Clouds often cover the sky, the temperature dropped, trees are getting yellow, even pots outside my house changed the way they look like – geraniums and surfinias have given place to colorful heathers. The Langhe hills are ranging from orange to red shade of grapevine that free of fruits can finally go dormant. Meanwhile winemakers are keeping their nose to the grindstone on 2012 vintage, that according to experts looks like promising.
Through the courtesy of Enrico Rivetto I visited his vinery during one of the busiest days of the year – the Nascetta harvesting (la vendemmia). Nascetta is a white semi-aromatic grape variety which until some years ago was completely forgotten and even today not many oenologist and wine experts know about its existence, even though it’s the only white native variety in Langhe! For some unknown reason after the Second World War nobody heard any more about Nascetta and Enrico had to sourced its rootstocks from the University of Turin (Universita’ di Torino). In Rivetto it was planted in 2005 on northern slope of the hill and since 2008 he and his team have been working on continuous improvement of production method to obtain the best results. Presently you can taste his white dry wine Langhe Nascetta DOC which is not only perfect for fish dishes, but also for aging (according to Enrico even five to ten years it’s possible to keep in a bottle). What’s more, some experts forecast bright future for this native Langhe white wine which means that may become il Grande Bianco del Piemonte.
When I arrived grapes had been already handpicked (in Rivetto vineyards the grapes are all harvested in a traditional way) and transported to the winery. On photos below you will see the clusters desteming procedure.
Afterwards fruits are transferred to another machine where the process of cryomaceration takes place. Cryomaceration consists on keeping the skins macerating in contact with grape at a very low temperature (cryo stands for cold) . Usually maceration procedure is used only in red wine vinification to extract from skins such components like colorants, that gives the red color (red wine is made only from black grapes), and tannins. In case of white wines is used very rarely. Enrico decided to apply cryomaceration process because the skins contact enhances aromas and flavors and a low temperature (around 6°C), maintained by dry ice, allows to stop oxidation process (preventing juice browning) and to delay fermentation. Transformation of natural sugar of the fruit into alcohol happens after separating the most from solids into a stainless steel tank, in controlled temperature of 17°C. But before Langhe Nascetta hits the shelves it will still take a lot of time and hard work.
Langhe Nascetta DOC is not the only wine made by Rivetto family. For already four generations they have been producing great and valuable wines like Barolo, Barbera d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo, Moscato d’Asti and many others. A particular place where you can feel the history of the vineyard is Crutin Rivetto (crutin means a small cave in Piedmontese). Once it was used as a refrigerator, today it is an unique spot. Old family photos and the oldest preserved bottle of wine produced by Rivetto – Barolo from 1944 – witness their roots, and such “treasures” like Barolo Briccolina 2007 bottles link the visitor with the present times. This special wine is produced in limited number and as the only one it ferments in a traditional, wooden opened tank.
The Rivetto vineyard stands out of a beautiful setting – from over 400 m above sea level you can admire a spectacular view of magnificent castle in Serralunga d’Alba and picturesque landscape of vineyards. No wonder it’s a place often visited by wine lovers and also by professionals looking for interesting liquors (during Nascetta harvesting two Norwegians were hosted too). Enrico not only shows willingly the vineyard, shares his passion, but also in a very interesting way tells about his work. You can get know better about making wines from his blog: http://blog.rivetto.it/, available also in English.