Noir by Tenuta Mazzolino, a “small Burgundy” in the Oltrepò Pavese

I attended a lunch-tasting organized by Tenuta Mazzolino, a winery located in Oltrepò Pavese. During the event, which was held at the restaurant of Palazzo Velabro, in the beautiful setting of ancient Rome, I met Francesca Seralvo, the owner, and Stefano Malchiodi, the winemaker of the winery, tasting the wines paired with some dishes made by chef Penelope Musolino.

The company’s land stretches thirty hectares, twenty of which are vineyards in the heart of the Oltrepò Pavese region, located on the right bank of the Po River in the hilly area near the Apennines. The history of Tenuta Mazzolino begins at the dawn of the 1980s in the homonymous ancient hamlet of Corvino San Quirico Municipality. Since the beginning, Enrico Braggiotti, Francesca’s grandfather, has made use of prominent collaborations, such as with Luigi Veronelli and Giacomo Bologna, who helped him to understand this region, and he ended up focusing on the Pinot Noir production.

Francesca Seralvo joined the company more recently, only in 2015, directly appointed by her grandfather. She left the law practice in Milan to come back to her roots, thus preferring working in the vineyard and in the cellar to the one in the professional firm and in court. Starting from the lesson received from her grandfather, she soon provides her own imprinting in the management of the winery. Today Tenuta Mazzolino’s wines are organic certified, they grow vines with very low yield per hectare, use short pruning and natural grassing of the vineyards without any use of chemical fertilisers, and viaticum for a production of excellence.

The region’s soil is mainly calcareous, made of clay and chalky marl dating back to the Tortonian period, where, together with indigenous varieties, the one of Burgundian origin such as Pinot NoirandChardonnay, also find their ideal growing environment. The extreme variety of exposures and soil characteristics have allowed the vineyard to be split into 39 small plots that are managed individually, with the agronomic objective of enhancing the specific characteristics and thus guaranteeing the most authentic expression of the wine made from the grapes grown there. Fertilisers are not used, but manure and the ancient green manure technique are employed, according to which beans, peas, alfalfa, clover, phacelia are grown between the rows to enrich the soil nutrients (nitrogen and organic substances), and to protect it from erosion. Only copper and sulphur treatments are used, permitted by organic farming protocols.

During lunch, we tasted some of the wines produced: the two traditional method sparkling wines, the Cruasé (Pinot Noir) and the Blanc de Blanc which is made from Chardonnay, followed by Blanc (a still wine made from Chardonnay) and Terrazze Alte, a wine made from 100% Pinot Noir that matures in stainless steel. Finally, we concluded lunch with Noir, the focus of our story today.

Noir is made from Pinot Noir grapes sourced from the Regina vineyard, thatstretches for just over two hectares on clay and silty soils with sandstone and chalky substrate, with a north-west aspct. It is an old vineyard of about 30 years (with plants that are older than 60 years) and the highest in altitude of the estate, is up to 220 metres above sea level. The vines, are trained with Guyot system at a planting density of 5,500 vines per hectare, allowing competition between the plants for nutrients, thus obtaining a natural reduction in yield.

After the manual harvest, the grapes are placed in boxes and transferred to the cellar where they are destemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The pre-fermentative cold maceration lasts for a week, with punching down techniques performed to maximize the extraction; the vinification continues for about 10 days. After racking, the wine ages for 12 months in burgundy pièce of 228 litres and then for a further two years more in bottle.

Let’s move on to the tasting of Pinot Nero dell’Oltrepò Pavese Noir 2019.

The wine is deep ruby red in colour with garnet glows. On the nose it fascinates with a wide spectrum of aromas. We immediately detect fruity aromas of blueberry, redcurrant, ripe bramble that are characteristic of the grape variety. These aromas are followed by blood orange ones that are completely integrated with harmony with violet notes and subtle spicy nuances. Toasted coffee notes slowly emerge and a final touch balsamic and licorice. On the palate, the texture is silky but dense, with the acidity and the noble tannins that are well integrated but still prevailing on the softness of the wine, giving the wine a straightforward overtone. The finish is long with a fruity and balsamic aftertaste. It is a wine that has just begun the path that will lead it to harmony, and therefore, it should be aged in the cellar for a log time.

The wine is an outstanding example of a Pinot Noir of Burgundian framework. We paired it with egg tagliolini with roasted tomato and grated Roman cheese, but the wine could also be successfully paired with serious meats preparations, game or matured cheeses.

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Red Wine

Wine Lover, Sommelier AIS and Marketing Expert

Previously, the wine was white or red for me, sometimes it was the middle ground, sometimes it had bubbles, or it was sweet. Then I started this journey in the knowledge of wine, with its many expressions, types, and the countless territories perfect for growing vines.
I met some wonderful people, with whom it is always possible to be amazed and often excited, while tasting a glass of wine.

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