Producer Spotlight: Miani

Miani wines command a cult following among fine wine collectors worldwide. They are highly sought after and due to the extremely limited production quantity, they are very hard to come by.

The man behind it all is Enzo Pontoni, an incredibly humble winemaker who sole aim is to make authentic wines representative of their terroir. We had the pleasure of sitting down with him to talk about his life, career, success, wines, and, most importantly, his terroir. 

If you're itching to get your hands on these gems, our yearly allocation is exceptionally tiny. To express your interest and receive updates, contact us via email, and we'll happily add you to our fine wine list - hello@sociovino.com.

 

FACT FILE:

Winery: Miani
Interviewee: Enzo Pontoni
Role at winery: Owner and Winemaker
Tenure at winery: 42 years
 

 

Sociovino: Friuli Venezia-Giulia is a beautiful region tucked away in Italy’s North-East corner, amongst those in the know it's often referred to as one the countries best kept secrets. Tell us about your region and its terroir?

Enzo: Friuli is rustic and untamed, with approximately half of the region covered by mountainous terrain. The absence of large factories and the industrial goods sector make it less relevant in a socio-political and economic context, but this preserves its distinctive charm.  

 

"Friuli is rustic and untamed"

 

Geologically our area is very specific, originating from an oceanic source around 50-80 million years ago, traced back to the Venice lagoon. It boasts a diverse range of soils that vary from hill to hill and cru to cru, presenting significant differences in the wines that are produced, and the abundance of flora and fauna in the area contributes greatly to biodiversity. Our climate (here in Friuli) is a blend of Mediterranean and continental influences. The proximity to the sea also has a substantial influence, bringing fresh sea breezes through the region, whilst shelter is provided by the surrounding mountains. These factors contribute to a considerable range in temperature throughout the year.

 

 

Sociovino: We all know, the journey to great wines starts in the vineyard. Tell us about Miani’s vineyards, and your approach as a viticulturalist?

Enzo: Now we have 20 hectares, and we are in negotiations to add a further 4 in the future. These are planted with Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Friulano, Malvasia, Merlot, and Refosco. We are certified organic, and farm in the most respectful way possible, nurturing the vineyards to yield the highest quality fruit. Our aim is to preserve the natural balance of our land and therefore we are committed to only minimal and thoughtful interventions.  

 

"Our aim is to preserve the natural balance of our land"

 

Each and every decision is made with a year-by-year, vineyard-by-vineyard approach, ensuring that we respond to the unique needs of each plot. What makes us different to many, is we always vinify every single vineyard separately. This allows us to showcase these specific plots and highlight their unique characteristics and qualities.

  

  

Sociovino: You are often referred as one of Italy’s top winemakers Enzo, tell us about your winemaking philosophy and what readers can expect from Miani’s wines?

Enzo: I maintain a straightforward approach in crafting my wines, my main goal is for them to represent the terroir. Purity and sincerity is so important to me; I steer clear of defining a precise style or messing around with all sorts of techniques and equipment. My sole aim is for customers to experience the authentic essence of the vineyard in every glass—no embellishments, just a genuine reflection of the terroir.

 

"Purity and sincerity is so important to me"

 

Sociovino: Miani wines are in seriously high demand, with a cult following of collectors across the globe. How do you explain this success, and what do you attribute it to?    

Enzo: To be completely honest, I don't know!! I suppose my wines speak for themselves. I must admit I experienced a bit of imposter syndrome initially, not expecting all this attention and to consistently win awards such as the Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso, which significantly enhanced our visibility. Our wines have always shown well in blind tastings, I believe this is simply down to the purity of them. Ultimately, the wine serves as our ambassador. I'm not comfortable with the notion of being the face behind the wine; I prefer it to express itself independently. I believe the combination of these factors and the limited availability of our wines contributes to our following among wine enthusiasts.

 

"Ultimately, the wine serves as our ambassador."

 

 

Sociovino: You are clearly very modest Enzo. We would love to know more about you, your career and your time at Miani?

Enzo: I grew up in a rural context where my entire family were farmers. My grandfather, a viticulturist, played a significant role in shaping my understanding of the vineyard; he was an amazing and sensitive man with a profound passion for his work. In fact, you could often find him talking to the vines! He passed on to me this deep appreciation for the land.

 

"you could often find him talking to the vines!"

 

Over the years, I have developed my own sensibility and knowledge, building upon the foundational teachings of my grandfather. Miani’s first wines were released in 1981, at the start we sold just to local trattorias and restaurants. Since then, along with my long-standing friend, Christian Patat and his father, I had amazing opportunities to visit some of Italy's best restaurants and taste wines of great significance. This experience was a tremendous learning opportunity and played a crucial role in shaping me as a winemaker. We expanded our range in 1986, and through careful and considered development and defining my skills, I find myself where I am today.

 

 

Sociovino: Looking back on your career in wine, is there a particular memory, or a glass of wine that stands out from the rest?

Enzo: In 2000 I drank a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échezeaux Grand Cru 1982 and I thought, well it’s time for me to change my job as I’ll never make wine as good as this (he chuckled). The wine was truly incredible, leaving a lasting impression on me. Today, I find great enjoyment in tasting wines from Bordeaux, particularly the younger ones. This allows me to develop my understanding of aging and gain insights into the affects of climate change around the world.

 

"It's so present and powerful"

 

Sociovino: As you mentioned climate change, tell us how this is affecting your wines and your area?

Enzo: Everything is changing due to climate change, everything has changed. It’s so present and powerful, we cannot compare new vintages to that of previous ones. August has become the most important month for us and nurturing the ripening process, these days it’s very hot in comparison to before and the heat lasts through to October, its shocking. We’re trying our best to determine the best techniques to use to tackle these changes and have the best result. It can be very hard.

  

 

Sociovino: Before you go; our readers love to travel, give us your top recommendations of where to visit, what to do, and what to drink and eat in Friuli Venezia-Giulia?

Enzo: I would recommend visiting Piazza Unità d'Italia in Trieste, enjoying a nice coffee, and immersing yourself in the melting pot of culture. Udine is also exceptionally beautiful, a true gem worth exploring. Don't miss the opportunity to trek through the mountains and venture to the seaside also.

When it comes to food, you must try our regional salami, and other cured meats, especially Prosciutto San Daniele. Minestra di fagioli alla friulana, a delicious bean soup. One of the most ancient dishes you can taste in Friuli is Bruade (a purple necked turnip) e Muset (pork sausage similar to cotechino)—it's very traditional and incredibly tasty. Frico is another local dish with Friulian peasant origins, made from potatoes, onions, and plenty of cheese. For nice pairings, Schioppettino goes well with cured meats, and Ribolla Gialla is just so food friendly, it complements a variety of dishes.

 

To express your interest in Miani's wines and receive updates regarding allocations, contact us via email, and we'll happily add you to our fine wine list - hello@sociovino.com
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