The Story of Tai Rosso in the Colli Berici. Part 2, the Producers
While Part 1 of this article was about the Colli Berici DOC and its unique grape, this Part 2 covers five producers making authentic Tai Rosso wines in various styles. Find more producers at the Colli Berici Strada dei Vini website.
These five show the potential of this land for high-quality winegrowing. Also, they all make excellent, contrasting visits. Between them, they have scores of different delicious wines. However, this article is about varietal Tai Rosso, which turns out to be Grenache. So click the link on each producer to discover more about their other wines.
The impressive Dal Maso winery makes wine from the Colli Berici, Gambellara and Lessini Durello DOC’s. Nicola Dal Maso, together with his sisters Anna and Silvia, represent the fifth generation of this wine-growing family. Today, Dal Maso has 30 hectares in these DOCs, making around 350,000 bottles per annum, with 50% exported.
Their winery is in Gambellara DOC, where the family has invested in the latest technology. Indeed, the handsome winery extension built in 2002 is a Rotunda in the architectural style of Palladio. It has ground floor vinification and basement maturation. The top floor is an open drying room to make Recioto and a unique, rare Vin Santo. There is an extensive range of wines here from the Cabernets, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon, Durella, and Garganega. Of their varietal Tai Rosso wines, my picks are;
100% Tai, from 15-year-old vines, fermented in stainless steel. Matured for 12 months in a mix of concrete and stainless steel tanks. Fresh raspberry fruit, a spicy kick and excellent balance. It will age for 8-10 years. Gold Medal Winner at Grenaches du Monde 2017, which features the world’s best Grenache. €7.
100% Tai, from 18-year-old vines. Made in a Riserva style, its again fermented in stainless steel. This time the maturation is 16 months in old French oak barriques then a further nine months in bottle. A powerful age-worthy red with more structure that will develop over ten years. Aromatic freshness, raspberry fruit, and great finesse. Silver Medal Winner at Grenache du Monde 2017. €15.
Cavazza is nearby to Dal Maso. Again, it’s a family business, and their winery is in the Gambellara DOC. The Cavazza family started out with a small farm in 1928. It now has considerable holdings, some 150 hectares across the Gambellara, Lessini Durello and the Colli Berici DOC’s
Tenuta Cicogna is their 40-hectare wine estate and agriturismo in the Colli Berici, with spectacular views. Cavezza bought and restored it in 1987 when they decided to add red wines by expanding into the Colli Berici. Here you’ll find their reds. Cabernet, Merlot, Carménère and Syrah are growing alongside Tai Rosso. Cicogna employs modern sustainable viticulture. They make 800,000 bottles annually, including excellent Lessine Durello and Prosecco fizz.
From 18-year-old Tai Rosso vines. Their juice ferments in stainless steel and matures in old French barriques for six months plus six months in bottle. A slightly lighter style, with no overt oak influence. Indeed, this Tai Rosso showed off its beautifully pure raspberry fruit, minerality and an intriguing note of Rose Hips. Terrific with a delicious dish of Beet ravioli with roasted aubergine and coffee powder. €16.
Light ruby red, medium bodied, delicate raspberries. High-quality young drinking and a good all-rounder with cold cuts. Fermented and matured in stainless steel, so no oak influence. €6.
This gem of a winery is in an old Convent that dates back to 1200 AD, close to Barberano. The valley nearby once boasted 13 water mills, a bucolic spot to explore. Bought by the Pegoraro family in 19992, they have eight ha of hillside vineyards, dotted amongst woods and olive plantations. They concentrate on Tai Rosso here. However, you’ll find Pinot Bianco, Tai Bianco, Garganega, Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah. They are one of the two wineries making sparkling wine from Tai Rosso using the Charmat method. However, they are the only winery to make Metodo Classico fizz from Tai Rosso.
Fermentation and maturation are in stainless steel. A fresh light red. The scent of roses enhances the purity of cherry and raspberry fruit. Fantastic with cold cuts, focaccia and my perennial favourite, Porchetta! Great drinking at any time of year, but wonderfully refreshing during the heat of summer days. €5.50
Tai Rosso Metodo Classico Brut NV
A tour-de-force. Not only a unique fizz, but it’s also brilliantly successful. No dosage, 40 months on the lees and slightly pink, it has a lovely creamy mousse. Ripe green apples, rose petals and brown spices. Depth and richness. Bravo! €15.
This winery has been here since 1584, always owned by the same family. It’s a stately home, with a 220-hectare estate that includes 28 ha of vineyards. These underwent renewal in the late 1990’s and are currently in organic conversion. Garganega, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and the Cabernets are all present. However, it’s the Tai Rosso on which their reputation rests.
The flagship wine, in a big Riserva style. Late harvested grapes from a 1.5 ha single vineyard plot ferment in old wooden vats. The new wine then gets 15 months in medium-toast French barriques plus 12 months in bottle before release. It’s a robust brooding wine designed to age for 20 years. At 15.5%, it’s one to sip slowly and thoughtfully. Try it with truffles. Some alcoholic warmth but the raspberry and cherry fruit are harmonious, with a long spicy length. €15.
This red is the polar opposite in style, made from vines over 50 years old. Light ruby in colour, smooth young drinking, best served slightly chilled. A delicious traditional Tai. It’s with the local Vicenzan dish, Bacàla alla Vicentina.
No survey of Colli Berici producers should be without the inclusion of a cooperative. Collis is massive, its output and wine range vast. Indeed, the co-ops in the Collis Group account for 15% of the entire Veneto production and have 30 retail shops. There’s bulk wine for supermarkets and exports, plus bottled and bag-in-box wine too. And there’s the compulsory Vini Sfusi, wines dispensed via “petrol pump” for the locals. Just bring your flagons! It’s so easy for critics to dismiss such places. These days they are wrong. Economically and socially, coops play a vital role, and they now have to compete on value, not price.
Hence Collis make quality wines, including Tai Rosso. Here you can try and compare virtually every wine made in the Veneto. This winery covers the western part of the Colli Berici DOC, with 2,400 growers. Its sister, at Barberano, only 10 km away, covers the east.
Deep pink. It’s not a rosé, rather a Rosso Chiara. Light, easy drinking, but pretty. Rasberry leaf and just a hint of rose petal. This very young Novello wine is best when chilled. Buy it off the pump for €1.30 per litre.
Barberano is the DOC for Tai Rosso within the Colli Berici DOC, perhaps the original zone for Tai. This example has excellent varietal character. No wood, so the fresh raspberry fruit shines before an attractive spicy finish. Best drunk young, preferably with food. €3.90.
The Colli Berici is a beautiful land yet undiscovered by wine lovers and tourist hordes. It has a terroir suited perfectly for red winegrowing. These days, the Bordeaux blends are distinctive, and in particular, Carménère can be brilliant. Nevertheless, Tai Rosso is the most authentic and unique expression of the Colli Berici. With modern winegrowing techniques and dedication, it’s capable of being a world-class Grenache and comes in diverse styles.
In a wine region as glorious as the Veneto, the Colli Berici remains off the beaten track. Production of Tai Rosso is relatively small, and while producers do export, Tai is hard to find in the UK. Importers take note!
Instead, I recommend that if you are travelling to the Veneto, you spend some time in in the Colli Berici. The ample charms of Verona, Vicenza and Venice are on your doorstep, yet the countryside has a rare tranquillity. If you do, then seek out Tai Rosso!