Vistorta is a small "borgo" within an agricultural estate in the heart of Western Friuli, which has belonged to the Brandolini family since 1780.
Since the 2nd Century A.D. two Roman capitals define the property's boundaries and are still testimony to Vistorta's agricultural origins today.
In 1800 Guido Brandolini, after graduating from Padua University, retired to Vistorta and transformed it into a modern and efficient farm estate, with a foresight and investment which is surprising even today.
The villa, the Barchessa (open barn) and the adjoining farm houses are testimony to a very up-to-date conception of farming activity: the fame of its grapes, of its cellars and the quality of its renowned wines go well beyond regional boundaries.
The present day Vistorta estate, which cultivates 220 hectares of land around the villa, has been managed by Brandino Brandolini d'Adda since 1980. A graduate in Agricultural science at the Texas A. & M. University, and following a first wine-making experience in another family-owned estate, Chateau Greysac in Bordeaux, Brandino planned a renovation of the Vistorta estate following the French model, that is by concentrating on one great red wine.
The planting of new grape varieties was begun with the collaboration of Georges Pauli, (wine maker at the Chateau Gruaud Larose) at the end of the 1980s, integrating them with the existing varieties and in so doing, producing very high quality grapes, the decision to use Merlot, a variety originating in Bordeaux and brought to Friuli a century ago, was not made by chance, and It was perfectly suited to the Vistorta "terroir".
The lime and clay nature of the soil-types on the Vistorta estate are an ideal base for obtaining great red wines and have the same characteristics found in the Bordeaux and Medoc wine-producing areas, where the clay soils and hot and dry summers favour Merlot allowing it to express itself at its best. The introduction of new French clones, the selection of native grape varieties and the choice of different strength grafts have created vineyards with a wide and balanced varietal appearance. Other varieties such as Carmener, Syraz, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Refosco have been implanted so that they can be compared with the Merlot each year.
The subdivision into small plots (each of 0.75 to 1.5 hectares in size) allows the estate to achieve grapes which are homogenous and very similar to each other. The objective was to count on a large number of plants per hectare, that is some 4,000/5,000 plants with a low fruit yield per plant.
The cultivation technique is very rigorous: after pruning not more than one bud is left on the plant and during budding itself only the best shoots are left to favour leaf development. After flowering, the excess grape clusters are sacrificed and at the end of the early maturation period the best grape clusters are once again chosen and the leaves covering them are thinned out. These operations, at the end of September, before the autumn rains, allow for the harvesting of healthy, ripe and homogenous grapes.
The vinification equipment is housed in the Barchessa di Cordignano, where the valuable 18th century architecture is coupled with the most advanced oenological technology. The ripe and healthy grapes, after soft crushing and fermentation, are left to macerate for a period of 18 to 25 days after which the best time for racking is decided through temperature control and recurrent tastings .
The aim is to extract the soft tannins from the marc, avoiding an astringent taste. Part of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in new barriques where the wine's freshness meets the wood's elegance.
At the end of January, in the presence of Georges Paoli, the cellar's staff begin tastings in order to bring about possible blends from different batches of wine (not more than 60% of the total production), only wines assembled after twelve months in barrique can be worthy of the title Merlot di Vistorta.
Before being bottled, the wine is clarified using egg white (it is not filtered so that it may conserve its integrity) and is left to mature for six months in the bottle in the darkness of the cellar before being launched onto the market.