Anyone knows Burson?

by Riccardo Viscardi 02/02/16
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Chi conosce il Bursòn?

I have been writing more and more about wines from Romagna and not just the Sangiovese there. And so it was a lovely to discover that in Bagnacavallo, in the province of Ravenna, they produce a very particular wine that is only found in this small town. Bagnacavallo is also my mother’s home town and where I could not resist an invitation from the talented and charming Pierluigi Papi, who is a consultant for the Burson producers association, one of his many activities.

Bagnacavallo is situated on a plain between the Sennio and Lamone Rivers where during the Second World War the Allied advance was stalled for several months before the final push towards Milan. The town itself has a long history that dates back to Roman times when it was an important stop to change horses on the Emilia Way leading to Ravenna. It was also used to house troops and keep them 36km from Ravenna. The climate is decidedly cold, which means the grapes taken long to ripen, and the soil is alluvial with a significant amount of chalk near the Sennio River while it is sandier closer to the Lamone River and has more clay between the two, all which give different characteristics to the wines produced there.

The basic grape for Burson wines is the Longanesi variety which the estate of the same name brought back and reproduced towards the end of the 1970s. It is a late-ripening grape, extremely colorful and its tannins are pronounced. I was able to share a wonderful meal with the estate owners and while the atmosphere was friendly, when it came to the wines there was no beating around the bush or attempt to flatter but rather a direct and clear confrontation. The bottom line? The wines still need a lot of work but they have all the ingredients needed and Burson producers are united in their quest to achieve quality and create a critical mass to allow them to expand outside their traditional markets. Their key market today is Belgium that imports practically 70% of their small production. The price of the wine is high and the quality is in line with the price.

Traditionally, this wine is made by letting the grapes raisinate before being pressed the same way Amarone is made. Frankly, this method has never really convinced me, especially if it is carried out to the extreme. However, some winemakers are seeking to make a wine that is less structured and more agile. The product has a nice propensity to age thanks to the pigments in the grape and its fine acidity. The vines are trained in a variety of ways, mostly spurred cordon, which seems the best to bring out the grape’s quality in relation to the work hours dedicated to it, although some use arches to train their vines. The wineries vary from producer to producer but the small ones in a basement or an old stall remain the most romantic. The charm and hospitality of producers make a visit well worth it and the wines will surprise you with their personalities which at times can seem a bit rustic are still enticing.

In closing I would like to draw your attention to the eco-museum of Villanova, one of the best in Europe to understand the social and economic history of the area. It is well-organized and all-encompassing and is also an interactive ‘living’ museum and not just a collection of objects.

The following reviews are of the wines that impressed us the most.

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