• сhristinabutorina

2019 #Lombardia | Tenuta il Bosco winery, Oltrepo Pavese

Updated: Jan 7

One day in Oltrepò Pavese is definitely not enough to learn this amazing viticulture and winemaking zone, however during this #winetrip I've had the only one and it made me sure I'll definitely come back. Oltrepò is one of those non-posh (yet) Italian winemaking areas, staying usually in the shade of the giants like Piemonte or Toscana, but the zone is famous in Italy for my fave grape on earth #PinotNoir (yes, that's why I'm here). There are a lot of nice local small winemakers in the zone, but you can find here also some names, which you've probably heard of, at least, and maybe even ever tried their wines. One of those is Tenuta il Bosco, the estate belongs to worldwide well-known Zonin group who invested a lot in Oltrepò Pavese area. I bet you've heard this name especially for their sparklings like Zonin Prosecco.

Like the most of European viticulture areas, Oltrepò Pavese #vine growing and winemaking long historical roots are going to Roman legions, whom we know for bringing grape vines everywhere they've passed by. The Barbarians took over the region after the fall of the Roman Empire, then in the Middle Ages it went under control of noble Italian families like Visconti and Sforza. During centuries Oltrepò has been passed between powerful countries like France, Spain and Austria. The vinegrowers of Piemonte has began to cultivate Pinot Nero in the lands to the east of Langhe and Asti zones in the beginning of 19th century. Actually Oltrepò belonged to Piemonte till 1860, when it's been passed finally to Lombardia and became a part of this region.

The beauty of the history is that exactly #Oltrepò is the zone, where first sparkling wines were crafted in Italy at the end of the 19th century, of course made of lovely Pinot Noir grapes. Actually, when years ago I was far away from all wine stuff, not yet studying wine and simply didn't have any idea about #viticulture zones, winemaking techniques, lots of grape varieties, different producers and all this lovely wine stuff I'm now always living with, those times I've just liked certain "wine taste I tried somewhere" and I remember how I asked in Milano restaurants a glass of "Pino Nero bianco spumante d'Oltrepò" which in fact is sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir grapes by classic method in Oltrepò Pavese... Since that time I've already grown up with my #wine knowledge and visiting Oltrepò now is a special pleasure and a part of my wine education though.

Tenuta Il Bosco estate is located at Zenevredo, a small place in Pavia province. It was purchased by Zonin group in 1987 (first vintage made 1991) and during all these years of development the area, expanding the vineyards from 30 hectares to current 152 hectares of vines belongs to the family. Here they cultivate indigenous grape varieties like Barbera, Bonarda and Pinot Noir.

The estate is located in marvelous place, surrounded by vineyards on the super steep hills.

When I contacted Tenuta il Bosco for an appointment, I've got an immediate positive response from Cristaino Trambusti the winemaker of the estate, who kindly managed my visit, highly appreciate it. Cristiano has great experience managing winemaking of the estate during many years, he worked with Pinot Noir and other varieties in different Italian wine regions and abroad like in California and Australia. Thus I've got lots of super interesting info about #winemaking techniques and yes, some of them for sure will be kept in secret, as agreed with Cristaino.

As said above, Tenutal il Bosco is a quite big estate, producing around 800 000 bottles per year. Moreover, the winery crafts some bulk wine for another related estates belongs to Zonin group.

Vinification facilities are placed both inside and outside the winery. Some huge stainless steel tanks outside are being still used for fermentation of basic wines or just for storage of wines before bottling.

This UFO-like cuties are being used for Pinot Noir red still wine maturation, under temperature control...

...and being undergone a micro-oxygenation process. Actually it was the first time when I saw this machine in reality, so of course it attracted my attention a lot. Micro-oxygenation is being used in winemaking to introduce #oxygen into wine in a precisely controlled manner. It can help to stabilize color, to improve astringency and aromatic components of the final wine. The technique is widely used especially in Bordeaux and some time ago it was quite on hype there, now it's being used worldwide.

A little bit of a simple informative wine chemistry. Exposure to oxygen during production may improve wine, however it should be limited as too much #oxygen can lead to oxidation while too little can lead to reduction, both are considered as wine faults. While being aged in wooden barrels, their natural properties allow for gentle aeration of the wine to occur over a prolonged period. This helps in polymerization of tannin into larger molecules, which could fall out of solution, not promoting protein precipitation in the mouth and thus improving mouth astringency.

Micro-oxygenation process involves a machine with valves interconnected to a tank of oxygen. The principle is rather simple. The first part of the device where the oxygen is calibrated to match the volume of the wine (display settings on the pic like wine volume, oxygen dose, time) and the second part where the oxygen is injected into the wine. #Microoxygenation process aims to imitate the effects of slow barrel maturation in a shorter period or at the lower cost with more control over the process. During maturation it can help in the clarification and stabilization of the wine without using of fining agents.

Going inside the winery, probably ones of the biggest stainless steel tanks I've ever seen yet, I forgot how many liters they are (shame on me I didn't wrote it down), at least they look kind of 3 floors building's height, the pic is made from the staircase at kind of 2nd floor level.

There are others "smaller brothers", but still to control them on the top you have to climb up by staircase.

Pinot Nero is ageing in French oak #barrels.

One more discovery for me, seeing in reality pressure tanks for Charmat method production. Tenuta il Bosco produces by #Charmat their basic sparkling wines line up called "Phileo".

Tech info splash. Charmat, in Italy also called Metodo Martinotti, was developed and patented in 1895 by Federico Martinotti, the method was then developed with a new patent by the inventor Eugène Charmat in 1907. It is now named after the latter, but is also called "metodo Italiano" or "tank method". The wine is mixed together with sugar and #yeast in a stainless steel pressure tank. When the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the yeast is filtered and removed, and the wine is bottled. The duration of #fermentation affects the quality; longer fermentation preserves the wine's aromas better and gives finer and more durable bubbles. You may think that the tank method is not as high-quality of a production method as the traditional, however the process is more affordable and popular for basic quality wines production. In Italy tank method is widely used in especially in the Asti province for Moscato d'Asti and in Veneto for Prosecco production.

Big Slavonian oak casks for different wines ageing, latest vintages 2018 and 2019 are inside now.

All the wines are being aged with detailed tracking records of the vintage and manipulations made with them, carefully written down, like TRAV = travaso (racked) or AGIT = agitato (stirred) with proper dates mentioned.

Pinot Nero for Metodo Classico DOCG production is being aged in different formats: big oak casks and small stainless steel tanks, to make the final blend richer and more complex.

Going downstairs to the cellar, where first found some weird tools...

...don't ask me what is it. Seems it's kind of old-fashioned dosage or what-so-ever-else-doing machine, looks freaky, forgot to ask what is that.

Oh again those nice pressure measurement tools, a good opportunity to read my another article about Bonfadini Franciacorta, where I explained how does it work.

After fermentation and maturation the wines are being added with liqueur de tirage and sent to the underground cellars for long ageing on lees. These rosès ageing here are simply beautiful.

The Blanc de Blanc is kept 40 months on lees (now is November 2019).

Yeast autolysis makes classic method sparkling wines being so complex on the palate.

Manual remuage stands, usually used for more noble classic method wines. For basic ones giro-palletes are usually faster and more efficient.

These ones are my third discovery from this visit, I've never seen such thing before and was super curious asked Cristiano to show me. These tools are called #pupimatic (pupitre+automatic) and it's kind of semi-automatic riddling machine. Looks cool though.

The rotating machine, where the bottles after #riddling are being put for a short freeze of the lees by nitrogen, right before being disgorged.

Last machine for disgorgement, dosage and corking. Whole this takes only about 7 sec per one bottle, and then its ready to be wrapped with the label and packed for shipment.

Tenuta il Bosco's line up, which contains of wines mostly made of posh classy Pinot Noir grape, but there are some of them crafted from other local well-known varieties: Bonarda (aka Croatina) and Barbera, which is also widely grown in Piemonte in Langhe area.

Basic line Phileo made of Pinot Noir by tank method, should be a good substitute to your everyday's Prosecco (no hassle, just try something different and interesting).

Metodo Classico line up Oltrenero, again made of Pinot Noir only, try them all, fully worth Tre Biccheri di Gambero Rosso.

Poggio Pelato still red Pinot Noir, the star wine of the estate, worth every single sip.

Apparently I liked the atmosphere of Tenuta il Bosco very much, even if it's a big estate but you still feel yourself here like at home.

The guys at the winery were occupied in preparation for a big event, which should happen next day after my visit, something kind of gathering of 80 sommelliers from all around Italy, therefore a big tasting room was empty of tables and chairs, awaiting for catering, so Cristiano arranged for us a mini-tasting area in the reception zone, which came out actually quite nice and cozy.

Tasting line up of the day: metodo classico Oltrenero Brut Nature 2013 and Oltrenero Cruase (in fact as Cristiano said, all spumante of the estate are millesimato, but it's not shown on all the labels) and Poggio Pelato Pinot Nero vintage 2016.

Tasting with Cristiano was priceless, with interesting and meaningful conversation about wine chemistry, vinification processes, proteins and yeasts, soils, harvests, malolactic fermentation and all that lovely specific wine stuff. Definitely learned a lot.

Oltrepo Pavese DOCG Oltrenero Cruase


Grapes: Pinot Nero 100%

Alcohol: 12%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel; second fermentation in bottle

Ageing: partially in stainless steel and in big oak casks; min 24 months on lees in bottle

Nose: raspberry, cranberry, brioche, pomelo

Palate: fresh, lively, bright


Lovely rose. Very vivid and elegant sparkling wine. Fresh red berries melding with gentle citrus flavours, giving a very nice touch of pomelo. Dosage of 5 gr/l makes it soft and round. The wine is super delight and gently crisp, keep you smiling because of pleasure it gives with fine mousse of perfectly integrated tiny #bubbles. The sensuous texture is at once rich and vibrant. On the palate is a delicate mouthfeel, the high acidity and fresh fruit circling each other friendly, finishing with freshly baked croissant along with an attractive bitter twist of orange peel. Without a doubt it is a very good metodo classico, it can be your perfect summer #sparkling wine or any-other-season when you would want to open a bottle of this nice rose. Give me two, please!

Oltrepo Pavese DOCG Oltrenero Brut Nature 2013


Grapes: Pinot Nero 100%

Alcohol: 12%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel; second fermentation in bottle

Ageing: partially in stainless steel and in big oak casks; min 24 months on lees in bottle

Nose: white flowers, lime peel, honeysuckle, rhubarb

Palate: fruity, silky, succulent


Brut Nature is my real weakness and this wine is absolutely a catch. On the nose it wins you over with a complex of white flowers, honeysuckle, lively lemony freshness with fresh bread crust notes and a hint of something I was not able to recognize, saying "Omg what is that aroma? It is so special, I know it, but I can't find its name in my mind..." Thanks to Cristiano, who saved me, saying "Rhubarb"... Oh yes, it is! As the wine warms a bit the bouquet embraces green pear, nectarine and a touch of #almond. The bubbles are super fine, the mousse is dense and harmonious. The wine has a silky texture and long finish. This wine is a great example of how good Pinot Nero Metodo Classico from Oltrepò can be. Definitely worth attention.

Oltrepo Pavese DOC Poggio Pelato 2016


Grapes: Pinot Nero 100%

Alcohol: 14%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel

Ageing: in oak barriques (partially new and old)

Nose: wild strawberry, red cherry, roses, forest floor

Palate: round, dense, fine


This wine is mesmerizing. Extremely elegant, captivating, stylish. It's been made of grapes grown on only 1,73 hectares' vineyard cru Poggio Pelato and you absolutely feel the full power of #terrior here. The nose is enthralling with juicy red berries aromas, accompanied by hints of tobacco, earthy and leathery notes. On the palate tannins are present but fine, helping to expand the wine's profound flavour. Well balanced, the mouthfeel stresses lovely fruit merging with gently vinosity, giving a slight touch of sucrositè in the aftertaste, even though it is bone dry. Long lasting wine, definitely has a soul and character. Loved it from the first sight. Lots of thanks to Cristiano, who crafted such awesome wine #onelove

These two smiling handsome gentlemen are Stefano Ferrante (on the left), with whom we've met there while were tasting the wines, the technical director of Zonin group overseeing an annual output of about 60 million bottles and Cristiano Trambusti (on the right) the winemaker of Tenuta il Bosco, whom I personally very grateful for managing my visit in so welcoming way. Looking to come back to the area soon, so we could taste again some new vintages and talk about different yeast strains, long-lasting malolactic and whatever other lovely wine topics.

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