New Arrivals from Cinque Campi, Emilia

Deep-rooted and far-reaching, the Nizzoli family lineage has its parallels in the agriculture – the rows of vines and crops and furrows – that generations of family members have tilled and tended on the farm for over 200 years. Vanni Nizzoli currently controls the working farm and the Cinque Campi (‘Five Fields’) estate; its 7 hectares of vineyards are situated in the verdant foothills of the Reggio Emilia – a region surrounded by unspoilt ecosystems. With Mount Cusna to the south, warm breezes, rain, and rare weather descend upon the vineyards like eager ancestors returning from the mountains. 

Vanni Nizzoli’s craft is therefore a rarefied one. The vineyards are old (some dating back to 1948); and, until the 1980s, the wines here were for family-only consumption. Characteristically, Vanni now concentrates on indigenous Italian grape-types and old clones of Lambrusco (including L. Grasparossa and Barghi), as well as Trebbiano, and Spergola that thrive in the local climate and terrain. The clay-based soils here are uniquely suited to the percolation of moisture and minerals through the surrounding foothills; this makes for superlative vines. The passage and retention of water is facilitated by pastures comprised of sand (20%), silt (45%), and clay (35%) all on top of a chalk subsoil. This fine-balanced composition is also traceable in the wine: layering a high-silica freshness and acidity with a deeper minerality. No fining, no filtration, no added sulphur – no artificial additives at the secondary fermentation – this is a manual operation whose only occasional additive is a chilled must from Vanni’s own grapes. The grapes themselves are hand-picked, and every bottle of the 10,000 produced is filled, riddled, then disgorged by hand. Vanni ages his wines in vintage concrete tanks (some as old as the 1970s), believing this is the best way to ensure long-term neutrality, temperature stability, and freshness. Formally certified ‘organic’ in 2003, Vanni knows that every organism from pasture to vine is a part of the territory’s natural balance. Cinque Campi’s low-intervention approach captures an environmental quintessence in every bottle – Vanni’s exquisite alchemy lies in working only within the ecology that nature has already provided and perfected.

200 years encapsulates generations of change in human terms; and when measured against the tectonic lives of the presiding mountains, the Nizzoli family’s agricultural history might seem little more than a momentary eye-blink detail. Actually though, beneath the altering light and shadow of the distant hills and peaks, this little vineyard is a singularity: the Nizzoli family’s achievement is as understated as it is immense – Cinque Campi make palpable a kind of organic permanence and purity that, by today’s definitions, is hard to fully comprehend … but tasting their wines can get us pretty close.

We have put together a mixed case with some of the offerings from Cinque Campi, available on our online bottle shop for one week only.

Words by Oliver Newman