The first thing I can say about Elisabetta Foradori is that she’s making the greatest Teroldego in the world. This arcane varietal with it’s fresh berry, Alpine underbrush and pretty floral qualities reaches its greatest heights in her vineyards and cellars. Elisabetta took over the family estate upon the untimely death of her father back in the 80’s when she was just a teenager. Though born among the vines, this was a major change for her and she started questioning everything about the way they had been making wine to that point. The Trentino-Alto Adige wine growing culture, like the rest of Italy, had become very industrial by then with an emphasis on quantity over quality and and all of the industrial farming and winemaking practices that went along with it. That meant lots of machines and chemicals producing huge amounts of dull, anemic wines. It also meant no genetic diversity amongst the vines with the highest yielding clone of Teroldego being propagated almost exclusively.
Elisabetta began studying this ancient varietal and has been working to restore Teroldego to it’s former glory ever since by finding and selecting old clones and effectively “rebuilding” the vine. It also meant a sea change in farming practices with a slow conversion to organic and finally certified biodynamic (Demeter). Elisabetta’s approach balances technique with her philosophy of healthy farming and winemaking. The results are astounding. When I first tasted these wines about 20 years ago I thought they were great but the Foradori wines of today are an entirely different animal altogether in my opinion. Even better wines but transformed into something much more complex and soulful. Foradori has always been a top name in Italian wine and I can only imagine the risk involved in making dramatic changes like this to a successful product. She’s gone from making big wines, aged in small barrel and sold through a major Italian importer to using amphorae for some wines and partnering with Louis/Dressner for distribution here in the US. It’s refreshing to see a famous winemaker striving for even greater things.