26 April 2021
Lunigiana is a treasure trove of indigenous vines that Cantine Lunae knows and makes wine in respect of the vocation of the territory
The Lunigiana, from the Latin Lunensisi Ager, is a historical territory in Italy divided between the regions of Liguria and Tuscany. Its name originates from the ancient Roman city of Luna, located at the mouth of the Magra River.
Lunigiana boasts a very ancient history: traces of the first human settlements date back to the Mousterian period around 120,000 to 36,000 years ago. Luni, a small agricultural colony that became a majestic city, was founded here. According to legend, when Danish pirate Hastein landed there in 860, he sacked and burned Luni thinking it was Rome!
Luni’s irresistible charm resonated with invaders and, in the following centuries, its grandeur made this strip of land a crossing point for both people and goods. Perhaps this is the very reason why, at present, Luni is the Italian territory with the greatest number of native vines. Among these, we can mention the very rare Pollera, Marinello, Albarola, Uslina, Lugliesa, Bracciola, Barsaglina, Caloria, Luagda, Pinzamosca, Verdella and Varano Bianco.
Among the rare ones, Vermentino Nero is presumed to be native to Lunigiana. This variety is grown in a very small area around the Apuan Alps and has no genetic link with the white Vermentino. This vine was certainly known by the Romans, but its cultivation was abandoned in the mid-20th century. Vermentino Nero has been saved from complete extinction thanks to some local winemakers in the 1980s.
Vermentino and its Masters
The climatic conditions present in this land have allowed other Vermentino varieties (those with white berries) to find one of the best terroirs in the world. The exposure of the hills, located at almost 300 m asl, and the unique microclimate, characterized by the influence of the sea and the Magra River and shielded by the Apuan Alps, have created the ideal conditions for growing grapes.
Among the “Masters of Vermentino” is Cantine Lunae, awarded “Winery of the Year” in 2020 by 5 Star Wines, the competition organized by Vinitaly, the most renowned wine fair in Italy.
Cantine Lunae is famous for its white wines and is considered one of the best producers of Vermentino. Its Vermentino Riserva Etichetta Nera, a white wine with great structure and elegant aromas of wildflowers, aromatic herbs, spices, ripe fruit and honey, and its Vermentino Etichetta Grigia Colli di Luni, endowed with intense aroma, great elegance, freshness and balance, particularly stand out.
The keepers of Vermentino Nero
Cantine Lunae has always worked to enhance and rediscover native vines, bringing them to their highest expression. The winery has preserved and planted some rare species among those previously mentioned: Albarola, Malvasia, Pollera Nera and Massareta. In recent years, it has also launched a project to recover Vermentino Nero, whose first limited edition was released in 2018. For Cantine Lunae, this is much more than a simple project: it is the first chapter of a story that tells about the richness of Italian ampelography and how it developed.
The first harvest of Vermentino Nero was in 2015. The grapes were collected and selected manually, and then taken to the cellar. Fermentation took place in 20-hl wooden barrels and aging continued in wood for another 8 months. The process ended after the wine spent a period of 12 months in concrete barrels.
In the glass, the wine presents a bright and full ruby red color. It reveals rich, typical and vibrant aromas: notes of mixed wild berries, wildflowers (pansies and roses) and Mediterranean herbs that slowly give way to hints of spices, like juniper, cloves and pepper, as well as toasted and marine scents.
The label presents white lines under which the producer gives the following instructions to those who want to taste this rare wine: "Write your own sensory notes, for each wine reveals a soul that must be discovered naturally, without any filter or ploy".