Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meeting Luca Corrado at Vietti

We arrived in Castiglione on the first day of our trip to the Piemonte. The weather would end up being in this state of mind for a week: threatening to do something drastic, but instead just holding everything in. The vineyards were quiet in response. The harvest that had commenced here a couple of weeks earlier with the Dolcetto now waited in repose, and the pickers were left to rest while cantina owners warily regarded the sky. Everyone we spoke to was waiting, waiting, waiting for the Nebbiolo to be ready. It would take another two weeks. In the interim, there was the time to show us around. And so we were lucky.

We parked near the castle and headed over to Vietti.

It was my first visit to the Vietti cantina, and I was looking forward to the tour. This is one of the esteemed addresses in the region, and it seems to me to be one of the more influential among the growers themselves. If Gianni Canonica is the spiritual heir to Bartolo Mascarello, as someone commented to me, I might place Luca Corrado of Vietti as the spiritual heir to Aldo Conterno. With different terroirs, of course.

The cantina gate looks out to the castle tower, and in to a busy courtyard of tractors and wagons.

The courtyard itself looks on to half of the Barolo zone, and we snuck past the machinery to get a closer look.

The Castle of Serralunga was in the distance.

And there was the Lazzarito cru, out by Giudo Porro's house.

I took a video clip so that you could see it all better.

Directly below the winery was a little pathway.

And just beyond that was the Scarrone vineyard, where Vietti grows Barbera vines.

Luca Corrado brought us into the winery and showed us through. This was my first meeting with Luca, and let me tell you, he is an easy guy to like. He was warm and genuine with us, and generous with his time.

Luca led us into the fermentation room, and we took a look around.

The doors have to be open at this time of year, to release the CO2 gas floating around from the ferments, and so I thought at first when I heard the screaming that it was coming from outside.

But in fact it was the Corrado children at the window, who were making good use of the lull in harvest time to construct dry ice bombs and toss them out of the building.

To go about this properly you take dry ice from the carboy in the fermenting hall, fill it into a used plastic water bottle, cap that, and then drop it from as high a height as possible. Nothing much happens until the loud BOOM EXPLOSION, which you can't really predict the timing of, and which echoes through the cellars. The key to doing all this correctly is that there has to be a lot of giggling going on at all times.

Watch closely as the Corrados demonstrate their well honed technique.

Daughter fills the water bottle and takes it to the window.

Where her brother is waiting to meet her.

Together they attach the cap to the bottle. This is a particularly perilous portion of the operation

and it may just be that Dad has to step in to make some careful adjustments.

Bigger hands being welcome at this point in the procedure.

Find the open window

And release.

But remember, DO NOT forget to giggle. Giggling is the most important part!

Instruction over, we headed to the relative calm of the barrel room, our conversation only occasionally interrupted by explosions.

Like many barrel rooms, this one has barrels in it.

Also, barrels.

And you might see some barrels.

But you also might not realize, or at least I didn't realize, that there is a whole other barrel room besides this one. And it's right behind that door.

Get ready to say goodbye to natural light for awhile.

Because it is dark in there.

As you might have guessed by now, Vietti is a fairly sizeable producer, which makes the overall high quality level that much more impressive. If you do like I do, and judge a winery in a famous area by their least expensive wines, you have to say that Vietti does very well. Their Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco is a good and good value introduction to a richer style of Nebbiolo. I have bought it, do buy it, and like to drink it.

Not that any of it was back here, mind you, because now we were moving into the old cellar, the historical cellar.

And this was only for treasures of the cave.

Careful of your head!

The ceilings don't have much padding in there.

Sometimes "blinding wines" means guessing what you might have in front of you. My thoughts? This one might have some age on it.

But back out and through a hallway and we found the young vintages again.

And then another door, and into another room.

And a bit more wood.

But how does all this wine taste outside of the winery, after it is in bottle?

We headed to a nearby restaurant to find out.

While we enjoyed a small morsel of mushroom season

and a bit of white to go with it,

Luca decanted some bottles he had brought along with him.

Which turned out to be a good thing.

A very good thing.

You know how they say that old wines envelop all their flavors, so that they are all brought together?

I'd say they do that for people as well.

It was a great visit, and one that I am very thankful for.

You would have a hard time finding a more finely detailed Barolo from 1995 than the wine that that Brunate turned into with some air, by the way.

Please NOTE: So you want to be... takes no responsibility for whatever pranks you get into with dry ice after reading this post. Property damage, loss of life, loss of limb, loss of grumpy unhappiness, whatever it might be, you are on your own.

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