While Tuscany shines in all of its tourist splendor, the neighboring Emilia-Romagna region around Brisighella conveys a more genuine and somewhat sleepy atmosphere. Marco Montanari, a Swiss dentist, discovered this wildly romantic spot and re-invented himself as a premium vintner.
The dentist from Baden near Zürich had always been restless. He traveled to areas in crisis with the organization, Doctors without Borders; prepared for a sailing voyage around the world, and dreamed of immigrating to the Chianti region. However, as opposed to many other dreamers, Marco did leave for Italy, and bought property near Radda that he restored over several years. On the side, he began to make wine. He brought in a top enologist, and received four times the highest ranking, “Tre Bicchieri” for his “Livernano Blend” in the bible of Italian wines, “Gambero Rosso”. (“Tre Bicchieri” = 3 glasses; Italian wine rating system, 3 glasses is the highest rating).
Over time, he no longer felt comfortable in the high society of Tuscany. One day, flying over the Villa Liverzano by chance, he decided to sell the estate in Tuscany and move to Brisighella. There, he began to restore the late renaissance mansion with its frescos and its own chapel. “In some ways, it was like coming home”, recalls Marco, whose grandfather came from Emilia-Romagna. Today, Marco and his partner Renate live in the Villa Liverzano which also includes a chapel and work buildings. Their setting mirrors that of their ancestors as they are surrounded by centuries-old trees, olive groves, vineyards, and a nature park.
Liverzano is comprised of 33 hectares, including 22 hectares of forest, 5 hectares of olive groves, 3 hectares of vineyards, and 3 hectares of pasture. The soils of the gypsum massif consist of sand, with a small percentage of clay. The perfectly southern direction of the slopes, their grade, and their elevation of 380 meters above sea level, all combine to make the vineyards virtually free of pests. To maintain the natural equilibrium, all cultivation strictly follows the criteria of organic farming: no pesticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers are used. No artificial fertilizer means that the soil remains free of heavy metals.
The base consists of an infusion of handpicked, ripe juniper berries in approximately 80% alcohol. After four years of maceration, the solution is distilled. During this process, delicate aromas are lost because they are bound to amber-like molecules that do not dissolve in steam. In order to get these aromas back, a small amount of the base infusion is added. Hence the golden brown color.