On the mountains to experiment at altitude

“Extreme” viticulture: high altitude Pecorino. In 2010, we took our experiments to the peaks to test the Pecorino variety at altitude. A daring project in which we invested all the enthusiasm we could muster. Mountain climates, in fact, are characterised by a distinctive combination of temperature, solar radiation and wind, resulting in greater variability compared to lowland areas at the same latitude. The differences have an impact on the physiology and life cycle of the vines: ripening is slower and more gradual in mountain environments, and the high temperature variations between night and day favour the concentration of aromatic components in white grape varieties, as well as preserving acidity.
However, the Pecorino grape, not typically found at altitude, had never been grown at these heights before. And so our project was dubbed “extreme winemaking”, and with good reason.

Extraordinary encounters: the chef Niko Romito plays host to our experiment

In our search for an ideal mountain location we arrived at Castel di Sangro, a wild and enchanting place and the territory of three Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito, our partner in this adventure.
On his estate – which extends for six hectares in one of the most stunning valleys in Italy – he found space next to his orchard and vegetable garden for the experimental Pecorino vineyard, at an altitude greater than 800 metres. And so the Pecorino Igp Terre Aquilane Feudo Antico per Casadonna was created: a wine which already in its first vintage (2013) clearly speaks the language of altitude: fresh and saline acidity, strong mineral notes, fresh bouquets and broad citrus notes. The processing has uniquely preserved the quality of the raw material, bringing out the original characteristics to the full: wild fermentation, maturing in acacia casks and bottling without any stabilisation treatment or filtering. Just 800 bottles of the 2013 vintage were produced: just enough to help us imagine what this high altitude Pecorino could express in the future.

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