The 8 best dry and Passito Albana di Romagna wines selected by Gambero Rosso

Jul 1 2024, 16:36
Albana is a native white grape variety grown in the provinces of Bologna, Forlì-Cesena, and Ravenna, from which the namesake wine is made. Here are the best expressions of Albana di Romagna

For us, Romagna is the wine region revelation of the year: the work on the 16 subzones of Romagna Sangiovese is bearing fruit, as evidenced by the Tre Bicchieri 2024. The wines are increasingly characterized by finesse and elegance, and the territory is emerging in the best possible way. Trebbiano is the most widely cultivated variety, and we believe it has potential not only for simpler wines or as a base for sparkling wine but also for fine vineyard selections. Another white wine produced between the provinces of Bologna, Forlì-Cesena, and Ravenna is yielding excellent results: Albana, from the namesake grape, lends itself to various and fascinating vinifications. The Albana grape was already known in Roman times, mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Younger, Cato, and Varro. Here, we focus on the best expressions of Albana, both dry and passito.

Albana di Romagna was the first DOCG dedicated to a white wine in 1987. Today, production regulations require that the grape variety must be at least 95% in wines produced in the four types: dry, amabile (semi-sweet), sweet, and passito. The latter was the most prestigious until some producers began to focus mainly on the dry type, almost entirely abandoning the sweet and amabile versions. The name likely has Latin origins: rather than referring to the Colli Albani, which some believe to be the cradle of the grape brought to Romagna by the Romans, it seems more likely to derive from "albus," meaning white, describing its color. The first official description of a grape called Albana dates back to the 14th century in Pier de' Crescenzi's Treatise on Agriculture, which delimits its production area to "Forlì and all of Romagna."

The last decade has marked a true revolution: the numbers are still small, but producers see the grape as a plastic variety that can be shaped according to individual stylistic needs. Some prefer maceration, others a more classic vinification, while others believe the grape's characteristics make it perfect for producing classic method sparkling wines.

The best Albana di Romagna wines awarded with Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi

Here are the best Albana di Romagna wines that have received Tre Bicchieri and Due Bicchieri Rossi in the 2024 Gambero Rosso Guide to Italian Wines.

Monticino Rosso's Albana Codronchio '21 once again hits success with saline and iodine aromas, notes of white currant, and hints of green lemon. On the palate, it shows a fleshy body with a good acidic backbone, saline, with a prolonged and satisfying finish. Also at the top is the Albana Passito (one of the best tasted). The company was founded in 1965 by Antonio Zeoli, who bought the Olmo farm. In subsequent years, he was joined by his sons Luciano and Gianni, who today lead the company. Twenty years later, they acquired the Monticino Rosso farm, which gave the estate its name. The farm is located on the hills of Imola, hosting native grape varieties such as Albana, Pignoletto, and Sangiovese. Just over twenty years ago, the new winery with modern winemaking facilities was built, dominating the valley from the hilltop, surrounded by vineyards climbing the surrounding slopes. The building features a green roof to preserve the external landscape and create an ideal microclimate inside.

Tre Monti's Albana Vitalba '22 is once again wonderful, debuting on the nose with a varied aromatic bouquet with floral hints of broom and chamomile, then fruity citrus notes like citron and quince. On the palate, it shows beautiful fullness, excellent dynamism, and a clean, persistent finish. The company, with thirty hectares of arable land, fruit trees, and vineyards, was purchased in the '60s by Enrico Scheda. Twenty years later, the vineyard was renewed with new Albana, Trebbiano, and Sangiovese plantings, producing wines sold only in demijohns until 1998, when Enrico's grandson Marco Scheda decided to start bottling. Today, the three adjoining farms that make up the property also host fruit trees. In recent years, other grape varieties have been introduced: Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot, Pignoletto, and Barbera.

Podere La Berta's Passito '15 has a beautiful golden color, surprising the nose with rich aromas ranging from yellow plum to apricot, softened by notes of honey, resin, and almond. The entry on the palate is velvety and creamy, with a final that remains vibrant and persistent. An agritourism reality located near Brisighella, where wine is the most important product, now accompanied by beer as an excellence product, as well as oil and grappa. The link with tradition is also evident from the labels, which depict a series of fruit plants once present in the area, testifying to incredible biodiversity. The varieties cultivated are typical, including Albana, Trebbiano, and Pagadebit for whites, and Sangiovese for reds.

Amedeo is a dry Albana from the Zavalloni family, who have been winemakers in the province of Cesena for six generations. This Albana is the result of an old vineyard planted in 1969 by the grandfather of the current owners, named Amedeo. Incredible aromas of broom, candied lemon peel, and aromatic herbs precede a dry but fruity palate that envelops the mouth, caressing it, and is refreshed by good acidity. The final flavor completes the sip.

Fattoria Zerbina's Bianco di Ceparano '22 offers floral, citrus, and ginger hints to the nose; the body is dynamic, fresh, with a consistent acidic vein and an intense finish. In 1966, Vincenzo Geminiani, after purchasing the farm on the hills connecting Faenza to Tuscany, decided to plant the first vineyards. Twenty years later, his granddaughter Cristina Geminiani took over the company's management, aiming to enhance Sangiovese and Albana. Simultaneously, a project for a Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend developed, which in more recent times has seen the introduction of varying percentages of Merlot and Syrah.

Giovannini's G.G.G. is a dry Albana released two years after the harvest. It has scents of helichrysum and apricot, with a fresh palate highlighted by a touch of sapidity and tannins that enliven the drink. Founded in the mid-60s, the Giovannini family has been producing wine for three generations. The vineyards are those classic of the territory with three interesting and different expressions of Albana. Fifteen hectares of vineyards and a production of about 15,000 bottles are the numbers of the winery.

A beautiful artisanal reality presenting authentic wines each year that highlight the grape variety's characteristics well. A fine example is Querciola, a Romagna Albana with great character: the aromas recall orange flowers, dried apricot, and candied lemon peel, with a body and structure on the palate, a delicate tannic perception, and a savory and long finish.

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