- Trentino, Italy
Thank you to importer Louis/Dressner for this estate profile:
"How can one try to describe the wines of Elisabetta? It’s easy to say that, in this case, the grape does not fall far from the vine or the hand that cultivated it. Foradori - immediately striking, gracefully elegant, discerningly tasteful, soberly serious while at the same time wry and playful, and above all always generous and sincere. Wait, is that Elisabetta or her wines? In fact, it could easily be used to describe one or the other."
Kevin originally wrote that introduction paragraph over a decade ago. I've always loved the passage and it still rings as true as ever. What's even nicer is that the exact same thing can be extended (more or less) verbatim to her children Emilio, Theo and Myrtha, all three now integral to the estate. We'll get to that, but first we need to start at the beginning.
Elisabetta Foradori's journey in her “wine life” is a familiar tale, but one that we never tire of hearing. The early death of her father unexpectedly hurtled her to the management of the family estate. Though “born among the vines” as she says, she took the helm at first more from a sense of duty than one of passion or vocation. Eventually, however, that passion and vocation came through the work itself, both in the vines and in the cellar.
Despite her star rising as "the queen of Teroldego" through the 90's, by 2000 Elisabetta had lost all personal connection to her work. A path of questioning, experiment and intuition (that included everything from biodynamics, massale selection and the use of amphorae) eventually led her to give up any sense of chasing market trends of the “wine industry” to develop the estate towards the goal of making wines respectful of the soil and the local grapes she wants to honor, and using the techniques she found more interesting, less invasive, and more wine “holistic”.
Even with a proven track record, starting from scratch does not always guarantee success. Decisions like progressively replanting the majority of the land from pergola to guyot, radically changing vinifications, producing single vineyard expressions of Teroldego (in amphora no less!); there was no way to know if this would resonate with established or new customers. Still, Elisabetta stayed true to her instincts and as we now know, kept her proverbial throne.
Elisabetta is still very much a daily presence and "the face" for most of the winery's fans. But if you've been following the estate over the last decade it's likely you've met and interacted with her three children Emilio, Theo and Myrtha. All three are lovely and very much evolving the winery into its next phase of existence.
Emilio, the eldest, has been around the longest and unbeknownst to most, he's headed the viticulture for quite some time and, after many years in the cellar with his mother, been making all the wines on his own since 2013. Theo travels the most to represent the winery. He also communicates with people like us (importers, distributors) and is and integral part of the winemaking since 2016, serving as a confidant and advisor to Emilio.
Stylistic shifts, already in motion when Elisabetta was still in the cellar, have become clearly defined over the last decade. This is particularly noticeable with the softening of the Foradori Rosso and Granato through infusion style macerations, partial or full whole-cluster vinifications and avoiding new oak. There have been further experiments with amphora as well, including the very limited Cilindrica bottlings aged an extra year in a smaller, longer amphoras. Finally, it's hard to imagine a wine like Lezèr, a light red born of damaged Foradori Rosso fruit following devastating hailstorms in 2017, would have come into existence without the sensibilities of a younger generation.
And let's not forget Myrtha, who after a long stretch working in farms in Oregon and Quebec has returned to Mezzolombardo and is already beginning Foradori's transformation from winery to full blown polycultural farm. This shift to diversify is very important to the entire family. A full vegetable garden has been planted and the pergolas are now full of salads and radishes. The last time we visited, we didn't see vines but rather spent a late afternoon driving up windy roads to arrive at a gorgeous, lush mountain top destined for cow grazing. In 2020 we got to taste Foradori's first cheeses, an early effort from five cows. Theo laments Italy's lack of affinage and hopes they can incorporate this into their production.
Going back to Kevin's original text, he ended it with the following statement. Again, it's fitting and affirming that it applies just as pertinently to her children: "In a lot of ways, she has come far, but we think, that for Elisabetta, like for other great grower/winemakers we are privileged to work with, it is a process, and one that doesn't necessarily end."