Durella is the indigenous grape variety of the Lessini Mountains, an ancient
and rustic vine that gives golden-hued grapes whose fundamental characteristics
are a typical acidulous flavour and skins that are thick and rich in tannins: polyphenolic
substances that normally contribute towards determining the full-bodied structure
of red wines. When we talk about indigenous (or autochthonous) cultivars we mean
those varieties of vitis vinifera that have adapted in a very specific
way to a particular area, as a result of many centuries of natural and human selection.
For this reason, indigenous varieties are capable of capturing the deep-rooted secrets
of their natural habitat, transmitting its unique identity into the wine. The presence
of Durella has been documented in the Lessini Mountains since at least the Middle
Ages. A thousand harvests may not seem very much, but they do mean a thousand years
of adaptation to this terroir, a thousand years in which to express its
nature to the full – and give the Lessini Durello D.O.C. sparkling wines of today
the volcanic minerality that is typical of this region’s soils.
The terroir of the Lessini Mountains
In winemaking terms, the terroir refers to the production area. Why use
a French term, then, instead of a corresponding one in English or Italian? Because
its meaning in fact includes all of the environmental aspects that bear an influence
on a wine: geographical position, geological structure, microclimate... This has
an extremely important consequence: a terroir is, by definition, unique.
The high valleys of the Lessini Mountains, lying between the Provinces of Verona
and Vicenza, have always represented an ideal environment for vines and are a natural
treasure house in which viticulture can attain the most brilliant results. The spike-like
outline of the slopes immediately reveals their volcanic nature: a deep-seated nature
that constitutes the fundamental characteristic of the Lessini Mountains’ terroir
and that leaves a profound imprint on the wines. And it imprints particularly on
Lessini Durello D.O.C.: a wine that expresses forcefully the volcanic character
of its region. The high hillside vineyards complete the picture, with their favourable
effect on the vineyards’ exposure, ventilation and the differences between day-
and night-time temperatures: determining factors for the freshness and aromatic
qualities of our sparkling wines.
Viticulture and volcanoes
Volcanic soils are exceptional in every sense of the word. They represent 1% of
the Earth’s surface, but offer sustenance to 10% of the world’s population. They
are composed of tuffs and basalts that are rich in iron, magnesium and a whole host
of other micro-elements which, through the grapes, are transferred into the wine,
giving it a characteristic mineral tang. Because of their porosity, volcanic soils
are capable of accumulating water and heat from the sun, re-releasing them as and
when necessary. They are also rich in substances that are nutritional for the vines
and act as a natural barrier for any diseases in the soil. For these reasons viticulture
on volcanic soils calls for little external intervention and is therefore more sustainable
from an ecological point of view. Italy is the country with the greatest variety
of volcanic regions, yet those that boast a history of grape-growing can be counted
on the fingers of one hand. Among these one can certainly include the Lessini area,
very close to Soave, as being one of the most interesting in Northern Italy.
The natural environment
Another aspect of terroir that has risen to prominence in recent years
is the ecosystem. The presence of woodland and meadows, of insects that act as predators
and pollinators, and of indigenous microorganisms that live in symbiosis with the
vines – generally speaking, offering natural biodiversity – constitute
highly positive elements in terms of the quality of life of the vineyard itself.
This, as has been amply demonstrated, invariably translates itself into quality
in the wine. The presence of a nature reserve like the Lessini Mountains Natural
Park therefore constitutes a highly important resource for our viticulture, acting
as an incentive for us as producers of Lessini Durello D.O.C. to adopt agricultural
methods that are sustainable and environment-friendly, in order to express to the
best of our abilities that terroir which is our greatest treasure.