April 2017 - Blera, Lazio visiting San Giovenale

Hello & Welcome to our first ever blog for Centovino.

These blog entries will be sporadically written and not always with the best punctuation and grammar (so no correctors please). It is intended for wine lovers and for our friends to enjoy our travels and stories. Hopefully through the words and photos posted you can understand why we started this journey called Centovino and how we came to work with amazing people and their wonderful vineyards.

Every April, Alessio and I trudge to Italy for a couple of weeks of hard labour, wine tasting, restauranting (that's not a word) and more wine tasting. In the first week of April each year the quaint city of Verona hosts one the world's largest wine exhibitions "Vin Italy" where thousands of Italian wine producers display their wears and hundreds of thousands of thirsty visitors descend on the city. For a wine business such as ours attending Vin Italy gives Alessio and I the perfect opportunity to meet with our current producers and potentially find a few new ones as well.

Whilst Vin Italy provides the perfect opportunity to re-connect with suppliers and to sample upcoming releases, a visit to the winery is always essential to better understand how that delicious grape juice came to be in that bottle and why does it taste so damn good. So for a week before and following Vin Italy, Alessio, myself and Centonove's head chef Patrick Fletcher visited 3 of our current producers to spend a few days at their estate and find out what makes them tick.

Our first winery was a brief one night stay at a San Giovenale, a new winery for Centovino. We had only imported this wine once in the previous year and it had only been available then whilst dining at Centonove. San Gioveanle are a small winery in Blera, Lazio just a 45 minute easy drive outside of Rome heading North towards the Tuscan, Maremma Coast. I did say easy drive but if I stop to think about it I did have a few white knuckle experiences navigating my way from Rome Train station and out of the city circle. Once on the freeway it is smooth sailing to the lush green valleys of Northern Lazio with just a small stop for espresso at the Autogrill.

On arrival we are greeted by owner Emanuele Pangrazi, a passionate Roman who's vineyard here is his second home away from Piazza Navona where he resides. Emanuele is a successful businessman, who's success has allowed him the fortune to build an amazing property in every sense of the word. 

Emanuele immediately asks if we would like to go straight to the vineyards and find out why his wines are one of our absolute favourites in Italy. I jump in the boot (literally) of his vintage Land Rover defender and we set off on the bumpy road of the estate to the lower lying vineyards of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc. Here is where the individuality and specialness of San Giovenale lie. Emanuele creates only 8000 bottles of just one wine called "Habemus" and until 2013 was a special blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan (In 2014 and 2015 and on going the wine will now feature Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc, a quintet of grape varieties). 

To say that these grape varietals having a home in Lazio is unusual is an understatement but came to be after extensive early research by scientists and soil experts determined that the conditions of San Giovenale were a lot like those of Rhone Valley in Southern France. The sweeping valleys, the stream of winds that move from North to South and the coast lying just kilometres away in the distance all play a massive part in the make up of San Giovenale "Terrior".

The vineyards are absolutely amazing, organic and buzzing with life and soul. Each vine is sculpted back to a tiny stump with one fruit bearing shoot producing each just a tiny amount of fruit. Emanuele explains to us that he wants the vine to preserve all of it's energy for the production of a small amount of amazing fruit and that to many bunches and excess vines take away from the intensity of fruit itself. It's true once you taste the wine, it's full bodied, spicy, supple and brooding with complexity.

We head next to the modern but totally eco-friendly cellar that has just finished being built and has already won prizes for it's striking architecture. The cellar which would have cost a mint was a passion project for Emanuele who re-iterated many times that he wanted it perfect because he would never build another in his life time. The modern tank room leads by elevator to the cellar level where as many as hundred barrels lay filled with the 5 varieties planted on the estate. We try each of them individually from the barrel, some sweet and overly generous (Grenache and Carignan), some full of spices and purple fruit (Syrah and Tempranillo) but each absolutely delicious. I felt I had come as close as possible to my own Charlie and Chocolate Factory experience.

The tasting was great but this was followed by a great lunch in Emanuele's home complete with a commercial kitchen that would not have look out of place in a restaurant. It was a simple lunch, Bruschetta with his own estate olive oil, the best Cappacollo I had ever tasted from his neighbours property and Linguini with black truffles from the estate itself all washed down with individual bottlings of Habemus varieties. 

Lazio spoilt us and I can't wait to return.

2013, 2014 & 2015 San Giovenale Habemus is $75 a bottle and only available from Centovino.

For orders contact us at info@centonove.com.au or call Jesse 0409528817.


Below, The Cellar, Emanuele in the vineyard, walk at sunrise & The Vines and the views

The chestnut posts in vineyards of Grenache at San Giovenale, Lazio

The chestnut posts in vineyards of Grenache at San Giovenale, Lazio