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Jan 2019

Satellite Wine Club, January 2019


Elisabetta Foradori - ‘Foradori’ - Teroldego - Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Mezzolombardo, Trentino, IT - 2016

Bevela Wines - ‘Matela’ - Teroldego - Le Bon Climat Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2011


Winestronaut!

I truly have a treat for you this month. Hoohoo! A TREAT I SAY! 

This month we explore inspiration - we touch the old world & the new - we see the student become the master in so many ways. This is the story of Teroldego. 


Teroldego is an ancient grape, almost lost to obscurity through lackluster effort. Rather than languish, it was resurrected by one of the stars of this month’s show, and has gone on to inspire vignerons the world over (like the other star of the month!). 


So what the heck is Teroldego? It is a fascinating black grape found nearly exclusively in the mythically beautiful Realtiano Plain in Italy’s Northern Dolomite Mountains (The Limestone Alps, if you will). Squished between the regional capital Trento, and the village of Mezzolombardo to the north. Did I say beautiful? I mean it. This region is literally a UNESCO World Heritage site for its beauty. Among the most incredibly gorgeous places on earth, my friends; that’s the stuff I’m talking about. Think sheer cliffs rising from dramatic plains, rolling green hills framed by impossible mountains, waterfalls, base jumping maniacs. It’s like Italy’s Switzerland. 

The  grape is the offspring of a French grape called Dureza and another heretofore extinct varietal lost to time. Closely related to Syrah through Dureza, it shows. The grape is similarly structured to Syrah but with more of a black cherry profile than blackberry/blueberry. It’s also a reductive varietal, like Syrah, which means it’s naturally high in sulphur and resistant to oxygenation, making it amazing for long aging but also a concern for winemakers to avoid the intense smell of sulphur! Then again, a little struck-flint (another reductive scent) is something I tend to enjoy on a freshly opened bottle! 


Teroldego earliest mention is from a wine sales contract from 1480 and describes the sale of about 100 liters of ‘fermented, good and abundant, Teroldigo wines’. We can assume the grape was native to the region far far earlier, and also that whoever bought that good ‘teroldigo’ threw a solid party. 


Typically grown en masse by pergola training (high above the vineyard on permanent trellis) the wine used to be thought of only as a thin, everyday table wine that couldn’t be worth too much. It was only when the heroine of our story appears in 1984 that Teroldego finds hope, where its ‘wings take dream’ … \ (•◡•) /


Elisabetta Foradori - ‘Foradori’ - Teroldego - Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Mezzolombardo, Trentino, IT - 2016

 Sup gurl. 


Elisabetta Foradori is a force of nature. There are few living people who have created such change for good in the wine world as she has. She’s a stone cold fox, an irrepressible spirit, a traditionalist in a space suit. This person changed the game and I’m going to try to capture some of that here in these little meandering scribbles. 


Elisabetta’s grandfather, Vittorio, purchased the family farm in 1929. Located in the small mountain town of Mezzolombardo in the province of Trentino, the farm was originally built and planted in 1901. The family grew and sold their grapes (mostly Teroldego) to local co-ops and wineries until 1960 when her father began to make wine commercially in the cellar of their home. Shortly thereafter Elisabetta was born and she grew up playing in the cellars and fields, immersed in the world of wine. 

When her father passed suddenly in 1976, leaving her mother to run the winery, 12 year old Elisabetta faced the only-child-reality that, shortly, she would be in charge. Her schooling led her to the enology program at the local San Michele dall’Adige, a world-renowned wine research institution. There she learned the chemistry and biology of winegrowing, mastering the methods of conventional wines. When she took over the winery at 19, however, she hated it. Only through obligation did she survive the first few years and begin warm to her newfound burden. 


From 1984 to 2001 Elisabetta experimented with replanting old pergola-trained Teroldego vineyards to guyot training (a more quality driven approach to training, limiting the number of clusters to increase intensity in the fruit). She did this using a method called “Selection Massale’, taking plant material from only the strongest and most productive vines. While she started farmed conventionally, spraying herbicides quite regularly, she quickly converted the vineyard to organic production. 


After 25 years of finding success, she decided her wines were still missing soul. So in 2002 she embarked on a quest for Biodynamically certification (farming pesticide free, ploughing with horses rather than tractors, following a lunar calendar… I digress) and shortly thereafter joined VinNatur, a leading group of Natural Winegrowers focused on producing natural wines that both improve their local environments and are healthier for consumer, and sharing information and experiences to grow as a group. She soon dropped cultured yeast strains, relying on the diverse cultures of local natural yeast. As the quality of the fruit continued to rise through her biodynamic farming she, too, began using less and less sulphur, punching down the wines less, and began playing with whole clusters in the fermentations. Her winemaking quality exploded and recognition poured in for each vintage. She is a pillar in the natural wine community and a source of inspiration for so many winemakers, young and old, embarking on the natural course. She is proof that natural wines can be simply: better. 


Teroldego has always been the core of the Foradori family vineyard and to this day represents over 80% of the plantings. The wine in your hands is “Foradori”, a 100% Teroldego wine which represents every step of Elisabetta’s struggle towards quality, towards realizing the potential of her family vineyards. It’s the largest production and most important wine for their family, thus bearing their name. 


The grapes are grown entirely on the Campo Rotaliano, the grand cru for wines in Trentino. A flat, wide, well draining valley floor that catches tonnes of sunlight and is rich in decomposed limestone and granite from the steep mountains above. The wine is fermented 100% in concrete using natural yeast fermentation and up to 20% whole cluster. It’s then aged for a year  in both concrete and large old oak ‘foudre’ barrels, and then bottled with minimal sulfur. 


The wine is incredibly textural, owing in part to the cement tank fermentation which amplifies and rounds the rustic Teroldego tannins. It hits with bright red cherries, a cedar resin backdrop, and profound minerality. The wine has terrific, mouth watering acidity which makes it absolutely killer with all types of food. Never overly heavy, it is an athletic type of wine, enthusiastic almost! The finish is forever, as is the ageing potential. This wine continues to open when decanted and should be glugged liberally by all. 


As I get to know more of Elisabetta’s wines I think the common theme is honesty. There is no makeup, just hard work. The wines aren’t curt or terse, but profoundly graphic without exaggeration. They drink like a Hemingway paragraph, not savage but something similar, perhaps raw yet refined. They stir emotion and always leave me wanting another filling. 


Bevela Wines - ‘Matela’ - Teroldego - Le Bon Climat Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, CA - 2011


Meet Marisa Beverly, 

Marisa has it going on. Her wines have it going on. Her husband Kris, too, has it going on. These people are doing something special in Santa Barbara. 


Born into wine, Marisa the niece of one of our greatest local legends: Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat. The man is, in large part, responsible for the quality wine movement we take for granted today in SB… The ‘Mind Behind” if you will. He took Santa Barbara global. That’s Marisa’s uncle, the dude with the crazy long blonde hair, big smile, and badass wines. Marisa grew up with Jim’s wines at special occasions, inspired by people’s reactions and their respect for them… I like to imagine people swooning and falling over themselves to get more of that good ABC juice. I’d be inspired! 


At 15 Marisa approached uncle Jim to share her intention of becoming a winemaker. The rest is history. She moved to California in 2003 to pursue an education in Ag Business. She intended to move on to Cal Poly SLO or UC Davis for winemaking but the siren song of the winery was too sweet! She started working full time at ABC in 2008 augmented with a stint serving pies and her own Red Blend at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos… (if you know, you know, and if you don’t, just go). Marisa dove in. 


Working for Jim, Marisa has had access to a killer winery space, epic grapes, some of the best first hand knowledge of Santa Barbara’s vineyards, and the mind of simply one of the most experienced people in our region. Marisa scored the genetic lottery when it comes to winemaking. She is taking full advantage of it.


Shortly after starting at Bevela, Marisa met her husband Kris, a wine freak all his own. Together they formed Bevela winery under the umbrella of the ABC winery and have set out to make incredible wines from unexpected grapes, and in more adventurous styles. Teroldego, Syrah, Chardonnay, and more to come. I am a fan. 


Since the first I’d heard about Foradori wines, I wanted to explore them and share Elisabetta’s story. I never thought I’d find a counterpoint to compare in Santa Barbara, least of which a wine that was inspired by and made from the same plant material as the Foradori. Jim Clendenen has been a perpetual fan of Elisabetta Foradori since the 90’s. He planted vines directly cut from her vineyards in his Santa Maria Valley vineyard Le Bon Climat. In 2000 he even went so far as to make a 100% Teroldego called “Hommage to Elisabetta”! This is the environment Marisa learned to move Teroldego in. 


This amazing bottle is named “Matela” for Marisa’s maiden name. I can’t help but make a connection to “Foradori”. It’s a statement. It’s an accomplishment. I’ll let Marisa tell you about a bit more about herself and the wine...


“I have had the dream of becoming a winemaker since I was 15 years old. Being able to create something that you can enjoy for decades later is so special. The uniqueness of Teroldego in California (and also the world) captured my heart when my uncle, Jim Clendenen was making it in the early 90’s. He told me stories of an amazing woman who had a grace and passion for wine, but also was known for producing the best Teroldego. 


In 1998 Jim purchased property in the cool climate, Santa Maria Valley. This site, Le Bon Climat vineyard, aptly named and translates to The Good Climate, has a block where some quirky varieties are planted. That block, located on the valley floor, was a perfect location. And it’s quite special because these vines have direct lineage to the Foradori Teroldego grapevines in Alto Adige. They were planted in 2007 and in 2010 there was enough to make one barrel. It’s been a steady growth every year since with a max of 3.5 tons coming off of .6 acre. We are the sole producers that get to work with these vines. Aged in neutral oak for 5 years, the patience from that shows in the glass and it will continue to age for decades to come.”


Unfiltered, Unfined, Natural Yeast, Low SO2, No New Oak. 

This is what I’m talking about. It’s what Elisabetta is talking about. It’s what Marisa is talking about! This wine is simple and yet so incredibly complex. There are few wines in the county that can tout the stats that this Teroldego can.. Who knew life could be this tasty!? 


It’s deeper than the Foradori. Riper fruit and more rich, more svelte on the tongue; due to the long neutral barrel aging (softening the tannins). The fruit is still so fresh on this 8 year old wine, complex and rich like chocolate and black fruits. Its endless finish holds and develops as the mind chews through all the wonderful flavors. I can’t tell you how much of a surprise all of this was for me. I continue to be blown away. 


Go Go Go

Teroldego

Woah Woah Woah

Teroldego

Oh Oh Oh 

Teroldego


You Won’t Say 

No No No

You’ll Say

Teroldego.


This is January at Satellite



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