Denavolo, “Catavela”, Emilia IGT 2013

The Region: Emilia Romagna

In north central Italy, Emilia-Romagna is one of the peninsula’s culinary gems. The pork and cheese-centric cuisine is heavily influenced by a tumultuous political history: Etruscans, Gauls, Romans, Byzantines, and even the Pope have all staked a claim to these rich lands. Lest you think Emilia-Romagna is only about the food, you can also visit the headquarters of Ferrari, zoom around the race track in a Maserati, and peruse the libraries of Europe’s oldest university in Bologna.


The Wine: Denavolo, “Catavela”, Emilia IGT 2013

For a region with such a diverse and well-known culinary history, it should come as no surprise that the local wines have taken something of a backseat. The most famous of Emilia-Romagna’s wines is undoubtedly Lambrusco. Best enjoyed as an accompaniment to Culatello or Mortadella, Lambrusco, like the rest of the region’s vinous offerings, has improved immensely over the last few decades. To find the truly special wines, one must travel off the beaten path. In this case, that path leads to a small 8-hectare estate hundreds of meters up in the foothills of the Apennines, not far at all from the Sea. There, Giulio Armani, best known as the winemaker for La Stoppa, is crafting soulful, intellectual wines in a natural fashion from local varietals.


Armani’s 2013 “Catavela” is an orange wine, but just barely. It spends about 4 days on its skins, imparting a slight hint of color and texture to the juice. This is a fresh, elegant wine made to be enjoyed in its youth. Much of the aromatic exuberance comes from Malvasia, resulting in a nose of ripe peach, tangerine, and orange blossom. The minimal skin contact lends some structure and mouthfeel, and the wine finishes with a blast of terroir from the limestone soils.


The Five Ws

Who: Giulio Armani, working his hillside domaine Denavolo.

What: A beautiful orange wine, comprised primarily of Malvasia di Candia, Ortrugo, Trebbiano and Marsanne, with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc and Santa Maria as well. Produced without the use of any chemical treatments.

When: Harvested in 2013, enjoyed at Babbo all month long paired with Pan-Fried Frogs’ Legs with a Chilled Pea Salad and Prosciutto Vinaigrette. The lifted floral tones are a perfect foil to the peas, while the crisp acidity refreshes the palate after the richness of the Prosciutto.

Where: Emilia IGT, located in the northwest portion of Emilia Romagna, about 45 miles northeast of the port of Genoa. The vineyards for this bottling sit about 500-600 meters up in the foothills leading to the Apennine Mountains. The soils here are primarily rocky limestone with very little clay.

Why: We’ll let the wine do the explaining, just taste it and you’ll gain a unique understanding of one man’s passion and vision.