With this mood, on a sunny late August day, we drove through the plains to arrive at a small hamlet, Fusignano, near the famous Ravenna, to meet a family and its new passionate generation that is enthusiastic to bring two indigenous grape varieties to the world. Discovering Randi’s wines means discovering the place in which they are produced.
One red, Bursôn – from Longanesi grapes – and one white, Rambëla – from Famoso grapes, these two wines symbolize the off the beaten track plains that lie between the Adriatic sea on the East, the Apennines South and West, and the Via Emilia with Bologna a little bit North. Here, Ravenna with its seven Unesco sites, which include the Basilica of San Vitale (drawn in the blue label of Burson bottle) and the mausoleo of Galla Placidia with the superb mosaic showing a dove drinking from a golden cup (reproduced on the Rosé Brut label), is only a short drive. Beauty, art, history, blue and gold colors, are all intertwined with good people and their spontaneous approach that immediately make you feel at home.
Massimo, a young and dynamic man representing the new generation, is excited to take us around, walk through the vineyards, share his story, and his wine secrets.
For him, wine is definitely not a new thing. Indeed, the Randi family has been putting all its energies into wine for a couple of centuries already. In the late 1800s, Luigi Randi, Massimo’s great grandfather, started cultivating grapes for sale. Then at the end of the Second World War, the estate started to produce and distribute its own wines.
Many in the region make Sangiovese and Trebbiano, but definitely the twinkle in Massimo’s eyes comes from something deeper, something that feeds his soul and makes him a proud ambassador of the indigenous grapes.
Uva Longanesi, a red ancient grape, has been found in a pine forest 20 km away, with a probable origin in the Middle-East. It came to Ravenna when it was the capital of the Western Roman Empire and that forest used to be the harbor from which spices and goods came and went to Italy.
In the late 50s, Antonio Longanesi, whose nickname was Bursôn, used to spend winter days on his farm near Bagnacavallo – a Medieval town nearby – and on an oak tree he noticed a wild grapevine that made him curious for its sweetness and hardiness into the late autumn.
The Longanesi family decided to plant and cultivate this vine and discovered with immense surprise that they were able to serve the wine at 14 degrees, an unthinkable result to reach with the grapes of the area. When he shared this discovery with his fellow farmers, they started producing it as well and finally in 1999 some local winemakers founded the Consortium to promote Bursôn, naming the varietal after him.
Randi’s Bursôn shows fruity and grassy notes, especially of cherry, plum, grass and liquorice. Tannins are smooth, perfectly overcome by softness and roundness so that it can perfectly pair with tagliatelle al ragù, the most delicious primo ever, but also roasted rabbit, turkey and wild boar stew.
However, Randi is not only Bursôn. There is another grape that at least by its name is “famous”, Famoso. It is the white grape variety that can be called the ‘Traminer of Romagna’. Aromatic, with an intense nose, extremely pleasant and fresh, it is the grape variety that has an ancient story.
A document in the town register of Lugo concerning Famoso dates back to 1437, ascertaining that it was grown as early as the Medieval times. It is likely that the harvest was sold as grapes for table wines in the local markets and during local fairs. Throughout the 20thcentury there was a sharp drop in its cultivation, leading to its near-total disappearance. This was due to its limited productivity compared to other vines and its characteristics which were of little appeal to the romagnolo wine merchants of that time.
Randi’s famoso worth mentioning are the ‘Rambëla’, a wine with a unique aromatic taste that is a vintage wine without any forcing of its maturation. It’s fresh and aromatic, intense and persuasive, delicate with a bitter taste. The pour that will put all white wine drinkers in agreement.
Famoso is also used for ‘Il Ramba’, a sparkling wine processed through the second fermentation in bottle with no disgorgement, in other words the metodo ancestrale or a petulant naturel (pet-nat). Citrusy, persistent and complex, this veiled spumante bianco naturale takes Famoso to its next level.
Massimo is a vigilant promoter of indigenous varietals. We walk down the vineyards, and with the harvest not far away, I can see his impatience to share his babies all around the world.
Luigi and Giovanna, his parents, come out from the house and scents of ragù from the open door keep this Romagna story alive. We all sit down, some gorgeous cured meats, garganelli al ragù, then vegetables from the garden downstairs and finally biscuits with jam to dip into the wine.
Randi is an Italian story of authenticity and resistance that deserves a long future!