ANTONIO FATTORI: MORE THAN A CENTURY OF QUALITY WINEMAKING IN THE VENETO WINE REGION OF NORTHERN ITALY
Antonio Fattori proudly displays his terrific wines
Story and photos by Dwight Casimere
VERONA, ITALY—The history of winemaking in the Venoto, outside Verona goes back centuries. Just a short visit to the wineries outside this historic walled city gives a glimpse of the rich traditions and glorious vineyard history that dates to antiquity. The vineyards of Antonio Fattori are a case in point. The history of Fattori wines was first documented at the beginning of the last century when family patriarch Antonio Fattori first began to plant vines in the hills outside the village of Terrossa. Phyloxera destroyed the vineyards and the sight of the depleted land greeted him when he returned from the First World War . True to his personality, he did not become dispirited, but vowed to retrench his efforts and forge ahead with his dream of making quality wines. He began by making sweet wines, which he filtered using old Dutch filters, then selling them by transporting them in barrels on horse-drawn carts to the trattorias, osterias and wine bars of old Verona and Vincenza. It was a humbling experience, but it did nothing to reduce the noble spirit of a man who had a vision for the future. In the words of his grandson, also named Antonio, who now runs the winery, “he was a generous and charitable man, as was my father. He was often too timid to take compliments, but he certainly was a noble man who left behind so many riches. He left more than the nucleus of the actual building which now houses our winery, but a rich legacy that includes a huge humanity.”
Antonio Fattori has been running the winery since 1970. Another in a long series of ‘Antionio’s,” he dedicated himself to the goal of making quality wines, first embarking on a program of winemaking study, then beginning a program of experimentation to bring modern, scientific winemaking techniques and methods that were combined with authentic and original traditions. New vineyards were added. Older ones were saved and restored. Combinations of cement, wood and stainless steel vats were employed in winemaking. Fermentation was achieved at lower temperatures to ensure quality and search the limits of productivity. Non-invasive techniques were employed to ensure both quality and environmental responsibility.
Everything at the winery is accomplished within the harmony of nature, according to Fattori. “The world of wine is formed by seasons, situations and conditions that are never the same,” he says. “No amount of experience is ever enough. The important thing is to search. To attempt with determination, humility and a little patience.”
Here is an overview of some of Antonio Fattori’s current wine releases:
Valparadiso-Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT. ($17) The wine is made from handpicked grapes that are processed the same day that they are harvested. Made fropm 100% Pinot Grigio grapes, the wine is marked by an overwhelming perfume of ripe pear, a hint of raspberry, banana, apricot and green apples, with the blush of tropical pineapple and a background note of dried camomile flowers and green tea. This is a fruity, yet soft wine that is rich in refreshing taste. It goes great with shrimp and other seafood dishes. It is equally at home with fruit, cheese or salads. Consider this as a first course wine or one that will pair great with turkey at the holiday table. It’s a terrific wine for under $20!
Roncha-Bianco del Veneto IGT- ($18) A blend of 50% Garganega (5% is dried for 5 to 6 months), 20% Pinot Grigio, 20% Trebbiano di Soave and 10% Durelia, a local grape varietal. The vineyards are located in the volcanic hills of Ronca, from which the name is derived. The grapes are also handpicked and processed the same day in both stainless steel vats and barrels. The wine has a beautiful straw yellow color with flecks of green. The nose is pleasant with the smell of jasmine flowers, white peaches and orange blossoms. Complex, with a fresh, mineral taste and a persistent palate of ripe fruits and sweet Mediterranean spices. Again, this is a great accompaniment to turkey, sweet potatoes at the main course and fruits, nuts and cheeses at the start of the meal. It’s my choice to have with Holiday Mac ‘n Cheese, a traditional treat at many Holiday tables!
Danieli-DOC Soave—100% Garganega, some of which is late harvest. This is a highly floral wine with hints of jasmine and wisteria. It has a sensational taste of ripe peaches, pear, apricot and citrus fruit. A touch of sage on the nose and a hint of nuts on the finish makes this a terrific wine with food, including fresh whole fish, prepared with crab and shrimp stuffing, a Holiday favorites with Caribbean and African cultures and parts of southern Italy. It even goes well with “white” meats such as pork loin or veal, even a leg or rack of lamb and beef Carpaccio. Think “outside the box” on this wine and dare to venture into lighter roasted meats and, of course, the Holiday turkey or fresh Long Island Duck or game meats such as fresh rabbit. This is a wine that can last throughout the meal, even into a savory dessert such as Panatone, Crème Brulee (the late harvest grapes give it a slightly sweet aftertaste) or a cake or cookies flavored with lemon or almond.