LA STOPPA, Elena Pantaleoni, Rivergaro
Certified organic, natural
La Stoppa is a 58 hectare property (30 planted to vines) located in the Colli Piacentini in north-west Emilia-Romagna. Founded in the late 19th century by a wealthy lawyer named Giancarlo Ageno, the estate was bought by Elena Pantaleoni’s father in 1973. At the time, the estate focused on producing international style wines. Elena inherited the estate in 1991 and by 1996, she and head vignaiolo Giulio Armani began to execute the vision they had for the future of the estate. They replanted 32 hectares of Barbera and Bornada, as well as a small amount of Malvasia Candia, Ortrugo and Trebianno, all of which were much more suited to the hot climate (it can be hotter than Sicily during the summer) and heavy clay soils of the Colli Piacentini.
The vines were worked organically from the early 90s and La Stoppa received organic certification in 2008. Elena, in typical humble fashion, describes herself as ‘la custode de la vigne’, merely a guardian, until she in her turn passes the estate to the next generation. Her low-key, but powerful conviction is that her responsibility is to farm and make wine in as sustainable, non-interventionist and authentic a way as possible. The wines qualify for Colli Piacentini DOC, but are bottled as Emilia IGT because she feels that the rules of the DOC do not allow the authenticity of the terroir to speak. Her stances on the necessity of truly artisan (as opposed to industrial) production, the use of indigenous grape varieties, yeasts and minimal intervention in the cantina have made her a leading voice for devotees of natural, artisanal wine. She featured in Jonathon Nossiter’s 2015 documentary ‘Natural Resistance’.
Ageno Deep golden/amber in colour. Approx 70% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Ortrugo, Trebbiano given 3 months skin contact, half the juice matured in stainless steel tanks and the other half matured in used French oak barriques, then a further 2 years in bottle before release. Skin contact white wines have been traditional in the warmest regions of Europe, but the tradition has been lost with ‘progress’. Malvasia suits perfectly being made with skin contact as it has thick skins and is wonderfully aromatic (as the name suggests) Ortrugo contributes acidity to the blend. The 2011 is more open and accessible than previous vintages, namely 2010 and 2009, which are dense, multi-layered and slow-evolving.
Beautiful coppery/orange colour. With time open and air, this gets more and more layered. Balsamic notes, aromas of black tea, orange peel, then rose and Turkish Delight. Dryish, light-bodied, delicious acidity and a little tannic grip on the palate. Drink with cheeses, or with freshly-made pasta, butter and sage or simply as a vino di meditazione at the end of a meal.