Az. Agr. Gini - A day with Claudio Gini (9th of July 2013)

The Gini family is one of the oldest of the area going back as far as the 1500s. Documents of the 1600s and 1700s were found stating purchases of land and of vineyards (the cru Salvarenza is mentioned)  confirming that this has always been a family of vignerons.

But the real history of the family is the one which Olinto told his sons Claudio and Sandro, who now manage the estate after he left us a few years ago. Olinto had a wonderful relationship with his two sons, he brought them with him everywhere, he encouraged them conveying his incredible passion for viticulture and wine making.
Giuseppe Gini, Olinto’s father, was considered the wine expert of Monteforte di Alpone. At that time all the local families used to make their own Soave and Recioto and they always asked Giuseppe’s opinion. He already used to age wine in chestnut casks and the best lots were sold after two years. Giuseppe unfortunately passed away early in life and Olinto started managing the estate when he was just 16. He used to sell Soave in Verona, Vicenza and in the surrounding area with a horse drawn cart. Sometimes he was so tired that he went to sleep, but luckily the horse knew the way home! A new cellar started being built in 1978 and it was finished with many sacrifices. This cellar was then recently enlarged.
Matteo, Sandro’s son, is now working full time at the estate, mainly in the cellar.
All the 26 hectares of Garganega vineyards of the estate stand within the Soave Classico appellation. The historical vineyards of Froscà and of Salvarenza have always belonged to the family. Other vineyards, with an excellent position and with old vines, were purchased in the 1980s: these are the vineyards of Foscarino, Montegrande, Casanova (all three with volcanic topsoil) and of Volpare.
Froscà is the name of the hill where the crus of Froscà (on the top of the hill) and of Contrada Salvarenza (in the central-middle part of the hill) are located. Contrada Salvarenza is named after a small house on the hill. The view is breathtaking: just vineyards and small acacia groves. The topsoil is volcanic while the deeper part of the soil is calcareous. The oldest vines are in Contrada Salvarenza (from 60 to 100 years old), one third of the vines are prephylloxera (phylloxera cannot complete its vital cycle in volcanic soil) and consequently ungrafted.  The hills of Monteforte boast the highest vineyard density in Europe, in fact it reaches 95-96%. The cru of Col Foscarin, 4 hectares of Soave Classico from which the grapes for the homonymous Recioto are selected, is at the back of the Froscà hill.
The vineyard extension of the Soave Classico appellation is approximately 900 hectares and the zone is luckily very well protected: only the “Pergoletta Veronese” training system is allowed, the best for Garganega (this variety needs space, so that espalier systems are not suitable for it, the canopy of the Pergola system protects the clusters from the sun thus preserving the aromatic substances in the berries), and the old vines of this wonderful grape variety have been maintained. In the 1970s, due to the economic boom in Italy and due to the fact that Soave wine started to be exported to the USA, the Soave (luckily not the Soave Classico) zone was extended to 7,000 hectares.
Sandro and Claudio practically grew up in the vineyards, but before purchasing new ones, they spent some time in Burgundy visiting the great domaines in Beaune and in the Côte de Nuits. In Burgundy the old vines were not replanted, as in Italy at the time. Claudio and Sandro came back with soil samples and with lots of new ideas including the one of planting Pinot Noir.
Olinto always preferred the use of natural products to treat the vines, such as bordelaise poultice and powder of sulphur. Sandro, since the 1985 harvest, stopped using SO2 during fermentation and vinification. Very small quantities  are added to the wine during the first racking and during bottling. According to the Gini brothers, the aromatics improve and the yeasts function better. There are no problems for the wines if one considers that bottles of Froscà and of Salvarenza are still excellent after over 20 years in the bottle!
The Gini family were the first to use a refrigeration plant in 1979 to control the temperature of the must and during fermentation. They had it made by the technician who used to fix their kitchen fridge!
Only indigenous yeasts are responsible for fermentation,  selected yeasts are used very rarely. Recent studies have shown that yeast is found on the trunk of the vines, in the soil and not so much on the skins. It also colonizes the cellar so that over the years specific strains are naturally selected.
No insecticides (the sexual confusion method is used) nor weed killers are used. Specific grasses and leguminous plants are planted on the aisles between the rows of vines. The soil in the Soave area is quite loose so that it is not necessary to till it.
The harvest is long, about two months,  and carried out entirely by hand: the varieties that ripen early -  i.e. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc – are picked first, followed by the Garganega of the Froscà vineyard, the last to be picked are the oldest Garganega vines of Contrada Salvarenza.
The vineyards of the estate do not only stand within the Soave Classico, but other 33 hectares (the total vineyard extension of the estate is 59 hectares) were planted in a wonderful area on the hill of Mirabello, on the border of the Soave area, surrounding the village of Campiano, at 600 meters above sea level and which includes the appellations of Monti Lessini DOC and of Valpolicella DOC. 10 hectares of Pinot Noir (from which “Campo alle More is made”), Sauvignon Blanc (from which “Maciete Fumè” is made) and of Chardonnay were planted in the 1980s and 20 hectares of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseletta (all indigenous varieties which make up the blend of Valpolicella and Amarone, wines which will be released in the near future) were planted ten years ago. The Chardonnay grapes and the grapes from 3 hectares of Riesling, Incrocio Manzoni, Trebbiano di Soave and Durella all go into the blend of the recently released Monti Lessini DOC white.  This is an incredible area, it is uncontaminated as the farmers left after World War II to go and live in the cities, just vineyards, woods and cherry trees yielding the delicious “Mora di Cazzano” and the view of the castle of Illasi dating back to the 11th century . The vineyards are in the conversion phase to be certified organic. An impressive new cellar, dug into the rock,  is being built following the layout of a local bishop’s palace (designed by Sandro Gini who is  a talented artist) where the grapes for the production of Valpolicella and Amarone will be vinified and the grapes (for Amarone) will be dried. This area was originally a tropical sea, in fact many fossils were found during the building works. The calcareous, smooth and stratified rock which is seen in the vineyards and at the side of the dirt roads is in reality the primordial barrier reef!
The Gini family will undoubtedly continue to surprise and delight us with more lovely wines!

The main wines of the estate are:
Soave Classico DOC
Zone: Monteforte d’Alpone
Varietal: 100% Garganega
Vineyard extension: 15 hectares
Average production/year: 100,000 bottles
For further information please click on “wine of the month” on the home page

Soave Classico DOC Contrada Salvarenza
Zone: Monteforte d’Alpone
Cru: Contrada Salvarenza
Varietal: 100% Garganega
Vineyard extension: 6 hectares
Average production/year: 12,000 bottles
For further information please click on “wine of the month” on the home page

Soave Classico DOC La Froscà
Zone: Monteforte d’Alpone
Cru: La Froscà
Varietal: 100% Garganega
Vineyard extension: 6 hectares
Average production/year: 20,000 bottles

Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG Col Foscarin
Zone: Monteforte d’Alpone
Varietal: 100% Garganega
Vineyard extension: 4 hectares
Average production/year: 5,000 half-bottles

Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG Re Nobilis
Zone: Monteforte d’Alpone
Varietal: 100% Garganega
Vineyard extension: 1.5  hectares
Average production/year: 2,000 half-bottles

Pinot Nero Campo alle More
Zone: Cazzano- Mirabello
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Vineyard extension: 4 hectares
Average production/year: 10,000 bottles

Sauvignon Maciete Fumè
Zone: Cazzano- Mirabello
Varietal: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard extension: 2 hectares
Average production/year: 6,000 bottles

Monti Lessini Bianco DOC Sorai
Zone: Cazzano- Mirabello
Varietals: Chardonnay, Durella, Trebbiano di Soave, Incrocio Manzoni,  Riesling,  Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard extension: 7 hectares
Average production/year: 7,000 bottles

For more detailed information on the wines  please consult the technical sheets on our website.