The vineyards at Valle Reale sit in Majella, one of the most breath-taking national parks in all of Italy, a remote, wild and quiet part of the country. Reale was once the hunting reserve of the kings of Savoy, hence the 'royal' in its name, 'reale'. As we stop by the winding roadside, Leonardo Pizzolo shows us the biodiversity of plants in just one small plot, alive with unusual and unexpected growth that is humming with vitality. For example, yellow-flowering elicriso is brimming with liquorice note.
Pizzolo was born in Verona, studied economics and joined the family bottling company. But back in 1998 he started cultivating an old vineyard on the property in the Majella National Park, while also researching the ancient history of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. If you need to know why Valle Reale is so special, it is one of just five producers in this mountainous part of Abruzzo, versus more than 400 on the coast.
Pizzolo works only with estate grown Montepulciano and Trebbiano which they harvest a month later than on the coast. Across 47 hectares there are parcels of land named after saints. Their winemaking uses zero residual sugar and pesticides, is spot harvested and vinified separately. "Luxury is things made by hand - it’s what is not here, everything free from industrialisation."