Giovanni Bertani of Tenuta Santa Maria Visits NYC

So when is the last time you enjoyed a dessert wine from 1928?

Especially one smuggled from the winery into the forest during the German occupation?

Today was very honored to be part of a small group enjoying this wine, of which only one bottle every five years is given to a charity event – succulent, with great balance between acidity, concentrated fruit, and racy acidity.

The afternoon started off with the handsome, very well-spoken, blonde-haired Giovanni Bertani explaining the family’s winery, which has been in the family for hundreds of years yet has recently divided, with two parts of the family going in different directions.

Tenuta Santa Maria is all about quality, and as was evidenced in the wines in the glass, a lot of effort for what seems a very reasonable price.

The lunch started with Lepia Soave DOC, a wine actually on my “mock exam” for the MW studies last week. The key difference was that the MW exam had six pairs of mostly “neutral” grapes, with the same color, same “neutral” aroma, same moderate acidity and so forth. One of the wines was a Soave, which is from the garganega grape.

The key difference with the Tenuta Santa Maria Soave was the richness, a result of three different pickings in the vineyard (early, mid, and late) that adds complexity. About five grams of RS.

Giovanni was so nice, modest, and helpful … he explained all the vintages which were expertly paired with such fabulous traditional Italian cuisine. He is really a great ambassador for his family and his wines … and really takes pride in the quality approach to wine making, even though the quality seemed to exceed the relatively modest (mid-twenties) price of many of the wines.

Another thing I really liked about this winery was their approach to moderation. For example, the Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC had around five grams of residual sugar, fairly low for a wine that via the traditional method involved grapes dried on straw mats for a month, then blended into the young vintage.

The Chardonnay Torre Pieve 2009 was barrel fermented and rich and textured.

The “big guns” included the Amarone 2007 which again, was a balanced wine with complexity and potential to mature.

In any event, it’s always great to see the new generation of very old family wineries speaking so elegantly about the wines, and of course, with the wines having the elegance to support it all

About Giovanni Bertani

Giovanni Bertani of the Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve estate near the historic city of Verona is heir to a grand tradition of winemaking in northeast Italy’s Veneto region, where his family name is synonymous with many of the region’s finest, most admired wines.

As chief strategist charged with fashioning a new vision for his family’s future and forging it into reality, Bertani becomes the latest in a long line of winemaking pioneers, with a documented legacy of winemaking tracing back over 400 years. With his fluency in English, embrace of modern technology, communications and the arts, and a comfort level spanning both sides of the Atlantic, it’s a role that he was born to fill.

2013 marks the end of a critical period of transition for Bertani and his family and the advent of a new and exciting era, as they move ahead with the newly established Agricola Gaetano Bertani e Figli (& Sons). Their latest and most ambitious undertaking, the venture is an outcome of the division of assets arising from the 2012 sale of the family’s Cantine Bertani label.

“We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time!” Giovanni remarks of the enterprise, named for his father, family patriarch Gaetano Bertani. “My father, brother and I now enjoy full autonomy to make our own wines, from our own vineyards, in our own wineries, working with our chosen winemakers, in the way we wish, with a clear, undivided focus on quality – wines that are in every way a proud and true expression of their local terroir.”

In addition to the Tenuta Santa Maria winery and estate, the new company includes the 18th century neoclassical Villa Mosconi (formerly known as Villa Novare), its winery and prime vineyards adjoining the property, plus additional vineyards in the Veneto’s Valpolicella zone. With a collective total of 123 acres of vineyards, Agricola Gaetano Bertani e Figli is one of the single largest owners of vineyard in the Veneto.

Pioneering new directions is part of Giovanni Bertani’s DNA. Several new initiatives have been set in motion, including a new range of wines targeted for release within the next two years. Villa Mosconi– crown jewel of the original Bertani holdings – is a major personal focus for Giovanni Bertani. Thanks to his passion for the arts, work has already begun on restoration of the property, designed to transform it into a major travel destination for visiting wine lovers and a magnet for the performing arts.

Despite a seemingly pre-destined role in the family wine business, Giovanni Bertani has been determined to prove himself from an early age. Successive vintages were spent working alongside his father and learning from Tenuta Santa Maria’s consulting winemaker, the eminent enologist, Franco Bernabei. Summer camps at Lake George, NY, introduced Giovanni to the U.S. and helped ensure his fluency in English. A degree in communications from the University of Trieste was followed by E.U.-sponsored programs at John Moore University, Liverpool, and London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. During his student years, summers were devoted to working at the Tenuta Santa Maria estate in various capacities, including PR and assistance with new packaging and label design.

After completing his studies, Bertani spent the next 10 years working for two cutting-edge Italian ad agencies, e-tree and H-Art, with clients ranging from Vodafone to the Vatican,

In 2004, Giovanni returned to the family fold, to start work with his father and brother, Guglielmo, on developing the family’s Tenuta Santa Maria estate wines.

Ever the outdoors man, equipped with considerable energy and a lively, restless mind, Giovanni devotes time outside work on an eclectic array of interests and activities, from back-country snowboarding to scuba diving, cave diving, sailing and mountaineering, and commercial photography for design firms and architects. To his family’s relief, a license to fly small aircraft just recently expired. In quiet moments, Giovanni favors listening to Bob Dylan and various genres of contemporary music. During the winter months, he manages the Verona Ciné Club (showings every two weeks) and he is currently helping to design scenography for a contemporary opera by the Scottish composer, John De Simone.

 About The Wines

Lepia Soave DOC

A Soave characterized by its freshness and
depth, giving it an interesting and balanced
structure. A real expression of the indigenous
Garganega grape. 100% Garganega with a
unique method of three different harvests to
give better elegance, complexity and balance.
All stainless steel fermentation. 13% alcohol.
Medium aging potential.


Great elegance and complexity obtained
from three different clones. Rich and full
body. The Chardonnay grapes are from a
very high-density single vineyard. 40% of
the fermentation takes place in french oak
barriques and 60% in stainless steel barrels.
13.5% alcohol. Gaetano Bertani creates a
sophisticated and elegant Chardonnay with
a very long aging potential.


Very nice expression of Merlot and Shiraz.
Clean fruit and spices. Rich body with a long
finish. Nice acidity. 70% Merlot and 30% Shiraz.
All vinification is conducted in stainless steel
to preserve the cleanest expressions of the
varietals. High-density vineyard at 9500 vines per
hectare for great maturity and concentration.
14% alcohol. Medium aging potential.
IGT Veneto Rosso

Deep, rich, handcrafted Ripasso: a true
expression of the Veronese wine-making
tradition. 75% Corvina, 15% Corvinone
and 10% Rondinella grapes make up this
balanced, elegant Valpolicella that tastes like
a “Baby Amarone”. The wine is fermented a
second time on the lees of the Amarone and
is fined for a full year in big oak casks. 14%
alcohol. Long aging potential.


Amarone Valpolicella DOC
True Classic Elegance.The Bertani family
presents a balanced, elegant, rich and
complex Amarone that is very polished with
soft tannins. 75% Corvina, 15% Corvinone and
10% Rondinella indigenous grapes. The grapes
are dried (appassimento) for four months
before fermenting. The wine is fined three
years in big oak. Handcrafted production. 15%
alcohol. Very long aging potential.
And a special tasting of the very rare

Decima Aurea Merlot

A unique Merlot for it elegance, complexity
and hints of the appassimento method that
is applied in a soft and elegant way. Grapes
from high density single vineyard at 9500
vines/hectare. 70% Merlot fresh pressed.
Merlot grapes dried for four weeks, 30%
appassimento method. Wine is fined for 14
months in french barriques. 14.5% alcohol.
Very long aging potential.


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