In the hills outside Piacenza, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northeast Italy is La Stoppa, and its two key figures: Elena Pantaleoni and winemaker Giulio Armani, the latter a curious and open-minded wine-making fixture there since the 1980’s, the former the wise and humble leader behind the entirety of the project. Together they operate an estate of meticulous work and ardent commitment.
What is most essential to La Stoppa is producing genuine wine of its place. In the beginning, under the 19th century founder Giancarlo Ageno, this wasn’t exactly the case- native grapes were secondary to French varietals. Raffaele Pantaleoni bought the winery in 1973, eventually giving way to Elena in 1991. Determining that the existing early ripening grapes weren’t suited for the hot climate, she replanted the vineyards with native varietals. Farming the 30 ha of vines organically was a natural choice, as was spontaneous fermentation, and minimal sulfur- anything to avoid obscuring pure expression. These are also wines of considerable patience- most are aged at least 5 years before their release, and vintages are not necessarily released in chronological order.
Elena Pantaleoni is the steward of her land- she tends to it, guides it along, her unwavering focus on its past and its future at once. The guiding principle of her work is that La Stoppa existed before her, and will exist long after her- it is her responsibility to express the identity of La Stoppa in the bottle. We love all of the wines from La Stoppa, but this one stands out for us- their Ageno, mostly Malvasia with some Trebbiano and Ortrugo, possesses layers of aromatic complexity, thanks to the 4 months of skin contact, with smoke, apricot, and honey- it’s contemplative, artistic, a testament to the determination and detail of its winemakers.