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Tasting Report: Maeli Wines, 2015 and 2016 Vintage

4 min read

Maeli is heading into its third year of organic conversion; the winery uses some sulfites, but judiciously. According to Elisa, across much of Colli Euganei, there is a strong sense of organic practices because of the national park that mandates protection of the ecosystem. It’s a region I’d like to explore more, and you can go as well. Just don’t expect much cell reception (… maybe a good thing?).

2015 Maeli Moscato Giallo Metodo Classico Brut Nature

Elisa began the tasting with the wine that took a year of her life. The Moscato Giallo Metodo Classico Brut Nature (★★★★ 1/2) is a fascinating wine that is clean, bright and refreshing. Aromas suggest honey, lemongrass, lime, coconut cream, and white flowers. The palate is surprisingly sour, with little residual sugar (only 1.8g/L) and a savory, dry finish. Serve with raw oysters.

Winemaker Elisa Dilavanzo in her Moscato Giallo vineyard in Colli Euganei. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Winemaker Elisa Dilavanzo in her Moscato Giallo vineyard in Colli Euganei. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

2016 Maeli Moscato Giallo “Dili” Metodo Ancestrale IGT Veneto

Yes, Elisa makes a pet-nat. This cloudy, feral, meaty, semi-sparkling wine (★★★★ 3/4) is even drier than the Metodo Classico, and suggests green cuts of mint and oranges on the nose to accompany Moscato Giallo’s archetypal aromas of honey and lemongrass. There was discussion over whether the sulfury note on the nose comes from the volcanic soil or the use of sulfites. Elisa noted that she uses some, but is insistent that the sulfur aromas are from the terroir.

Sometimes, these quirky pet-nat wines feel too cool for their own good. This wine flirts with that line, but never crosses it — because it is downright delicious. Win-win. Serve with fried snacks.

2015 Maeli Bianco Infinito Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG

For this still white wine (★★★★★), Elisa has chosen as long a maceration as possible, yielding a remarkably intense, minty and fruity wine with a mineral finish. In my notes, I wrote “addictive,” as each sip brings a parade of wild, pretty notes — kiwi, lemongrass, cotton candy, aloe — without fatiguing the palate.

Elisa noted that she will likely bounce out of the DOCG in the future because the regulations for maceration don’t fit her objectives. Pair with roasted carrots with burrata.

2016 Maeli Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG (Sparkling Sweet)

Surprisingly, the most herbal of all these wines is among the sweetest. This Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG (★★★★ 3/4) is massively sweet (104 g/L) yet still preserves a precise, mineral finish. The wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the tank, rather than bottle, making it more in line with the region’s other sparkling wines. This wine dances with aromas recalling oranges and peaches, lemongrass, peat and, on the palate, a bit of graham cracker. Serve with a savory ice cream followed by a nap in the sun.

2015 Maeli Moscato Giallo “Diloro” Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio DOCG Passito

The final Moscato-based wine in the lineup (★★★★★) is the rarest, and hardest to produce. As noted earlier, Elisa struggles to have enough grapes to make this dense, concentrated wine, which perhaps makes it even more special. Aromas bring to mind oranges, roses, rosemary and once again — as all her Moscato Giallo wines do — lemongrass. The acidity is still very generous, and essential to making this ultra sweet wine (136 g/L) work.

In describing the wine in my notes, I wrote “so sunny, so happy.” Best to serve it on the coldest and darkest of days to lighten your mood.


Maeli makes two red wines as well, both centered on Bordeaux varieties with a substantial splash of peppery Carménère. After the thrilling highs of her highly expressive and unusual Moscato wines, these two wines had to battle for attention a bit, but in the end, they are both very good and should please most fans of Bordeaux blends.

2016 Maeli Rosso Infinito

Maeli’s Rosso Infinito (★★★★ 1/2) is a blend of Merlot (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Carménère (10%). The fruit aromas are distinctly on the raspberry end of the spectrum, conjuring everything about that fruit, right down to the crunchy seeds. High-toned on the palate and not as rich as I expected, the wine boasts a beautiful mineral finish with precise tannins. Serve with Peking duck.

2015 Maeli “D+” Colli Euganei DOC Riserva

Elisa told me that D+ is a saying that means very good, to which I noted on our side of the pond it means a horrible grade on a math test. I think she has heard this before, but “D+” it is, and the wine (★★★★ 1/4) is quite a high-wire act, balancing dark fruits and spice with appropriate tannin and very clear minerality on the finish. Serve with a lamb burger.


Riddling racks of Moscato Giallo at Maeli. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Bending Moscato Giallo in Colli Euganei

Winemaker Elisa Dilavanzo takes wine writer Kevin Day around the vineyards of Colli Euganei where she wants to “make all the versions of Moscato Giallo.” Learn more with this profile.


Note: My visit to Maeli was part of a press trip funded by Maeli’s importer, Wilson Daniels. Per my editorial policy, I am under zero obligation to write about anything from the trip, and I maintain all editorial discretion for this content. In the end, Maeli was definitely worth writing about.


Essential Winemaker of Italy

Maeli is listed as one of our Essential Winemakers of Italy. Learn about visiting the winery and see who else makes our coveted list.

Essential Winemaker of Italy by Opening a Bottle

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