Italian Savoir-Faire in a Wine Glass

January 25, 2022

Inside the Cantina di Toblino winery

Established in 1960, the Italian Cantina Toblino winery is known for being very proactive, mixing the cooperative spirit with a sustainable and high-end experimental approach. Located in Valle dei Laghi, the valley of the lakes, north of Lake Garda and far from the town of Trento, in the Trentino region in Italy’s far north where the Mediterranean and Alpine climates meet, the vineyard couldn’t have been more blessed. Vineyards range from 100 meters to 880 metres above sea level, and the production revolves around native grapes like Nosiola and most representative wines such as Trento DOC.

The region is close to the Dolomites, with high altitude creating perfect conditions to produce fresh mountain bubbles of great finesse. Cool alpine nights and hot Mediterranean days, as well as good ventilation due to the narrow valleys, produce multi-layered aromas in their fruity and mineral still wines. Currently, over a third of Cantina Toblino’s wines are farmed organically, with the vineyard paying greater attention to the environment and community it is a part of. This focus has led to the birth of Vent (breeze), a celebration of the role wind plays in this wine region. The project aims to enhance Cantina Toblino savoir-faire.

Since everything here starts with the wind, Foll was the name chosen for a complex, lively and elegant Chardonnay, whose grape reminds one of Trentino Folly wind’s persistence and intensity, which regulates the valley’s microclimates. I was recently invited to a Zoom tasting of their wine shipped to me for tasting in real-time. These are the beautiful wines we tasted.

Vent – Extra Brut Trento Millesimato 2017:Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, the first fermentation of the wine is in stainless steel. During the second fermentation, the wine is aged further for a minimum of 36 months. On the nose, it is a complex bouquet with finesse. It opens with ripe cedar, then orange peel, crunchy apple and rennet blended with bread crust, almonds and light spicy hints. There is a perfect balance of fruity, spicy, and almond in the mouth. This wine is fresh and elegant with a long persistent finish. Suggested food pairings are lake and white fish, shellfish or mature cheese. The vineyards’ proximity to the lake results in high-quality fruit, making it a wine with richness and complexity. The vineyards at 300 metres are on sand and gravel, while those at 600 metres have soft rock forcing the roots to go deeper in search of water. The result is a wide range of manually harvested grapes. The complexity comes with a touch of oak in the base wine. Very clean on the mouth, it is a beautiful example of Trento Blanc de Blancs. To fully appreciate the quality of this wine, it’s best to drink it out of the right glass. A flute would restrict it while a tulip glass enhances it. The V at the point of the bowl is the point for the bubbles to bounce off. The tulip bowl allows the wine to swirl to release the taste and aromas.

Da Fora – Manzoni Bianco Trentini Doc Bio 2018 13% ABV:An intriguing perfumed new Manzoni Bianco, the grapes are fermented in steel with cold maceration and in terracotta amphorae. They are aged for seven months in terracotta and steel with skin contact and then for another four months in steel, finishing with almost six months of bottle ageing. In the glass, the wine has a light and brilliant straw yellow with light spicy notes, tropical aromas and ripe fruit ranging from quince, yellow peach, ripe pear with hints of pineapple and passion fruit. The taste is fresh and balanced in the mouth, very aromatic with fruity hints, persistent freshness due to good acidity, and minerality. Serve in a medium goblet at 8-10C.

The Manzoni grape variety was created in 1935 by Professor Luigi Manzoni at the Viticulture and Oenology School of Conegliano in the Veneto. He aimed to develop new grapes to replace or complement existing varieties grown in the local Piave region. His meticulous crossing became Incrocio Manzoni which translates into English as Manzoni crossings. The grape variety is a cross between Riesling and Pinot Blanc. The wine is complex and unique to the terroir and made only in steel with no oak. This is their first vintage with an ageing potential of up to 20 years. The suggested food pairing is sushi, and having done the pairing the day after the zoom tasting; I can confirm it does work.

Foll Chardonnay Trentino Doc Bio 2018:The grapes are grown in gravelly sandy soil and first matured for seven months in steel. Then it’s divided into in three equal parts – oak barrels, amphorae with the skins and the remaining third in steel for another four months. The process is complete with bottle ageing for a further six months. This wine is 13.5% ABV. The use of amphorae is new to me, and the technique needs explanation: after pressing the grapes, the skins and stalks go into a sealed amphora. The fruit is then left to ferment with its natural yeast. The natural tannins in the grape skins, pips and stalks create their natural preservatives. As a result, the winemaker needs to add little or no sulphur. The conical shape makes the yeast and sediment settle naturally at the bottom of the pot, so there is less need to filter the wine.

Clay, like cement, is an excellent thermal conductor. The heat from the fermentation is released rather than contained, so there is little need for additional temperature control. It’s an excellent technique for natural winemaking and another tool for the winemaker alongside oak and stainless steel. In the glass, the wine has a deep straw yellow colour with amazing golden reflections. It is refined and elegant on the nose with a hint of Williams pears white peaches combined with floral notes of jasmine and lily of the valley. The taste is delicate as it enters the mouth then coats the palate with vivacity, complexity and elegance. It has a very fine persistent finish, both mineral and savoury, with great freshness and aromatic depth. This wine is their equivalent to a French Burgundy. Cold maceration in the fridge is used before pressing; the wine was released ten months after bottling. It pairs perfectly with smoked salmon and cream cheese. The climate and soil have great potential for producing great Chardonnay. Its proximity to Garda helps avoid spring frost, and the wind protects it from the summer heat.

Largriller – Nosiola Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT 2013:This wine is from Nosiola, Tentino’s only native white grape. It combines authenticity and oenological research with tradition and terroir. It is fermented in steel at controlled temperatures. In the glass, the wine has a deep yellow straw colour with brilliant golden reflections. There are very intense and complex flavours of grapefruit and green apple on the nose with soft floral touches and a delicate hint of hazelnut on the finish. The taste is a balanced, broad, round structure with excellent persistence in the mouth. Fine, elegant finish with hints of wood and minerals. The gold-coloured grapes come from vineyards overlooking Lake Tabris. This wine is unique and the jewel in their crown. It’s one of the finest examples of this grape variety. It is only grown in this area — a long-lasting taste with excellent ageing potential.

Batticor – Pinot Nero Trentino Dic Bio 2018:An elegant and refined Pinot Noir from grapes grown on the low slopes with sandy, gravelly pebbles rich in pebbles and rocks. In the glass, the wine has a delicate ruby red colour. There are hints of raspberries and cranberries on the nose with a spicy touch of vanilla and nutmeg. It is elegant with red fruit and spices and perfectly integrated tannins in the mouth – a round, harmonious persistent finish. It is matured in medium-sized French oak barrels (350 litres, light in colour, tannic but not too dry. This region makes excellent Pinot Noir, and this winery’s first production is a testament to that. The wine is not too spicy and would pair nicely with mushrooms and truffles.

Vino Santo -Trentino DOC 2004:This beautiful dessert wine is from Nosiola grapes grown in calcareous, clay, marly soil. The wine has a bright amber colour. On the nose, there is an extraordinarily complex and elegant fragrance. In the mouth, it is pleasantly sweet and round with a persistent acidity that balances perfectly with the residual sugar to create a harmonious and never cloying combination. The grapes are grown on the side of Lake Trento in some of the best old plots of vines. After harvesting, the grapes dry for six months as whole bunches to allow noble rot to develop. This wine is not fortified and pairs perfectly with hard cheese such as Comte with honey.

Laurence Civil
England-based Laurence Civil is a luxury lifestyle writer focused on food and wine, a passion fuelled by his years in the airline industry travelling the world. Life has empowered him to write honestly and analytically about his many experiences.

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