Thursday, April 4, 2024

Foradori Tasting at Ballymaloe. Superb organic wines from native Italian grapes

Foradori Tasting at Ballymaloe

Superb organic wines from native Italian grapes.

Holiday weekend or not, you can always bank on Ballymaloe for an excellent tasting. That is exactly what we experienced in a packed upstairs at the Grainstore when Theo Zierock came to East Cork bearing no less than seven amazing organic Foradori wines from the family’s Trentino-Alto Ridge vineyard.

The magnificent Dolomites look down on their vineyard. “We make wines that speak of the mountains and the valleys. We don’t make wine like they make in Bordeaux.” Not that he was doing down the wines of Bordeaux or indeed those of any other region. He was simply saying that each area, each terroir, has a wine story of its own to tell.

You won't find international grapes in Foradori but they came once close to taking over the whole region. When Theo’s father, an oenology professor,  was first in the area, there was a major push on to grow international varieties and he pushed back saying don’t do that. Theo: ‘My mother went along with him.” And together, they focussed on native grapes.

Indeed, Elisabetta is widely credited with saving Teroldego. Some technical changes followed in the field and cellar and  from 2002 they went biodynamic. She never stopped improving and was rewarded with some amazing Teroldgo wines, especially the famous Granata.

The children run Foradori these days and Theo revealed that their mother Elisabetta is now making a small amount of cheese and that she gets each September off as the harvest gets underway. Theo: “It is a great environment, all the family are involved together”. And he also noted that “none of us studied agriculture”. Theo looks after the business side, Emilio is the winemaker while farmer Myrtha enhances the diversity of their land.

Lezer (left) & Teroldego

The Reds


No less than four of the wines of the seven at the tasting were based on the Teroldego grape, starting with the light-coloured and delightful Lezer. The storms of 2017 destroyed 40% of the crop and spurred them on to make this lighter version. This wine was born with the spirit of experimentation and continues to develop in this way. Most punters would be happy to see the “enjoyable and affordable” wine continue on its merry way.  It proved so popular at the start, that they have kept on making it this rosé like red.


Next up was the darker-coloured Teroldego itself.  Theo: “This was made exactly as my grandfather would have made it. It was a very dry summer in 2022 and growth stopped for six weeks, so there was a bit less of everything in the grapes.” As a result, a happy one, this is particularly light, fresh and pure, and brighter, “more enjoyable straight away”. Theo’s grandfather was also very influential in the Teroldego revival.

Morei and Sgarzon

Both the Morei and the Sgarzon noticeably express the variety. Each has spent eight months in amphorae. Both Teroldego, of course, but the Morei was 2021 while the elder Sgarzon came from the 2018 vintage. One is not necessarily better than the other, the 2018 has juicy fruit and is somewhat more complex while the 2021 could well reach that level in a few years.


Nosiola and Pinot Grigio
The Whites

Foradori Fontansanta Manzoni

Manzoni is fermented on the skins in cement tanks, followed by 7 months of ageing in acacia casks. Theo says this is a “weird” grape, a hybrid, born of a mix of Riesling with Pinot Bianco. It requires patience and is a wine that really comes into its own at least three years after harvest.


Foradori Fontansanta Nosiola

Nosiola is an ancient Trentino grape variety and an ancient style of winemaking is applied here, no less than 8 months on the skins in tinajas (amphorae). This true expression of the grape, revealed slowly, requires patience and time. The wine expresses itself best after breathing for a long period and is served at least 15 degrees.

Foradori Fouripista Pinot Grigio

This orange-coloured wine, which I first tasted in Dingle in 2017, is the result of a collaboration between Foradori and Marco Devigili, a biodynamic winemaker from Campo Rotaliano, and aims to express the true essence of this variety, widespread in the Trentino region.

It spends more than 8 months on the skins inside Tinajas allowing the delicate character of Pinot Grigio to be revealed. The result is an amazing Pinot Grigio, not just because of the colour but because of outstanding delicious flavours. The name means "off the path" and indicates that this is not your typical Pinot Grigio and proved to be a talking point and an unexpected highlight for the large audience in the Grainstore.

The Dolomites tumble down behind this lakeside hotel at Drei Zinnen, a 3-hour drive from Foradori

Elisabetta Foradori

“One of the first and most authentic women in wine, Elisabetta Foradori is one of the pioneers of viticulture in Trentino and throughout Italy”. - The Modern History of Italian Wine.

Upon realising her wines lacked soul, “She changed her focus to biodynamics in the 90s and ever since has practised winemaking taken back to its essence.” Wine Revolution (Jane Anson).

“Elisabetta turned nineteen, at which point she took to the vines with a righteous indignation, and what would become a lifelong commitment to the variety (Teroldego).” VINO (Joe Campanale).

“Foradori’s ‘Granato’ (100% Teroldego) is one of the most unique Italian reds around, a black and brooding wine set apart by the unique aromas of the variety.”  Vino Italiano (2005).


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