Discover wines: Oltrepo' Pavese

Elegance, style and tradition: wouldn’t it be nice to find all these traits together? Maybe in the same place or, even better mixed, in different proportions in a wine? Northern Italy allows this:  elegance, style and tradition are qualities that surely come into your mind when you think about Milan, its neighbouring areas are no exception.

In less than an hour drive you can reach Oltrepo’ Pavese: its Bonarda and its Pinot “shires” will quickly make you forget about Tuscany. These rolling hills offer amazing trekking opportunities and also provide those  incredible foods and wines  needed to restore spirits after long walks. 

Some wineries, indeed, offer dedicated wine tasting sessions, let’s talk about them.  The elegant Mazzolino estate, located near Corvino San Quirico (PV), grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Croatina and Moscato varieties. These grapes are transformed in 8 different red, white and sparkling wines. There are wines for all pockets: if Bonarda, Terrazze, and Camara can be considered everyday wines; the Noir and the Blanc, while easily drinkable, can be regarded as premium, age-worthy, collectible wines. All of Mazzolino’s wines are renowned for their excellent quality and, since the estate was founded in 1980, has won plenty of national and international awards. Their Noir (Oltrepo’ Pavese Pinot Nero DOC) has been the standard-bearer for premium, age-worthy Pinot Noir in Italy since 1985. The secret to success? The bravery of choosing quality over quantity: low yields per hectare, severe pruning, naturally grassing over the vineyards and absence of chemical fertilizers are the strategy chosen by these wine makers. Undecided whether to invest on the Noir or to bet on a sparkling Cruase Rose Brut? This problem can easily be solved by booking a wine tasting session at Mazzolino. Sessions take place everyday, last about one hour and include a cellar visit. Tasting 3 wines (including a Riserva) costs 10 euros; tasting 5 wines (inclusing 2 Riserve) costs 15 euros. Spots are available daily, from Monday to Friday, in the morning from 10 to 12 and in the afternoon from 14 to 17 (Saturday upon reservation calling the +139 383 876122). For further information 

By leaving Mazzolino and driving eastwards to Santa Maria della Versa (PV) you can reach Quvestra, a winery created with its customers in mind. This estate clearly wants to stand out, and  does this with style as its peculiar name announces: if Q stands for Quality and U stands for Grape (uva in Italian), Vestra comes from Latin and means Yours. This winery, producing wines from its own grapes, puts quality and customers first. As a matter of fact, Quvestra is more than a winery and, besides offering wine tasting sessions, it organizes a full set of activities and events all centered on wine and food. Tourists can enjoy wine tours, cooking lessons and dinners, or decide to indulge at the winery for a few days, renting one of the three apartments available.  The winery produces affordable red, white and sparkling wines. Detailed information on each wine (grapes, harvest, production and features) can be found on its website which also includes a webshop. The 3 red Riserve can be particularly appealing to conoissueurs who can choose among a pure Croatina, a pure Merlot or a Pure Pinot Noir wine. These three IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) products truly allow drinkers to fully taste the terroir.  Visit for more information.

Wine lovers on the their way back to the Po Valley have one last chance to fall in love with Oltrepo’ Pavese hills and its  vine wines.   Many tourist travelling through Italy are looking for “tradition” in its widest, abstract, meaning: if you are one of them, Picchioni Andrea winery in Canneto Pavese (PV) is the place to go. This small (7 hectares) organic certified estate focuses on quality and eco-friendly production. Picchioni Andrea produces 6 red wines, 1 white (from Pinot Noir grapes) and 2 Metodo Classico sparkling wines. Reds are divided into “Young Wines”, which can be still or semi-sparkling, and “Riserve”, all still.  Visitors, who can arrange a wine tasting session by contacting the winery directly, should remember to enjoy a peculiar DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) wine can be produced only in a tiny area of Oltrepo’ Pavese.  Buttafuoco (flame thrower) is it intruguing name: an intense, rich red wine created by an unique environment. Picchioni Andrea offers a young Buttafuoco and a more precious Riserva. The young one is named Cerasa and is made with Barbera, Croatina and Ughetta di Solinga grapes in varying proportions each vintage. The Riserva, also known as Bricco Riva Bianca, is made with the same varieties, but is produced in the best vintages only  and with carefully selected grapes.  Still too shy to contact them and book your own wine tasting session? Picchioni Andrea’s winery very informative website will surely encourage you to pick up the phone or write an e-mail, you will not regret!