When I visited Vini Birre Ribelli I must admit that the wines of Tenute Dettori caught me by complete surprise. The winery from Sardegna produces only 45,000 bottles. I had read about their wines a few years ago and knew that they were good but had never come across their wines or tasted them. The tasting therefore was all the more surprising.
Paolo Dettori explained the story of this winery to us as we tasted his exceptional wines. There is minimal intervention both during the grape growing and also in the wine making process. At one point I asked him whether he used oak for any of his wines and he said quite strongly and proudly that the wines only make contact with cement/glass and are never aged in oak.
The winery prides itself with being as much in tune with nature as possible. Electrical energy in the winery is only used for de-stemming and for the bottling equipment. The pruning, grape stems and pomade are all returned to the earth. They have also reduced the weight of the bottles and try to use recycled materials for all packaging materials.
They decide whether the grapes are ready to be harvested or not by walking through the vineyard and actually tasting the grapes.
Only the best clusters are selected. The grapes are destemmed but not crushed and they will macerate on the skins in cement vats without the addition of any SO2. The length of the maceration can last from 3 to 20 days depending on the characteristics of the must.
The wine is drawn by hand not to harm the skins. It is then stored in small cement vats until bottling which comes usually two to three years later.
In the winemaking process, Tenute Dettori do not make use of any chemicals apart from sulphur (when this is necessary and only in limited quantities), there is no added yeast or enzymes either during fermentation or in maturation. The wine is neither filtered nor clarified.
All the grapes and wines that do not measure up to their selection process are used to make Renosu, an excellent wine which we tried and which Paolo told us was a blend of wines from three years.
Paolo is incredibly proud of his work and rightly so because these wines are really special. He says “we are modest-sized artists. We do not follow the dictates of the market but produce wines that we like, wines belonging to our culture.”
All the wines are “cru” wines, each vineyard yields its own particular wine. They are all monovarietals: 100% cannanau, 100% monica, 100% pascale and 100% vermentino.
We started off with a blend of white with 90% Vermentino and 10% Malvasia which was perfect on the palate, had incredible freshness and length for the entry level wine.
This was flopped by the Dettori Bianco 2013, a 100% Vermentino. Golden in colour this was a wine of exceptional quality. Vermentino is one of my favourite white grapes but this was a stunning wine.
What followed was the entry level red, the Renosu. This was a blend of Cannonau, Monica and Pascale mixed from three different vintages. The result was surprising, not only for its uniqueness, but also for the quality given that this is made with wines which are not fit to be turned into the monovarietal wines.
We then moved on to Ottomarzo 2011. We ask Paolo about the name of the wine and he says it is the date of birth of his father and hence a tribute to him. This wine was perfectly balanced, beautiful on the nose and a very interesting depth and length when tasting it. This was the first time I had tried the monovarietal grape pascale.
We then tried the Tenores 2010. This was a superb wine from the Cannonau grape. We tasted it and were immediately surprised by the complexity of the wine. Paolo told us that this is a wine for ‘reflection’ like the next one he served.
The last red wine was the Dettori 2011. This was a stunning wine. The nose was amazing and despite the fact that it was high in alcohol you could not get that strength on the nose. On the palate, this wine was smooth and balanced and again, if not told, we would have never guessed that the alcohol content of the last two wines was 17.5%. On the website, Dettori describes the wine as the equivalent of studying cultural anthropology. It may not be far from the truth.
For the last two wines, it is worth nothing that the high alcohol content comes from the fact that the grapes are picked up between mid-October and end October. But don’t be intimidated by the high alcohol content. I was surprised by how smooth and balanced both wines were.