The Romagna Sangiovese «Bertinoro» sub-zone includes approximately a thousand hectares of vineyards between Forlì and Cesena, on the right of the Via Aemilia, heading towards the sea. Bertinoro borders to the south with Predappio, Meldola and Mercato Saraceno sub-zones, and with the «Cesena» sub-zone to the east.
Legend has it that when Galla Placidia, daughter of emperor Theodosius, arrived in the area, she was invited to taste the local wine from a rustic cup. Amazed by the wine’s quality, she said: «Non di così umilmente bisognerebbe berti, bensì berti-in-oro» (lit. “This should not be drunk in a humble cup but be drunk-in-gold). Thus, Galla Placidia has named the village through wine.
As per most legendary tales, this one also holds a lot of truth. Bertinoro is an area with a long-standing vocation to winemaking, yielding labels that bring out utterly unique expressions of the Romagna wine scene. To know more about Bertinoro and what sets it apart from the other sub-zones, we interviewed Mauro Sirri, President of the Associazione Vignaioli di Bertinoro.
Mauro, which pedo-morphological characteristics distinguish the vineyard landscape of Bertinoro?
The area of Bertinoro was covered by the sea up until 5 million years ago. Various telluric phenomena that moved the northern Apennine to the southern one pushed the seabed upwards, compressing it. This explains the almost pyramidal shape of the area’s hills, which are strikingly different from the others. The rising of the seabed led to the emergence of organic material that deposited over the millennia. The soils of Bertinoro, which are predominantly made up of tuff and clay, also contain limestone of marine origin, locally known as «spungone».
Spungone is also found in neighboring areas.
Right, but its concentration in Bertinoro is truly remarkable. The «spungone vein» intermittently covers the first hilly belt that begins from the area of Faenza and reaches Cesena, emerging in rock formations that have often been chosen for the construction of the famous «Rocche» (the Rocca di Bertinoro is actually built using spungone, ed.). While the spungone forms a “thin line” that goes from Brisighella to Castrocaro, in Bertinoro, it goes around the hills and more distinctively defines the soils.
How does this affect the wines?
If we combine the calcareous soils of Bertinoro with the territory’s peculiar microclimate – influenced by the nearby sea and its breeze (we are less than 20 km from the coast) – we can understand how the area reveals distinctive characteristics. Wines from Bertinoro unveil particular minerality and flavor, enriching remarkable structure with extraordinary harmony and balance. Bertinoro enjoys a warm climate that allows grapes to reach impressive sugar concentration. The calcareous soil and the Adriatic microclimate mitigate the vigorous nature of the wines, making them more refined and elegant. We can call it «an operation of muscle definition».
Not only Sangiovese: which other Romagna wines can also be found in Bertinoro?
Sangiovese may be the most common variety in Bertinoro, but it is not the only one that has made the area famous. Albana, in particular, has found a chosen home in spungone, yielding white wines distinguished by an incredibly refined style, harmony between body and structure, extreme freshness and drinkability.
Is the minerality of Bertinoro also conveyed in Romagna Sangiovese Doc?
We could say that the territory truly emerges when a Romagna Sangiovese is «bare».
The use of wood is always kept subtle: even prolonged aging processes that endow the wines with minerality and flavor preserve Sangiovese’s fresh and crisp fruit. Nature has given Bertinoro an extraordinary wine vocation, it is our duty as wine producers to carry out low-profile winemaking styles that allow to keep what our vineyards have to offer intact as much as possible.