Watch Elena at the Real Wine Fair 2016 talk what ‘real wine’ means to her:
And here’s a bit about La Stoppa:
Elena Pantaleoni’s father, a printer, bought the property in Rivergaro, Emilia in 1973. The vineyards were predominantly planted with international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon as was the fashion at the time. The old bottle labels show the Italian names, “Pinò” and “Bordò. At the time, these varieties symbolized “quality” since local varieties were used to make “local” wine.
Elena and her winemaker, Giulio Armani, decided that the climate was too hot to make the best of those varieties. They began replanting those vineyards with indigenous varieties: Barbera, Bonarda, Malvasia di Candia, Ortruga and Trebbiano and in 1996, they began using organic agriculture; La Stoppa was certified in 2008. And, in the cellar, they moved to ever more natural methods. For about ten years, they tried selected yeasts, but they didn’t like the results, then changed to indigenous yeasts, long macerations on the skins, only a tiny amount of sulphites at bottling, no filtration and for many of their wines, a year of aging in wood or steel followed by at least two years of bottle aging. Time is a priceless ingredient of La Stoppa wines. “Some people say they don’t have time,” Elena has said, “but it takes time to make wine well.”
Notably, all La Stoppa wine is labelled IGT even when it qualifies as Colli Piacentini DOC. Why? Because Elena doesn’t believe that the bureaucratic controls of the DOC/DOCG system have any capacity to evaluate the quality of her wine. Instead she points out that the DOC/DOCG/DOP labels, which are supposed to be guarantors of the origin of food and wine, are ironically being accorded to products that have little or no connection with the terroir.
Appellation is debased when it protects special interests and promotes homogeneity at the expense of regional differentiation and quality. The notion of typicity is interesting because in appellation terms it seems to promote wines that conform to a common denominator style, whereas in reality it should refer to wine that expresses “unto itself” its full natural potential. Wine is the life in the liquid not the title on the label.
Elena believes in the notion of “slow wine”, the idea of “making time for the wine”. As with the Chianti Riserva Caparsino, and even the Opok white, Elena’s top wines need time, both in the handling and the necessary maturation, but also in the respect of how we approach them as wines. The 2007 Macchiona is still an infant beast; powerful, gamey wine with notes of bruised black plum, dark cherry and leather and hints of bitter chocolate and port. It is Amarone-like in its intense darkness; a wine for the fireside, and meditative sipping with a sliver of mature hard cheese.