On weekends, city dwellers in Bologna trek to Ognibene’s family agroturismo in the Colli Bolognesi for homemade tortellini in brodo, and some local wines. Gradizzolo is the name of the winery name whose vineyards wrap around the dining hall area – it’s quite the bucolic way to pass a Sunday. If the wine were local and made with native grapes, that’d be enough to intrigue us, but the fact is Gradizzolo is a real gem of the Colli Bolognesi, and they have, as the Italians like to say, una marcia in più, another gear under the hood.
Antonio Ognibene heads up the winery. He’s a man of few words, most of which he saves for his vines. He works primarily with the white Pignoletto grape (also called Grechetto) in three versions: a sparkling ancestrale, an amphora wine, and a still white wine or bianco fermo from an historic vineyard planted in 1933. Pignoletto has a soft pillowy-acidity, with a bit of almond bitterness that offsets its fruit and flower notes, such as pear and camomile (the anfora wine shows more of an herbal side). The rare Negrettino is similar to Cabernet Franc: medium-bodied, spicy-capiscum, black and red fruit; think lasagna. The surrounding marl soils give these wines a touch more tension and structure than other vineyards. Rigorously organic, Antiono is a grower who has fought with the majority of the local producers on the merits of native yeasts, and the wines are more interesting for it.
These are traditional and charming wines for a lazy Sunday lunch; wines that have been left to ferment and decant naturally with the seasons, and released when they are ready. You can taste the wholeness of the fruit, its depth and texture from work well done in the vineyards. Start rolling out that tortellini dough…