It’s been a while since we took a more detailed look at a wine and the producer that made it, so we thought we’d revert back to type this week. After all, nothing brings us greater joy that to help people learn about spectacular wines that they may not have come across before.
As usual, we had a choice to make when choosing the wine that we’d talk about in this article. Do we go with a wine from a major producer that readers will recognise almost instantly? Or, do we shine a spotlight on a wine from perhaps a less famous company that we believe deserves the respect of the consumer?
This week, we have decided on the latter. So, without any further ado, let’s dig into the history of Cantine Polavanera, another new winery that has been making waves in the Italian wine industry despite existing for less than two decades.
Like so many other modern wine producers, the story of Cantine Polvanera stretches back much further than its 2002 founding. Yes, it was just after the turn of the millennium that founder and chief oenologist Filippo Cassano began making wines for sale to the public. But he didn’t start the endeavour from scratch. In fact, wine had been a love of his for his whole life, and one that came from his family’s commitment to the drink.
Cassano was inspired by his father, a skilled viticulturist in his own right, to pursue a career as a winemaker. Combining what he learned from his family with the education he received at the “Basile Caramia” School of Agriculture in Locorotondo, Cassano believed he had all of the tools to create a wine producer that offers a different product to the many others in Italy.
It all lies in his dedication to the process of pure vinification. With this technique, Cassano endeavours to unlock not only the full potential of the grapes that he uses, but also of the land on which the grapes grow.
Of course, that means that location plays a key role in the quality of the company’s wines. The winery itself is located somewhere between Gioia del Colle and Acquaviva delle Fonti. Made up of lush countryside, where you’ll find stunning oak trees mixed among Polvanera’s many vineyards, it’s an idyllic location that makes for the perfect place to grow grapes for making wine.
The territory also plays host to a manor house from 1820, which again shows that Polvanera is older than its founding date may indicate. This stunning house not only sets the stage for a beautiful vineyard, but it also serves as the ideal place to host the many people who travel to the region to visit the vineyards and sample their delights. It’s a particular joy to visit the region during the beginning of September, which is when you’ll have the opportunity to watch the producer harvest their grapes in preparation for creating some truly scintillating wines.
In fact, it’s worth spending a few more moments talking about this stunning manor house. Now the home of the company’s cellar, it used to be a family home in which the owners enjoyed life with the help of their many servants. It was also a place for the production of charcoal, which lead to these servants and workers earning the name Polvagnor. Literally translated, this name means “black dust” and it came into being because of the black charcoal powder that covered the skin of those who worked in the house.
This is important, because that name also served as the inspiration for the Polvanera brand. Cassano drew upon the Polvagnor name as a means to communicate the strength and darkness of the wines that he produces, namely the company’s signature Primitivo.
The manor now shows off much of the beauty that it held before it became a centre of charcoal production. This is thanks to a detailed restoration job that both pays tribute to the house’s history, while also embracing its new purpose.
So, the manor houses all manner of instruments that Cassano and his team use to squeeze every last drop of potential from the grapes that the company produces. However, that’s only part of his equation. The land plays just as vital a role in the process, so let’s take a brief look at that as well.
The Polvanera vineyards cover 100 hectares of land, on which the company grows nine grape varieties. While Primitivo is the most famous wine to come from the company, the land also plays host to the likes of the Moscato, Bianco d’Alessano, and Maresco grapes.
This is where the true masterstroke comes in. Each vineyard offers something different that makes it ideal for producing the grape that’s grown on it. Whether it’s temperature, altitude, or even the age of the vine, the land plays just as much of a role in creating the grape as anything else. Like many modern producers, Polvanera also grows grapes organically to ensure they have as much character from the land as possible.
Of course, that all sounds very impressive. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or, in this case, the wine. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate the 2013 vintage of the wine that Polvanera made its name from.
The first hint you’ll see that this wine is one that has been aged to perfection is in the ruby red colouring that has just the smallest hints of purple. Allow it to swirl in the glass for a moment, and perhaps allow the light to bounce off it, to really appreciate the work that has gone into the wine.
Once you bring the wine to the nose, you’ll enjoy a complex bouquet that’s deeply influenced by the dark fruits. However, among the dominant wild berries and blackberry notes, you’ll also detect some brief hints of floral and herbal flavours. These include rose and leaf tea, with a backing of some more interesting notes, such as graphite and liquorice.
However, it’s to the taste that the wine really stands out. It’s an elegant combination of flavours, supported by smooth tannins that offer some acidity without overdoing things. The mineral undertones also suggest a wine that comes from an all-natural production process.