Going North: Bologna to Piacenza
Bologna is more or less the dividing point between the two ‘sub’ regions of Emilia and Romagna and it seems fitting that we begin our wine journey here.
The hills surrounding this historic province can reach up to 520 m above sea level with terrain that is rich in clay, sandstone and limestone and subject to extreme temperatures both in the summer and winter. Reaching some of the wineries often means passing historic feudal castles driving through sleepy villages, along roads lined with acacia and elderflower trees in spring and cherry and apricot trees in the summer. Almost always, you will be surrounded by vineyards on the slopes of the hills. The prince of autochthonous wines here is the Pignoletto DOCG, produced in both sparkling (frizzante and spumante) and still versions.
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We will stop at a wine producer whose primary production is this delightful, slightly aromatic light, white wine, with hints of elderflower and pink grapefruit, increasingly promoted by the Michelin Star chefs of the region. We will also taste some wines born of international grape varieties (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), which are interesting to compare to those produced both in other regions in Italy and abroad.
Next stop, Modena, birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti and home to Ferrari, Maserati and, of course, the world-renowned Lambrusco – today a far cry from the sweet, cheap fizz of the 1980s. We will take a short tour of the production of this award-winning producer whose Lambrusco was included as one of the best 100 wines in the world, and taste one or more of the Lambrusco types (Sorbara, Grasparossa or Salamino), each grown on a slightly differing terroir and each with its own individual hints of flower and fruit.
We will stop for lunch at a local trattoria and pair various Lambruschi with some local charcuterie, cheese and pasta.
After lunch, we continue our journey of discovery to the Parma Hills and the famous Langhirano area, with vineyards dominated over by the Castle of Torrechiara. As part of the DOC Colli di Parma zone, this is the heart of the Aromatic Malvasia di Candia grape, whose presence in Emilia Romagna dates back at least to the Renaissance (and can therefore be considered autochthonous), curiously named after the wine, rather than the wine being named after the grape!
There are at least 17 different varieties of Malvasia in Italy, however, the Aromatic Malvasia di Candia grape grown both in the Parma and Piacenza hills is considered the one with the strongest personality. It is the most widespread white grape in these two provinces. Here we will taste this beautifully aromatic wine in its various versions – from dry to passito, sparkling and still.
Last stop and possibly the highlight of your tour - the DOC Colli Piacentini (Piacenza hills) denomination, vineyards featuring Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Gutturnio (blended Barbera and Bonarda) and the authochtonous Ortrugo wines. We will visit a vineyard founded in 1988 immersed in the hills producing some excellent representations of these wines, vinified by the creative oenologists in various ways, from barriqued Gutturnio Riserva (red) to a 100% sparkling Otrugo (white), and finishing off with their ‘pièce de la résistance’, the Malvasia di Candia Aromatica Passito.
This is an experience dedicated to lovers of wine, who wish to explore new and exciting terroirs and taste some unique and very varied wines of excellent quality.