Nada Fiorenzo: hidden in plain sight crafting elegance in Treiso

In 1921, Carlo Nada, the son of a family of poor sharecroppers, bought an estate in Treiso, then a hamlet of Barbaresco. The estate, belonging to Carlo's employer at the time, one of Italy's first cardiologists to whom the estate was a summer home, spanned 25ha and included a significant portion of the Rombone vineyard. Though the family was poor, Carlo, a strong man with many children, had hoped that together his four sons would manage the estate. Having gotten ill rather young, Carlo's last wish was that the family maintained the integrity of the property, hoping they would not divvy it among many siblings. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. After the estate had been split, resources were scarce and Fiorenzo, the second-to-last son, made the decision to begin selling the family's grapes, which were in high demand at the time. In the late-70s, having left for Alba amidst an economic boom, Bruno Nada returned to Treiso, now a self-governing commune, and proposed the family cease selling their grapes and instead bottle their own wine. In 1982, Azienda Agricola Nada Fiorenzo produced its first bottle. Since then the estate has expanded, purchasing several hectares of vines in Manzola and Montiribaldi. Though remaining grossly underexplored, there has been a persistent and evolving push to improve quality, reduce yields and rediscover traditional agronomic practices. After graduating, following his father's footsteps, Bruno's son, Danilo, returned to the family business, helping write Nada Fiorenzo's next chapter. I spoke to Danilo about his families estate, fastidious viticulture, the nature of their wines, and the future.

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Cavallotto: from Bricco Boschis stars are born

Toward the end of the 19th century, many of Piedmont's sprawling aristocratic estates had collapsed, their demise linked in part to falling land prices following Europe’s catastrophic phylloxera epidemic. Many of these estates belonged to Countess Juliette Colbert de Barolo who is rumoured to have made Barolo in her Turin estate long before it was sold on the open market. In Castiglione Falletto, the Countess' estate included the south-facing Monte della Guardia, tended by her vineyard manager, Giuseppe Boschis, from whom today the site takes its name. Having inherited the land, Giuseppe later sold the estate to Giacomo Cavallotto. In 1946, following the fall of fascism, Giuseppe decided to stop selling his grapes to a negociant and in 1948 registered the Cavallotto name with its own label. By 1965, the cru Bricco Boschis had been added to the label, followed in 1970 (inspired by the pioneering Renato Ratti) by the names of the vineyards core constituent parcels. In 1989, the family expanded their landholdings to include the historic Vigonolo cru, adjacent to Bricco Boschis. Together the sites form a contiguous parcel spanning a large portion of the hillside parallel to Monprivato. Today, fourth-generation winemakers Alfio and Giuseppe Cavallotto tend to the family's 25ha estate. Both enologists, the pair have further strengthened their predecessor's commitment to rigorous, pioneering and attentive farming, producing vibrant, ethereal and soulful wines. I spoke to Alfio about the estate's continued evolution and progressive approach to viticulture and winemaking.

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Trediberri: good fortune, introspection, and decisive strategy

In 2007, Nicola Oberto, his father Federico and their friend Vladimiro, purchased 5ha of land in Berri, initially intending only to sell their crop. Following the release of their first vintage in 2011, Trediberri, a young, artisanal family winery, was born. Though lacking ancestral heritage and familial prowess, the three from Berri do boast a brief but compelling story of their own. In the late 60s, Federico was hired by the late Renato Ratti, a prime mover in Piedmont’s cultural and technical revolution. His parents, Nicola’s great grandparents, had agreed to rent Renato their parcel in the now famed Rocche dell’Annunziata. The catch was that Renato would have to hire their son. Federico stayed at Ratti into the early 2000s. In spite of the revolution taking place in the late 90s, resource remained scarce in the Langhe and Federico, grateful for employment, had never had the confidence to establish a project of his own. Having worked in a wine store in La Morra, Nicola fell in love with wine, majoring in finance so that he could afford to continue collecting. After 3 years in the financial sector, Nicola successfully convinced his father to find land that they and Vladimiro could buy together. Following a chance encounter with David Berry Green over a magnum of Rocche, Trediberri received the financial clout they needed to set up shop. Today, the trio vinify 10.5ha, producing, Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera and Sauvignon Blanc. Nicola is refreshingly self-reflective, a grounded and pragmatic winemaker. We spoke about the estate’s past, present and future, as well as the pursuit of happiness, balance and freedom. 

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Philine Isabelle Dienger: the spirit of a shokunin from Heidelberg to Barolo

The philosophy of shokunin transcends mere physical skill, the shokunin embodies a social consciousness and embraces an obligation to work to the best of their ability for some greater good. This obligation, characterised by both the material and the spiritual, can be more simply understood as an endless pursuit of perfection, often of a single process, product or craft. Aged 16, German-native Philine Isabelle, had considered agriculture an attractive pursuit. In 2009, after a brief stint studying Politics and Administration at Konstanz University, Philine abandoned formal education in search of a more industrious endeavour. Her father’s passion for wine and her employment in a local restaurant drew her toward viticulture. For almost a decade, Philine worked at a number of biodynamic estates including Odinstal, Pranzegg, and Heinrich, as well as working as a consultant for master pruners Simonit & Sirch. Today, renting a 1.2ha plot in Preda, nestled between Cannubi and Vignane, Philine works tirelessly, aspiring to craft an 'effortless masterpiece', a Barolo that while simple overall is untiring, revealing subtle details that balance simplicity with complexity. I spoke with Philine as she embarks on a life’s work, exploring her shokunin in more detail.

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Cantina D’Arcy: promise, practicality and dogged grit

Bordering the Swiss Alps, Piedmont is a picturesque and historically-rich region in the Northwest of Italy. Roughly 1 hour south of the capital city, Turin, in the province of Cuneo, you'll find the rolling hills of the Langhe. Recognised by UNESCO's World Heritage, in part for its outstanding living testimony to winegrowing and winemaking tradition, the Langhe features prominently in the writings of writer Beppe Fenoglio and novelist Cesare Pavese. The past 40 years have seen the regions most prominent DOCG's, Barolo and Barbaresco, skyrocket to stratospheric acclaim. With land prices in Barolo reaching as much as €2.5m per hectare in the most prestigious crus, expansion is difficult even for established winemaking families. That being said, nestled between Cannubi and Vignane, in the cru of Preda, having acquired experience with some of the worlds greatest winemakers, Tom Myers is finding his feet, working the land, and intending to make great wine for decades to come. I spoke with Tom about his journey thus far, Cantina D'Arcy and the future.

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Masterclass with Cornelius Dönnhoff: exploring the estate through six distinct wines

Although only average in size (4124ha under vine) the Nahe boasts some of Germany's most complex, profound, and idiosyncratic wines. Often overlooked, the primarily south and southwest facing vineyards, stretching from Bingerbrück to Soonwald, are drenched in sun, lying in a transition zone between a continental and maritime climate. With vines in many of the regions most favourable sites, claiming monopole status over some, one producer is particularly emblematic of the Nahe's unsung wonders. The Dönnhoff family first came to the region over 200 years ago, steadily establishing a modest estate. Since 1966, the famed Helmut Dönnhoff has made the wine, with 4th generation Cornelius now overseeing the families 28ha of vines, 25 of which are classified Erste Lage. Elliot Awin and the team at ABS Wine Agencies, importers of Dönnhoff, invited me to join them for a virtual Zoom discovery of the estate. Lead by Cornelius and accompanied by 6 wines, including a glimpse into 2019. We walked through the estate's history and talked more about the challenges of producing laser-sharp, spicy, and intense wines vintage after vintage.

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Revolutionising wine tasting at home: behind the scenes with 67 Pall Mall

As we head into the 15th week of forced closures, industry across the length and breadth of the UK faces an unimaginable demand to adapt or risk the inability to continue trading in the long-term. 67 Pall Mall is a haven for wine lovers, the exclusive members club in London not only has one of the most expansive wine lists in the world but also a spectacular array of sommeliers and events. In the face of their club being closed for the foreseeable future, owner Grant Ashton, vowed to keep all 130 staff on full pay, transform the club's service and revolutionise the way we experience wine tastings at home. I spoke to Ronan Sayburn MS about how the club has adapted, transformed its service to members and how these changes will change the club looking to the future.

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Bruno Paillard: from Champagne broker to established Maison

1981 was a fairly average year in Champagne. Harvest was small and the wines were somewhat thin and austere. Following World War II, both the popularity and sales of Champagne had once again surged. Despite this, the region had not seen a new house for over 100 years. Bruno Paillard had been working as a broker since 1975, his lineage of brokers and growers in the villages of Bouzy and Verzenay dating back to 1704. Champagne run thick in Bruno's blood and during his time as a broker he acquired a deep and extensive knowledge. At just 27 years old, without a penny to his name, Bruno sold his vintage Jaguar for 50,000 francs to satisfy his burning desire. A desire to create a different Champagne. Almost 40 years later, he and his daughter Alice direct one of the most prestigious houses in Champagne. I spoke with Alice about beginnings, relationships, challenges and the future.

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Visiting Champagne Paul Launois: the beginnings of a friendship

The most fantastic of experiences often occur out of chance encounters. After being impressed by the several great reviews I had read about Champagne Paul Launois, his philosophy and his wines I decided to try my luck and request a last-minute visit with him.

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