- Friuli, Italy
Marco Sara is an eight-hectare certified organic wine estate in the town of Savorgnano del Torre, in the northwestern corridor of the Friuli Colli Orientali denomination. Savorgnano is not an official subzone of the Colli Orientali, but it is largely considered one because of its unique characteristics. It’s the the coolest and wettest area in the appellation, with around 1600-1800mm of annual rainfall. Compare that to Miami, at around 1570mm, and Seattle, with a measely 950mm! Savorgnano has a significant concentration of ponca soil, also known as opok in neighboring Slovenia, and as Flysch di Cormòns to geologists. Ponca is a friable marl, nearly-alkaline due to its high percentage of calcium carbonate, with alternating layers of clay or sandstone. The vineyards of Savorgnano are also surrounded by dense forests, with a dramatic backdrop of the Julian Alps. Naturally, botrytis cinerea is present every year and has a place in the culture of winemaking here, both for dry and sweet wines. Past generations of villagers of Savorgnano knew that this combination of factors were capable of creating great white wines, marked by saltiness and verticality. In fact, the best slopes with ponca were reserved for white grapes and the red grapes were planted on the lower, flatter parcels with more fertile clay.
Marco, whose first commerical release was 2003, comes from this lineage and mindset. He has clear convictions, which have been tested over the twenty harvests of his career. Though he runs with the natural wine crowd, he is convinced that some of its tropes--constant experimentation, maceration with white wine skins, the dreaded ‘funkiness’--have, paradoxically, obscured terroir, much in the same way as the superripe barriqued wines of the 1990s. His entire modus operandi is to make the terroir of Savorgnano speak clearly, with the grape variety being a mere vessel. He is a man dedicated to the ponca!
In addition to the wines offered today, Marco will soon be releasing new vintages of his partially botrytized dry Friulano ‘Erba Alta,’ his peppery and ethereal Schioppettino, his dark and brambly Refosco ‘El Re’, and his sweet and extraordinary Picolit, affected by 90% botrytis. Though Marco and his wines are quite well known in some circles in Italy, he has not had a major or steady presence in the United States. Until now. Welcome, Marco!
To learn more: