Massimiliano Croci is the third generation winemaker of Tenuta Croci, in Emilia-Romagna, and he makes some of our very favorite sparkling wines: super fun and really approachable.
In 1935, his grandfather Giuseppe built the polycultural farm, 16 ha today, with 8.5 dedicated to wine production. Winemaking wasn’t really the focus- like many small farmers of the time, wine was produced primarily for personal consumption. Agricultural production gave way to wine production for Massimiliano’s father in the 1970’s, however, as the small estate struggled to keep pace with industrial farming, but Croci ran into a familiar problem- clean, commercial wines made more traditional wines irrelevant and unpopular, and Croci had to adapt. Charmat became the method of choice, filtering aplenty, too. In 1999, when Massimiliano took over, he did away with all that- the modern tools of winemaking blurred the image, hiding the identity of his wines.
Massimiliano is focused on tradition, not trends- acknowledging that sparkling wine is a way to market maybe some newer, trendier wines, he is undeterred and uninterested, focused solely on making wines as his family always made them. The work is slow and deliberate- the effervescence is achieved naturally over time, it takes about a year from start to finish. Fermentation halts in the winter, beginning again in the spring. In the steep slope parcels of the vineyard, all the work is done organically and by hand, the vines planted in fossilized seabed, a mix of loose sand and clay.
Croci makes a few bottles we come back to time and time again- the cidery, peppery, and refreshing Lubigo, the dry, aromatic, beautiful skin-contact crusher full of apricots & orange peel- Campedello, and our go-to, Gutturnio- a mix of Bonarda and Barbera. It’s killer- deep, dry, and acidic, full of dark ripe cherry and earth. Bold and untamed but really friendly- it’s an ideal companion for any activity- doing the laundry, yard work, walking the dog.