2018 Daniele Piccinin Bianco dei Muni
Region: Veneto < Italy
Grapes: Chardonnay 70%, Durella (Rabbiosa) 20%, Pinot Grigio 10%
Vineyard/cellar stats: Certified biodynamic, with fruit from 6 dry-farmed vineyards at 300-500 meters on a steep slopes with arglio-calcareous soils; fermented and aged in stainless steel with no temperature control; bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal added So2; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Daniele Piccinin
Everyone knows the Veneto region in northeastern Italy, home to the great canals of Venice, the famous Biannale art festival, Gothic architecture and inspiration for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Here, however, vineyards dominate the landscape, with mass production squashing quality (hello, cheap Prosecco!) But for the past decade or so, small independent growers have fought to reclaim some space for thoughtful farming and artisan winemaking.
Like Daniele Piccinin, who studied under the region's master of natural wine, Angiolino Maule, president of VinNatur (the EU association of natural winegrowers). In 2006, Daniele returned to the family hamlet of Muni in the Alpone valley to be closer to family roots and legacy, producing the first vintage from his own cellar in 2010. He has championed the grape Durella, a rare varietal close to extinction and locally known as Rabbiosa (meaning angry, on account of its raging acidity). He's also now the vice president of Vinnatur and an active partner in projects to restore soil health.
He blends Durella and Chardonnay together in his 'Bianco dei Muni' because the two grapes play well together, with the intense acidity of the Durella adding a laser sharp focus and intensity to the fleshy Chardonnay Its such a beautiful and unusual wine, with bright, tart green fruit notes (green apple, lime) rounded out with honeysuckle, quince and golden delicious apple. Don't hate on the Chardonnay here -- they do grow some international varietals in the Veneto -- but this is a very Italian take on a Chard blend, one that is vibrant and fresh, almost exotic, with no oak or heaviness to weigh it down. A very versatile food wine that would make an excellent lunch pairing with roasted chicken salad, frittata or a spring veggie spread. Asparagus, even!