Wildbacher has a complicated history that we would like to share with you…
The name Wildbacher originates from a region of the Deutschlandsberg countryside in Western Styria, Austria, called Schilchergegend, meaning “the region of brilliant wine”, and corresponds to the name of the district where it was initially cultivated – Wildbacher – which literally means “wild, unbridled streamlet”, foretelling the future of this restless variety.
Two hundred years ago, the variety was brought from Styria to Susegana, in the March of Treviso – the only area of Italy that has welcomed the Wildbacher grape.
Although strong and rustic, it was not highly valued at that time. Nevertheless, the farmers in Veneto were able to cultivate it where other varieties could not survive.
Wildbacher’s difficulties were not over, however. The hills of the March of Treviso were found to be particularly well-suited for cultivating Prosecco, white wine grapes, and a few highly-valued red grapes.
The rustic variety of Styrian origin fell into oblivion, destined to remain on the less illustrious margins of local winegrowing.
The fact that Wildbacher is now being discussed to praise the variety’s virtues and tell its story is all thanks to Martino Zanetti. A connoisseur of genuine wines, a shrewd entrepreneur, and an enthusiastic producer, Zanetti decided to take a chance on those rare rows of Wildbacher vines that happened to be discovered on his estate.
By entrusting expert agronomists with conducting an in-depth study of the vines and asking his oenologists to discover the best conditions to accentuate the characteristics of this exclusive wine, Wildbacher has been able to achieve its fullest expression, offering astonishing colours and aromas.
The hillsides of Tenuta Col Sandago (Colle di San Dagoberto in Susegana), located at an altitude of more than 300 m in a fog-free area that receives full sun, contain the only 3.5 hectares of Wildbacher nero existing in the world (not to be confused with Wildbacher blu, which is a different variety).
According to standard cost evaluation criteria used by wine producers, Wildbacher nero is clearly an uneconomical variety. In fact, the robust plant produces a large amount of wood and numerous small bunches of grapes (in contrast to Wildbacher blu, which is very productive and has a low value). Furthermore, the significant, regular and constant work required makes the plant even less cost-effective.
The vision and perception of Col Sandago and the insight of the late, great Luigi Veronelli led to the creation of a fine wine and an incredible rarity.
While Wildbacher nero is undrinkable after the first year (it is assumed that “bàcaro”, meaning a traditional wine bar, derives from the way the variety is interpreted, which led Mondino to mention its presence near Conegliano as a poor quality wine in the early twentieth century), after three years of aging in barrels and tonneaux it reveals a tannic flavour and special initial nuances. After five years, although still young, it offers a splendid red having an intense aroma with notes of berries, herbs and sweet spices and an elegant, vigorous flavour that, due to its characteristics, underscores the aging unlike any other wine.
Since the variety is no longer cultivated in Austria, the limited production of 4,000 bottles makes “Schwarz-Wildbacher” a rare wine that rewards those who produce it and delights those who drink it.
The San Dagoberto Hills are rediscovering the history of the saint who gives the area its name, Saint Dagobert.
Thanks to Martino Zanetti, signs commemorating important episodes in the life of this Merovingian emperor and martyr who was canonized by the Celtic Church and later the Catholic Church have been installed around Tenuta Col Sandago and the company vineyards surrounding the hill in recent months.
By adding these historical references to the setting’s atmosphere, the owner of Tenuta Col Sandago – Case Bianche sought to honour the memory of Saint Dagobert and the heritage the martyred king-saint left in the form of the place name, as well as the nickname “San Dago”, which was later adopted by the winery.
The beautiful French-style signs recall the origins of Dagobert II, sovereign of the ancient Neustria, which encompassed this land. They stir the curiosity of
passersby regarding this little-known yet emblematic figure from the High Middle Ages. His history is mentioned along the route that crosses Tenuta Col Sandago, a pleasant area for resting and meditating dedicated to his pious memory.
Exiled and persecuted, travelling from one religious place to the next in Scotland and Ireland, Dagobert became the protégé of Bishop Wilfrid of York. Princess Mechthilde, a member of the Celtic Christian faith, was given to him in marriage and introduced him to the Celtic rituals. Contrary to the hopes of Bishop Wilfrid, Dagobert refused to act as the instrument of the bishop’s power.
On a hunting trip in 679, Dagobert was assassinated while sleeping with an arrow shot by Charlemagne’s ancestor, Pepin of Herstal. The Roman Church soon realized the power of the latter – assassinated by Charlemagne’s line, Dagobert was subsequently canonized first by the Celtic Church and later by the Roman Catholic Church.
In the Treviso region, in 908, the Bishop of Ceneda Ripaldo, of Longobard heritage, wanted to name the hills after Saint Dagobert and the events that occurred while he was king in France, in view of the illegitimacy of the Carolingian lineage in his territory as well and stressing the importance of the place. Celebrated as a protector of brides, Saint Dagobert recalls the timeless fascination of the gracious, distant past.
The saint’s name is now the inspiration for one of Tenuta Col Sandago’s precious wines, the Wildbacher passito “Dagoberthus” produced from the only existing three and a half hectares of Wildbacher nero, the unique, authentic Wildbacher.