2017 Foradori, Teroldego “Sgarzon” IGT, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Alto Adige, Italy.
The gorgeous 2017 Sgarzon from Foradori shows wonderful purity as well as having a lovely play between deep fruit and savory elements with an intense purple/garnet color. This vintage is loaded with black fruits, including marionberry, plum, currant fruits along with bright spicy notes, mineral tones and ripe/sweet tannins that taste rich, with seamless textured palate and long in the finish with crushed lilacs, cassis and wild fennel. This amazing wine is luxurious and full bodied but with only about 12% natural alcohol and is subtly earthy with a seductively raw sensual core. These high elevation single vineyard Foradori Teroldego are utterly spellbinding and riveting wines, some of the most treasured wines in Italy. This vintage has a warm ripeness and an incredible mouth feel and density, though wonderfully transparent and shows this alpine grape and region in its best light. The Foradori winery is based in a small village, Mezzolombardo, which is close to Trentino, in the greater Alto Adige area up in the Dolomite Mountains. Foradori, who has influenced many Italian winemakers and inspired thousands more around the world with her wines and her organic/natural methods, though she is most proud by making Teroldego a world class wine. Never one to rest on her laurels, in recent years she has branched out and is making some brilliant stuff from the Tuscan Coast at Ampeleia working with Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Carignan and Alicante Bouschet to name a few. The latest Dolomiti wines, like this one are must try wines, especially if you’ve not tried them!
Elisabetta Foradori, one Italy’s most iconic winemakers and who has led the country’s natural wine movement in recent years crafts a unique set of wines made from indigenous varietals in the Trentino area of the Alto Adige region set in the high northern reaches of Italy. Foradori is most well known for her signature bottlings of Teroldego, the dark local grape of which she usually does four different versions, one tank and cask raised, one barrique aged Bordeaux like version known as Granato and two Cru, single site offerings, the Morei and this Sgarzon, which are both macerated and aged primarily in clay amphorae for 8 months with a finishing of three months in oak barrels. Along with these fabulous reds, Foradori does an interesting “orange” style Pinot Grigio and two stunning and crisp whites, one made from Manzoni ( a cross between Riesling and Pinot Blanc) that she uses cement and acacia wood for aging and her Nosiola, which is done in the amphora along with a finishing in acacia. The Foradori estate today comprises 28 hectares of vines with 75% Teroldego, 15% Manzoni Bianco, 5% Nosiola, 5% Pinot Grigio being grown here. The vineyards are high in altitude, surrounded by mountains, but mostly on flatter parcels which receive plenty of sunlight and drain exceptionally well. The Teroldego, as well as Pinot Grigio, is set on the limestone and granite-rich Campo Rotaliano plain, which could be called the “Grand Cru” of Trentino, with the Teroldego thriving on its sandy, gravelly alluvial soils, while Foradori’s Nosiola and Manzoni whites come from the Fontanasanta hills above Trento on clay-limestone soils, which give these wines their class and elegance. Foradori is all biodynamic and with ultra low sulphur with this estate Sgarzon vineyard, in Mezzolombardo, of Campo Rotaliano zone coming from a sandy plot with small pebbles over deep gravelly soils. Teroldego, an ancient variety native to the alpine Trentino region and related to Pinot Noir, Lagrein (another intensely dark local grape) and Syrah among others, Teroldego thrives in the high, sunny foothills and plateaus below the Dolomite peaks, it is a varietal that few had done noteworthy things with until Foradori come along, and now it is one of Italy’s most revered.
The Foradori family, according to NYC importer David Bowler, purchased the estate back in 1934, but it was her father who bottled Foradori’s first estate vintage in 1960 after many years of growing generic grapes for the near by co-op. When her dad passed unexpectedly in 1976, her mother kept the winery going until her daughter could graduate with her enology degree, so fresh out of school, Elisabetta, then only 19 jumped into her first harvest in 1984 and the rest is history as they say. Early on, as Bowler adds, she began caring for her vines and harvesting by hand, pruning rigorously and converting the farming to organic practices and this included replanting to the best clonal “massale” selections to improve the concentration and the complexity, she put her heart and soul into making Teroldego great, eventually turning to holistic and natural winemaking to achieve even greater results. Foradori was inspired by (Rudolph) Steiner’s, the founder of biodynamic farming, writings about clay’s vitality as well as by the amphora-aging practices of Giusto Occhipinti at COS winery in Sicily, so she undertook experimentation(s) with aging some wines in clay. Elisabetta started with Nosiola, a local, nearly-extinct and usually-uninteresting white variety, which was put it into handmade, unlined Spanish clay tinajas (amphorae) with its skins for months. The Nosiola results were so exciting, she ttried the same program with the terroir driven Teroldego(s) from Sgarzon and Morei, which as mentioned above spend about 8 months with their skins, including some riper stems, employing only natural yeasts and with no sulfur added in the amphora. I have been following Foradori’s wines for many years after being turned on to them by Louis/Dressner Selections, who import her wines into the USA and their California arm at Farm Wines, who also got me hooked on Salvo Foti, La Stoppa and Arianna Ochipinti, the niece of Giusto Occhipinti of COS, and I always look forward to the latest releases, especially her Sgarzon Teroldego. The 2017 Sgarzon should age well and while drinking outrageously good now a few years will only benefit this brilliant red, be sure you enjoy this with rustic or substantial cuisine and plan an meal around it, wild mushroom dishes, game hen, duck confit and or mountain cheeses are just a few ideas, but it will be really good with almost anything.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive