After tasting his Roncha and reading about the family roots of Fattori, I was ready to sit down with Antonio Fattori to know more about the man and his wines.
We started our Fattori Talk two weeks ago after he poured a little of his Runcaris 'Soave' to fuel the conversation.
Q: Antonio, how long have you been working at Fattori?
I am the third generation of the family at the helm. I started working at Fattori in 1979 and have been involved in 34 vintages.
Q: Can you give us a sense of the geography of your vineyards?
All whites come from the basalt slopes of Alpone valley starting with Garganega at 250 meters, then Pinit Grigio and Durella (indigenous grape) at 300 meters, the Trebbiano di Soave at 400 meters and finally Sauvignon Blanc at 500 meters.
Q; Why did you start making Sauvignon Blanc?
After Pinot Grigio addition in 1985, Sauvignon Blanc came in 1984. I was setting a challenge for myself, going from competing on local stage to world stage.
Our Sauvignon Blanc is both refreshing and aromatic because of elevation. These are new plantings. Geraniums helped us pick proper terrain. Plantations at 500 meters are made possible by higher temperatures we now experience.
Q: Were your visits to New Zealand instrumental in making you take the plunge on Sauvignon Blanc?
I visited a small vineyard in Marlborough on my first trip there in 1994 and thought the climate was quite similar to our area. It was an inspiration.
Q: How would you compare Veneto Pinot Grigios to those from Alto Adige?
Our Pinot Grigio has aromas of pear and vanilla, aged 50% wood, 50% steel. It is quite similar to those from Alto Adige yet different from Collio which is fat due to different soil.
Q: Can you tell when to drink your wines and what to pair them with?
The Runcaris Soave is aged 100% in steel. These wines are generally ready to serve one month after bottling. We accept shorter shelf life. There will be exceptions like the 2008 and 2009 vintages of Roncha which I consider my best. We use a tiny bit of sulfites only before bottling and do minimal manipulation to keep the expression of terroir.
Food pairings: for the Runcaris, i would drink it as an aperitif or with light food and soups, Motto Piane calls for foie gras or Stilton and Amarone and its opulent flavors call for food to match it, game for example.
Q: What are the origins of the map used for label of your Roncha?
It has German origin as area was colonized in 12th century by Bavarians. The label is inspired by 15th century map from Dutch cartograpger Ortelius.
Q: Let's move on to Motto Piane now that you poured us some, how would you best describe it?
Motto Piane displays elegant aromas and body. In my opinion, 2008 was too rich and opulent. 2010 is more balanced, perfect with foie gras or taleggio cheese with fig jam. It is usually harvested late during 2nd or 3rd week of October as long as weather is cold and dry not wet and humid, risk of frost can affect time of harvest. After harvest, grapes are left to dry in small boxes for 3 weeks. Drying brings more concentrated flavors and more glycerine. A third food pairing option could in Fall be duck stuffed with chestnuts.
Q: Amarone is latest addition to your offerings, why?
As was the case with Sauvignon Blanc, i was ready to set another challenge for myself. Vineyard is at 420 meters and Amarone is made of Corvina, Rondinella, Teroldego. 3000 cases were produced for 2007 vintage which we are tasting. It is perfect with deer, venison served on a cold, sunny day.
Q: What memories do you have of your grandfather who started it all?
He went about his days barefoot. The only exception was Sundays . Until he turned 85 he always washed outdoors. One has to realize that until mid 50's Friuli and Veneto were poorer than Sicily.
Thanks Antonio for sitting down with me for this Fattori talk.