WHAT IS TERROIR?
This word has no exact equivalent in Italian or English, often loosely translated as “territory” or “sense of place”.
We can illustrate the concept with a square that has three sides composed of soil, grape variety and climate; the fourth side is represented by human reality (that is, the winemaker who lives intimately interconnected with his or her local community, with its stories, traditions, and culture).
The winemaker is only a part of the whole; if his or her presence becomes the protagonist, the expression of the place loses importance.
With terroir wines, the pedoclimatic parameters such as exposure, altitude, slope, texture, and chemical composition of the soil are in complete harmony with the plant; this is the best condition for making a wine in which a true imprint of the place of origin is expressed. In this case, it is necessary both to use grape varieties in perfect harmony with the environment (native ones) and to limit any external intervention which may modify the binomial plant-microclimate as much as possible.
WHAT IS PONCA?
Ponca is the name of the rock complex that lies at the base of the geology comprising the terroir of the Friulian hills.
65 million years ago our hills were below sea level in three basins where a single rock formation slowly formed. 5 denominations share this rock, 2 in Friuli (Colli Orientali and Collio) and 3 in Slovenia (Brda, Vipaska Dolina, Slovenska Istra).
Ponca, also called the “flysch of Cormons”, consists of alternating layers of variable thickness of marl (calcareous clays) and sandstone (calcified sands). The marl easily absorbs water and is soft in texture, while sandstone is hard and impervious.
The nature of the rock and soil stratification directly influence the plants’ behaviour, as they affect the absorption of water and mineral elements. In particular, this geological complexity is an efficient regulator of the terrain’s water condition, as it manages to quickly evacuate excess water and retain only that which is necessary for physiology, establishing during the vegetative period of the vine, moments of stress necessary for a quality production. The ponca also ensures reduced vigour for the plant and therefore keeps production per plant low, increasing the concentration of extractive substances in the clusters.
The fact that the stratigraphy and the characteristics of the rocks vary from hill to hill means that each vineyard, and therefore the wine derived from it, represents an element that is inseparable from the territory that generated it.
Monte della Guardia
Our first ponca wine is Monte della Guardia.
This name refers to a small promontory located in the northeastern part of Savorgnano del Torre.
There are vineyards here that have belonged to our family for quite some time (Roncut), while others have been recently acquired (the year 2000 )
Observing the terrain and tasting the different vinifications from these hills, we had the impression that the so-called square of the terroir mentioned above could be expressed optimally.
SOIL + MAN + CLIMATE + GRAPE VARIETY
MONTE DELLA GUARDIA
Ponca or Flysch, as geologists call it, is the name of the rock complex that lies at the base of the geology of the Friulian hills: alternating marl and sandstone of Eocene origin.
My viticultural experience together with the local viticultural tradition.
The roncs are an example, a Friulian word to indicate hills that have been cultivated since antiquity transforming them into countless terraces that slope down to the valley floor. This term does not exist in the vocabulary of the Italian language. It emphasizes not only the nature of the landscape, but has also taken on the meaning of a hill suited to producing quality wines.
The heat of the day, which is derived from the southern exposure and from the slope of the hillside (30%), contrasts with the cool night air from the nearby Julian Prealps and the numerous woods surrounding the vineyards.
With terroir wines the grape variety is only a means, not an end. We have chosen to work with two or three native grape varieties that best express this territory, Friuliano / Verduzzo / Picolit.
THE PONCA WINES MANIFESTO
1. The territory gives the wine its character.
2. Wines originating from the ponca are strongly characterized by the local geology.
3. Producing territorial wines for us means cultivating and preserving ponca vineyards.
4. The vineyards respect the integrity of the mother rock, preserving it as something of value. Generated millions of years ago, we want to hand it down intact to future generations.
5. With the aim of preserving the physical and biological characteristics which constitute a fundamental element of the terroir, substantial modifications on the morphology of the subsoil have been excluded. The vineyards have not been subjected to landscaping, only careful restructuring.
6. The vine roots penetrate into the layers of the ponca and always find the nutrients and water necessary for growth (without requiring irrigation).
7. The ponca’s calcareous clays and calcified sands influence the mineral and organic constitution of the grapes, determining typical characteristics such as richness of flavour, and promoting longevity.
8. The varietal notes are less important with these wines. The grape variety is considered a means, an instrument at the disposal of the terroir and not the end.