Friday, September 7, 2012

the Amari file: other notes from along Cappellano's Spice Route

The Cappellano Chinato label as it was from 1930 to 1974.
I got my copy of Wine & Spirits magazine's October issue, and there was my article on Cappellano Barolo Chinato framed up on the next to last page. It's nice to know that someone looking for researched and current information in English about one of Italy's most astounding beverages now has a published resource available to them. And there is a lot of information in the piece, as the editors at W&S were willing to devote considerable type space to a topic that maybe still occupies a rather small and specialty niche in the market.

A box intended for sample bottles at the old pharmacies. In the past there were two pharmacies owned by the Cappellano family.

But of course not everything I uncovered ended up in the piece and there is a bit more to tell you. I decided to share some of the details here on this blog that might sketch in a fuller picture for you.

The Pie Franco Barolo from Cappellano is never used in the Chinato, which is pure Rupestris. The fruit is sourced today from the Gabutti vineyard, but Augusto does not know from where the fruit was brought in the past. The Cappellano family purchased their portion of Gabutti in 1980.

Augusto considers his Chinato recipe to be "an encounter with the entire family." He dates the production back as far as perhaps 1863, although the oldest bottle he has seen himself is dated to 1890. In the 1960's it was determined by the Consorzio that Barolo Chinato would not carry a vintage label on the bottle, although before then it was common.

Inspecting the China Calissaja at the Cappellano cantina. Only one of the ingredients used in the recipe at Cappellano is local to the Langhe. The rest of the additions come from around the globe. Augusto told me that the strength of a given spice varies with the years and the source. And the ambient temperature matters a great deal. If the infusion is done in a hotter temperature, less spice is required.

Chocolate is offered to guests trying the Barolo Chinato in the Cappellano tasting room.

Not only does Augusto want to extend the time that his Barolo Chinato sees in wood to make special Riserva Chinati, he also wants to cellar bottles of the Chinato for longer, as he asserts that the taste improves with age. Augusto recommends a year of ageing in the bottle, saying that this is when the spices really start to come together.

Currently, the Barolo Chinato is aged in bottle at Cappellano for 6 months before release.

A great-great uncle of Augusto's produced at one time a Moscato based Bianco Chinato. And also a Fernet was once made at Cappellano.

This cocktail is one that Baldo would recommend to visitors.

The Cappellano Barolo Chinato label from 1974 to 1990. Augusto thinks that what really differentiates his Chinato from the Chinati offered by many of the other producers today is that he always uses real spices in his recipes, and not oil essences "that have been attacked by steam."

Augusto does not feel that Barolo Chinato has increased much in popularity over the last 10 years, but he does think that it is much more popular today than it was in 1970's, when there was virtually no interest at all from the market.
A bottle today.

Augusto credits his father Teobaldo for really keeping the tradition of Barolo Chinato alive even in the face of zero consumer interest. "He was hard at it" not to stop, says Augusto.

1 comment:

William Patton said...

Hi Levi,

Very interesting post. I was not aware of these wines and am now curious to get hold of some. Fancy they would work well with certain cheeses or very sweet desserts (sticky toffee pudding ?), or as a digestif as suggested.

Thank you.