Pinot Grigio, but not quite as you know it. The fruit comes from a friend’s vineyard just down the road from Ombretta Agricola in Salgareda. The grapes are fermented on the skins for a month and rest for eight months in vat. A hazy shade of peachy purple thanks to the skin maceration, this takes the wine in a completely different direction to the more commercial iterations of this much-abused grape. the aromas of citrus and spice really jump out of the glass, and the fruit has a tart, palate-cleansing edge that makes this a great bottle to kick off a long night with.
Farming vineyards in the shadows of the Dolomites, Alessandro della Vecchia is proving himself to be a prodigious talent. Having learned his craft alongside the late, great Ernesto Cattel of Costadilà, a highly respected, humble visionary who was single handedly responsible for preserving the traditions of the Prosecco of old, Alex began his own project, Ombretta Agricola in 2017.
In 2010 he planted one and a half hectares of Pinot Nero on his family’s farm in Belluno, right at the foot of the Dolomites. This dramatic vineyard surrounded by mountains is planted over alluvial marl some six hundred metres above sea level, near the banks of the River Piave. His family live in an old Monastery which dates back to the 16th Century, keeping donkeys, goats and cows alongside the vines. The wines from this site are named Pedecastello, after the road that winds amongst the mountains.
A little further down the river in San Donà di Piave, Alex farms four hectares of Verduzzo Trevigiano, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Here the vines are thirty years old and planted over alluvial soils, just two hundred metres above and twenty kilometres from the Adriatic. These wines are bottled eponymously, as Ombretta Agricola. Each year, he also sources organic grapes from friends elsewhere in Italy to make his ‘Grinton Bianc’ wines, easygoing macerations which are a tribute to the rustic vino da tavola of old.
Ombretta is Venetian slang for a little glass of wine, a nod to the timeless tradition of enjoying a drink with friends. In the cantina, Alex’s simple, yet considered approach produces pure, nourishing wines with a luminous quality that reflects their Alpine origins.