COOPERATIVA VALLI UNITE , MONTALE CELLI, Piemonte – Biodynamic
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- An Evening in Asti With The Beras
- CAVALLOTTO FRATELLI, MONFORTE, BRICCO BOSCHIS, BAROLO, Piemonte – Organic
- LE MARNE, AZIENDA VITIVINICOLA BIOLOGICO DI CARRARO FEDERICA, PARODI LIGURE, Piemonte – Organic
COOPERATIVA VALLI UNITE , MONTALE CELLI, Piemonte – Biodynamic
The co-operative was born over thirty years ago. At a time in which increasing numbers of people had moved to the
cities and to factory work, three young men from local farming families got together to discuss the future of farming
in this area. They were deeply attached to the work and to their own land, but they wanted to find new ways of using
traditional methods. To begin with they merged their vineyards and built stalls for farm animals so they could use
organic manure to fertilise their fields and vines. The old ways were combined with a very modern belief in organic
farming as the way of the future, as part of the wider project known as ‘contraction’, involving reducing the human
impact on the natural environment. Viticulture is non-invasive. Old-fashioned sickles are used to hoe the weeds, the
vines are fertilised with manures from their cattle as well as green fertilisers composed of clover and weeds. Cement
vats are used to ferment the wines which are then transferred to old barrels to soften and mature.
In the glass, the wine is an intense ruby red, with a vinous aroma, a dry, pleasantly bitter taste in which there are
recurrent hints of dog roses and in which the fruitiness is successfully wedded to the tang of tannin. Like other
Dolcettos of other Piedmont regions, this is a wine that goes with all sorts of food, and can hold its own even with
Piemontese bitter cherry-meets-chocolate-with-some-tannic-grip-for-food character.
OTTAVIO RUBE BIANCO
OTTAVIO RUBE ROSSO
DOLCETTO COLLI TORTONESI – 5-litre BIB
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They do what it says on the label
An Evening in Asti With The Beras
The drive through the Langhe hills reveals a rolling landscape of orchards and almond trees and green fields and copse-clustered slopes.
The Bera farm wears its organic credentials proudly. The vineyards are beautiful: 10 hectares in total with five on steep south-facing slopes
(these are the Moscato vines). They are verdant with grass and weeds in abundance, fava beans (beanz meanz wines) are sown between the
rows as they absorb oxygen and pass it into the soil. Plus they can be consumed with a ham actor and a bottle of good Barolo (not Chianti
as the film had it). The soils are limestone-clay and deep and not compact. Alessandra pointed towards her neighbour’s vineyards which
looked like a dustbowl in comparison.
You can smell the air here. It is breezy in the hills with refreshing wafts of wild mint from the fields (it grows freely amongst the vines).
Alessandra says you can taste it in the wine and I do remember thinking that the Moscato and Barbera had this delicious fresh herbal
Everything is done painstakingly by hand; the excess foliage is plucked, the fruit selected and placed in small cagettes. Viticulture can be
We had dinner in the winery on a massive oak refectory table. The quality of the produce was exceptional: highlights included thick rounds
of squidgy sausage and herbal goat’s cheese, followed by pasta and bean broth of wondrous refined rusticity and an apple pie to go to bed
in. This is what I dreamed Italian food would be like – made with enormous care and love for the ingredients.
With the dinner we had the full range of wines from Bera. We have always admired them for their naturalness and authenticity; these are
unfiltered wines with native yeasts. The reds, especially the Barberas, seem alive, being rasping, prickly and darting across the tongue.
They don’t always taste exactly the same from day to day, but that is part of the charm of being a natural product. I have experienced
variance in so many of our best growers’ wines. I can imagine that for some people this might constitute a fault: supermarkets, for example,
demand rigorous consistency. To me that is a sterile philosophy. If wine is truly a living thing we must allow for occasional variability.
Nevertheless, when you taste, you need to adjust your expectations and try to understand where the wine is coming from. Submitting a
wine to analysis is like looking at a human being through a microscope; yes, you can see every flaw in the skin, but such flaws make up
who and what we are. We live in a pseudo-scientific culture wherein we dissect so precisely and demand so much that we lose sight of the
essential truth: enjoyment! As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
A neat summary of the difference between real wines and branded products.
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Nebbiolo and Bollito Misto anyone?
The Cavallotto family claims sole ownership of the beautiful Bricco Boschis cru in the Castiglione Falletto district (also
home to Azelia), where they have been growing Nebbiolo since 1929 and bottling their own wine since 1948. These richly
structured wines place emphasis on elegance and longevity, attributable to excellent vineyards in the Bricco Boschis and
Vignolo crus and traditional long maturation periods in large Slovenian-oak casks.
Steadfast devotion to tradition combined with a high regard and respect for modern viticultural and winemaking techniques
result in complex and elegant Baroli that are released for sale only when they have acquired perfect maturity. The estate
produces three Baroli: two riservas and their anything but “regular” Bricco Boschis. The Vignolo cru, sloping 60-80
metres lower in altitude than the adjacent Bricco Boschis holding, shows a “creamy” flesh.
The property consists of 65 hectares of which 60 are planted with vines. Alfio said that they have a high number of vines per
acre with a corresponding low number of buds per plant, sacrificing quantity for quality. Since 1970 they control the grass
covering between the rows of vines to help maintain the natural organic substances in the soil. They have re-introduced
natural insect predators allowing for the elimination of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
The estate’s selection of the finest vineyard within the Bricco Boschis cru is San Giuseppe (also 92-95 from Advocate for the
2004 Riserva), the epitome of Castiglione Falletto: a powerful, majestic wine of absolute authority whose sweetness comes
Their Barolo Bricco Boschis is a cru in and of itself. Ruby red at the core with slight garnet reflections, this intense Barolo
has an ethereal nose, with powerful aromas of dried fruit, jam, liquorice, and violet. A rich, full-bodied wine, it is warm and
quite soft, with evident but ripe and sweet tannins.
The Riserva is also fermented in steel vats, with maceration on the skins for 20 days; it is then aged in Slavonian-oak casks
of various capacity for 3 years and 6 months. Ruby red in color, with intense garnet reflections, the nose on this San
Giuseppe is intense, packed with ample aromas of dried fruit, dried flowers and more ethereal notes of tobacco and
liquorice. Full-bodied and harmonious on the palate, the wine is warm, rich, and soft in the mouth, smoothing the tannin
with a pleasant long finish.
This wine would pair wonderfully with spicy red meat dishes as well as aged cheeses.
Dolcetto d’Alba parcel “Vigna Scot” (Dolcetto 100%) comes from vineyards on the hillside between Bricco Boschis and
Monprivato/Codana). The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and macerated with submerged cap for 3-4 days.
The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak botti of 50 hl for 6 months, then in cement tanks for a further 6 months. This Dolcetto
is medium-bodied yet soft with typical aromas such as cherries and red plums with a complex, forest floor bouquet. Although
it is a wine made to be drunk relatively young, it still has aging potential for up to 5 years. It matches prosciutto, salami, Alba
beef tartare and vitello tonnato. The wine is excellent with pizza and pasta, with second courses of red meat in general, but
also with aged cheeses.
DOLCETTO D’ALBA “VIGNA SCOT”
BAROLO CRU BRICCO BOSCHIS
BAROLO RISERVA BRICCO BOSCHIS VIGNA SAN GIUSEPPE
BAROLO RISERVA BRICCO BOSCHIS VIGNA SAN GIUSEPPE – magnum
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FERDINANDO PRINCIPIANO, MONFORTE D’ALBA, Piemonte – Organic
Being located on the southern fringe of the Barolo zone the Principiano estate benefits from the biodiversity of the Alta
Langhe; the wilderness that lies beyond the dense planting of Nebbiolo vineyards. This helps in maintaining a biodiverse
balance in the vineyard. In 2003 he made the decision to move away from the world of consultants and their prescriptions,
both in the vineyard and cantina and since then he’s been rewarded by the purity and drinkability of his wines.
Dosset (“Dolcetto” in the local dialect) is symbolic of this approach. At 10.5% alcohol, it is very light, fragrant and fruity. A
graceful wine (produced with the grapes from the vineyards of St. Anna and San Martino of Monforte d’Alba), for the table,
for the jug and for hilarious company – and with no added sulphites. The Nebbiolo also dials up the delightfulness. Located
mainly in Le Coste di Monforte d’Alba with a small percentage of grapes from Boscareto in Serralunga, this delicate Neb
comes from a hectare of forty-year old vines exposed grown at 350 metres a.sl. on sandy calcareous soils. Fermentation and
maceration last from two to three weeks with native yeasts and without added sulphur. Ageing takes place for ten months in
stainless steel tank. Bright with raspberries the nose is ethereal, leafy-fresh. There’s loads of crunchy punchy fruit, plenty of
rose petal fragrance too. Barolo Serralunga is a remarkably gratifying Barolo. Nebbiolo grapes ripen on 3.5 hectares of land
from young vines planted in the valley of Boscareto in Serralunga d’Alba. The focus on the balance of the plant and achieving
the ideal ripeness of the grapes allow Ferdinando to harvest in early October. The crushed grapes ferment naturally with their
yeasts and without added sulphur for about a month and the ageing takes place for 24 months in 20 and 40 hectolitres barrels.
This vibrant Barolo weaves together sensations of violets, bright red berries, forest floor, leather, sweet spices and balsamic
notes. The finesse and purity of fruit are supported by silky tannins.
The wine of kings and the king of wines. That’s how Barolo is defined.
Ferdinando’s oldest Nebbiolo grapes ripen on two acres where great care is taken in the vineyards. The vines are on the
south-west slope of Boscareto (approx. 400 m above sea level, in Serralunga d'Alba.
Ferdinando used to thin out the canopy to increase the concentration; now he prefers to let it grow. He has also changed his
approach in the winery where he now practices whole bunch maceration rather than the traditional destemming. The grapes
are pressed underfoot, and a relatively short maceration by Langhe standards (15 days), completes vinification. Fermentation
takes place in 10 hl wooden tanks without inoculated yeasts and without sulphur addition and ranges from 40 to 90 days
depending on the year. The wine is then transferred to 30 hectolitres oak barrels and matured for three to four years.
An intense bouquet of liquorice and eucalyptus jumps out of the glass; on the palate, the wine is both juicy and zippy and
green. It’s very lively and vital, continuously evolving in the glass and making a second and third taste compuelling and
DOSSET VINO ROSSO ~ Dolcetto
NEBBIOLO DELLE LANGHE COSTE
BAROLO SERRALUNGA DOCG
LE MARNE, AZIENDA VITIVINICOLA BIOLOGICO DI CARRARO FEDERICA, PARODI LIGURE,
Piemonte – Organic
Le Marne started in 2002 as a family project of vignerons Federica Carraro & Luigi Grosso. The name comes from the
typical white calcareous limestone marnes typical of “Oltregiogo Ligure” area (the deep end of Piedmont towards Liguria).
The winery is located at 330 metres above sea level. The estate is still completely family run and managed according to
organic procedures seeking the harmonious balance between human activity and expression of the territory. A naturally non-
intensive production, respectful of the eco-system and the biodiversity, aiming to grant authentic, genuine, fresh products.
The Cortese vines are grown on calcareous limestone marls with sensitive organic farming. Grapes are manually harvested
and then destemmed prior to controlled fermentation in Stainless vat for maceration (temperature controlled) followed by
ageing in cement. Very gentle filtration. No fining and total SO2 of around 50 parts per million.
This Gavi captures the freshness of the soils and has a cool Chablis-esque crunch to the fruit with lime and shell notes.
GAVI “LE MARNE”
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AZIENDA AGRICOLA CINZIA BERGAGLIO, TASSAROLO, Piemonte
Located in Tassarolo (Alessandria) Bergaglio’s vineyard comprises five hectares of which only one is currently in
production. Cortese, the native grape variety of Alessandria in Piedmont, tends to perform best in the hills between
Novi and Tortona in Piedmont. The grape has been so successful in Gavi (which is located in the south of Piedmont
close to Liguria) that it is known locally as Cortese di Gavi. The wine is really fresh and floral, clean with a
pleasant aftertaste of toasted almond and hints of apple and sage. Gavi is drunk with a variety of Ligurian sea food
dishes: stuffed squid, salad of baby octopus, seafood caponata or pagello in cartoccio (sea bream steamed in
GAVI DI TASSAROLO “LA FORNACE”
CASCINA DEGLI ULIVI, STEFANO BELLOTTI, NOVI LIGURE, Piemonte – Biodynamic
In addition to grape growing, the estate has a diversified production of fruits, vegetables and cereals, and keeps a variety of
farm animals. This biodiversity is an essential factor in biodynamic farming, which treats farms as self-contained, self-
sufficient entities requiring little or no inputs from the outside. Stefano Bellotti began as an eighteen year old in 1977,
reclaiming the family farm where there was less than 1 hectare of vineyard in existing use. He began working organically
from the beginning, and introduced biodynamic methods in 1984. The wines of Degli Ulivi are pure and natural, made
without manipulations. Their belief is that the art of winemaking is to accompany the wine through its natural
transformation process. Bellotti Bianco (pure Cortese), for example, tastes like a Jura wine that has gone to Italy and been
naturalized. Medium yellow in colour, the nose initially suggests a rich butter pound cake, with nut and citrus oils. Later,
with air, the wine has an amazing floral component, almost like lilies, with dry spice, quince, walnuts, and interesting Jura-
like notes. The wine has a very good finish with an interesting bitter walnut and churned butter aftertaste.
A Demua means “go and have fun” in the Genovese dialect. A remarkable field blend of five local grape varieties from a
hundred year old vines: Timorasso, Verdea, Bosco, Moscatella (an old type of Chasselas) and Riesling. The grapes are
from a single vineyard located in the foothills of the Appennines between Piedmont and Liguria. The pressed grapes are
macerated and co-fermented under a submerged cap in large oak casks for one month. The skins are removed and the wine
is returned to cask for one year before bottling. This is a true orange wine; golden in colour with a touch of tannin from the
grape skins, almost nut-skin-like in appearance and flavour. Remarkable aromas of dried apricot, dried-flowers, pine and
The Bellotti Rosso is a “vino da tavola” blend of mostly Barbera and Dolcetto, hand harvested and fermented in large oak
“botti” and bottles with minimal sulphur. The wine is fresh and lively bursting with dark berry flavours. Very deep youthful
purple/garnet colour. Big nose of prunes, river stones, blackberries, dark chocolate, and a touch of brown spices. In the
mouth, the wine is smooth, round and fruity with a nicely balanced acid/tannin structure, and a crunchy, pulpy texture with
vivid flavours of red plums and faded roses. Beautiful ripe strawberry fruit on the tart finish. A solid and honest wine and if
it doesn’t actually beg for food it certainly puts in a polite request for it. Made with Dolcetto a Graspo Rosso variety (with
red stems) which in the local dialect is called Nibiô. This particular variety has been grown here for more than 1000 years
and it is even mentioned in the annals of the Republic of Genoa. The vineyards are planted on gravelly-lime clay soils that
give the wine a marked elegance and complexity. Vinification is done in oak vats as well as a 12-month ageing. Indigenous
yeasts, unfiltered and unfined. Zero sulphur added. A natural red with irrepressible verve.
DEGLI ULIVI BELLOTTI BIANCO - Cortese
IVAG ~ Cortese
IVAG – magnum
DEGLI ULIVI BELLOTTI ROSSO ~ Barbera, Dolcetto
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