For almost 70 years, Cantina Braschi has brought focus to the native grapes of Emilia-Romagna, making wine in the countryside of Cesena. Lying in the far southeast of the province along the border with the Marche, Cesena is neighbor to both Apennine foothills and Adriatic beaches. Throughout history this pocket of Emilia-Romagna has served as a trading hub, thanks to its favorable location on an ancient Roman road that crosses the province.
When Davide Castagnoli and Vincenzo Vernocchi took over Cantina Braschi about 10 years ago, they honored the history of Cesena by restoring the reputation of the region’s indigenous grape varieties by crafting high-quality wines that would appeal to a wide swath of consumers. Since they took over, Cantina Braschi has won awards for traditional wines made from the local Albano and Famoso grapes; it has also received praise for wines from better-known grapes like Sangiovese and Trebbiano.
The Grapes and Vineyards
Sangiovese is the most prominent grape, making up 75% of all plantings. Albana (10%), Famoso (5%), and Trebbiano (5%) comprise the balance. There are three specific vineyard plots, each one giving special qualities to the wines made from their grapes:
Campo San Mamante in Cesena, is home to the DOCG Albana wines – both dry and late-harvest. The 20-year-old vines rest in calcareous clay soils at 150 meters in elevation. Here the Adriatic breezes keep the vines cool and impart a saline quality to the finished wines.
Tenuta del Gelso in Bertinoro is for Sangiovese, and is similar to Campo San Mamante in that the vines lie at moderate altitude on calcareous clay soil.
Podere Montesasso in Mercato Saraceno produces wine from Famoso (Rubicone IGT) and Sangiovese. Vines are planted much higher (350 meters) and on much different soil than in Tenuta del Gelso. Here the sandstone soils result in a much different expression of Sangiovese than in Tenuta del Gelso.
Taking It to the Next Level
Inspired by their success with Cantina Braschi, Davide and Vincenzo wanted to share their ideas and experience with other winemakers, creating what is – for lack of better terminology – a modern-day cooperative model. Enoica is nothing like the collectives of old, however. On the contrary, it unites traditional viticulture with state-of-the-art technology and administrative expertise.
What they’ve developed is a union of sorts; one that includes six wineries in Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and Lombardy that operate independently of each other but utilize a common sales and marketing engine. Enoica develops the marketing strategy and serves as the hub for logistical functions such as payments and shipments, leaving the individual winemakers to focus on what they do best: attend to the vineyards and produce the best-quality wines they can.
I love this idea! After hearing many smaller-scale winemakers discuss the difficulties in finding a market for their wines, I can easily understand why Enoica’s members have embraced the idea. Now they’re part of a professional marketing organization that is well-positioned to link them with importers and distributors. For a small winery, making such efforts alone would be cost-prohibitive.
The Wines of Enoica
Toward the end of last week, I received a bounty of wine from the UPS driver, including six bottles from the Enoica collective. Many thanks to Davide Castagnoli, Katarina Andersson, and Lynn Gowdy for coordinating the shipment. Unfortunately, wine was not the only thing I “got” last week: I’ve had a miserable cold since Sunday, leaving me unable to smell or taste anything. To give the wines the respect they deserve, I’ve opted to wait and taste them when I can give them my full attention. Look forward to a follow-up post, with full details on each of the lovely wines.
So as not to keep you in suspense, here is a list of the wines waiting patiently in my cooler:
NV Terramossa No. 1 Rosé Brut – 100% Sangiovese, this is a sparkler made via the Martinotti (aka Charmat or Tank) Method, and I can’t wait to try it!
NV Terramossa No. 2 Brut – A blanc de blancs mélange of Albana (70%) and Trebbiano (30%). Definitely a new blend for me!
Campo Mamante Romagna Albano Secco DOCG – single-vineyard offering of 100% Albano from 20-year-old vines. I know I’m going to dig this one.
Monte Sasso Famoso Rubicone IGT – I’ve never tried Famoso, so I’m particularly looking forward to tasting this wine made from grapes farmed at high elevation.
Monte Sasso Romagna Sangiovese San Vicinio DOC – 100% Sangiovese – a real treat.
Il Costone Sangiovese Bertinoro Riserva – single-vineyard offering from 20-30 year-old vines, aged for 24 months in large oak casks. Needs a special meal, for sure!
Well, I wasn’t traveling alone on my virtual trip to Emilia-Romagna: the rest of the Italian Food Wine & Travel group went foraging as well. Below you’ll find links to their posts, detailing the adventures they shared with us today. And, if you find yourself awake at 11 am ET on Saturday, join in the fun! Follow the discussion on Twitter – and chime in if you want – by using #ItalianFWT. We’d love to have you!
Jennifer Gentile-Martin of Vino Travels shares her discovery of Romagna Albana: The 1st White DOCG of Emilia Romagna.
Katarina Andersson, host of Wines of Italy Live Stream and Grapevine Adventures, explores Podere Palazzo – An Organic Winery in the Heart of Romagna.
Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla introduces us to a unique specialty of the region with Nocino: A Green Walnut Liqueur from Emilia-Romagna.
Italian Food Wine & Travel will return in October, with our host Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick! who leads us on a Chianti Extravaganza. Don’t miss it!