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Borrowed land

Wine story: Giacomo Marzotto on a 2017 trip to Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Whether the American Indian proverb was first stated by Chief Seattle is debatable, but its truth is not: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

So very many of our winery friends are dedicated to responsible use of their lands as they know that they are trapping all the effects of climate and responsible land use in a bottle.

Over the next few weeks, I will share some of their stories. I will start with Santa Margherita in Italy.

During a visit with us last year Giacomo Marzotto, the great-grandson of Gaetano Marzotto, who originally “invented” modern pinot grigio, told us that the family had always farmed in a pure way.

In the past, they avoided representing this on their label as they did not want their wines to be relocated to a special organic place on the shelf. Now that demand is rapidly increasing and is no longer considered “kinky”, they will soon have global organic certification.

Let me share some of their vineyard and winery practices. At their production centre for Chianti Classico, they no longer use copper or sulphur — that are actually natural products and so are allowed even if certified organic. They do not use chemical pesticides and computerised in-ground irrigation systems reduce evaporation and run-off wastes. As we know, fresh water will become one of the most treasured resources in a future world.

Their wines are vegan-friendly as they do not fine or filter with traditional animal products such as egg whites or gelatin, but instead use bentonite clay, yeast and vegetable-derived products. CO² emissions are reduced by a yearly amount of about 190 tonnes as they are solar powered. Their vineyards are a stone’s throw from the winery to save on transportation and their bottles, that they make, use 65 per cent recycled glass.

Pinot grigio is their flagship wine and this is thanks to Gaetano and his idea of producing a white wine from the fairly dark pinot grigio grape. All he had to do is remove the juice from skin contact before the tannins added colour and they, and all of Italy, had a new hit on their hands. The wine was called Santa Margherita after his wife, Margherita Lampertico Marzotto. Sadly, she died before seeing the tremendous success of a wine that had her name on it.

Over the years, I have seen many fads burst upon the scene; in fact, the white wines of Germany were all the rage in my early days. The most consistently successful white wine since I joined Burrows Lightbourn in 1998 has been Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Although it does help to be the first to start a trend, quality also needs to be an important factor and, without it, I am sure that Santa Margherita would not be the most popular pinot grigio in the world. The 2017 that we presently have is fresh and well balanced with green apple, lemon and a hint of lime. Its crisp, delicious character just makes it so easy to enjoy. $21.40; half-bottles are $12.60.

Santa Margherita began making chianti in Tuscany in the early 2000s and we presently have their 2014 Chianti Classico where the clean, ethereal bouquet highlights the sangiovese grape’s spicy notes. Vanilla notes are typical of wines aged in barrels and hints of wild berries add to the complexity. Chianti has evolved into such a fine wine, particularly over the past couple of decades. $25.80.

Santa Margherita Prosecco Valdobiadene has fine bubbles winding through its bright straw yellow colour with green reflections. Its aroma is reminiscent of peaches and sweet flowers, and its flavour includes fruity hints of pineapple and golden apples. Decanter magazine rated it a very fine 92/100 and commented: “Attractive sweetness on the palate, which at the same time displays drive and focus. Mineral-charged with bright lemon notes and a firm crispness. Drinking window 2019 to 2021.” $21.75.

A quite new wine for us is Santa Margherita Rosé Brut that brings a full bouquet of pleasing floral aromas with hints of red berries. It is artfully crafted with a blend of glera and chardonnay grapes with malbec as the red varietal that lends its perfect light pink colour. Its flavour is delicate, but vibrant and well-rounded bubbly. $21.75.

I will let critic James Suckling describe our new Santa Margherita Stilrose 2017: “ 90/100. A superb rosé for the discerning wine drinker. Pale salmon pink in colour, full and round in the mouth with complex concentrated flavours. Gentle acidity cleanses the palate on the long finish. This wine is the Italian equivalent to a good Cotes de Provence, although this is comparatively low in sulphites too (which is very difficult to find in France). This is the Italian “Whispering Angel”. $25.50.

Please enjoy these wines and live in harmony with Mother Nature.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit wineonline.bm