Monte dei Ragni is a jewel of an estate tucked away among the back roads of Fumane, in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. We met the owner, Zeno Zignoli, by chance, at Stella di Campalto’s booth at Vinitaly. She introduced us and told us we had to go see his vineyard, that it is magical! The next day we were lucky to find a bottle of his Valpolicella Classico on a local wine list. It was, by far, the most elegant and focused Valpolicella we had ever had. Valpolicella is not a region one normally associates with acidity and elegance, so this wine definitely stood out. It was clear, we had to visit. We were lucky to get Zeno’s phone number from the owner of the restaurant; he actually helped us set up our appointment at the winery for later that week!
The winery’s name means “Spider Hill,” though the hill is really named after Zeno’s wife’s family name, Ragno (plural = Ragni). So it is really Hill of the Ragno family. The wine’s label plays up the spider translation of the name.
The estate is a magical place and truly a small paradise. Zeno has about 6-7 hectares of vineyards, but he also has olive trees, cherry trees as well as numerous other fruit trees. We have never experienced biodiversity so completely realized! From all the various flora, fauna and vineyards, to honey bees and livestock. Even the vineyards are worked by horse-drawn plow. On the farm, Zignoli Zeno does almost all of the work himself. He farms biodynamically (but is neither certified organic nor biodynamic) and also works with homeopathy in the vineyard – much in the way that our up-and-coming star, Cristophe Mignon does in Champagne.
His main production is in two wines, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico and Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore. Though he also makes small amounts of Recioto and a dry white. Occasionally he’ll make a non-Ripasso Valpolicella but only in lesser years when he doesn’t make Amarone.
Zeno’s wines are marked by a distinct energy and focus, elegance and length. He has a tiny production (no more than 6000 bottles total per vintage!) and we are lucky to now be on his list of customers. Our allocation will always be just a few cases of Amarone and Valpolicella each year. These wines were not previously distributed in our region and I imagine, before long, they will be highly coveted.