The cliffs of the Adige Valley change their appearance as the light shifts across them: awe inspiring when they are veiled by shade or darkened by a heavy sky; and enchanting when the sun shines on them, as they are tinted with delicate shades of pink. The river too changes its mood as the weather changes: when there is bad weather, its rough waters become a whirlpool of green and blue, while on calm evenings they become a sparkling silver ribbon. No one with a sensitive soul can cross this land without being touched by its beauty.
After the narrow Salorno Gorge, visitors travelling from the north are welcomed by the marvellous sight of a wide valley. Vineyards and orchards are scattered among these rocky outcrops. Near San Michele all'Adige, on the right bank of the Adige River, a wide plain unfolds beneath the mountains: its name is Campo Rotaliano. This is where the Teroldego, one of the country's best grapes, thrives.
Despite its charm and beauty, this stretch of country is still waiting to be discovered in all its wonder. It is no coincidence that this striking landscape marks the linguistic and cultural boundary between the Tyrol and Trentino, between north and south - an invisible border, yet nevertheless a border.
This is where Elisabetta Foradori was born. The Noce valley, Campo Rotaliano with the towns of Mezzolombardo and Mezzocorona, has seen tribes and rulers come and go - Rhaeto-Etruscan settlers, the Romans, Celts, Longobards, Franks, Tyroleans, Austrians, Bavarians, Italians. Whether conquerors or settlers, traders or mercenaries, all have left their mark at this crossroads where valleys, rivers and mountain ranges converge and diverge.
Trentino gives rise to two different attitudes in people: there are those who don't like mountains and rush through it as quickly as possible, considering it as no more than a crossroads, a sort of obstacle on the way to Austria, Germany and the countries of Northern or Mediterranean Europe.
There are also those who consider the Alps as a meeting point between European peoples and cultures. They see it as a place where they can linger to enjoy a side of Italy that defies its many clichés. Campo Rotaliano offers the opportunity of discovering a grape variety that has been cultivated for centuries in a context rich in contrasts and history.
Always exceptional, Teroldego has for long been considered a grape of unique character giving wines with "the body and robustness of a Bordeaux", being "somewhat rougher" and possessing "strong varietal attributes" and "a little acidity". These are words used to describe it by a 19th-century wine connoisseur. The Teroldego grape is medium-sized and deep in colour. Its vines need rigorous pruning. Depending on the year and the weather, the grapes ripen relatively early. So says a contemporary compendium on grape varieties. Teroldego was very popular at that time especially in Austria-Hungary, Switzerland and Germany.
The first written document in which Teroldego is mentioned by name is dated 1383, when one Nicolò da Povo undertook to give a certain Agnes, who lent him money, a 'tun' (around 250 gallons) of Teroldego by way of interest. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, Teroldego was grown between Campo Rotaliano and Rovereto. It is spoken of in 16th-century Mezzolombardo when it gained a foothold in Campo Rotaliano. Elsewhere its use has waned.
Time and again the "great potential" of this wine is cited. It has even proven its robustness to mildew (1890) and phylloxera (1912).
Today's area of cultivation is quite small, amounting to only about 400 hectares, 73 per cent of which yields DOC wines. The Campo Rotaliano vineyard has been divided up in the course of time into many small plots, all of which are cultivated with great care, since the land was scarce and hence precious.
It was Edmund Mach, the first director of the Istituto Agrario Provinciale founded in 1874 in San Michele all'Adige, who campaigned for local quality wines to be upgraded over mass-produced wines.
In 1985, more than a hundred years later, Elisabetta Foradori - supported by her mother Gabriella - started her research on this grape variety. At the time it seemed as if it has lost all its qualitative potential as well as its genetic diversity.
But the young winemaker, who had unexpectedly stepped into the shoes of her father Roberto when he died prematurely, soon recognized the boundless potential of this ancient variety and set out to overcome any obstacle to bring its qualities back to light. An essential element of her effort was to recover the variety's biodiversity through simple mass selection to preserve and cherish the diversity existing at the time. This effort was followed by the continuous replanting of the vineyards with the plants she selected thus enabling her to assess their stability and value. Finally, she scoured the registers of public properties, looked up the records of church estates, perused tax records, and soaked up the knowledge of centuries to reconstruct the variety's development in the course of history.
After almost twenty years of painstaking work, the Teroldego has regained a qualitatively well-defined place among Italy's indigenous grape varieties. The vineyards around the Foradori estate is for wine lovers a sort of viticultural Garden of Eden where the huge mosaic of the variety's diversity is reconstructed.
In the meantime, as the vines grow older, the potential of this grape variety manifests itself increasingly fully.
Good wine is the fruit of knowledge and patience.
Creating wines requires love, knowledge and patience. Similarly, choosing the name for a wine takes work and reflection. Except for Foradori, all of our wines have names whose roots stretch back to the origins of Mediterranean culture.
Granato takes its name from the pomegranate, a fruit encapsulating the multiplicity and complexity of wine. Teroldego grapes have the same intense and bright colours of the grains of a pomegranate, for centuries the symbol of life and fertility. The ancient Israelites likened the pomegranate to feminine beauty and called its vermilion juice the "nectar of lovers". The fragrance of its blossoms was the epitome of spring's arrival.
The myrtle was one of the favourite plants in the Holy Land. It also played an important role in the art and mythology of ancient Greece, as it was dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
No surprise, then, that our winemaker's only white wine is called Myrto.