An Italian drop: our organic wines from Podere Pavolini (Parma)

In our cellar we honour the work of a new generation of Italian and Australian wine makers. Through looking back to how their grandfathers and great grandfathers made the wine they are again perfecting Natural, Organic and Biodynamic wines using no preservatives and minimum intervention techniques to produce what we think are truly outstanding wines.

The Terzoni family, for examples, have been cultivating its vineyards for three generations in the Val d'Arda hills (near Piacenza, Italy). Run for more than half a century by Luigi, the winery and the farm are now in the hands of his son Graziano (website: Podere Pavolini). Passion, handed down from father to son, ancient traditions and the spirit of innovation merged into the single aim of exploiting the native grapes of the area, still unknown to most people, but extremely suitable for its high quality produce.

The land historically belonged to the Duchy of Parma (1545-1859), an area well known for a love of the good life and good food, which over the centuries gave birth to products appreciated all around the world.
In the long history of the Duchy, the Duchess Maria Luigia of Austria, formerly the wife of Napoleon, left a special mark. She is still remembered as a character worthy of great respect and affection, leading one of the best governments in the history of the Duchy. Her work deeply affected the lifestyle of the territory, which after years of wars and skirmishes finally experienced a long period of prosperity, allowing people to appreciate good food and wines. Such is the love of Parma and Parma citizens for the former duchess that every year there are celebrations in her honour and her tomb (in the Crypt of the Capuchins, Vienna), as a destination, is the object of pilgrimages and tributes of violets, one of the symbols of the ducal city.

The vineyards cover an area of 5 hectares of hilly land, with variable slopes from 5% to 12% and heights between 200 and 250 meters above sea level. The soil dates back to the Pliocene, has great depth and possesses a great wealth of fossils. Here Graziano produces about 30,000 bottles of organic wine annually, both red and white (sparkling, still and sweet). Years of experience and collaborations with great winemakers and curious researchers are the roots of the great character and quality of these wines, appreciated and recognized even beyond the provincial boundaries. 

Graziano likes experimenting with biology and physics, but only relying on natural techniques. He’s deeply self-critical and likes to think of himself as a tailor: “After examining the fabric, a tailor takes his needle and thread and creates something completely new to please the eye of the admirers. The magic word is elegance. I do my utmost to create elegant wines, where one sip leads to another. The scenario of my ideal wine is this: two friends meet, open a bottle, sit down to chat and in half an hour the bottle is empty!”. That’s the reason why he constantly seeks high quality tannins, delicate aromas and harmony, both in the taste and in the finish. “What I strive for”, says Graziano, “is an emotion that can be shared: it is very gratifying when I speak with the ‘santi bevitori’ (holy drinkers) and they tell me that they are pleased and satisfied with my wine,  my work”.

Graziano realized that Malvasia, Ortrugo, Fortana and Bonarda, the local grapes from the region, are always going to rank second if people continue to treat them with the same methods as Pinot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. For them to bring out their amazing characteristics these grapes need, instead, to breathe deeply, rest unhurriedly, be awakened gently.

Sparkling wines are Graziano’s passion and one of the oldest traditions of this area. “Ever since the Great War”, he explains, “all the bottles produced in the area of Piacenza (approx. 30 million) were filled with a wine that presented a natural sugar residue. With the arrival of the first warm spring days, these bottles would begin to froth (‘far la spuma’). Nowadays we call it ‘second fermentation’. Remuage and degorgement to remove cloudiness have only recently been introduced, allowing these wines to be exported even far away from the production area”.

Some basic rules & goals for high quality production, according to Graziano:

  • Harvest the grapes at the exact right time, depending on the vineyard. In his case, the late grapes of October give the best results
  • Three fermentations: the first one produces the alcohol, then the malolactic fermentation to noble the taste and finally the one in the bottle, which produces fine bubbles.
  • A low pH (close to 3), to allow a perfect balance of the grapes’ acids
  • No bitter notes
  • Fine bubbles
  • Full, harmonious and clean nose, with myriad nuances
Graziano Terzoni

Graziano Terzoni