Alessandro Nicolucci is the third generation to take helm of this incredible estate and in the past 7 years has been awarded the Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso (the highest achievement in Italy) every single year for their incredible “Vigna del Generale” Sangiovese di Romagna. More importantly their Nero di Predappio is what links Nicolucci to its land, terroir and history far before any Generals would come to arise.
It was Alessandro’s late father who had picked up the gauntlet after the then President of the National Association of Italian Sommeliers (AIS) challenged producers in Predappio during a Sangiovese di Romagna conference. He questioned and challenged the wine producers of Emilia Romagna about the disappearance of Nero di Predappio “no one grows Black Predappio any longer” he stated …. Pino Nicolucci stood up and said: "I'll do it."
And he did. Pino understood how important it was to recover the history of their local Sangiovese, noble by birth, the clear marker of geography, history and winemaking, not political history. Of course, the Black Predappio was bound to stir controversy for the name that lends itself to a later history and geography to another. The color black and location recalls Benito Mussolini, founder of fascism and over twenty years of Italian history. But Black Predappio has always been there in the atlas of Italian wines. To revive and restore its dignity and its historical wine pride demanded the right challenge and the right winemaker, Pino Nicolucci and now his son Alessandro who carries this torch were more than capable of the challenge.
I was first introduced to these stellar wines around 10 years ago while having lunch in an incredible little Salumeria named Tamburini in Bologna. This past April marked that 10 year anniversary and I made sure to make my way back to Tamburini to do that exact same thing. Alessandro’s wines speak nothing but terroir and that’s not something you can easily hide with Sangiovese, Wines are expressive, elegant and approachable while still telling us that the best is yet to come.
The Sangiovese Riserva "Vineyard of the General" comes from the oldest vineyard in the town of Predappio approximately 100 years old, it is an actual parcel of land that was originally owned by Mussolini’s family and later acquitted by the Nicolucci’s. It owes its name and label to its history, the events of the General. The red wolf on the label depicts the ghost of the General in Predappio. This is the story that even today it is told in the village. Full-bodied, mineral, complex, and both smell and taste, bitchy in the first years of life and then soften over time.
These small Sangiovese grapes mature for two years in 30hl oak barrels followed by three months in bottle. Ruby garnet color, the nose is complex with obvious hints of spice, notably graphite, coffee, chocolate, violet, pomegranate, berries and cherries. In the mouth it is balanced with excellent structure and elegance with a long and very soft finish, a wine well supported by lively tannins.
Case 6 : $287.70 | $47.95/bottle
The Nero (Black) Predappio is a deep and dark Sangiovese as the name would suggest and where the history of this Sangiovese can be found produced in Alessandro’s Riggiano vineyard. It draws power from the cretaceous land of Predappio Alta, where widespread sulfur mineral naturally exists. An intense wine, turbulent, full of perfumes and flavors, impenetrable, dried fruits, light cherries and violets, with great structure and personality, elegant tannins on the palate, very recognizable pomegranate. An important wine that needs three years of aging in barrels.
The first bottling in 2003 was limited to a thousand bottles, today Fattoria Nicolucci makes approx. 6,000 bottles.
Case 6 : $239.70 | $39.95/bottle