Meet-Up with Mr. Gianni Menotti

Gianni Menotti is not only the oenologist of Tenuta Polvaro, for us he is “The Winemaker”. Our collaboration began at the end of 2019 when we immediately supported his ambitious project of creating high-quality wines out of our production. He was born into the winemaking business; with solid experience gained in major Italian and international wineries, Mr. Menotti has obtained prestigious awards over the years. Titles linked not exclusively to his profession alone but also related to the production side of wine craft. So it is appropriate to say that “his reputation precedes him.”

We met up with him on the eve of the Vinitaly Special Edition event, where we will participate, to chat about Tenuta Polvaro wines. We recognize that dealing with Gianni Menotti, even just in the company’s corridors or over a coffee, is always an opportunity to learn.

B: Tenuta Polvaro, from your point of view.

G: It is a territory that I already knew from my previous projects, and I am convinced that this area, which has a very clayey and deep soil matrix, can give excellent results. The first approach I took when starting to work here this year is also proof of this claim. As soon as we differentiated the grape varieties, we immediately saw the potential of this area, which has produced some wonderful results.

C: We often spoke of the Merlot production being an imperative project for the estate. Let’s share some insights with our readers.

G: I have loved Merlot for more than thirty years. Working with it was one of my first goals ever since I found myself in the Friuli region, where I was born oenologically. It was precisely with Merlot that I gained exposure as it was one of the most awarded wines over a period of time among the Friulian reds, not only at an Italian scale but also internationally.

“There are no particular moments, but, in fact, the harvest is the most important part of the whole process. The harvest is what I call the delivery of the wine.”

And so, I come from a study of a vine that I know well: many years of tests eventually evolved into a significant baggage of knowledge. This year we have already tried to reduce production scope because we knew that only with its decrease can specific results be achieved. The work that I would like to see completed has not yet been addressed at this point. The reason is that it is not possible to reduce the volumes of the plant’s production by six times in just a year’s time, yet it is the goal I am working to achieve. We have recently started to taste the first stirrings of this new Merlot, and I must say that it tasted well-conditioned.

C: The territory of Tenuta Polvaro, is home to the Lison Classico wine. How is its production coming along, and when would it be ready for the public.

G: This region has a captivating history: the Lison Pramaggiore area is closely linked to the production of the Lison Classico wine, formerly known as Tocai. Therefore it would not be so difficult to create a reference to the vine of Tenuta Polvaro.

Just today, I tasted the first pure Tocai created this year: you see, previously, it was mixed. I like it a lot because it has some features related to the past but in a modern version. We are still looking to finalize the story of Tocai, so let’s see if, by fermenting it with more advanced technologies, it is possible to achieve exceptional results. But in the following months to come, we will know for sure – it is still too early to arrive at conclusions.

The winter will have to pass, and the appropriate checks will have to be made. I suggest that the ideal scenario would be to bring it on the market around May / June next year.

B: How would you define your relationship with wine?

G: Without wine, without my work, I would be maimed. I would miss a part of myself. This has always been my life. I love being in the midst of nature, trying to understand it so that I can extract the maximum out of its potential. It is my passion. It is my life! They are not clichés.

B: What part of your work do you enjoy most?

G: There are no particular moments, but, in fact, the harvest is the most important part of the whole process. The harvest is what I call the delivery of the wine. Each year corresponds to a new birth, and each year it is necessary to understand what nature has given and how to realize its full potential. It is essential to expedite if the grape collection would have to take place, be it two days or more: this will require one’s experience, the potential of the territory soil, the characteristics of the grapes when tasted and analyzed. The harvest accounts for that moment in which the detached bunch reveals a set of elements that can give a great flavor.

C: How important do you think it is for an oenologist to have an agronomic experience as well? How much do the two realities offset?

G: My great fortune is to be an agronomist too. I was born as such and, only later, I became an oenologist. It has become essential for the winemaker to be a bit of an agronomist in recent times: the two professions that complement each other.

B: The recognitions received in your career that have a special meaning for you.

G: There were two important awards: Gambero Rosso-Slowfood in 2006 and Bibenda in 2012, where I was elected best winemaker of the year, and in 2002 my Grafin De La Tour was judged the best white wine in Italy. And last but not least, last year, Nexus 2020 won the title of best white wine in Italy.

B: From your experience, looking at our Italy, what are the territorial differences linked to the wine production in the various regions?

G: I work mainly in the northeast of Italy and also in Sardinia and Basilicata. They are very different wines created in contrasting climatic conditions: each region has its own peculiarities. For this reason, I love the Vermentino that I make in Sardinia because that is its home area, a wine that I appreciate for its completeness: it has excellent structure, smell, and progression of flavors over time.

C: Speaking of wines, which Tenuta Polvaro wines would you recommend to those who read us?

G: I’ll be brief: the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Polvaro Nero, and the Chardonnay are definitely worth trying.

B: To conclude, Mr. Menotti, in a few words, please mention a point on this last year of work together?

G: Nature is made up of times of seasons that must be respected. Projects also take time to become successful. This year we have taken a crucial first step, which will mark a path of identification for Tenuta Polvaro. Different wines linked by a single fil-rouge made of personality and elegance are already in the cellar waiting to be tested. It takes patience and determination, but I am sure, and in fact, I have proof that these efforts will pay off.

C: Thanks for your time Mr. Menotti

G: Thanks to you!

Barbara De Zan and Caterina De Zan
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