By Michael Abong
Located behind the River Po in Northern Italy, the Torti family have been producing wines in Montecalvo since 1910. Caterer talks to family member and export manager, Patrizia Torti, about the business and her family’s love for Pinot Nero
How long has your family been producing wines?
We have been producing wines since 1910. My father, Dino Torti, now owns the company and my mother and sister are also involved as well, so it is a very family-orientated business.
Where in Italy are you located?
Our winery is based just 16km south of Milan, in an area called Oltrepo Pavese. The town is called Montecalvo, which is between Piemonte and Emilia Romagna, so it is a rather hilly area predominantly made of limestone, which is great for the Pinot Nero grape. Our location also means that we have great soil and a good climate, in fact, we are on the 45th parallel, which means we have the same geographical configuration as the Burgundy area.
How much wine do you produce each year?
We have 30 hectares, so we are able to produce around 270,000 bottles a year. However, we recently purchased a new estate, so there is some extra acreage there as well. Of the 270,000 bottles produced each year, 70% accounts for the export market.
So the export business is a key market for Torti wines?
It is an important market, yes. Italy as a wine producing country offers some fantastic wines, and a lot of it, so it is hard to really penetrate the home market. However, exporting wines is also very hard, you have to find the right market and make sure you know its needs.
How important is the Dubai market to Torti?
I can honestly say that it is a dream to have our wines in this market, because in Italy a lot of people are talking about Dubai and its growth. This is my fourth visit here and there are some amazing Italian restaurants. Also the standard just keeps on getting better, so it is important to have a presence in the market.
As export manager for Torti I travel a lot, but whenever I see one of our wines listed in a restaurant it is very emotional, because for just that one bottle so much work has gone into it, from harvesting and bottling, to the distribution and shipping.
Even though we have a great distributor, I also think it is important to visit each market and hold wine tastings in order to meet the clients and see where our wine is being distributed.
What do you think the most important aspect of winegrowing is?
The secret of our winery is that we care about our grapes. Grapes are the heart of a wine, so if you look after your grapes, your harvest will be ok. In order to produce the best wine we can though, we make a green harvest, which is named because it is done before the regular harvest time.
This means that we control the quality of the grape. We only produce quality grapes, with some grapes, like the Pinot Nero and Barbera, being Dominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC).
Can you run through some of the wines in your portfolio?
Although we cultivate a number of grapes, the Pinot Nero grape is very important to Torti, as the climate in the Oltrepo Pavese is ideal for it. My father invests a lot in the Pinot Nero red, and it is my favourite. However, the Pinot Nero white is also very important. It has been present in the Po Valley since the 1600’s, and we produce around 60,000 bottles of the Pinot Nero white each year.
We also have a Barbera wine and a Bonarda. Other wines also include a sparkling wine; Casaleggio Charmat, Favole and Castelrotto Brut, which is a Black Pinot grape rended sparkling using the Talento method.