The Fratelli Cigliuti winery is situated on the Serraboella hill, some 350 metres above sea level overlooking Neive, one of three villages responsible for producing Barbaresco. Renato inherited his father’s 6.5 hectare property which remains family owned and run and is now into its fifth generation with daughters Claudia and Sylvia. Winemaking techniques lean towards the traditional. Estate-grown, handpicked grapes are fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel, then aged in larger Slavonian oak barrels along with some barriques. Dolcetto and Nebbiolo grapes grow in the calcareous soils of the southwest-facing vineyards, while Barbera is cultivated on clayey sites with a south-eastern exposure. The wines show great complexity, minerality and personality.
"A small family estate located on the hill of Serraboella, the production is minuscule and the wines are made with a traditionally simple approach, not pumped up with new wood or made to a style, these are wines of terroir and tradition." - Nick Stock
It had always been our intention at CellarHand to 'leave Italian wine to the experts'. That all changed when the opportunity to work with La Spinetta came along. The 2007 edition of Gambero Rosso named this Italy's No. 2 winery just behind Gaja, and the international press continually lauds it as one of the country's most progressive wineries. Suffice to say we were more than curious to find out what all the fuss was about. A visit to Italy confirmed what we had read: this truly is a world-class producer. La Spinetta was founded in 1977 and now spans 165 hectares between Piedmont and Tuscany. Instead of inheriting their land through generations of winemakers, the Rivettis have carefully selected their vineyards over time. All sites have a south, south-east or south-west exposure and the vines tend to have a bit of age (35-65 years). The approach in the winery may be modern but the vineyard ethos is utterly traditional: extensive year round care, extremely low yields and no use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. La Spinetta means “top of the hill” and refers to the location of their first cellar in Castagnole delle Lanze in Piedmont. La Spinetta’s motto is: "Making wine with passion". We’ll drink to that.
Founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto, this is one of Italy's oldest sparkling wine producers. At the turn of the 20th century, its wines were leaving Canelli for destinations all over the world and Contratto was the personal supplier to the Italian Royal Family and Vatican. In the space of 150 years, it has gone from producing Moscato and red wine to traditional-method sparkling and still white wines, as well as Vermouth, tonic and syrups. The historic cathedral cellars are a UNESCO Heritage Site, cut into the limestone hills to a depth of 32m and covering 5,000 square metres.
"There are some real treasures hidden in these cellars," says Giorgio Rivetti, who has embraced Contratto's history since becoming involved in 2007. The family behind La Spinetta completed its purchase of Contratto in 2011, and Giorgio and the team are relishing the prospect of raising Contratto to its former glory and bringing it the recognition it deserves on the international scene.