La Distesa is an organic estate winery in Cupramontana in Le Marche, a region on the Adriatic coast of Italy. La Distesa produces white wines under the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC denominations. A red Marche Rosso is also made.
Owners: Corrado Dottori and Valeria Bochi. The estate formerly belonged to Corrado’s grandfather Domenico Dottori who bought the land in 1945. After his death in 1973, the land and vines passed to his son Nazareno “Neno” Dottori. Both he and his wife Daniela decided to keep the properties in Cupramontana, despite living abroad. Corrado’s parents, together with his grandmother Leonilde Rossi who was the landowner, entrusted the management of the San Michele estate to Pietro and Elena Branchesi, till then sharecroppers in the Follonica district. [Corrado’s father, Nazareno or ‘Neno’, was an engineer].
In 1980 and 1983 two new vineyard plots were planted and a small bulk wine business was started in Milan. At the time, there was a Verdicchio crisis of over-production. The market was flooded with light and industrially processed wines, almost always sold in amphora-shaped bottles, which coloured the public’s perception of the region for many years. The “Vino di Pietro” was instead an artisanal Verdicchio fermented and aged in large oak barrels with a few days of maceration on the skins. A peasant wine in the manner of wine writer Luigi Veronelli.
Then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, change occurs. Thanks to Ampelio Bucci in Montecarotto with Villa Bucci, Lucio Canestrari in Staffolo with the Gaiospino, the Bonci family and the Colonnara cooperative respectively with San Michele and Cuprese, Verdicchio bounced back, showing it was capable of terroir expression. After Pietro retired his son Corrado, who had already developed a passion for wine and had helped his parents with the first “hobbyist” bottlings of Pietro’s wine the “San Michele” de La Distesa was born with the 1996 vintage, and in 1997 a VAT number is opened under the name “Azienda Agricola La Distesa di Dottori Corrado.
Corrado would visit his grandfather Domenico in the summer and loved the area. Valeria also came to this area as a child and she loved it too. Corrado studied economics in Milan, where he also made his career (in finance) before returning to his roots. He was one of the protagonists in the film Natural Resistance. Corrado took over here in 1999, undertaking his and Valeria’s first harvest. 2000 was the first bottling.
Vineyards: 8ha of vines. All within 3 miles (5km) of the winery. Mostly between 25 and 45 years of age. All the vineyards fall within the administrative boundaries of the Municipality of Cupramontana or just outside, in the Municipality of San Paolo di Jesi, at most 2.5 miles (4 km) away as the crow flies from the winery in San Michele district. Two vineyards in San Paolo di Jesi are used for ‘Terre Silvate’. A red wine is made from Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Montepulciano ripens three weeks after the Sangiovese. The Verdicchio vines are mass selection. One vineyard planted in 1999 was to alberello: Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Vernaccia Nera. Lower training means fewer leaves, and less water loss. The plot is vigorous. ‘We had to add an extra top wire’, Corrado told me.
1 San Michele (Cupramontana): South-facing (an advantage until the climate began warming). Alternation of sandstones and clays rich in limestone. There are 3ha of vines in San Michele (Cupramontana). This is where Gli Eremi comes from (these vines are in the lower part and date from the 1970s).
2 Battinebbia (San Paolo di Jesi): East-facing. Silty and sandy, arenaceous soil, rich in water.
3 Valle (Cupramontana): South-facing. Schlier soil type (clayey marl and gypsum. Miocene).
4 Manciano (Cupramontana): North-east facing. Schlier soil type (clayey marl and gypsum. Miocene).
5 San Bartolomeo (Cupramontana): South-west facing. Loose soil, silty sandstones.
Viticulture: Sulfur Used for oidium. | Copper-based sprays For peronospera (downy mildew). Cover crops Legumes (peas, beans, vetch) for organic matter and nitrogen, plus alfalfa to loosen compact soil. Also mustard, and medics. | Rootstocks Paulsen and Kober based to cope with the (compact) calcareous soils. | Vine shoot trimming No, to avoid encouraging excess vigour in the leaf canopy. | De-leafing No. No need to de-leaf if the vines are in balance. | Weed control Surface weeds mowed and mulched.
Biodynamics Biodynamic preparations have been used since 2007. Horn manure 500 and Maria Thun’s barrel compost spray 502-507 have been used for soil health. The silica-rich Common horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is sprayed to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. From 2012 Corrado trialled stinging nettle macerated in water (1kg of nettles in 10 litres of water), adding vinegar to block the fermentation, using it as an anti-parasite spray.
Certification: 2005 2 hectares certified organic for the first time. | 2018 Still certified organic.
Other crops: Olives, arable crops, hay.
Winery: The winery building in Cupramontana was bought by Corrado’s grandfather in 1935 during the Depression, when wines were sold ‘sfuso’ or in bulk for low margins. The building allowed for gravity winemaking. The ground level is now used to store wine. The floor below has the original concrete tanks and these are used for winemaking. Wooden vats were also added. Wines ferment in either wood, or concrete. Wild ferments. Corrado says he is ‘not anti-microbes’ but he will add sulfites if needed pre-ferment to combat acetic acid bacteria. Lees ageing is seen as important.
Giulietta: A traditional method sparkling wine. Made only in suitable years (2004 and 2013) in terms of juice pH and acidity. 100% Verdicchio. Years and years on the yeasts before disgorging and, in 2013, natural refermentation with fresh grape juice.
Nur: A skin contact white made with no added sulfites. Nur means ‘light’ in Arabic. ‘A central Italian wine with a Mediterranean character,’ the owners say. From 0.3ha planted with biotypes of Trebbiano (mainly Trebbiano Toscano or Procanico), Malvasia Lunga del Chianti, Verdicchio and Pecorino. All picked at the same time. Ferments on skins in open-topped barrels for 14 days. Around 2,500 bottles. | 2018 14 days on skins. 20hl. Mainly Trebbiano (see above), plus Verdicchio. Important to have skins which are ripe when doing skin contact. Malvasia and Verdicchio mature together, Trebbiano a bit later. Can take the juice off the skins when the cap rises, will leave it a little bit longer, but not as long as the Friulians. Corrado is looking for ‘vinosita’. | 2018 The wine I tasted on my visit in 2019 was ‘fresh and grapey’.
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC, Terre Silvate: Generally the first wine to be bottled. Released in spring following the harvest. ‘A cash-flow wine’. It comes from an assembly of Verdicchio and a bit of Trebbiano (mainly Trebbiano Toscano or Procanico, aka Ugni Blanc). From three different vineyards with different soils and exposures in Cupramontana and San Paolo di Jesi. Guyot. Fermented in large cement tanks and rests on fine lees until Easter. | 2004 Classico Superiore. 85% Verdicchio, 15% Trebbiano and Malvasia Lunga del Chianti. Very nice weight, ripe Muscadet style but with more exotic fruit at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2018 13%. 90% Verdicchio 10% Trebbiano. Cement. Mostly direct pressed. Ferment in concrete tanks. Also some skin contact. Moved to stainless steel tanks pre-bottling on fine lees. 20K bottles. Also sold in 5 litre demi-johns. Opened three days ago, rich, creamy, clear and focussed with plenty of salinity and texture (Visit 4th June 2019).
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, Gli Eremi: 100% Verdicchio. Guyot pruned. From San Michele, a single vineyard or cru in the Contrada San Michele valley, in Cupramontana. Natural south facing valley [conca] protected from cold winds. The soil is clayey, sub-alkaline, strongly calcareous. Bud thinning. Aim 50 quintals of grapes or about 35hl per ha. The wine comes from a selection of only Verdicchio grapes harvested in boxes in three successive passes, ‘the first one is to give the wine that lovely crunch, whilst the final picking brings grapes which resemble walnuts, almost,’ Corrado told me at the winery on 4th June 2019. ‘I prefer a more oxidative rather than primary style of fruit. I want tertiary notes, a bit like Jura,’ he told me. The juice settles at 16°C as it can come in warmish, at 20° or more. Soft pressed. Fermentation and aging take place in oak barrels (550, 750, 1000 liters) for about a year. | 2000 Debut vintage. | 2001 Bottled. | 2002 Bottled. | 2003 Bottled. 14%. Clean soft pineapple, rich, good weight, moreish and soft at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2004 Bottled. 14%. | 2005 Bottled. | 2006 Bottled. | 2007 Bottled. | 2008 Bottled. | 2009 Bottled. | 2010 Bottled. 13.5%. | 2017 Winter snow, so there was ground water. Hot and dry year. 41°C in August. Early picking. Creamy, ripe, very savoury, rich. Very salty which is typical of the San Michele terroir (Visit 4th June 2019).
Vino Rosato, Meticcio: A natural wine, like Nur, but in his case a rosato-clairet style made from red and white grapes. This means neither the vintage date or an IGT denomination is allowed on the label. | 2018 13% alc. Bit of fizz, crunchy red fruit, natural style but clean and dry-tasting (Visit 4th June 2019).
Marche Rosso, Nocenzio: Traditionally red wines from Cupramontana were made from a blend of different grapes and short macerations. This comes from a roughly even blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano from different plots, all in Cupramontana. The most important of these is a small plot of 1973 at the bottom of the Valle district, isolated in a wild place. Here there are white, calcareous and chalky marls (Schlier formation – Miocene). It is vinified without sulfur in wooden vats with a good proportion of whole grapes, not de-stemmed, especially important for the Montepulciano which is vinified more like a pink (‘rosato’) wine with extra colour or ‘cerasuolo’. The wine is then rack to stainless steel tanks. | 2003 65% Montepulciano, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon & Sangiovese. 1,300 bottles. Nice wild soft fruit, moreish sweet tannins & classic flavour at Millesime Bio 2006. | 2018 Marche Rosso 13% alc. Around 25ppm total sulfites. Bright dark red fruit, fluid, enjoyably natural (tasted Dec 2019).
Le Derive: 2015 Mix of varieties. 50% Montepulciano, 35% Sangiovese, 15% Vermentino Nera. 1,000 bottles. Few bunches per vine. Sangiovese picked end of September. Montepulciano picked 20th to 25th October. Long macerations (a month for Montepulciano). 100% aged for 24m on oak. ‘Very old oak…’ Corrado told me. 20ppm total sulfites added at bottling. Youthful, rich and exuberant fruit with a bit of mouse. Would pair with grilled lamb. | 2018 60% Sangiovese (6-7 days on skins in a wooden cask, some whole bunches), 40% Montepulciano (destemmed, skin contact in the press only). Plus some whole bunches on Sangiovese. Maceration of 6 days is in wooden casks. 100% steel for ferment. 25 ppm total. Wild darkish fruit with some primary elements. Made to be drunk young. Bit of mouse (Visit 4th June 2019).
Novantanove: The owners began a solera in 1999, the year they created the estate. This is topped up with the off-cuts from other wines.
Azienda Agricola La Distesa
Via Colonara 1 (cellar) or Via Romita 28 (office)
I-60034 Cupramontana (AN = Ancona), Italy
Tel+39 0731 781230 | www.ladistesa.it
Moccagatta is located in Barbaresco in the Piemonte region of Italy. Red wines are made under the Barbaresco DOCG and Langhe DOC. The estate was founded in 1952 and began bottling in the early 1970s.
Owner: Sergio and Franco Minuto.
Langhe DOC Chardonnay
Barbaresco DOCG, Basarin: From the vineyard of the same name in Neive.
Barbaresco DOCG, Bric Balin: From Barbaresco.
Barbaresco DOCG, Cole: 1995 Aged in barrel rather in botti. | 1997 Bottled.
Barbera d’Alba DOC, Moccagatta | 2001 Bottled.
Barbera d’Alba DOC, Basarin: 2001 Not made.
Langhe DOC, Freisa
Via Rabajà, 24
12050 Barbaresco (CN), Italy
Tel+39 0173 635228