I Vini del Lario, il dossier del 7^numero della nostra rivista.

Wine, one of the most popular alcoholic beverages throughout the world, is defined as a product obtained from the fermentation of the fruit of the vine, the grape, or must. What perhaps not everyone knows is that our territory, too, can boast of respectable wine production, with fine wines that already in past centuries accompanied the banquets of nobles and others. From the Brianza area of Lecco, all the way to the upper lake, there are many producers who over the years have worked hard to produce a wine that reflects to the palate the characteristics of grapes that are typical and exclusive to the Larian territory.

The wines of Lario territory

Without going too far into technical considerations that we leave to the experts in the field, we can say without risk of contradiction that the wine production around Lario is quite varied and able to show its quality in both white and red. The white is produced from grapes of the Verdese bianco (the only historically local grape variety), Chardonnay, Pinot bianco, Riesling, Sauvignon and Trebbiano from Trebbiano toscano, while for the red Barbera, MCabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot, Marzemino, Croatina, Sangiovese and Schiava are used. Several versions are offered, from dry to sweet, from bubbles to passito, not forgetting the novello.

Characteristics common to all the productions are freshness, flavor and longevity, wines that are very matchable with the gastronomic culture not only of the lake, but also of Brianza. Each individual winery then focuses on the personalization of its wine, linked both to the characteristics of the grapes produced in a given area, but also to the specific production process that is chosen to make the most of the raw material, giving each wine its own distinct identity.

Vini del Lario

To protect, promote and enhance the wines of the area, the Terre Lariane IGT Consortium was established in December 2009 to identify the wines produced in a vast area that includes as many as 195 municipalities, from the provinces of Como and Lecco, all more or less overlooking the banks of the Lario. In fact, the acronym IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica.

The localities where wine production is most concentrated are the hills around Montevecchia, in Lecco’s Brianza region, and Domaso, in western Alto Lario. In these two areas viticulture has distant roots, but over the years new realities have also developed in the eastern part of the province of Como and, on the Lecco side of the lake, in Colico, Perledo and Calolziocorte. Multiple testimonies document how quality wines were already being produced in these areas in Roman times to supply nearby Mediolanum.

The first to mention “Rhaetian wine” was the Greek philosopher and historian Strabo, who lived around the time of Christ’s birth, while centuries later, in the 15th century, it was the geographer Sebastiano Compagni who sang the praises of Larian wine. Important appreciations are also found between the 18th and 19th centuries in the works of Stendhal, Goethe, Carlo Porta, Cesare Cantù and Alessandro Manzoni, who mentioned Larian viticulture in his masterpiece “I Promessi Sposi.”

In the late 1800s a phase of decline began caused by phylloxera, an insect of American origin that was first reported in Italy in the territories of Valmadrera, in the province of Lecco, and Agrate, in the Milan area. This insect destroyed most of the vineyards. Thus it was that, as an alternative to the vine, mulberry trees began to be cultivated, fundamental for the silk industries that were developing at that time between Como and Lecco.

The increasing industrialization of these territories also led the population to abandon agricultural life, and there were very few winegrowing activities that resisted. At the end of the 20th century, a few enthusiasts resumed vine cultivation in the upper lake and in the Curone Valley, replanting noble vines, but soon finding themselves facing common difficulties. The small, fragmented and often terraced areas due to the slopes of the land meant that the quantity of wine produced was limited and the production burdens high, as was the final price. This gave little economic and commercial strength to the producers, who struggled to make themselves known in their own territory.

The establishment of the consortium enabled individual producers to cope with the aforementioned problems and grow their production, both qualitatively and in terms of quantity. Through the consortium, members can take advantage of training and advice, both agronomic and oenological, aimed at improving product quality. Also with this in mind, a cooperative winery has been created that provides practical support to members for the winemaking and bottling stages, guaranteeing a decrease in production costs. This project, unique in Italy, allows them to vinify their products individually, while sharing with others the costs of running the winery.

Finally, the Terre Lariane IGT Consortium represents a valid co-marketing tool through which individual wineries collaborate in order to promote and enhance the products, and consequently the IGT, by participating in trade fairs, such as Vinitaly and Ristorexpo, and other local events in which, individually, it would be more difficult to play a leading role since they would require a considerable organizational and financial commitment.

The Consortium itself is personally involved in organizing events in the Larian territory that allow members to make themselves known to new potential consumers. Among these, the most significant is “Montevecchia da bere,” which is a food and wine route in stages through the streets of Montevecchia in which hundreds of visitors take part every year to taste the IGT wines and the many typical products of the area.

From all this it is clear that the Terre Lariane Consortium is a valid representative of the winemaking activities present in the provinces of Como and Lecco, as is also testified by the constant increase in membership, which has risen from 7 founding companies in 2009 to the current 18, with forecasts of a further increase in 2023.

Terre Lariane IGT Consortium Wineries

  • La Costa, La Valletta Brianza (LC)

  • Sorsasso Lago di Como, Domaso (CO)

  • Cantine Angelinetta, Domaso (CO)

  • Terrazze di Montevecchia, Montevecchia (LC)

  • Cascina Bellesina, Missaglia (LC)

  • Maggioni Francesco, Montevecchia (LC)

  • Tre Noci, Sirtori (LC)

  • Sala Agricoltura, Montano Lucino (CO)

  • Santa Croce, Missaglia (LC)

  • Vigne Casati, Merate (LC)

  • Tenuta Montecchio, Colico (LC)

  • Il Ceresè, Montevecchia (LC)

  • Viticoltura Cardinal Federigo, Calolziocorte (LC)

  • Rossi Simone, Calolziocorte (LC)

  • Azienda Agricola Concordia, Fino Mornasco (CO)

  • Azienda Agricola Runch di Ronchi Lorenzo, Montevecchia (LC)

  • Azienda Agricola Festorazzi, Perledo (LC)

  • Limonta Lorenzo, Montevecchia (LC)

THE QUESTION: What is the most complex wine to produce?

The answer is Claudia Crippa, president of the Terre Lariane IGT Consortium:

Definitely sparkling wine, which is becoming increasingly popular in our area thanks to the characteristics of freshness, flavor and acidity that we find in our grapes, which are very suitable for sparkling. Complex because the oenological process of production requires greater knowledge of microbiology and chemistry, with temperatures to be respected to the degree centigrade in order to then have an optimal final result, as well as with regard to humidity and all those related parameters that come into play. It should be noted that our method of sparkling wine making is the classic method, with re-fermentation in the bottle, and not Charmat, which uses the autoclave instead.

The book

Wine Civilization on Lake Como” is the title of a work by Leo Miglio, the son of Gianfranco Miglio, a jurist, academic and politician from Como, as well as a senator of the Italian Republic, who was personally involved during the darkest period of wine production in the Lake Como area, in restoring its fortunes.

The book, published in 2017 and which Leo began writing a full 13 years earlier, is a true summary of the history of wine in Lake Como. Leo, a full professor of the Physics of Matter at the Department of Materials Science at the University of Milan Bicocca, followed his father’s passion by carrying on the work of the family vineyards in Pozzolo di Domaso, where he planted a number of Rhaetian grapes, later handing over to his friend Emanuele Angelinetta, who with his winery is one of the members of the Terre Lariane IGT Consortium.

In his book, Miglio takes an overview from the past to the present, also looking to the future, of what wine in the Como area has been, is, and will be. All this is done in a fictionalized form, also delving into the everyday life in the vineyard, illustrating techniques and practices of wine production.