In the extreme northeast corner of the Colli Euganei is La Montecchia, a single hill, forced out of the Paduan plains by ancient volcanic activity, crowned by a frescoed hunting lodge, central to 45 hectares of vines. Giordano Emo Capodilista lives across the road in Castello di Mottolo, a fortified farmhouse a few hundred metres from the hunting lodge - which I think I would call a Villa, it may be modestly sized and beautifully proportioned but it is grand.
The estate is a historical gem, lived in and sympathetically restored. Over the years the vineyards have retreated and now only occupy the best positions, less interesting land is now a golf course.
The distilled vineyard receives the attention of a prized garden and is planted with the classic Colli Euganei varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for red wines and the whites are Pinot Bianco and Moscato Giallo.
There is also an on-going project to re-introduce other historical vines like Carménère, Raboso and Turka. Carménère is becoming better known, largely thanks to the Chilean revelation; it was introduced to these hills centuries ago and used to be officially misnamed as Cabernet Franc. Montecchia have their own ancient plantings of a particular clone, early results from new, ancient plants confirm that so much of the future lies in the past. The Raboso experiment is a wider one, Montecchia is part of a working group to revive the fortunes of this Venetian vine that is rarely seen outside the Piave. The accumulated knowledge and experience is showing in the wines as the best plants from ‘Raboso Veronese’ and ‘Raboso Piave’ are identified and winemaking experiments are pooled. The last vine, Turka is probably, as the name suggests, from Turkey and is absurdly rare, it is difficult to get hold of samples, let alone actually import it.
A second site near Baone came on stream in 2005, it is on the southern extremities of the region and is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Moscato. These wines are labelled ‘Conte Emo Capodilista’ and their success has been remarkable with the Donna Daria Fior d’Arancio passito receiving the first three glass award (Gambero Rosso) ever, for any Fior d’Arancio, the Cabernet has been equally successful.
This is one of the oldest uninterrupted family wine estates in Italy. The Emo Capodilista family is rooted in the history of Venezia and Giordano takes his responsibilities to the Colli Euganei extremely seriously, though responsibility doesn’t seem to weigh too heavily, he is a light hearted and generous man.
The fact that we still recognise most of the faces at Montecchia from the time we lived there in 2003 says a lot.