Baron Longo- Newly discovered treasures in South Tyrol, Italy
The Baron Longo winery in Neumarkt is distinguished by its exceptional wines grown according to biodynamic principles. The youthful winemaker, Anton Longo, gives them a delicately fruity, refined, discreetly elegant style.
“The trick is to combine what is worth preserving of the old with what is worthwhile and necessary in the new”, says winemaker Anton Baron Longo. In just a few years, drawing on a long tradition – “since 1656” – he has succeeded in completely reorienting the family winery in Neumarkt. “I believe people are looking for lasting values. I want to create something that is new and yet enduring with my work, something that can be kept on and handed on for a long time to come.”
After taking over their mixed farming business from his father in 2012, he leased the fruit-growing side and focused fully on wine. In 2015 he once more started producing wines under the family name, following an interlude of almost 100 years during which the grapes from the Longo vineyards were sold to neighboring wineries.
Between 2017 and 2020 Anton switched over to biodynamics, increasing production from 4,000 bottles in his first vintage in 2015 to the latest figure of 80,000. Above all, however, this aristocrat – unpretentious, subtle and firmly rooted in the stony soils of the Dolomites – has in just a few years managed to develop and refine the style of his wines in ways that certain other winemakers have not achieved in decades.
“Let the wines go at their own pace”
Like winemaker, like wine: rarely is this bon mot so apt than when applied to Anton Longo. His wines are quite still, deliberate and reserved, never opulent or loud. They demonstrate elegance and finesse, a fine fruitiness and balance, with plenty of minerality thanks to the estate’s austere, predominantly limestone soils: their alcohol content is moderate.
And, critically, they only develop over time. “You have to let the wines go at their own pace”, he says. Whether as a matter of spontaneous fermentation – Longo’s Gewürztraminer 2020 was still leisurely bubbling away at the end of April 2021.
The expression “giving time” also refers to the enjoyment of the wine: “Some of my wines need 10 to 15 minutes in the glass before it is there. But then it truly is”, says Anton Longo.
Emilio Foradori, from the neighbouring province of Trentino, says of Longo and his vineyards – which count among the best in the South Tyrolean Unterland region – that these are treasures that were just waiting to be discovered and recovered by Anton.
These “treasures” lie at different altitudes, ranging from 270 metres around the picture-postcard Castelletto in Neumarkt/Egna, rising to over 1,000 metres near Montan/Montagna. They contain a wide variety of soils, with limestone, porphyry, moraine rubble and river gravel.
The typical climate of the Dolomites, a symbiosis of cool Alpine and warm Mediterranean elements, with corresponding differences in temperature between day and night, significantly contributes to developing the aroma of the grapes.
The focus of the winery’s 20 hectares of vineyards is on the Burgundy varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. In total, white varieties make up some two thirds of the cultivation area, while the red sector is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Lagrein and Merlot.
“It’s either organic or nothing.”
Anton Baron Longo, born in 1985, studied agriculture and winemaking in Bolzano. He is both an innovator and an inventor who meticulously tackles every challenge on the estate, from the preparation of the solid compost to the tasteful bottle labels that show details of the Rococo ceiling paintings in the historic Palais Longo and portraits of his ancestors, all in homage to the family’s long tradition.
He works with proven experts and consultants, all while exchanging ideas with others, such as Emilio Foradori, who have experience of Alpine organic winegrowing.
The changeover to Demeter-certified, biodynamic viticulture was a “conditio sine qua non” for Longo, an indispensable requirement for the new start and further development of the winery: “I said to myself: it’s either organic or nothing.”
This approach includes spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, biodynamic preparations and consideration of the phases of the moon, not to mention compost that he himself prepares – including horse manure from his sister’s stables.
Yet, despite all the talk of biodynamics, Anton Longo draws a clear line between his “close-to-nature” and “natural” wines, the latter in the sense of orange or raw wines: his wines are linear, crystal clear, pure and as harmonious as the tones of a harp.
Foresight, courage and steadfastness
Anton Longo is convinced that biodynamics will also offer the best way of countering climate change and the ever-increasing weather extremes, as this approach improves the vitality, strength and resistance of the vines. His innovations at the winery include the planting of new vineyards at higher altitudes. He has planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines on the Schornhof at an altitude of 1,050 metres near Montan/Montagna, saying: “The Schornhof is a very steep, demanding location, one where wine has never been grown before”.
“Providentia, Fortitudo, Constantia” – foresight, courage and steadfastness: Anton Baron Longo lives up to the old family motto in a new era – all in his own way.
Among the company’s major wines are cuvées that have been declared “Dolomiti IGT”. In the words of Anton Longo: “Different grape varieties from different locations result in a complex wine that should reflect in its entirety the characteristics of the winery and its origins. In our case, this means the Dolomites”. A prime example of a successful cuvée is in this sense Longo’s young white, “Felix Anton”, made from the Burgundy varieties of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Felix Anton – white
Composition is one third of each of the three Burgundy grape varieties: Chardonnay gives the wine its structure, Pinot Blanc its fine aroma and Pinot Gris its minerality. White blossoms, discreet fruit, lively on the palate, finely structured and well-balanced. Whole grape pressing, spontaneous fermentation, partial aging in tonneaux.
Best enjoyed within: 5 years
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