Lionello, and I were in our mid 20’s when we first met. Then, the owner was Dr Orlandi, a highly respected figure at the wine school in Conegliano whose vineyards were littered with oddities from Marzamino to Incrocio Manzoni; now, it is owned by Martino Zanetti (Hausbrandt coffee) and he has concentrated his efforts into the oddest of the oddities; Wildbacher. After a century of careful husbandry these vines bear little resemblance to its parent vine from Styria (borders of Austria and Hungary) and it has found a spiritual home on this spectacular vineyard, carved along a contour cut through the woods, below the beautifully renovated white farmhouses (le Case Bianche). The real heartbeat of the estate is Prosecco, the vineyards lie midway between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, and can, unusually, use both or either town on their label. The estate was amongst the first to commit to expressive single vineyard and single vintage prosecci. The most difficult style is the driest, the ‘Brut’ with grapes from ‘Vigna del Cuc’, a single old-vine vineyard. It is a wine which draws out the very best from the vine. ‘Antico’ is a look into the past, a single bottle-fermented wine made without filtration, brilliant if a little hard core. The ‘Undici’ is Snr. Zanetti’s ultimate Prosecco, classified as dry, though in Prosecco-speak, this means it has more unfermented sugars than a Brut, which works to create a rounder, deeper style. The wines that have really come on in the last few years are their negociant wines: the Cuvée Extra dry has taken advantage of the wain in Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco’s popularity and must be one of the best value wines to come out of the region. A newer, but now well-established wine is their Passito of Prosecco, made in much the same way as a Vin Santo, though the drying and ageing periods are shorter. The preferred house-style is to make this as a non-vintage wine; each release is blended with great skill from their wine library and fresh wine. The sparkling brut rosé of Wildbacher has been a revelation and has now also been joined by a traditional method sparkling, made as a blanc de noir. The ‘Wildbacher’ remains the signature red and each year tiny tweaks in the vineyard and cellar deliver improvements. There is also a Passito of Wildbacher, Dagobertus, which is only released in miniscule quantities; we buy it and one day we will sell it too.