Brothers Roberto and Andrea Zeni have made wine together since their student days at the prestigious wine school of San Michele. They understood early on that the future of the Trento was quality and not quantity, and have taken their Grandfather’s Osteria and grape-growing business and have turned it into a full winery and distillery. The next generation now has their name on the letterhead with Roberto’s son, Rudi, taking responsibility for the direction of the business.
Essentially the family have two very distinct vineyard holdings, the first on the Rotaliano plain and the second on the steep hillside above, which encircle a simple country house called ‘Maso Nero’. The wines are bottled under three different labels: Zeni, Maso Nero and Schwarzhof. Schwarzhof was Rudi’s creation and the wines can be more experimental, more extreme, without interfering with the core business, they are the sand box for the estate. The name ‘Schwarzhof’ also takes on a niggle that has bugged them for years; their family name is unfortunately shared with an Internationally renowned wine giant based in Bardolino. Just to be clear, the two companies are in no way connected – this Zeni family produces around fifteen thousand cases a year whereas Zeni (Bardolino): millions of cases.
The Roberto Zeni range of wines is the core of the business, and are highly prized in Italy where over 70% of their wine is sold, so there is not that much left for overseas markets. The whites are from the Maso Nero vineyard; Teroldego and Rossara are planted on the Campo Rotaliano.
The Maso Nero range are all sparkling wines. Grapes are taken down the hill to Grumo where the wine is made, and then aged back up in Rudi’s cellar at Maso Nero. These are genuinely hand-made wines, even the riddling and disgorgement is by hand.
The family also has a distillery making Grappas and fruit distillates the challenge the finest Alsace has to offer. Rudi has a microbrewery at Maso Nero where his father allows him to brew beer on his day off!