Ronco del Gelso

Ronco del Gelso nestles in a small plain amongst the tributaries of the Isonzo, between the hills of Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Collio region and the Adriatic coast providing a partly continental, partly Mediterranean climate. The estate falls within the Isonzo DOC zone and the Rive Alte subzone where the Isonzo characteristics are even more inherent, and the territorial identity even more pronounced. Winemaker and estate-owner Giorgio Badin comes from a family of farmers who had always worked the land, and made the transition from livestock farmers to winegrowers in 1988 when they bottled their first wine.

Having now reached an annual production of around 150,000 bottles and won a plethora of awards and praise for their wines, Ronco del Gelso attribute much of their wine’s character to the Isonzo DOC Rive Alte soils, which are poor in nutrients, stony and dry. This soil ensures that vine vigour is controlled, heat is reflected by the stones to promote full-ripening of the grapes and a little water stress avoids excessive production of leaves and focuses the vine’s energy on fruit. Adriatic sea breezes mitigate the high temperatures in summer and mountains in the North protect from cold winds in the Winter, whilst a high diurnal range means that Ronco del Gelso are able to produce firmly structured whites, with full flavour and exquisite aromatics, as well as several beautifully balanced, fresh reds. Ronco del Gelso produce beautiful expressions of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Friulano, Sauvignon and Malvasia Istriana amongst the white varieties and  Merlot and Cabernet Franc amongst the red.

Ronco del Gelso have striven to make their winery as sustainable as possible and currently consume exactly the same amount of electricity as they generate and can claim to be self-sufficient from this point of view. Their recently built cellar includes two solar-panelled roofs and a woodchip-burning furnace which is fuelled by vine prunings and can both heat the winery and produce hot water. The new drip irrigation systems which replaced the previous sprinkler systems has enabled them to achieve a 75% reduction in the amount of water wasted and the winery now bottles all their wines in new lightweight bottles designed by the Protection Consortium for Isonzo Wines. They have also managed to significantly reduce the use of chemical intervention  by using tie dispensers impregnated with pheromones of the female vine moth, which prevents the moths from breeding and damaging the vines and quality of the grapes. Giorgio explains: “I have always sought to enhance the finest characteristics of the grapes that I ferment, using non-invasive vineyard techniques that do not detract from the recognisability of the variety. My ideal wine is balanced and elegant, with sufficient concentration that must never be transformed into muscular body for the mere sake of it. It must also be age-worthy.”

This age-worthiness has been proved by their system started several years ago, in which they keep a few hundred bottles aside each vintage, so they can assess the development and provide a ‘historical legacy’ for these outstanding wines.

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"Stern but ripe apple and melon nose. Plump and rounded, close to overripe with a hint of sweetness. Creamy, tangy, long finish." Pinot Grigio, Sot lis Rivis 2012 17.5 (91) Stephen Brook for Decanter, Jan 2015