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From Burgundy in France, Pinot Nero arrived in Italy in the mid-19th century, especially in the Oltrepò region. Since the 1960s, the area under cultivation has increased rapidly from 600 hectares at that time to the current 3,000. Pinot Nero is present throughout the Oltrepò, although it is mainly found in the Versa and Scuropasso valleys and in Montalto Pavese. Numerous experiments carried out in the Oltrepò by the Istituto di Coltivazioni Arboree della Facoltà di Agraria (Institute of Tree Planting of the Faculty of Agriculture) in Milan have shown that this variety is particularly suitable for narrow plantations and short pruning with few buds because of its low vigour. Under these conditions, in suitable locations in the Oltrepò, high-class Pinots with their very own character are created.

The sea of vines in Oltrepò Pavese - here vineyards in Codevilla (photo: Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese)

Nevertheless, they like to compare themselves with their big brother from France, of course, but the wines here are usually ready to drink much earlier, they often seem to be a little softer, and they are also rustic in a positive sense. They are often down-to-earth, unpretentious wines that want to be drunk, not worshipped, and yet can also meet higher demands.

How Pinot Nero came to Oltrepò

Some ampelographers have hypothesized that genotypes of an original Pinot Noir were already present on the hills of Oltrepò Pavese in Roman times. Secure mentions go back to the year 1500. Then, in the second half of the 18th century, Count Giorgi di Vistarino planted several hectares with French clones in Rocca de' Giorgi with great success. This is the beginning of an adventure involving the whole territory, not least because the variety is also excellent for sparkling.

Historical labels of early sparkling wines from the Oltrepò% when it was still part of Piedmont and it was still allowed to use the word "Champagne" (Champagne) (Photo: Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese)

When in 1912 the advertising poster "Gran Spumante Svic" (Società Vinicola Italiana di Casteggio) was displayed next to the Statue of Liberty in New York, it moved especially the arriving emigrants. Hectic years and numerous awards for various brands and companies follow, including above all for the wines of "La Versa". In 1970 comes the DOC Oltrepò Pavese and in 2007 the DOCG Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico (sparkling wine from classic bottle fermentation), which are on the market from 2010, as well as the DOC Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero for red wines.

Autumn atmosphere in Oltrepò with a view of Castello Santa Giuletta (Photo: Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese)

Where Pinot Nero comes in

The grape variety is the basis or at least a component of a whole range of red, white or sparkling wines:

Often the wines mentioned are available in still versions and as Frizzante, in addition to the wines with the denomination of origin IGT or IGP Provincia di Pavia.

(Photo: Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese)

The pink foaming Oltrepò - Cruasé

(Photo: Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese)

Cruasé - from "cru" (vineyard) and "rosé" - is a protected collective trademark and one of the most important products of the territory. Without exception, the wines are rosé sparkling wines produced by classic bottle fermentation.

The history of Cruasé is young, even if it has ancient roots. The process of creation of the DOCG Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico started a discussion that became concrete with the individualization of exactly this typology rosé. The demand for sparkling rosé wines rose and continues to rise.

The Cruasé is produced in the variants Brut, Extra Brut and Brut Nature and has to be left on the yeast for at least 18 months. Its uses are by no means limited to aperitifs or celebrations. First-class Cruasé also makes an excellent versatile food companion, which can also be drunk throughout an entire menu.

Production, outlook and market

Production figures for the last three years show a steady growth in bottled volumes of both sparkling and red wine:


Oltrepò Pavese DOCG
Metodo Classico
(white and rosé sparkling wine)

Oltrepò Pavese DOC
Pinot Nero
(red wine)
2013 800.000 bottles 400.000 bottles
2012 700.000 bottles 350.000 bottles
2011 650.000 bottles 300.000 bottles

The great goal is to reach three to four million bottles of sparkling wine with classic bottle fermentation within only three years and, in addition, to bottle more than one million bottles of red still wine.

Currently, Pinot Noir in its different varieties is consumed above all in Lombardy itself. Other national markets are Piemont, Emilia Romagna and Liguria. Foreign markets are above all the United States of America, Japan, Russia, and China.

All Pinot Nero from the Oltrepò Pavese tasted at the moment

All red wines from Pinot Nero from the Oltrepò Pavese tasted at the moment

All sparkling wines from Pinot Nero from Oltrepò Pavese tasted at the moment

All the white Pinot Nero wines from the Oltrepò Pavese tasted at the moment

To the presentation of the Pinot Nero producers at Prowein 2014

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