What do you say about a winemaker whose self-professed greatest influences are Bob Dylan and Jesus? Gianfranco is a rare soul in the wine business. He is an empath/winemaker. First, his love for the vines is so strong that he says he feels a particular relationship with each one. Furthermore, he thinks the vines tell him what to do with the grapes. He has been working these vines for a long time now, so I can imagine some deeper understanding of one’s vineyards comes through with that much time. Whether there is really a dialog happening is anyone’s guess. But as proof, Gianfranco has stylistically changed the wines from the cannonau grapes for the past 4 years. He has also changed their names to reflect the stylistic differences from year to year, always reflecting a personal point of view on the vintage through the new name. In 2005 the wine was called Perdacoddura and it was above 15.5%, a big, brawny wine. In 2006, the expression of the same wine was called Mariposa and at a little above 14% was the results of a search for the more elegant and seductive side to the grape. In 2007, a very good harvest, it is called ‘Ogu – which means 1. fuoco – fire 2. occhio – eye 3. occhio – bud and at 14.5% represents something more ideal for Gianfranco. It is wine born of fire (there was a raging wildfire that year that stopped literally at the next hill over from his vineyards and house) and it is through this wine which Gianfranco presents his vision and through which the world sees him.
Of course, minimal treatments (2 of Bordeaux mix) and plowing, no use of systemic treatments, herbicides or pesticides are tolerated at Panevino (we visited an estate in Bossa that was doing a treatment. After artfully haranging the owner for using these systemic treatments and offering to show him how to get along without them, sensitive Gianfranco became violently ill from the bad air). The vinifications are carried out on the natural yeasts of the vines and cellar culture. The wines are aged in 12 months in barrique of at least 3 years. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration. The wines are all certified organic by the AIAB, an Italian organic certification board.
In 2008 Gianfranco planted another 1.5 ha of cannonau from massale selection. In 2009, he had hoped to plant 2 more, but the weather was not being cooperative last we heard. I am pretty sure they finally were planted.
Gianfranco only rarely makes bread these days (mostly classes and demonstrations for children and young adults) but when he does, he must be very carefully with clothing and hygiene to keep the two cultures of yeast from intermingling. View all Panevino Wines
Notable FactsThe most popular and most planted variety is Cannonau (otherwise known as Grenache). It produced delicious and often ageable reds that are both dry and sweet, although more commonly dry. Carignano (Carignan) and Giro are other red varieties grown here. For whites, Vernaccia (not the same grape as found in other parts of Italy) di Oristano produces a dry, sherry-like wine, while crisp, dry whites are most often made from the Vermentino grape and found in the northern regions of Sardinia. Some wineries, like Sella & Mosca, are also growing international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These grapes can be bottled as single varietals or blended with local varieties, like Cannonau.
A little ditty about Italy...This country has about as many wines as its had governments. With 20 different regions, hundreds of DOCs and even more indigenous varieties, the amount of wine made in Italy is mind-boggling. Most of the juice, however, remains in the country for thirsty Italians. Wine is food in Italy and its rare that a meal is consumed without a glass of vino. That said, it's not common to find many folks drinking wine without food either. In turn, it's a match, and a mighty good one at that. In fact, it's safe to say that Italian wine is a foodie wine – one that goes on the table for a myraid of meals.
For regions, the most popular are Tuscany (home of Chianti), Piedmont and the Tre-Venezie, which includes Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige and Friuli. Other communes of note are in Southern Italy, and a few good wines are made elsewhere in the country. The islands of Sardinia and Sicily are members of the Italian winemaking community as well.