Croci 'Lubigo' Vino Frizzante Bianco 2021
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Press 4 Mix/White • August 2023 Direct Press Selection
Croci is a small estate, currently run by vignaiolo Massimiliano Croci whose grandfather started the estate in 1935. They, too, hail from the hills around Piacenza, just east of Lombardy. Milk was originally the main focus of the farm until 1970 when Massimiliano’s father realized they couldn’t compete on the same level with industrial farms, and switched to wine production exclusively. Today it is still just 16 hectares with only about half of that planted to vines. The rest of the property is used for dairy cows, grain, hay, and pasture, and production is about 40,000 bottles a year. Their vineyards and winery are located in the Val Arda, named after a small tributary of the tremendous Po River. Their plots are mainly steep hillsides of old vines at 250-300 meters of elevation on soils made of loose sand full of fossilized, limestone-rich seashells (evidence of a time when the land was once an ocean floor) and red clay. The vines are farmed entirely organically and harvested by hand.
In the 1980’s Croci tried to compete with modern wineries by switching to charmat method, where the wines get their bubbles in an enormous steel tank, like Prosecco. When Massimiliano assumed management of the estate in 1999 he observed that the more traditional method of refermenting in bottle instead of tank held up better and showcased the expressiveness of the land far better, so he switched back. Croci now uses the anachronistic but traditional “low and slow” approach, where the first spontaneous fermentation stops in the winter and continues fermentation in the spring as it warms up.
Croci’s ‘Lubigo’ (translation = landslide) is 100% Ortugo from a steep, southeast-facing vineyard referred to as a ”beach” due to the aforementioned sandy soils full of fossils. The grapes see 1-2 weeks of skin-contact, and the wine is bottled unfiltered with a small addition of sulfur in the springtime before the wine starts to ferment again, generally around Easter and always during a waning moon. Refermentation takes another 8-10 months, at which point the wine is fully dry and a little sparkling—less than your average Pet-Nat. It’s bottled with a cork, which takes a bit of elbow grease to remove because of the pressure from the bubbles, but it will be worth the effort.
This wine is both funky and incredibly refreshing. There’s a grippy minerality, and it reminded me of a farmhouse ale or Saison. Youthful with notes of just-bitten apple, meyer lemon, stewed pineapples, and salty cheeses. Picture yourself lazing down a cross-town river in a boat with fresh cut fruits, pecorino, and tarte tatin laid out around you.
Jeremy Hernandez & Demi Elder