Region: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Soils: Limestone + sand
Vinification: The grapes are destemmed then fermented in a vat on the skins for about a week, then pressed, and returned to a vat. Bottled and re-fermented in the spring following harvest
Aging: 10 months
Fining or Filtering: None
Sulfur: Minimal added
Notes from the Importer: Croci is a small estate in the Colli Piacentini, just south of the city for which those hills are named (Piacenza) and on the eastern border of the Lombardy region. Massimiliano Croci is the current generation of vignaiolo running what started as his grandfather’s property in 1935. His focus is the traditional wine of the area: white and red sparkling wines re-fermented in the bottle. Currently 8.5 of the total of 16 hectares are planted to vines—Barbera and Croatina for reds, Malvasia, Ortrugo and few others in small amounts for whites. The rest of the acreage support Croci’s dairy cows and the feed grain, hay and pasture for the animals.
Massimiliano assumed the management of vine-growing and wine-making in 1999. He observed that the older, more rustic, bottled-fermented wines had held up much better and were much more expressive of the land over time. He quickly punted all things Charmat, stopped filtering and worked hard to bring the estate back around to his grandfather’s 1930’s approach. Massimiliano’s “low and slow” approach is rare: the first and completely spontaneous fermentation slows down as winter approaches and eventually stops, picking back up again as spring warms up the partly fermented wines. He starts that process in cement and steel tanks, bottles the wines and allows the fermentation to continue and finish in the bottle slowly over what ends up being about a year but varies certainly. Sulfur usage is scant at most.
The old-fashioned approach in the winery alone distinguishes Croci but would matter much less if it weren’t for Croci’s distinctive terroir and impeccable farming. The vines are farmed entirely organically and harvested by hand, worked meticulously to achieve only moderate yields, all of which is atypical of the region. By looking to the past, he has brought Croci firmly and distinctively into the modern era, with a focus on exceptionally high-quality, low-volume, traditional, re-fermented sparkling wines.