I am a catalyst for ideas, a powerful tool in the hand of winemakers. I am a wine and agronomic consultant who turned his hand into a brand: Vinomancino.
The flavours of wine and wine casks have been part of my life ever since I was a kid. I was born in Corno di Rosazzo (Friuli) in 1977. Under the sign of the grapevine. I come from a family of viticulturists, lumberjacks, pork butchers, teachers, traders and agronomists. I grew up in a blend of intertwining tastes, flavours and practices; I grew up with the hearty, penetrating scents of spices of my grandfather’s shop, I grew up with my father’s meticulous way of preparing and curing meat and with his masterful, artistic care for the details he exercised in his profession of pork butcher and lumberjack.
I grew up with my mother’s tireless perseverance. I grew up with the legacy of my land and my time, and in that region of Friuli in the late 70s we had mastered two crafts: wine and handmade chairs.
What is the best way to acquire as much experience and awareness as possible? Travelling. I am from Eastern Friuli and therefore I have always been attracted by “difficult” places. I wanted to go to Israel to work in a Kibbutz but a friend stopped me as it wasn’t safe due to war.
Then I failed in preparing the documents to go to New Zealand in time and that journey too had to be postponed. Later on I seized an opportunity for North and Central America. I experienced the torrid heat of California then Texas, the land of extreme climate conditions. I visited Mexico and Baja California near Tijuana where every certainty I had was swept away. I returned to Italy but went to the South, on Mount Etna. Then I moved back to Friuli and then to nearby Slovenia from which I moved towards the South-eastern Balkans in relatively unexplored areas where there are still hundred years old pre-phylloxera vineyards.
I moved across all of Italy, from North to South, from Sicily to Friuli, from Umbria to Romagna and then again to Latium until I recently landed in Tuscany, where I live now.
I think a human being cannot “truly” experience more than fifty or sixty grape harvests in his or her life, definitely too few. Everyone needs one or more inspiring people to learn methods and acquire vision from. In 1999 Pierpaolo Sirch, at that time a rising star in the viticulture scene advised me to find someone who could teach me for some years: “You have to find a master, a teacher, and only then you can make it on your own!”. I accepted his advice wholeheartedly. I can only name three such Masters, even though all the people I have met and interacted with have left their mark in me.
My first encounter with one such figure was the immense, unreachable Giorgio Grai: great curiosity, razor-sharp wit, amazing memory and limitless talent. Alas, I wasn’t ready for him. He was too much, and too early. But his art in blending is etched upon my memory.
My first master instead was Franco dalla Rosa, Head of the Ca’Ronesca winery in Dolegna del Collio. He was very patient, he knew how to get me fully involved in the working process and also when to let my curiosity run loose. Back in the 90s, when everyone was pursuing the perfect concentration, he instead was a staunch advocate of elegance. The wines he made in the late 90s and which we still drink today are simply… stunningly perfect.
My Second Master is Enrique Ferro, American of Mexican descent. He truly opened up my mind, swept away all certainties and took me to new worlds I could never have imagined. He was one of the last to work with Andrè Tchelistcheff while the latter was still in his prime.
I met Lorenzo Landi in Cottanera sull’Etna when I had just returned from my second trip to America. Lorenzo’s method is meticulous plus he has a broad experience, common sense and is painstakingly accurate when working on the grapevines. It takes a lot of dedication to follow him. He is my Third Master.
My Research does not involve just laboratory work or science. My Research involves first and foremost people, people who allow us to express ourselves or develop our full potential. I research the sharing of a project or of a thought. Wine is like life: while it does matter where you get, how and with whom you get there matters much more. On Mount Etna I met Frank Cornelissen who opened up a new world to me, ever since the early stages of his career, thanks to his radical and multi-ethnic attitude and our countless discussions enriched by an endless stream of goblets of wine. Frank was the first one to mention biodynamics to me. In Cormons (Friuli), me and Davide Feresin reinvented Pinot Gris by making it blush and versatile, we also rediscovered old Tocai Friulano vineyards and fought hard to grant them official recognition. Davide is a “newfound” brother to me, and his sensitivity is indeed uncommon. Some of his wines are bottled pop art, Andy Warhol in a glass of wine. Fulvio Bressan and Michele Moschioni, both 100% Friulian, allowed me to discover that Friulian red wines can be amazing wines, and each one of them is utterly different from the others. In Vittoria, near Ragusa, I tried biodynamic winemaking, in amphorae and otherwise, at COS’ winery. COS was also a hub around which I personally witnessed the Cerasuolo di Vittoria’s and Frappato’s rise to stardom thanks also to the dedication of many younger winemakers. In Friuli I also contributed to the development of the Cantina Diffusa (“Pooled Cellars” where winemakers share their resources and wines in true “wine networks”) with my friends of Tallis Wine (six Friulian winemakers each with their own cellar but operating under a single label). I became acquainted with Umbria and his wines thanks to the Conti Faina winery and I helped them re launch a historical winery which had remained inactive for more than a century. On mount Etna I helped Peter Wiegner to develop specific mountain viticulture techniques for Aglianico, Fiano and others at a height of about 1000 metres while I also pushed the envelope further in refining the Etna Rosso wine. When I was in the heart of the Balkans I also became part of the VinoBudimir project, an ambitious workgroup devoted to recover and relaunch a whole area of centenary vineyards in Serbia, a true treasure. In 2014 all the hard work of this project paid off when a Serbian winery achieved a remarkable success in the USA for the first time. At a mountain wines congress I met Giuseppe Benanti. We speak the same language and he took me back once again to the foot of Etna, in Viagrande, where I took the legacy of Salvo Foti in my hands and drove his winery through the generational turnover by modernising and optimising. Salvo’s heirs brilliantly took their place at the helm. I also remember meeting the Bulgari family and their wine excellence project: the Podernuovo winery in Palazzone, near San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany. This event was another one in a series of life changes. It is there that I had the chance to pursue new ideas and get to know and understand their organisational approach rooted chiefly in dealing with larger businesses in the luxury sector. In Chiaramonte Gulfi I met Lorenzo Piccione di Pianogrillo, widely renowned for his Particella 34 oil, through some friends we share. Lorenzo is a truly eclectic designer and musician with a strong Classical culture. The opportunity to make a wine with him became reality in the blink of an eye. Stefano Petri, the owner of Greatestate property group in San Casciano dei Bagni (SI), an associate of Chesterton real estate in London once showed me his project: he wanted to open up an agricultural lands department in his real estate company and asked me to share my experience with that of the group. I moved to Tuscany immediately. One of the top minds behind the La Moresca wines is Filippo Rizzo who started gaining global renown operating in an area of Sicily renowned only for prickly pears. My contributing to his impressive achievements (including his wines being served in Copenhagen’s Noma) obtained working in an area many deemed useful for potato farming alone makes me immensely proud.
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