I have come to the realisation that what I truly love about wine is not the final product itself. Don’t get me wrong; it can give me enormous amounts of pleasure especially when drunk in good company but what I find takes the experience to the next level it is when you get to meet and speak to the people behind it all.
This aspect is particularly relevant in the world of artisanal wines as these small producers have a completely unique approach. They do not see it as a business but as their way to express their connection with nature and their land of origin, resulting in wines that are so authentic and often resembling the character of the producer. For them it’s all about communicating and sharing values with likeminded people, appreciating the simple things in life (the hardest to appreciate!) which are often bypassed by our desire of needing to look for the next big thing. Every time I meet with one of them I am humbled by their tranquilly, happiness and ability to connect in such a simple yet incredibly profound way. And that is the moment when I always tell myself that drinking that same wine by myself would hold little value… after all it seems that happiness can only be truly reached when shared.
One of the recent producers that I have had the pleasure of spending some time with has been Alberto from an estate in the Emilia Romagna area called Podere Pradarolo. Now as a luxury travel advisor I must say that this represents a hidden gem that would get any wine society excited! I have tasted their wines in several occasions and I have always found them incredible fascinating. But things got a lot better when I was able to learn about his approach to life and to winemaking which in this world these are strongly correlated.
After a successful career as a dairy technician and Culatello producer in the Piacenza valley, together with his wife, they decided to dedicate themselves to the winemaking production approximately 15 years ago, favouring his personal bias to the study of ancient approaches. From the very beginning, Alberto was attracted to the natural techniques of fermentation and production in order to eliminate the use of artificial preservatives and to give the products the characteristics of their territory focusing on cultivating exclusively typical wines and to salvage native endangered vines.
The result…? Unconventional wines to say the least! Both his reds, whites and sparkling have very prolonged maceration period as he believes that this process makes wines more interesting and easier to digest. I can appreciate that they may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they certainly represent a must for any Orange wine lover. His Malvasia di Candia, a specific clone of an aromatic white grape varietal originating from Greece and later imported by the Venetian that found its natural habitat between the area of Piacenza and Parma, is without a doubt his signature wine… simply spectacular! A grape that is perfect for skin contact maceration (a wine making technique normally done for reds only) giving rich, deep, aromatic and profound golden looking wines that have a lot to tell. Pair them with a 40 month plus Parmigiano from one his producer friends and this wine will transport you to somewhere you never thought existed!
If that wasn’t enough, his sparkling wine is even wilder. Always from 100% Malvasia, this wine spends approximately 60 days on its skins (which is completely bonkers!) making it a wine extremely hard to describe but so delicious to drink…I guess you will only understand when you try it yourself! What I like about Alberto is his ambition in perusing challenging goals and that make him stand out from the crowd. Yet at the same time he is very humble and he always looking at ways to improve, as wine making is a never-ending journey. I cannot wait to go visit Alberto and his wife Claudia in their lovely estate to immerse myself in their magical world!