Elisabetta Foradori: Trust in her Vineyards and in her Cellar

Elisabetta Foradori says as much with silence as with words.

She holds that paradox along with others: a soft tone that conveys deep strength, a seriousness that is playful, a commitment to tradition expressed by continuing experiments, and wisdom lived simply and lightly.

One evening, she talked to me about how important it is to establish trust with her plants. “As soon as they understand that I’m listening to them and loving them,” she explained, “they produce better fruit.” All of her wine is “alive” because of the respect she gives to the sixty acres of vineyards she farms with biodynamic agricultural methods, but especially the wines she ferments in clay amphorae.

For subtitles in English, click CC.

Elisabetta’s amphorae come from an artisan in Spain, who signs each one.

When we stepped into the cellar full of amphorae, the wine was still fermenting. There was a symphony of tiny sounds, “Bloop, blip blip, bloop, blop…” playing there. As noted in the video, wine made in amphorae is “immediate”. The amphorae are neutral containers (like steel or concrete) but still allows the wine to breathe even more than concrete, leaving room for more “personality” in the wine.

And this is how Elisabetta wants her wine to be, a true reflection of indigenous grapes (Teroldego, Manzoni Bianco, and Nosiola) and terroir. To translate the abstract concept into something more concrete, she related a story of opening a bottle of an amphora wine that she wanted to take to a tasting in France. It seemed to have gone off, but she threw a few bottles in the back of the car anyway to serve as an example of what can go wrong with amphora wine. By the time she opened it a few days later in the warmth of Southern France, the wine was magnificent. She laughed saying, “These living wines really do have personality. You have to trust them and give them space to express themselves.”

The original Foradori vineyards were purchased by her grandfather in 1939, passed to her father who died prematurely when she was only 18, and maintained by her mother until she could finish university. They were all planted with Teroldego in the Campo Rotiliano, a flat valley that had once been a river bed with sandy, rocky soil, rich in minerals brought down from the mountains.

They are bounded on either side by steep rock walls.
These, in combination with mountains to the north, create a microclimate in which cold winter winds from are blocked while cool summer breezes flow right up the valley from lakes farther south. The distinctive air flows also create large changes in day to nighttime temperatures, which adds depth, flavor and aroma to the grapes.

Teroldego is the grape used to make Elisabetta’s first wines Foradori Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT and the reserve, Granato Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT.

Foradori ferments in cement containers then ages either in cement or large barrels.
While Granato ferments in open wood containers.
Then, ages in large barrels or well-used barriques.

The first wine that Elisabetta made in amphorae (2009) Fontanasanta Nosiola Vigneti dell Dolomiti IGT, was from a native variety, Nosiola, grown in the Fontanasanta vineyard 1300 feet up in the hills above Trento where there are also large shifts from day to nighttime temperatures. The wine is a delicate, round, almost salty wine whose acidity arrives last on your palate. On this visit, I tasted the 2012, which was a warm year that still produced only 12% alcohol.

The more recent amphorae wines are also crus from two Teroldego vineyards with slightly different soil types in the Campo Rotiliano: Sgarzan Vigneti dell Dolomiti IGT (sandier) and Morei Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT (rockier). Both have lighter structure (12.5% alcohol) than Foradori or Granato, and the “immediacy” that Elisabetta talks about in the video.

Fontansanta Manzoni Bianco  is yet another cru, also from the Fontanasanta vineyard which has red clay soil mixed with limestone. The wine’s rich color comes from a two-week maceration on the skins in cement containers. It then ages in acacia wood barrels (more neutral than oak). The variety is a cross between Reisling and Pinot Bianco so the wine is slightly aromatic (delicate fruit and floral aromas) but still dry with crisp minerality from the soil: yet another Foradori creation that surprises and delights.

Tasting these wines with Elisabetta was a magical experience. “If you make wine with your heart, running all the risk entailed in trusting your plants”, she told me, “they will trust you, too.” The thing we all know is that trust takes a long time to develop. Elisabetta’s wines reveal a history that includes courage, determination, attention and dogged hard work.

To find these wines, check wine searcher.

Azienda Agricola Elisabetta Foradori
Via Damiano Chiesa, 1
38017 Mezzolombardo (TN)

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Tags: Alto Adige, amphora, Amphora Wine, Amphorae, Biodynamic Italian Wine, biodynamic wine, Elisabetta Foradori, Foradori, Italian natural wine, Italian wine, Manzoni Bianco, natural Italian wine, Nosiola, Organic Italian WIne, Renaissance Italia, Teroldego, Trentino
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