At the start of the 20th century, Antonio Fattori planted 7ha of vines in Veneto, making wine that he bottled and sold locally, until his son Antonio took over, purchasing additional vineyards and expanding sales across Veneto. It was he who established the current Fattori Wines in 1970, and in 1979, when he became ill, his son, the current Antonio Fattori took over. “I think it was decided before I was born,” said Antonio of his work in the industry, “I didn’t really have much choice.”
Expanding on the family’s holdings, Antonio also made changes in the winery. “Everything changed,” he said, “especially for the white wines: the containers, tanks, temperature fermentations, the fining of the wines, stablilizations and filterations.” Currently, Fattori owns 65ha of vineyards (15ha red and 50ha white), all of which are located within four to five kilometers of the winery.
Practicing sustainable farming methods, Antonio said that within a few years the European laws will change, outlawing certain pesticides, including the ones that work against the fungal disease peronospera. “We must be prepared for that,” he said, explaining how Fattori changed their fertilization methods, four to five years ago, to using only manure. At this time, they also stopped using insecticides and fungicides, employing natural products such as copper and essential oils, to “sexually confuse” the insects so that they do not proliferate. It’s all a part of their efforts to “connect viticulture and winemaking” in terms of sustainability. “In the winery,” he added, “we don’t use any chemical products, apart from sulfites, which are added [minimally for the sake of long-term aging] after fermentation.”
Vines of Trebbiano di Soave at Fattori
Further expanding upon the relationship between viticulture and vinification, Antonio said that the durability of his wines depends upon the soil, and that his soils allow for the wines to age well. By planting legumes and grass amongst the vines, he allows for richer soil, as the cover crops help transfer nitrogen from the air to the soil, an ancient process that allows for mineral fertilization. “It’s something of the soil,” said Antonio of his wines, “from the earth. I want to give good quality wine at a good price; a wine that can age, even a white wine that one can leave in the cellar for one to two years…[the consumer] must be able to taste the region.”
With all of the family’s property located hillside–an ancient volcano–the volcanic subsoil is identical in all of their vineyards. Here, it’s the variance in elevation that creates different microclimates. The white vineyards are found on the basalt slopes of the Alpone Valley, between an altitude of 150 and 450 meters, where Fattori planted Garganega, Durello, Trebbiano di Soave, Pinot Grigio (which Antonio introduced to Soave in 1985) and Sauvignon Blanc (in 1994).
Keeping all operations within the family, it’s Antonio’s brother who is in charge of the vineyard. His 20-year-old niece is studying oenology and his sister takes care of everything, “especially me,” said Antono and smiled.
“I really loved this work from the beginning,” said Antonio, “the work in the winery…I consider myself lucky. I never loved to work the farm, but now as I’m getting older, I’m changing. I now spend 50% of my time in the vineyard and 50% in the winery.”
Speaking of his methodology, Antonio said, “My idea is, especially for a white wine, I want the wine to gain complexity…Now, my principle intent is the ageability of the wine, even a simple wine…that after three to four years, [one can] taste and enjoy the wine. I’m not interested in making wine simple and clean. It’s possible to do that, but I love to open a bottle after three or four years and say, wow.”
Made from a blend of 50% Garganega (5% of which is dried for 5-6 months), 20% Pinot Grigio, 20% Trebbiano di Soave and 10% Durella, the Roncha Bianco del Veneto 2010, which just arrived at TEW today, has floral notes of stone fruit and minerality with great acidity and a silky viscosity.