About halfway between the historic centre of Verona and the Valpolicella traditionalists’ haven of Negrar lies a small and remarkable winery which, by contrast, values modernity and contemporaneity in its winemaking, while nonetheless retaining just as much love and care for the land as anybody. Right on the border of the historic Valpolicella Classica region, Piccoli is a small but remarkable concern, consistently turning out beautiful and fascinating wines marked by the precision of their creation and the expression of terroir.
It is remarkable, firstly, for its ownership. Piccoli is a winery run primarily by women, with the land and company owned by Daniela Piccoli, and her two daughters running the winemaking and sales sides of things. Another remarkable aspect is the aforementioned blend of innovation in the vineyard and in the cellar, combining up-to-the-minute natural methods of pest control with a judicious (but nonetheless) pronounced use of oak, achieving more modern, spiced-fruit flavours by ageing the wine in French oak tonneaux (fairly large-format barrels) for as much as five years plus.
The bottles carry the distinctive Piccoli rose symbol, very much the Piccoli signature, reflecting not just stylistic ethos but also a traditional practice whereby roses are planted alongside vines, as a result of their close-affinity with the growth cycles of vines, enabling the growers to gauge the progress of their vines or catch the spread of diseases early. With just 15ha under vine (including olives) planted back in 1989, it would also be easy to think of the winery itself as sub rosa, something of a secret hidden deep in the garden of Valpolicella. It’s a secret well worth discovering, however, as well as something of a glimpse into the region’s future – sensitivity in the vineyards, cutting-edge in the winery, and the rise and rise of women in the winemaking scene, both here and around the world. One not to miss.