There’s a magic place steeped in history, that has inspired illustrious writers and great artists. There’s a fertile country, rich in minerals, where passion and tradition intertwine, famous for its refined oenological production and excellent cuisine. Let’s enter this new dimension, where people are proud of their origin and protect it with pride. This is where our journey begins, amidst the charming hills of the Piedmont Langhe region and the poetic charm of rows of vines that go beyond the horizon. The name “Langa” itself in the Piedmont dialect indicates a hill, and these charming hills, never higher than 600 meters, are often ornate with rows of vines of Nebbiolo grapes, already known to be cultivated in ancient Rome, from where the prestigious wines Barbaresco, Barolo and Nebbiolo d’Alba are produced.
Before we begin our journey let’s take a moment to taste the hazelnuts, this land’s excellent cheeses and Alba’s famous white truffle.
We move on to South Tyrol, that over the years has become a land of wine production famous all-over the world, producing quality wines, where it is possible to recognize an ancient wine culture.
The estate “Schwarhof”, of Loacker Estates is nestled on a gentle slope facing south, overlooking the valley that home to Bolzano.
This Maso, a traditional farmhouse of the area, was first occupied in 1334 and its wine production, with the family Rossi di San Giustina, reflects an ancient culture and tradition of wine-making. Rainer Loacker, in charge since 1979 of organic cultivation of the vine, found here bread for his teeth, that is, an interesting challenge. His pioneering work led in time to soil restoration, while vines were gradually made more resistant to adversity through the use of homeopathic remedies.
The result is tasty and healthy grapes, excellent for making high quality wines, able to conquer the wine-lover, such as Lagrein, Muller Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer.
Continuing our journey, the province of Cuneo offers other valuable treasures, such as La Morra,
which stands on top of a hill and has given birth to the first Nebbiolo grape bunch, from which Barolo wine is made. Today, La Morra represents an important touristic and oenogastronomic landmark, attracting droves from all-over the world, whom come here to enjoy its food, its wines and to visit the beauties of the place.
In a nearby hamlet, we find the farm Eugenio Bocchino. The farm Eugenio Bocchino was founded in 1997 thanks to a vineyard inherited from his grandfather
Giacomo, who produced wine already in the 40s. Today Eugenio and Cinzia cultivate 5 hectares of vineyards applying organic and biodynamic methods to cultivation of grapes and making of wine.
Their philosophy is to passionately make wines in the simplest manner possible, without manipulations, trying to propose wines true to the character and the aromas of the terroir.
The absolute protagonist is the Nebbiolo grape, from which Cantina Eugenio Bocchino makes Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo, Barolo.
We continue our journey in the Langhe region arriving in the Serre hamlet, near the town of Alba. Among the vineyards stands Cantina Mario Rivetti founded by the passion of a family for the world of farming and wine-making.
In 1930, “grandpa” Pasquale inherits a farm from his father and starts to cultivate vines. In 1968 his son Mario, driven by his passion for the world of agriculture and wine, began making wine from his own grapes and market his own wines.
In 2000, the next generation takes on the management of the company continuing in the family tradition; and today Mario Rivetti is a farm primarily run by the women of the house. Loredana and Anna Maria Rivetti manage the company, along with their families, personally following business processes and maintaining inherited traditions.
It is a small winery with small numbers, but focusing on product quality, above all Nebbiolo and Dolcetto d’Alba, and Moscato d’Asti.
Those passionate about history cannot but visit Dogliani, a village that boasts an ancient medieval tradition. Here you can admire a castle, neoclassical cupolas, neo Gothic spires and a tower that give the site a unique feature. Grapes and wine have been for centuries the main resource of this area, also known for having given birth to the first elected President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi. The etymology of the name itself, in latin “Dolium”, seems to derive from “Dolium Januae”, “Giano’s Cup”. And, it is here that the journey in the Italian oenological and culinary culture leads us to.
The Poderi La Collina company is strongly tied to the oenological culture of the area. In their fourteen hectares of land, Piergiorgio Marengo and his family take meticulous care of all the phases in the preparation of the Dolcetto, from choosing clones and rootstocks, to the form of tilling, to wine making. The Dolcetto of Dogliani, a native vine cited as early as the 1500’s in City Hall documents, was Luigi Einaudi’s wine, great admirer and promoter of its development and success. A wine that is close to the ideal perfection of vinous: young and jovial, fresh and fragrant, sincere and immediate, that reveals its growth on hillsides among the highest in the Langa region, where it finds the most favourable conditions.
The first stop of our journey is the Cooperative Cantina Pertinace, founded in 1973 in Treiso (CN). The cooperative is run by Cesare Barbero, who continues his father’s work, Mario, that in 1973, had the idea to unite thirteen wine growers of the Treiso area in one cooperative whose name is inspired by the Roman Emperor Elvio Pertinace, whom originally was from this area.
It was Machiavelli who brought the emperor to fame, praising his love for justice and peace in a notorious chapter of The Prince. Pertinace’s values have influenced the cooperative’s work, whose partners, owners of seventy hectares, carry out their activity with love, passion and dedication. The Barbaresco wine is the cooperative’s feather in the cap, wine by the esteemed organoleptic characteristics: a deep ruby-red color with an agreeable and intense smell, is best served at 18° C and accompanied by red meat and aged cheeses.
If you are passionate about wine, you cannot travel through this area without visiting the Azienda Agricola Cornarea, who gets its name from the enchanting hill where its vineyards extend. Mr. Bovone runs Cornarea with his children Gian Nicola and Pierfranco and their story is tightly sewn with that of the Roero Arneis, a rare white wine, whose grapes are produced and vinified, from the 1400’s, exclusively in the Roero territory.
Arneis in the Piedmont dialect means “naughty child” highlighting how difficult it was for the farmers to dominate the nature of this wine.
Within a few years, the Bovone Family, first to reintroduce the arneis vine in the mid 70’s saving the last few remaining rows, reaches extraordinary results in its refinement, donating an elegant wine, fruited but balanced, so much as to be an example for many Roero producers, thus obtaining in 2005 the appellation DOCG. The wine, straw yellow in color, has an intense and enthralling taste, and is best savored with fish based dishes.
Our journey continues through this magic country, where people’s lifestyle is admired worldwide. Before our journey continues, let’s stop and savor once again the taste of this area passing through Neive (CN). Here in 1964 the Marcarino family founded and still today owns the Azienda Agricola Biologica Punset, punset means beautiful hill or peak in the local dialect, presumably because it was the the only property of the Conti di Castelborgo that could been seen from their castle on rainy autumn days. The company is organic certified since 1982 and speaking to Marina you can understand that this choice, before being dictated by market logic, is above all a philosophy and, consequently, a coherent choice of life.
The typical production of this area, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba and Nebbiolo, follows nature’s life cycle with the preparation of the soil through the use of natural substances. Punset boasts in being the only company which produces a DOCG Barbaresco organic certified, a powerful, persistent wine mitigated by balanced tannins and fruited scents typical of the woods of the area. Punset, with its forty hectares, is part of the important Vintesa Consortium that unites different organic wine producers from across the country. Quality united to passion for the agrifood activity is the heart of this fascinating site.
We have discovered the oenological reality and the history of Langhe and Roero, and now our journey continues towards a place that is also rich in history: Monferrato. A place of grand dynasties, as well as Reign of the Savoia until the Unification of Italy, and extending south to the foothills of the Liguria Apennine, and to the boundaries of Genoa and Savona. In Monferrato, in Pino d’Asti, we find the Cantina Mosparone, which covers an area of sixteen hectares, and run by the Ghebbano family.
The composition of the soil, generically known as “blue-grey marls” and “white soils”, its exposure, medium altitude around 400 mt. a.s.l., a good alternation of hot days and cool nights, along with an attentive management of the vines, favours the production of grapes that will bring to the attainment of wines with a grand structure and persistent scents. Feather in the cap is the Albugnano, very small DOC, that certifies the production of a Nebbiolo “in purezza”, in purity, supervised in all its phases, from the grape harvest to the wine making to the aging process, true to local tradition.
In our Journey through the Italian oenological and food excellencies , we follow Rainer Loacker through his Estates and continue south until we arrive in Tuscany. We are in region that gives birth to the Italian language, a place where culture is transmitted by every little strip of land: Lorenzo de Medici, Caravaggio, Cavalcanti, Guittone, Dante and Machiavelli have all resided here. Mr. Rainer leads us into his Corte Pavone Estate in Montalcino (SI), a famous area for the production of the Brunello wine.
From the sixteen hectares of sangiovese grapes vineyards, as far as the eye can see, we view the Tuscan hills. Your attention is captured by the aroma of rosemary, thyme and lavender which characterize the air and the colors of this country. The climate, the light and clayey soil confer just the right character to the Brunello di Montalcino of the Corte Pavone. Since purchasing the estate in 1996, Rainer Loacker rapidly adapted the activity to his life philosophy: the grapes are cultivated according to the organic cultivation dictates, following natural methods and the wine slowly ages in durmast barrels. Tasting this wine is really a special experience lived in a unique environment.
Twenty kilometers from Florence, in the municipality of Carmignano, wine was made since Etruscan and Roman times. The territory of Carmignano can boast its having been selected, in 1716, by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de ‘Medici as one of the four viticulture areas of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The decree “Motu Proprio” and the Proscription ruled with precise prescriptions in production, geographical boundaries and trade of the wines produced in these areas: It is the first “Doc” in the world.
Other generations and families followed in the property of the estate until, in 1920, when the Contini Bonacossi family acquired the estate.
In the twenties, Alessandro bought the property; hence, the property, which was divided into three farms and more than 120 holdings dedicated to the production of high quality wines and high-quality olive oil. In 1945 Augusto Alessandro was joined by his son Ugo, a war veteran and with a degree in agriculture, whom gradually took upon his shoulders the management of the estate transforming it from a sharecropping estate to a modern company. Since many years the company has accepted the philosophy of organic agriculture abandoning the use of herbicides and chemical fertilizers that would affect the original taste of Carmignano, which dates so far back.
Today the wines of Tenuta Capezzana are awarded recognitions and awards around the world, establishing itself as a reference of the Carmignano DOC and DOCG.
Our journey moves on to the Adriatic coast, in the Molise region. There, where green and picturesque hills, catch the eye and give a sense of peace, there is the town of Larino. Located on a hill, it dates back to Roman ages as witnessed by the many archaeological sites. Larino also boasts the first seminary of Christianity founded on the same day the of Council of Trent. Here we find the Angelo Uva Cellar, a story of men and of a great dream: to add value to their land, cultivate grapes and make wines. It is a story of a family, grandfather, father and son, all winemakers and farmers. In the 40s, it is grandfather Angelo, who planted the first vineyards.
With stubbornness and love of the land, his son Sebastiano, in the 60s and 70s, grew the company, by working there with passion, perseverance and sheer dedication. The quantum leap is accomplished with Angelo, the current owner, that specializes the farm in viticulture, and beginning in 2001, wine-making in the production of DOC and IGT wines.
Within the farm Trebbiano, Malvasia and Chardonnay grapes for white wines, Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for red, are cultivated to which we add the native variety of Tintilia. The replanting of this vine and vinification of these grapes is the expression of a deliberate corporate policy of rediscovery, respect and appreciation of the territory of Molise.
After tasting the typical wines of the Frascati area let’s travel further south inside the world of the Italian oenological and food excellence. We arrive in Puglia, in the Basso Tavoliere area, one of the most fertile of the region. The city of Cerignola, which is the city of reference in the territory, derives its name from Cerere the goddess of harvests and fertility.
Here we meet the Azienda Agrobiologica Antica Enotria. It is a reality characterized by its strong relationship with the history of the territory.
L’azienda non utilizza prodotti di sintesi, né OGM, ma solo fertilizzanti naturali come il letame e altre sostanze organiche compostate. In caso di necessità, per la difesa delle colture, si interviene con sostanze naturali vegetali, animali o minerali: estratti di piante, farina di roccia e minerali.
Raffaele di Tuccio and his son Luigi are telling us their story: proud of their work, they invite us to taste not only the typical wines of the territory, like the Agliano IGT Puglia, the Nero di Troia and the Primitivo IGT Puglia, but also the sun-dried tomatoes and the grilled vegetables, the Cerignola olives and the extra virgin oil they produce.
Leaving behind Lazio, we arrive in Campania, in the province of Avellino, where the red wine Taurasi is made. Among vineyards and green hills, we find Antica Hirpinia Cellar and its brand Anno Domini 1590.
This is a project made to select with great care, the best wines of Irpinia and Campania. It originates in Taurasi, the town from which the wine takes its name, where every gesture, from the care of the vineyards to bottling has an ancient tradition.
The altitude of the vineyards varies from 300 to 600 meters above sea level and the terroir structure is characterized by presence of clay and limestone, low in organic matter and rich in phosphates and potassium. These features, combined with an ideal microclimate, have made possible the cultivation of indigenous varieties of grapes of ancient tradition, such as Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, Fiano, and Code di Volpe. From the Aglianico grapes you make Taurasi DOCG, one of the most prestigious wines of Italian enology.
On 11 March 1993, the Taurasi, the first and only wine of southern Italy, received the Ministerial Decree with the Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed: Ancient Hirpinia proudly boasts the production of the first-ever bottle of Taurasi DOCG.
Our journey continues across the Strait of Messina, in the Sicily decanted by Lucrezio in De Rerum natura: “It is right that this land, superb of so many beautiful things, to the people is to be revealed and so much admired, opulent of envied treasures and rich of noble spirits”. From the Phoenicians to the Romans, from the Greeks to the Arabs, from the Normans to the French there’s no culture that hasn’t left an indelible sign on Sicily.
It is in this mythical place, and precisely in Contrada Bufalefi in the Val di Noto (SR), that you find the Cantina Modica, property of the Modica family of San Giovanni for over two centuries and managed today by Felice Modica and his son Alessandro.
Today who states Bufalefi speaks of the homeland of the Nero d’Avola: the very center of the production area of the DOC Eloro Nero d’Avola. In front of the ocean and the African Continent, a calcareous terrain and a temperate hot climate are a natural habitat for the Nero d’Avola vine. At the very center of the production area of the Eloro DOC Nero d’Avola, the Arà is produced, a noble wine that doesn’t leave you indifferent. Its own Greek etymology indicates prayer or imprecation. From the Bufalefi Estate of the Modica di San Giovanni also comes most of the extra virgin oil of the Sottozona Val Tellaro of the DOP Monti Iblei, awarded in international competitions and appreciated all over the world. Why don’t we stop under an olive tree to enjoy a glass of Nero d’Avola accompanied with a tasty caciocavallo from Ragusa, and return with our memory to the journey just completed through the stories of our agrifood entrepreneurs and their excellent oenological and food production.
Just the time for a glass of Nebbiolo d’Alba, accompanied by a medium matured cheese typical of the area, and our journey continues to the border between Langa and Roero, twin lands of agrifood vocation, ideally divided by the Tanaro River. The Roero shares vineyards and climate with Langa, but differentiates for the particular geological configuration. Apart from the hills, Roero is characterized by its rock formations rich in unique mineral substances.
“The panorama is boundless: below you see Rome and further along the ocean, on the right the Tivoli hills and so on and on. In this pleasant region the country houses are really made for pleasure, and like the ancient Romans had their villas here, so, for hundreds and more years, rich modern Romans in love with magnificence have established, in the most beautiful areas, the roots of new dwellings. We’ve been wandering in these areas for two days and we always find something new and enchanting”. This is what Goethe wrote on November 15, 1786, during his visit to Frascati (RM).Referring to the writings of the German Great Traveler we arrive in Grottaferrata, where the Azienda Agricola Castel de Paolis was founded.
It is in 1985 that the Honorable Giulio Santarelli, already undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, begins to rationally manage the sixteen hectares of the “Castel de Paolis” estate, in certainly the most suited area of Latium, activity continued today with devotion, enthusiasm and success by his son Fabrizio. The company produces the Frascati Superiore and the Cannellino di Frascati both DOCG, wines by the fine and delicate scent to be matched with soft and dry desserts and aged cheeses.
Fabrizio gives a decisive boost to the internationalization of the business also acquiring new recognition, mentions and awards thanks to the attentive care of the oenologist Fabrizio Bono: Castel de Paolis is the only business in Latium with two wines awarded “5 grappoli” by the prestigious DUEMILAVINI guide of the Italian Sommelier Association.