It was a great honor to have met Zeno, to have heard him speak and to explain his philosophy of life. Zeno is a poet, he is a lover of the earth, a man of other times who manages to carry on an idea of respect and love for what he does in a noble, natural and elegant way
At the Rimessa Roscioli it was the first time of a tasting on Amarone, a wine that often takes second place in front of a Bordeuax or a Barolo, but which with a producer, or rather a wine artisan, as Zeno has affirmed himself. in the memories and in the minds of those present.
Wine is life and hearing a man talk about his production assuming that agriculture is a way to take care and not to exploit something or someone is not common. But beware, Zeno's approach did not lead us to fall into the schizophrenic search for natural or “confecionary” wine, we did not go to outline a watershed to establish a point of reference.
With Zeno we went to discover the perfect balance between those opposite poles that often make us sick when we go to taste wine , because as he himself says "The natural approach and the refusal of artifice has led to the inclusion of defects and smells under the great Natural voice, but if wine is not good it is not good ".
Zeno and Monte dei Ragni “Wine is a compendium, it is part of a larger universe. It's interesting and instructive, once you've started it's hard to stop. " So Zeno began his tasting, talking about himself, about how his bond with the land and the grapes was born. From an early age he had to do with wine, his family was a poor family and has always worked.
He decanted the wine for the first time at 8 years old, and at 5-6 years old he entered the first barrel to risk it, the children were the only ones who managed to pass inside to clean them. As he himself claims, a series of events have led him today to come to the awareness he has about production.
But here we are talking about life and not about a series of lucky events, about the construction of a wine from the beginning, of studies, research and tests that to better develop the essence and combination of Valpolicella grapes. Zeno has not finished his studies, and this has allowed him to never stray from grapes, he has always worked in the world of wine and over the years has built up a fundamental practical and theoretical knowledge.
As happens in all the greatest love stories, he too had a refusal of wine at some point. It was a period in which what was sold was different from what it really was, in which the profound respect for history, for what wine represents, had vanished. For Zeno this was a moment in which he went so far as to say that wine could no longer be made because man had transformed it too much.
His distance, however, did not last long, he met his wife, with a historic family business for more than 400 years, and his passion shared with her. And here too another path has emerged, made up of solid foundations and principles. The earth was all on a ridge of a mountain. Usually in Valpolicella the good part is to the east, where the morning sun arrives, which does not burn and does not burn the grapes, and the vineyard was and is to the east.
Having a vineyard on the top, or nail, is lucky and, as Zeno says, “you can't spit on it”. Then a company that had been rented for many years and returned to the property was added. A company that did not go along with the Valpolicella market of the 70s / 80s, but which has kept the old system, without upsetting the earth.
So with the old vines always active, precious vines that give a different grape, which can be changed without many artifices. The wines tasted Bianco, Valpolicella, Amarone and Passito, these are the wines tasted at the Rimessa. The White? Yes white. It is true that Valpolicella is a land more for reds than whites. But Zeno vinified the Garganega and Istrian Malvasia in white and decided to do it in amphora.
His idea of working with natural materials led him to this choice, because the wood was not suitable for this fermentation, it covered the grapes too much, while the glass concrete was not to his liking. The result? A balanced, balanced, clean and precise wine. The reds all of perfect integrity both vertically and horizontally, with minerality and an elegant and concrete life
For wine geeks who want to hear some of the most poetic words about making wine, watch the series below by winemaker and philosopher, Zeno:
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