Tasting Notes: The aromatic Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Nero is one of the best that Italy has to offer. Vibrant and soft, with supple light fruit tones of under ripe cherry and blackberry that showcase the mountain-fruit profile of the wine.
Estate History: Located in the sleepy little burg of Novacella, in the Isarco River Valley, Abbazia di Novacella was founded in 1142 by the Augustinian Order of Canons Regular. The Augustians are not monks in the sense that you may be familiar with: they have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to their superiors; but they also work to support themselves as a part of their community. To this end, the Abbey not only grows grapes for winemaking, but also farms apples and vegetables, and there is a small school devoted primarily to studies of viticulture. The abbey’s reputation as a winery is stellar and international. In 2009, Italy’s influential Gambero Rosso named Celestino Lucin, the abbey’s enologist, Winemaker of the Year.
The estate has long been known for producing world class white wines with a tremendous price/quality ratio. The white grape vineyards are in the town of Novacella, surrounding the abbey, while the red grapes grow further south. The Abbey owns 6 hecatres near the winery in Novacella, as well as 15 hectares at their Marklhof estate near Bolzano. For the rest of the production, they work with over 50 small growers in the region. The soil for the wines is mainly granitic schist, created by ancient glaciers; and the vineyards are quite steep. In the Isarco Valley, vines do not live much longer than 30 years, and the yields are miniscule naturally, producing wines that are aromatic, fresh, and rich. Though it is one of the oldest wineries in the world with over 850 years of winemaking experience, the cellar is entirely modern.
While the daily tasks of running a monastery, school and world-famous winery have kept Abbazia from jumping through the bureaucratic hoops involved with Italy’s organic certification, the centuries old estate is practicing organic.