From Bonarda frizzante to fine Pinot

Marco Cordani in Castello di Cigognola vineyards

Castello di Cigognola is raising the bar for Lombardy's Oltrepò Pavese region in no uncertain manner. Agronomist Marco Cordani is shown above in vineyards that are being farmed to produce top-quality sparkling wine, and even still Pinot Noir.

In Lombardia's south-western corner, Oltrepò Pavese (see this map) is not exactly known as a fine wine destination. It's best known for its huge production of the easily cultivated Bonarda sold as a frizzante, a simple, fizzy red wine. Because of the region's resulting image problem, quality-oriented producers tend to stake their reputation on the other extreme – the notoriously...