What do you say about a winemaker whose self-professed greatest influences are Bob Dylan and Jesus? Gianfranco is a rare soul in the wine business. He is an empath/winemaker. First, his love for the vines is so strong that he says he feels a particular relationship with each one. Furthermore, he thinks the vines tell him what to do with the grapes. He has been working these vines for a long time now, so I can imagine some deeper understanding of one’s vineyards comes through with that much time. Whether there is really a dialog happening is anyone’s guess, but we like to believe.
“Pane e vino” in Italian means “bread and wine.” Gianfranco Manca was raised a baker. At an early age, he took over his uncle’s bakery and baked the classic Sardinian breads that he learned to make from his mother and aunts. Their bread is still prized in his town and the bakery was a success. With the bakery, there also came some plots of land with some very old vines that had somehow remained, although practically neglected for years. They were trained in albarello (goblet), the traditional back-breaking low-growing system used on the islands of Italy, and were very diverse with over 30 different grapes, but mainly Cannonau (Grenache).
Since he was already an expert at fermentation with bread, Gianfranco believed the natural progression would be to understand wine fermentation with the help of these vines. He set about rehabilitating the old vines and planted a parcel of new vines of Monica and Carignano del Sulcis, the local strain of the famous grape, Carignan. He started making wine in the mid 80’s, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he was ready to put a label on it and offer his interpretation to the rest of the world.
Of course, no use of herbicides or pesticides is tolerated at Panevino. The vinifications are carried out on the natural yeasts of the vines and cellar culture. The wines are aged in 12 months in barrique of at least 3 years. The wines are bottled without fining or filtration. The wines are all certified organic by the AIAB, an Italian organic certification board.
Gianfranco only rarely makes bread these days (mostly classes and demonstrations for children and young adults) but when he does, he must be very careful with clothing and hygiene to keep the two cultures of yeast from intermingling.
- Louis/Dressner Selections
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