The Wine: Ambra Orange Pét Nat 2018
Distina Ambra is an orange pét nat natural wine made from a blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Moscato Bianco, and Marsanne from a wine region in Emilia-Romagna called Colli Piacentini - near the town of Piacenza. Ambra 2017 undergoes spontaneous fermentation with native yeast and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. About 2 weeks of maceration on the skins give this amazing wine its amber color. Dry apricot on the nose with honey and distinctly aromatic notes due to Malvasia di Candia and Moscato.
The Producer: Distina
Distina is located in the “Colli Piacentini” hills of Western Emilia-Romagna near the picturesque burg of Castell’Arquato and is nestled between two verdant and rather Hobbit-esque valleys. The very same hills are also home to several other natural wine pioneers: La Stoppa, Andrea Cervini, Denavolo, Croci, and Montesissa.
A small, family-led passion project, Distina was born in 2017 when young Claudio Campaner, who had been living in Milan and had worked years with the legendary master distiller Claudio Capovilla, decided to move back to his hometown and begin work on a tiny one-hectare plot. Claudio's goal was to make both natural wines and distillates.
Claudio now farms a total of about 6 hectares, certified organic, of which 3 planted with vines, half a hectare of fruit orchards, and the remaining land planted with grains and woods. The soils are characterized by alluvial remains, with sand and white clays, and are rich with marine fossils, imbuing the grapes and the resulting wines with a vibrant sapidity and abyssal minerality.
The grape varieties Claudio focuses on are the ancient local ones, such as Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Marsanne, and Moscato Bianco for the whites; Barbera and Bonarda for the reds. He works in the cellar as lovingly and naturally as he does in the vineyard, where he employs several natural techniques to foster and stimulate the ecosystem’s health and biodiversity.
This means only manual harvesting, wild fermentation with native yeasts present on the grapes and in the cellar, maceration on the skins to extract the very soul of terroir, and of course no fining or filtration. Claudio has chosen cement and fiberglass as the ideal vessels to not interfere with the purity and brightness of the original fruit. The pomace resulting from the vinification is first distilled, then re-utilized as a natural fertilizer.
Claudio only makes four wines but, oh boy, they are authentically moving and majestic beasts. Take for example the two “frizzante” bubbly. Ambra is a glowing jewel of an orange pét-nat: blending Malvasia di Candia, Marsanne, and Moscato Bianco, with a touch of Ortrugo, Trebbiano, and Sauvignon, it sings of chestnut honey, dried aromatic herbs, and cantaloupe melon.
We've been working with Distina Ambra Frizzante for a while now, a pét-nat skin-contact wine like no other, untamed, and most importantly delicious
The Region: Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna is a region as famous for its wines as it is for its incredibly rich culinary tradition. Who hasn't tried products such as Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma DOP, Culatello di Zibello DOP? Who hasn't typical dishes such as Tortellini di Modena, Lasagne alla Bolognese, or Tagliatelle? It is safe to say that Emilia-Romagna set the standards for Italian culinary excellence worldwide.
Emila-Romagna is located in the northern part of Italy and is the only Italian region with traits of coast both to the east and west. Its territory is mostly flat, dominated by Italy's longest river, Po river, and by Italy's largest flatland, called Pianura Padana, the most fertile agricultural region of the peninsula.
Emilia-Romagna borders with Lombardy (north-west), Veneto (north), Marche (south), Tuscany (south-west), and Liguria (west). Bologna is the region's capital and of the Italian cities with the highest quality of life - it is also home of the oldest university in the world, founded in 1088.
In popular culture, Emilia-Romagna found new glory in recent years precisely thanks to its unmatched food culture. "Osteria Francescana", the brainchild of "poet chef" Massimo Bottura, was voted best restaurant in the world for 2016 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants' jury.
Moreover, Aziz Ansari's hit show "Master of None" is set in Modena, where Aziz (Dev) is an apprentice chef at a traditional Tortellini di Modena shop who's on a mission to try and eat each and every local delicacy he comes across.