Old cellars covering 5000 square meters, long lyrical illuminated corridors and lots of bottles with fermenting wine. While I was visiting the ancient basements of Contratto, a party took over the place above. The huge elegant courtyard, of the oldest Italian producer of millesimato metodo classico, hosted a significant number of guests. This time I will not write about the reception (although I had so much fun and I don’t remember when was the last time I danced so much…), this article is about an unusual winery that can boast almost 150 years of tradition.
Contratto is situated in Canelli, a Piedmontese center of champagne-style sparkling wines. It’s quite difficult to believe that this small town, with less than 11 000 residents, hosts two famous vineyards. In 1866 bothers Carlo and Edoardo Gancia transferred their wine company from Chivasso near Turin to Canelli, and one year later Giuseppe Contratto moved from Ivrea with an idea to make Italian spumante metodo classico.
The biggest treasure of Contratto, despite the drink of the Gods, are the historic cellars. Walking into the underground I had an impression of entering into a different world both mysterious and exiting. At the beginning of my journey I’m confronted by semidarkness, while my eyes are adjusting to the dim lighting I can see a narrow alley with an impressive number of bottles filled with maturating wine. Only after a few steps I reach a larger room followed by long corridors and cozy corners with symmetrically arranged characteristic stands (pupitre) with fermenting bollicine.
The cellars were built in 1872 with the labour of 200 people. It took 3 years to complete the construction into the heart of the hill protecting Canelli. The excavation goes down 32 meters, providing a constant temperature of 13° Celsius and perfect humidity for fermentation in bottle.
The vinery Contratto is famous for a long and prestigious tradition as bollicine of Canelli used to satisfy the palate of the Italian Royal Family and the Vatican. „For England” , a wine much drier than French Champagne, was exported to the British Empire and its colonies since 1920.
In 1993 Contratto was sold to a local grappa producer – Carlo Bocchino and in 2011 la Spinetta took over the winery. Today we can find both a rich collection of excellent sparkling wines (like CONTRATTO Blanc de Blancs Brut produced with Chardonay or CONTRATTO Millesimato Extra Brut made with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonay) and vermouths – a perfect aperitif or an ingredient of cocktails.
For more information visit the official website.