Polpenazze, Lombardia. North East Italy
To the east of Lake Garda are Bardolino and Valpolicella, to the west there is Valtenesi and Lugana. Only Lugana specialises in white wines, Valtenesi is quite the most obscure DOC, something I find difficult to understand when they have Groppello in their quiver of indigenous varieties.
Le Sincette (formerly known as Cascina La Pertica) is on gentle moraine hills, less than 2km from Lake Garda. The glacier that created the landscape has left a rich and mixed terroir, the climate is moderated by the lake and the constant winds it brings. The farm is on the edge of Picedo, in an area where many of their neighbours farm organically, mixed farming is not uncommon and olive groves share the land with vines, pasture, woodland and cereal crops; it is a beautiful place.
Andrea and Stefania bought the property in 1978 and immediately set about its restoration creating an entirely underground cantina that would not interfere with the aesthetic of the farm. They work with 35 hectares of land; 11 of which are vineyard, 5 olive grove and the remainder arable. What set the couple apart is their commitment to the health of the soil, in the late 70s this attitude was very unusual. Furthermore in 1997 the farm converted fully to biodynamics cycles under the guidance of leading expert Jacques Mell, they were at the vanguard of the movement.
The vineyards are planted with Groppello Gentile, Marzamino, Barbera, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The philosophy is to do the work in the vineyards and to arrive at the cellar with perfect fruit, which should be handled as little as possible in the cellar. The style of the wine making is precise, these are excellent wines that also happen to be biodynamic.
A few words on biodynamics: Biodynamics is an all-encompassing way of life where the key concept is a ‘closed cycle’, the land should be self-sustaining. The role of man is to follow and work with the natural cycles of nature. For it to work, all the organs must act in harmony. In biodynamic farming these organs are hedges, woods, compost and crop rotation.