31 May 2015

NOSIOLA – Native Courage, Bottled.

Pojer e Sandri & NOSIOLA – It’s all about COURAGE

It’s a measure of his enthusiasm and attention to every fine detail, that on this drizzily, almost summer evening, Mario Pojer ventured down from hills of Faedo in Trentino to present a host of his stellar cellar creations. As half of the legendary ‘Pojer e Sandri’ winemaking double act, it was an honour to be in attendance at the famous Enoteca di Cormons, in the heart of Friuli’s Collio region. Afterall, we were about to bear witness to a rare, if not unique, NOSIOLA Vertical.

Now, for those of you just joining THE NATIVE GRAPE Class of 2015, the mention of ‘Pojer e Sandrini’ together with a ‘NOSIOLA Vertical’ may conjure up images of a remarkable Italian high-wire act from the 70’s. And you know what, strange as it may be, in a way you’d be right.

You see in the 70’s (1975 to be precise), as a couple of daring youngsters, Mario Pojer & Fiorentino Sandri joined forces.

Fiorentino with his 2 hectares of vineyard and Mario with his degree in Oenology, they founded what has become one of Italy’s most innovative & forward thinking wineries. Perched high in the mountains above Trento (up to +700mts), they really do perform a remarkable high wire act on what’s called a “pergoletta trentina”. A what ? Well it’s a pergola style wire cultivation system that’s perfect for training the NOSIOLA grape.

Greenish-yellow in colour, the bloom covered spherical berries of the NOSIOLA vine were once extensively grown throughout Trentino.

Afterall it’s one of their very own native grapes. Infact it’s Trentino’s only commercially grown native white wine grape.

Be that as it may, sadly over the last 30-40 years, with the arrival of industrial, ‘commercially focused’ winemakers, NOSIOLA’s flavour soon began to fall out of favour. You see it’s slower to mature than other white wine grapes. It’s early buds are also susceptible to spring frosts, which can have a major impact, if not ruin the potential of an entire vintage. Not to mention the grapes sensitivity to moulds (oidium and the like) that flourish when conditions in the Dolomites turn damp.

For a pure commercial mind, clearly this kind of physiology doesn’t sing ‘recipe for success’.

Infact what started screaming success were the popular, ‘out of town’, international stars like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and friends, which quickly began to take NOSIOLA’s place on Trentino’s grape growing stage.

But for a handful of courageous local producers, including Mario & Fiorentino, Trentino might have lost NOSIOLA for ever.

Fast forward to today, thankfully two principal areas of cultivation remain – along the Valle dei Laghi and in the hills above Trento and Lavis, including Pojer e Sandri’s home in Faedo. As it stands, survival hinges on two critical life forces. One, NOSIOLA is the variety used to produce one of Italy’s greatest oenological treasures – the sweet ‘Vino Santo di Trentino’. The other, and perhaps more intruigingly, is its outstanding ability to produce elegant, signature dry white wines with serious ageing potential. Who ever knew ?

It takes courage to buck the commercial trend. Indeed it takes still more to create a counter movement. Forty years on, Pojer & Sandri continue to demonstrate the courage that they, together with a small cohort of like-minded Trentino producers, have forged to keep the sensitive nature of their NOSIOLA alive.

At Pojer e Sandri the future is built on the belief that less is more. A policy of less chemical interference in the production of all their wines, including NOSIOLA, is steering them increasingly towards a sustainable ‘BIO’ oriented style. In adopting this environmentally healthy approach, from vineyard to cellar, more than simple protectors of local tradition and identity, they are recognised the world over as pioneering, ground breaking, high-wire, innovators.

Mario’s enthusiasm is palpable and infectious. Tales from their early vintages of collaborations with other young guns like Schiopetto, Jermann & Gravner from neighbouring Friuli, were a fitting match for this once in a lifetime NOSIOLA VERTICAL. Three vintages ‘in purezza’ from 2013 – 2003 – 1993. Yes, that’s right, it’s 2015 and we’re looking at an almost unthinkable 22 year span for this native white. Again, what courage. What forward thinking to cellar these wines for a moment such as this. Far from being accidental heroes, Mario & Fiorentino’s creations are totally by design. So, you see, fortune really does favour the brave.

Pojer e Sandri
Nosiola 2013

Naturally the 2013 NOSIOLA still shows its youthfulness.

Lightly straw coloured, on the nose it is aromatic, delicately floral with the scent of golden delicious apples. On the palate it’s dry, medium acidity and body offer lightly herbaceous note of asparagus, coupled with delicate spice and a pronounced minerality. Nicely balanced and pleasingly persistent. 12% alc.

Pojer e Sandri
Nosiola 2003

Mario turned the clock back 10 years.

What by all accounts was a hot summer shone through in rich luminous gold. Great intensity & complexity, more mature, nutty flavours, evolved tertiary aromas, yes, petrol & spice and all harmoniously balanced with a signature acidic and saline edge distinctively etched into this NOSIOLA’s enduring personality.

Pojer e Sandri
Nosiola 1993

22 years ago – let’s go back to the future.

As the ’93 NOSIOLA’s antique gold gleamed brightly, incredibly its body and acidity are STILL harmoniously evolving. Increasingly complex and intense this beauty is now supporting smokey, spiced, etherial notes. And all the while that now recognisable ‘mineral signature’ rings as true as ever. Nothing short of impressive. 11,5% alc.

Turning his NOSIOLA dial back to 1993 was akin to turning a MARSHALL up to eleven. As Brian Eno once said, it doesn’t just get louder, it produces a whole new range of harmonics.

Pojer & Sandri are working to the beat of a different drum, thanks be to ‘Bacchus’ for that. Indeed Mario shared with us how they are now producing NOSIOLA and all their other whites using a hyper reductive vinification technique, one which they’ve pioneered themselves. Mind blowing stuff, simply put it means making their white wines in the absence of oxygen. The bounce is a wine richer in natural antioxidant properties, which happily means the reduced use of anti-oxidants like SO2. So they’re looking at producing whites that will display more of their true aromatic potential.

COURAGE….there is no other word for it. Based on our Pojer e Sandri single estate tasting, NOSIOLA proved beyond doubt it has the character to stay the course. So next time you may find yourself looking for a little inspiration & courage, seek it high and seek it low…… NOSIOLA……courage, bottled.

And for good measure, while you’re sipping, switch on some Courage from VILLAGERS. Yes.


A tasting of Springsteenesque proportions

After thoughts……. by the way, on the night, Mario added plenty of other surprises including the winery’s sparkling solaris ‘Zero Infinito’, a vertical of their international red blend Faye Rosso including local twist, his magical Merlino (a vintage Port style produced from Lagrein, fortified with the winery’s own Brandy (out of native grapes Schiava & Lagarino). For such an unforgettable gig, Mario chose his Brandy as a fitting encore. This was a tasting of Springsteen-esque proportions….check these guys out here – Pojer e Sandri www.pojeresandri.it

Go top