Not only fossil volcanoes in upper Piedmont! There is also a very active one here! His name is Guido Schiavio and he is as big as Sesia: his activities extend from Biella to Costigliole d’Asti. With him and Elena, it was love at first sight. Call them elective affinities, Serendipity, or whatever you want, the fact is that with them I feel loved and pampered like a sister.
With their wines it was just as dazzling, love at first sip! So I could not wait for the completion and inauguration of the new winery to visit them at Vigneti l’Annunziata. They say follow your heart, and they have been holding a big piece of my heart for quite some time now! I have learned that one of the rules of life that is always valid is the following: beauty stems out from beauty and what comes from the heart goes to the heart. I know their wines very well and I have already told you about them, but I was missing a fundamental piece to fully understand their beautiful soul, so I went to the vineyard.
The hills on which the vineyards of Dolcetto, Barbera and Chardonnay rest are as sweet as these Barbera berries. Many the myths and legends around the world of wine, and one of these fascinating stories says that it was here, from Costigliole d’Asti, that Chardonnay left and found a new home in France. Grapes that go and then come back home I like to believe, and the story is tremendously plausible, because the French clones selected by Guido here yield extraordinary wines in elegance and finesse.
His viticulture and winemaking is biodynamic and even though I am not a big fan of those wines I must say that, when they come out right, they are pretty hard to match!The vines are treated only with natural herbal teas, total green an organic viticulture, strong and long-lived plants, the Barbera is now over 50 years old! And someone in the area is thinking of following Guido’s example and abandon chemicals.
I feel calm, beauty, happiness here…. I know now what this wine is really made of! The air is fresh and crisp, nature is now ready for its long winter sleep, yet I can feel it in the air, the scent of my beloved Aurum.
Back where it all began now! And so here we are in Rome, the Law of Attraction at Work and we meet out sheer luck. Call it Serendipity! Our tasting begins with a Method Champenoise, what else! Their newest blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 12 months on lees and ready!
Intriguing nose of freshly baked bread spiced up with olives, pumpkin seeds and thyme. Crisp, agile and clear cut to the taste, it grows on you sip after sip! Straightforward, linear and coherent elegance for a sparkle I would want to have on the beach with my 21 oysters and 15 raw shrimp. Delicious! With Fabio, owner at Enoteca La Vigna and great wine expert, we have filed with WSET to add the term to the official wine descriptors of the experts!
We then moved to their unexpected Chardonnay! A French clone that has found its perfect home in Piedmont, one of the best areas for winemaking in the world. Late harvest, fermentation in large oak barrels that are scraped to avoid any roasted sensation. Then add Guido’s vision and creativity and the outcome is twofold!
Aurum is incredibly charming, with intense floral notes and a persistent fragrance of anise. No tricks here, just a lot of anise growing in the vineyards that keeps the nasty bugs away and attracts the bees for pollination. True love at first sip!
Il Solista instead is left on the skins for 4 days and is full of promises! Sit back, relax, give it some time and it will keep changing like the mesmerizing games of a kaleidoscope! Extremely intriguing with fragrances of geraniums, anise, rose, honey and a salty hint of capers. Round and harmonious with delicate tannins and perfect balance. One fine and enjoyable orange wine, in one word a Solista, literally a Solo Artist! Guess which was my favorite!!
Let’s get deep into the heart of the territory now, with its legitimate children, the historic varieties of Asti and Monferrato, inextricably rooted to this land where they create a unique and unrepeatable sensorial symphony. If the French adopted child, Chardonnay, has found a way to express itself at such high levels, a 1970 vineyard of Dolcetto and a 1968 vineyard of Barbera can do magic here!
If the Dösset Monferrato DOC Dolcetto is a solid, deep, reassuring love story, Julius Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG is a rebellious, turbulent, passionate love affair instead, that holds you in suspense and makes your heart beat fast and loud! Praise to both for their olfactory purity and clear-cut taste. Dolcetto is elegantly floral whereas Barbera is intensely fruity and spicy; authentic aromas and fragrances of the land, the vine, the grapes, the air and nothing more. Fermentation in open steel tanks and then they both refine in large non roasted oak barrels. There is that subtle note of anise you know, I could definitely recognize these extraordinary wines on a blind tasting!
When we finally made it to Costigliole D’Asti where Guido and Elena welcome us with their Julius to be paired with Bagna Caoda, a hot dip for fresh vegetables made with anchovies, oil and garlic, and which here in Piedmont has become the symbol of friendship and joy. The right ingredients are all there, and although I have tasted it several times, I can finally truly enjoy this Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG.
Julius the rebel, the thoroughbred, the turbulent love, here in his estate I find it more composed and extremely enjoyable. Oh yes, it does make the heart beat faster, but with the nonchalant and teasing courtship of those who are absolutely aware of their magnetic beauty and charm! I’m playing his game but I’m not giving in completely, because he doesn’t know it yet, but I’m about to go to the source of pleasure, to discover all his innermost secrets and undisclosed desires, so that I can finally grasp his deepest nature and give all my heart to him at last…
Julius, wait for me, I’m coming to the vineyard…