Ours is a five hectares wine farm extending through the two neighbouring municipalities of Bellegra and Olevano Romano. We started it in 2010 out of the desire to keep the land in Bellegra that had belonged to Piero’s parents and to his grandparents before them, and preserve its extraordinary plant and animal biodiversity. And it was born out of a dream — that of producing, in the Olevano Romano’s countryside, the Cesanese wine: the native red wine that best represents the Lazio region.
We practice biodynamic agriculture, enriching it with our original ideas drawn from researches and exchanges with others in the field. This means we do not use synthetic chemicals and strive to preserve and enhance our soil’s fertility through green manuring and biodynamic substances, so as to let plants express their specific qualities and obtain wines which, in our opinion, are not only well-rooted in the local land they originate from but are also extremely pleasant, digestible and fine to taste.
In Olevano Romano — and more precisely in the Colle Pazzo area, 300 mt. above sea level — we started two vineyards growing the grape variety called Cesanese di Affile or Cesanese piccolo. Each vineyard is planted on two different types of soil, one of a reddish volcanic nature and the other made of sandstone emerged from the Cretaceous period. We separately harvest the grapes per soil type and, once the refining process is over, we end up with three different Cesanese wines: two resulting from the grapes grown on each soil type, and the third being a blend of the two.
On another plot that lies closer to a stream of the Aniene river we are also currently experimenting a new white grapes vineyard. Some of such grapes are well rooted in the Lazio region, as the Semillon, whereas others will be quite a novelty around here, as in the case of Rhine’s Riesling and Chenin Blanc blending with a typical local white grape – the Malvasia Puntinata. Lastly, in Bellegra, 700 mt. above sea level, right where we live and have part of our cellar, we are busy retrieving an ancient local grape variety that can still be found on a few vineyard terraces around here: the Rosciola grape, a variety that was recently included in Lazio’s vine registry. Our wine farm is certified by the Ente Biologico Suolo e Salute (the Organic Soil and Health Bureau) of the Lazio Region. We are members of the Veneto’s VinNatur Association.
As much as out in the vineyard, with our biodynamic practices, we wish to enhance the essential role of soil in yielding different grape varieties that reflect the different soil types at best, in the cellar we strive to express the full potential of an extremely simple equation: vineyard-plot-wine. This is why we believe that rather than selected yeasts one should only use native ones, brought into the cellar with the grapes: this means we make and refine our wine without additives of any kind, with the sole exception of a small quantity of sulphites. After softly pressing the grapes, we let them ferment and mature in concrete vats for two to three weeks, at no fixed temperature and carrying out daily pump-overs. Later, on the basis of the year’s assessment, we refine our wine in either concrete or steel vats or in big and small oak or chestnut barrels. That’s how our Cesanese wines come to life.
In 2013 we harvested for the first time the fruit of all our efforts to design and plant our Cesanese vineyards in Olevano Romano. A mixture of red and black volcanic soil and sandstone; 5000 stems per hectare, pruned à la Guyot. We had a rainy summer in 2013. This meant our grapes had to cope with a mildew attack, but they responded well — confirming how biodynamic soil management can improve the plants resistance capacity. And so we even ended up using less copper sprays than the minimum threshold set by organic winegrowing manuals. We manually harvested the grapes in several rounds, gradually bringing into the cellar only those grapes that had reached the right ripening. Two different wines, Collepazzo and Càlitro, resulted out of the process.
Once again, a rainy year. And a completely new threat to deal with: a polyphagous fly called Drosophila Suzuki. We harvested less grapes, but all very tasty. With 2014, our project enters into full gear: dividing our harvest by soil type. So for the first time, in 2014, we did not only select our grapes through gradual harvest rounds but we also separated the grapes grown on red soil from those grown on sandstone. Three different types of Cesanese will be our final result.
It was a good year, even though global climate change is a clear and obvious reality, we continue fighting to keep our soils alive and preserving the natural humus, a priceless component for us, for our wines and for the environment. We have a been a Biodynamic winery for five years now and our grapes are healthy and strong. We produced our first rosé wine, Tucuca, which has fermented two times inside used tonneaux and three other wines with Cesanese grapes, Collepazzo, Càlitro and Neccio and lastly a reserve wine the Collepazzo Riserve. We can’t wait until they are ready and sometimes when we are in the canteen we silently repeat to ourselves: “The soil, the soil, the soil, the soil and again the soil”, like Veronelli used to say.
Lorella is Sicilian. She graduated in Philosophy and Applied Ethics in Rome. She is a member of the Italian Society of Women in Literature and the author of books and papers on cinema, literature and feminism. She made the documentary Storia del movimento femminista in Italia (A History of the Feminist Movement in Italy), produced by Rai Educational and Aleph Film. After shooting, with Piero Riccardi, some investigative journalism pieces on the state of Italian agriculture for the TV programme ‘Report’ — entitled Buon appetito. Il piatto è servito (Bon Appétit. The meal is served) and Carne (Meat) — the idea to start a wine farm in the land that she and Piero had been trying to preserve for years became ever so pressing. A sommelier and member of the Italian Federation of Sommeliers (F.I.S.), Lorella studied cuisine at Gambero Rosso and always had a special interest for ‘independent’ tasters. She administers the wine farm and takes care of anything that needs to be done, whenever and wherever the case, be it out in the vineyards or in the cellar.
Piero planted his first garden aged six. He’s been studying agriculture his entire life. For the past thirty years, he has been a television author and director for the national broadcasting company RAI (for programmes such as ‘Mixer’, ‘La storia siamo noi’, ‘Report’). He decided to grow the Cesanese vineyards under the guidance of Ruggero Mazzilli, an agronomist of the Experimental Unit for sustainable viticulture in the Chianti area. Since then, with the help of Ubaldo Leonetti, Piero has been directly taking care of the biodynamic practices adopted in his vineyards, in a constant exchange with oenologist and biologist Michele Lorenzetti. Piero also takes care of the winemaking process in the cellar. And he pays great attention to preserving biodiversity at both soil and pruning level. He regularly updates his pruning skills at Simonit & Sirch, the Italian School of Grape Vine Pruning. Lastly, he is the author of several books and papers on the environment, including: Riprendiamoci il cibo. Proposte per un’alimentazione responsabile (Reclaiming our food. Proposals for sustainable nutrition) and Il mondo alla rovescia. Due giornalisti di Report in viaggio tra i paradossi di un mondo globalizzato (The world upside down. Two Report’s journalists travelling around the paradoxes of a globalised world).
Curzio is the farmer-artist of the house. He loves story tales and climbing. He is already dying to drive the tractor and he may have spoken his first words as soon as he was born — if we remember correctly.
Cassia loves travelling and tempera painting. She adores singing and has a passion for both pasta and cookies dough.
Tullia is Piero’s daughter. She studies Physics in Rome and is a passionate environmentalist. She loves beers, passito wines and baking pies.
Via Vitellia SNC
Contrada Maniella - 00030 BELLEGRA (ROMA)
41° 52’ 57.06’’ NORD | 13° 01’ 22.66’’ EST
Via del Corso Snc
Località Colle Pazzo - 00035 OLEVANO ROMANO (ROMA)
41° 49’ 52.27’’ NORD | 13° 03’ 24.17’’ EST
Autostrada A24 Roma – L’Aquila, exit Castel Madama, in direction Pisoniano – San Vito – Bellegra
Autostrada A1 Firenze – Napoli, exit Valmontone, in direction Genazzano – Olevano Romano- Bellegra
From Fiumicino Aeroporto
Autostrada A91/E80, then A90/E80, and A1 Firenze – Napoli, exit Valmontone, in direction Genazzano – Olevano Romano – Bellegra