Gianfranco Manca of winery Panevino is one of the last Sardinian winemakers, and is also one of the most special winemakers in Sardinia. His cellar in Nurri is about 80 kilometers north of Cagliari, the main port of southern Sardinia. Most of Gianfranco's vineyards are located around Nurri, and have many different soil compositions. He has taken over huge old vineyards, and has also planted some of his vineyards himself. He did this planting in the mid 80's and 90's. Of the plots taken over, some are between 100 and 140 years old, and have been planted on quartz, slate, red clay and limestone, among others.
In Italian, “Pane e vino” means “bread and wine”. Gianfranco comes from a baker's family and started his professional life as a baker. He learned the trade from his mother, aunt and uncle, and was given the opportunity at an early age to take over his uncle's bakery. The bakery was also the place where Gianfranco discovered his love for the trade. When the bakery was taken over, a piece of land also became available to him, which was planted with very old grape vines. The tendrils were once formed according to the albarello pruning method, so that physically every grape vine sticks out of the ground like a kind of tree. This method is widely used in the Italian islands, mainly to protect the grapes from strong winds. This method makes it difficult to machine the orchards. As a result, all the work comes down to intensively bent over manual work. The old groves had mainly grown Cannonau, which is the Sardinian version of Grenache, but in total there were about 30 other indigenous grape varieties scattered throughout the groves.
Because Gianfranco already had experience with the natural fermentation process of bread, he was also strongly attracted to wine-making, and to viticulture in particular. The connection with raw nature was also the reason for him to choose to work on the old orchards. These old orchards had long been uncultivated, and thus immaculate. Little by little, Gianfranco got to know his vineyards better and better, and in this process he hoped to better understand the progression and course of the vinification process.
In the mid-1980s, he also planted new orchards with the native varieties Monica and Carignano del Sulcis. Carignano del Sulcis is a local and very obscure descendant of the famous Carignan. Gianfranco started making wine on a small scale in the mid-1980s, while it was only in 2005 that he started labeling and selling wine under the Panevino name. In 2008 Gianfranco also planted 1.5 hectares of Cannonau from massive selection, but nowadays he has his hands full enough to maintain the 6 hectares that he cultivates in total.
Gianfranco is one of the most idiosyncratic and special winemakers and farmers we know. He says he has such a close relationship with his vineyards that he says a personal connection has developed between him and each stick. This gives him the feeling that the vines are telling him what to do with the grapes.
Gianfranco also changes the name and vinification method for almost all of its wines every year. Almost twenty different cuvées therefore carry a different label and name every year. In Gianfranco's own words, the year and the grapes determine how the wine feels. In a warm and lavish year a wine will have a stronger name than in a year when the grapes produce a sweeter wine. The different wines thus reflect how Gianfranco sees the year, the vineyard, the grapes and the wine from year to year.
In the vineyards, Gianfranco works with homemade tinctures, herbal infusions and natural biodiversity promoters. He tries to work with products from his own environment as much as possible. Gianfranco plows by hand and uses no herbicides or pesticides. In the more than 35 years he's been tending his orchards, he's only sprayed copper into his orchards twice, and only around 400g each time, while 3kg is allowed under biodynamics rules. Sulfur is never used; not in the orchards, and certainly not in the wines. Gianfranco says he would only ever use sulfur to clean the floor.
In the wine cellar, the wines are fermented with their own yeasts in large open-top wooden barrels, and after vinification the wines are aged for a minimum of 12 months in old wooden barrels. Finally, the wines are bottled without clarification or filtration, and always without any other additives. The wines are certified organic by the Italian AIAB, but in practice Gianfranco goes many times further than the label prescribes.
Gianfranco makes about 10,000 bottles a year, which is a very low yield per hectare, given that he maintains about 6 hectares. The majority of Panevino's wines are exported to Japan, and Panevino is available in minimal quantities in Sardinia and on the Italian mainland. Gianfranco is a true artist who tells a different story of the conditions in Sardinia with every bottle, and we are also very happy that we can offer these beautiful wines in the Netherlands.