Romagna is a land of wines and mills. You can still find them, especially in the mountains, where passionate millers are working traditional grains but also ancient ones.
The rediscovery of traditional breads in recent years lead to a new interest about the ancient grains: gentil rosso, senatore Cappelli and others. Varieties that were common in Romagna before the passage to modern wheats, more interesting from a productive point of view.
Wine and flour: the history of San Biagio Vecchio
Lucia and Andrea are a young energetic couple of wine makers: their vineyard is small, like many other in Romagna, and this is the reason why they care their land and their wine like a little child. I first met two years ago, during a gourmet event in the hills. And since I love young producers, I kept on following them, appreciating their wines and listening to their history.
When Lucia met Andrea, he had already began his adventure at San Biagio Vecchio. An ancient vineyard belonging to the local Parrish of Faenza. A couple of hectares with Sangiovese and Albana, where the priest use to harvest for his own personal use. The word of mouth took Andrea here: slowly and patiently, he began to cultivate wine.
Lucia is a sommelier, she has all the technical knowledge to help Andrea in his work. Love made all the rest!
But before telling about their wines, I would love to tell you about the Gentil Rosso, a traditional Romagna grain that Lucia and Andrea started to cultivate before the overwhelming trend.
They are curious people, they love their region and are interested in all that is natural, organic and bio. One day a bread maker gave Lucia a piece of Pasta Madre (sourdough). They new about Gentil Rosso from the peasants of that area. “We started to think about it because we wanted to have another source of income apart from wine. But the problem was to get the seeds. Gentil rosso was used to feed the animals. The seeds had a bad quality, but we decided to plant them and make our own bread. In 2013, when the trend came out, we were the first to have a good quality production, ready to be milled and to make bread”, tells Lucia.
The Gentil Rosso is not a unique grain, is a population, explains Lucia. The ears are all very different from each other and it is exactly from this reason that it reacts constantly every year. This grain was able to adapt very well to the land along the ages. It’s being so high (every ear can raise up to 120 cm) avoid bad herbs to grow in the middle and this makes the grain grow in the right way.
“In the years, a lot of ancient grains, disappeared. We want to share this knowledge and help makers and consumers to understand and appreciate”, says Lucia.
Wine, vineyards and old stories
Now it’s time to visit the vineyard. Sangiovese, Albana and Centesimino are the wines you can taste here. This morning, at the end of September, the harvest is already done. Some grapes are still on, while we are getting to Terbato, a secluded piece of land where Centesimino was born, watched by Ida and Guendalina, two nice and sophisticated geese that welcome us with a loud scream.
Here the ground is yellow and sandy, a souvenir of the geological era where here there was the sea. The yellow sand (which is also the name of the Albana Sabbia Gialla), gives wines a special taste: savory and mineral, very different from the Albana of Bertinoro, more fruity and aromatic. This is Romagna, a wine made by the same variety of grape can taste other than you can imagine, following the changes of the grounds around.
The best thing you can do is taste wines with people who produce them and this is something I advise you, if you plan to come to Romagna.
Small vineyards as San Biagio Vecchio can offer you the real and true approach to wines of the area, especially if they are in such a paradise: a natural terrace over the valley and a landscape that leads your sight from the ancient Oriolo Tower to the sea, when days are clear.
And since it’s no good tasting without some nice food, we are delighted with the special finger food of Ristorante San Biagio Vecchio, a charming place, right beside the vineyard. The right spot for a romantic dinner especially in Summer, when towns are hot and you need a nice location to rest in peace, far away from the crowd.
Did I give you enough reasons to meet Lucia and Andrea and their lovely vineyard? I hope so.
Disclosure: this post was part of the Settimana del Buonvivere blog tour. I would love to thank Lucia for welcoming us and explain us a piece of Romagna tradition. If you want to follow her and Andrea and meet them, please visit their web site and their Facebook and Instagram. If you want to visit the vineyard for a wine taste, contact them here. If you are interested in the bread itinerary, please contact me for more details.