Although the name of Enzo Pontoni says relatively little to the vast majority of wine consumers, it is worth mentioning that it is the mind and arms behind Miani winery, producer, with incredible constancy, of rare and legendary wines. The story of Enzo begins around the early ’80s when he decided to leave the engineering sector, where he worked, to take care full-time of the Buttrio family winery (10 kilometers southeast of Udine), and the family vineyards, between Buttrio and Corno di Rosazzo, in the denomination Colli Orientali del Friuli.
There are no secrets or shortcuts in the wines signed by Miani: it is all in the expertise, and in the maniacal care, with which it is brought to the end every phase of production, with the unchanged aim of giving life to authentic wine stars. The vineyards grow on soils rich in marl (the famous Friuli ponca), at an altitude between 150 and 300 meters, and are fertilized with cattle manure. The grapes are treated exclusively with copper and sulfur, and the treatment is interrupted during the phase of veraison, to avoid that these substances remain on the skins of the berries at the time of harvest, “dirtying” the wine with their hints.
The two most characteristic aspects of the work in the vineyard are, however, an incredibly low yield of vines (from about 20 hectares managed, Enzo doesn’t get more than 20,000 bottles of wine per year), and the choice to vinify each vineyard separately, exalting the concept of Cru so dear to the wines of Burgundy, to which Enzo makes no secret of being inspired. In the winery the followed philosophy is a mix between a natural approach (delicate extractions, without temperature control), and the conviction that the hand of man must intervene, to transform the grapes in the wine Enzo has in mind.
One of Enzo’s flagships is the Merlot, obtained from four hectares of vineyards exposed to the south-southwest, located 120 meters above sea level between Buttrio and Abbazia di Rosazzo. Here the land hosts a total of 12,000 plants over 40 years of age, bred with the guyot system and harvested in early October. After the double selection of these grapes (in the plant and in the cellar), fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature (32° C), in a mix of oak and stainless steel vats, followed by a period of aging of more than two and a half years, before bottling and marketing.
Vintage 2016 is one of the most recognizable examples of Pontoni’s red wines: the intense ruby color, almost inked, a prelude to the typical consistency of his wines, introduces an olfactory range that begins with cooked plum, wild blackberry, date and carob, then open to pot pourri, rosehip, green branch of chinchona, and tobacco Balkan Sobraine, with final echoes of goudron, oil and fungal undergrowth. The palate, already perceptible by the visual consistency, shows an amplitude as rarely happens to try, while preserving the balance thanks to a fresh and vegetal note (perceived olfactory in the form of a green branch of cinchona), assisted by a smooth and elegant tannin, and a good mineral flavor; all enriched by the return of dark fruit and tobacco that multiply the persistence of the sip for an almost incredible time.
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