One of the highlights of our trip to Piedmont last November was an invitation from Luciana Currado to her home for dinner. It was special not only because of the Vietti wines and that Luciana is a wonderful cook, but also because she is a very dear friend
We first met Luciana and her husband Alfredo in the fall of 1982. It was our first time in Piedmont and my only itinerary was to visit as many wine producers as possible. We were on our way to Monforte d’Alba when Michele saw the sign for Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery.
Before we had left home, Sheldon Wasserman, a friend and Italian wine expert and writer, told us to be sure to visit this winery not only because they made great wines, but because Alfredo and Luciana were such nice people. We arrived at the gate of the winery and I rang the bell. A man appeared and I said in Italian siamo amici di Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. He turned and shouted to his wife: “Luciana, Luciana, friends of Sheldon and Pauline are here!”
They invited us into their home to meet the whole family and we drank Moscato d’Asti with cornmeal cookies and had a wonderful time. When we got back to the hotel there was a message waiting for us. Alfredo and Luciana were taking us to dinner that night and they would not take no for an answer. So began a wonderful friendship and many adventures with this wonderful couple both in Piedmont and NYC that lasted until Alfredo’s death about five years ago.
Roero Arneis DOCG 2014 100% Arneis. The vineyards are 25 years old and are located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Srefano Roero. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested , pressed and clarified, then alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at a low temperature to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. Because there is no malolactic fermentation acidity and freshness are preserved. The wine remains in stainless steel until bottling. It is a well balanced wine that has hints of citrus and melon with a touch of almond and crisp acidity. It was fitting to start with the Arneis as Alfredo has been called “the father of Arneis” because in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly lost variety.
Barolo Ravera 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo from the Ravera vineyard, 2.7 hectares in Novello. The vines are 5 to 60 years old and the exposure is southwest and the soil is calcareous-clay. The wine is in stainless steel vats, 5 of which are in cold pre-fermentation maceration. Alcoholic fermentation takes place and then a long post-fermentation maceration at a controlled temperature. There is daily air pumping over using the old system called “submerged cap.” There is slow malolactic fermentation in large casks almost until the end of spring. The wine stays more then a year on the lees and the C02 produced during the malolactic fermentation is a reductive environment without sulfur. The wine is aged for 32 months in Slovenian oak casks and bottled unfiltered in July 2013. It has hints of roses, red fruit and spice. Needs time to open up and will only get better with age.
Barolo Brunate 1996 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Morra located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines at the time were about 23 years old and cultivated with the guyot system. The soil is calcareous. Grapes are gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 23 days. Daily open air pumping over takes place using the old system of the submerged cap. Malolactic fermentation is in oak barrels. The wine, I believe, back in 1996 was aged for 32 months in large Slovenian oak casks. This is a balanced wine with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry, plum, violets and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish. !996 was a great vintage for Barolo and this is a great wine.
The night before the dinner with Luciana we were in Alba and went to the Vincafe. As I looked at the case with the older wine I saw a bottle of Vietti Barbera d’Asti “La Crena”1996 and I just had to order it. This single vineyard in Agliano d’Asti was planted in 1932 with 4,800 plants per hectare. The must rests for 21 days in stainless steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. There are 2 to 3 daily fullages in the electro pneumatically system, “délestage” and numerous air pumping overs. Immediately after the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels and big Slovenian oak casks for 16 months. Then it is assembled in steel tanks until it is bottled unfiltered. This is a Barbera that was showing no signs of age with mature fruit, hints of raspberry and cherry a touch of spice and good acidity.
Alfredo and Luciana’s son Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great wine making family. Gambero Rosso not only gave a three glasses award to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but also named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.
Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less than one hectare with south/southwest exposure. Soil is clay and compact with white and blue marlstone. The average age of the vines is 39 years and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. After alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, which lasts for 16 days, the wine macerates on the skin for ten days. The wine was transferred into small barrels for the malolactic fermentation. Then it was aged in Slovenian oak casks of 27 hl and bottled unfiltered in September 2010. It is classical Barolo at its best with dark fruit flavors and aromas, hints of leather, tobacco and spice.