which in some circumstances can resolve cases of complex combinations. This is the case, for example, of spicy dishes, typical of oriental cuisine. An orange wine of good intensity often has the right characteristics to support the comparison with another important intensity, that of spices. The important thing, in this case, is to keep an eye on the tannins. If too accentuated, their edges could conflict with the strong personality of the spices.


A very important issue is then that of temperature. Playing with the degrees, in the world of orange wines, can give interesting results. Starting from the assumption that the serving temperature of these wines is around 15 degrees, it must be considered that lower temperatures emphasize the hardness, therefore acidity, sapidity and tannins, while higher temperatures bring out the softness, therefore the sugars, the alcohol and the glyceric component. If this happens for any type of wine, with orange wines the breadth of scents that unfold at different temperatures is, in my opinion, truly remarkable.

So much so that it often happens to me, at the restaurant, to choose just one wine for the entire dinner, an orange wine, characterized by a significant maceration time. Served fresh, to start with, it can accompany many types of appetizers, such as veal meatballs. As the wine rises in temperature, it is as if it gradually becomes adaptable to each passage of the dinner. A little less cold to accompany a first course, for example fresh pasta with duck sauce. And then, with a slightly higher temperature, an important second course, perhaps a meat of great intensity, for example lamb.

As already said, everything is related to the amount of time the wine has spent on the skins, and consequently to its intensity. In the case of less marked macerations, the combinations must be reconsidered proportionally. Munjebel VA Bianco 2019 Di Frank Cornellissen can be a good example. Born on the slopes of Etna from a blend of native white berries grapes and the processing involves 4 days of maceration. It is an elegant, complex wine, made even more special by the fact that the cuvée comes entirely from old ungrafted vines that are between 60 and 90 years old. The contact with the skins is a gentle touch that further accentuates the characteristics of breadth and finesse. And in this specific case, going back to talking about food, the right choice can fall into the world of white meat or that of fish, for example with a Mediterranean soup.

Graziano Nani

Over 15 years in communication, today Graziano Nani is Branded Content Lead in Chora, where he deals with podcasts. Sommelier Ais, he writes for Intravino and takes care of @HellOfaWine on Instagram. He teaches wine communication at the Catholic University. He deals with the same theme in the “La Retroetichetta” podcast, of which he is co-author, and with speeches at dedicated events.