Born within the impenetrable compounds where obscure vinnaturist secret societies have their quasi-mystical rendezvous, the mantra “vinocinghialo” - which can be translated as “wild boar wine” - has slowly but surely trickled down into the general vinnaturist consciousness. Well, at least in some parts of Italy.
But what is vinocinghialo? Is it a state of mind? A bizarre weltanschaung? All of the above perhaps and much more! Among us, mere mortals, the essence of vinochinghialo is embodied by the larger than life, hirsute, fiercely independent, and undeniably genial Piedmontese vigneron Maurizio Ferraro.
Maurizio manages to find the perfect astral alignment between his unbridled creativity, the soul of terroir - a terroir he contributed to create - and the peculiar and unique traits of each vintage. The wines Maurizio creates are always vibrant, rustic, and yet erudite. They display an unapologetically wild character but never verging on the funky for funk's sake.
Maurizio’s wines are dissident and rebellious in the noblest sense of the word. They are non-homologated but they don't try to be different for the sake of it. Their uniqueness stems from Maurizio's deep understanding of terroir and evolves with each vintage. Maurizio's wines are always brimming with flavour, a quality which can be found in all honest natural wines. They are damn good wild boar wines!
Maurizio Ferraro winery's history began in 1819, as witnessed by the notarised act that Maurizio still treasures, with the barter of a donkey, a rather precious commodity at the time, for a small vineyard by Maurizio’s great-great-great grandfather by the same name. In 1913, following the devastating onset of the phylloxera epidemic, much of the Ferraro family was forced to emigrate to America, leaving only Pietro, Maurizio’s grandfather who was only 14 at the time, to tend to the family’s vineyards. Migrating to the United States, was a choice which would in time prove to be foundational one. The farm was able to survive the crisis and prosper in the following years.
Maurizio unites a rock-solid technical background - he graduated from the prestigious Alba Oenological Institute - with the wisdom born out of generations of viticulture and winemaking. Maurizio, after taking the reins of the farm in the late 90’s, begins approaching organic farming in 2001 as a way to preserve its ecosystem’s vitality. In 2006 Maurizio leaps into natural winemaking, releasing all of his wines with no added SO2, no filtration, and using native yeast to trigger fermentation.
Maurizio's most representative wine is with no doub the skin-contact - orange if you will - playfully called #SECONDOME, which means “according to myself/my views.” Maurizio summarizes his philosophy this way:
“#SECONDOME in the vineyard one must cultivate and encourage biodiversity; the vigneron, spontaneous herbs and plants, wild animals, all contribute with their vital cycle to maintain the cosmic man-nature equilibrium. I tend to all of my vineyards manually according to organic protocols certified by EU-recognised controlling organisation ICEA.”
Nestled on the rugged yet enchanting hills surrounding Montemagno in the Monferrato area of Piedmont, Maurizio’s vineyards comprise of local red varietials - Barbera, Ruchè, Nebbiolo, Grignolino - and "localized" white varietals Timorasso and Chardonnay. The 7 and a half hectare-estate is easily reachable on foot from Montemagno's lovely historical center.
According to local tradition each vineyard has its name and identity reflecting distinct characteristics due to the particular site they are located on and exposition to the sun. For example, in the Chiovende cru - “Facing the Morning Sun” - Maurizio’s grandfather Pietro planted Grignolino in 1964, while in the San Giovanni cru - “Facing the Afternoon Sun” - he planted Barbera.
In the ’90s, seeking to add more fruit-driven varieties (both local or long since localized), Maurizio and his father Sergio planted Chardonnay and Ruchè but they also planted golden flavescence-resistant varieties such as Nebbiolo (Arianna cru), and Timorasso (Chiovende cru). Roughly at the same time, always in keeping with local traditions, Maurizio planted Grignolino and Barbera (Robbiano cru).
The painstaking work in the vineyards to find the perfect match between varietals and a particular site is enhanced by Maurizio's vinnaturist approach in the cellar. According to Maurizio’s #SECONDOME belief system, “Chemistry is a science, not an ingredient.” Maurizio hasn't been using winemaking additives, products of animal origin, or sulfites since 2006. The wines are all fermented spontaneously - “wild-boarishly” - only with the help of indigenous yeasts found in the grapes and the cellar.
In Maurizio's cellar, the ecstasy of the #sacredskins carries on at least as long as fermentation, often longer - aka wines are macerated on the skins from a few weeks up to several months. The wines see no such humiliation as soul-scraping fining or filtration. All this results in wines that shine like vinoverist lightsabers in a dark universe, mirroring Maurizio’s intuition and sensibility but most of all the inner personality of grapes, terroir, and vintage.
If you want to challenge your perspective on wine, but on life in general really, you must experience the unstoppable vitality or Maurizio's natural wines, the only real gateway to #VINOCINGHIALO nirvana.
A demonically celestial blend of Chardonnay vinified in red with about a month of skin contact and Grignolino vinified in white. Grippy and powerful yet Austin Powers-like suave, a great intro into to the wonderful world of orange wines: spiced dried Alphonso mango with saffron honey and gingerbread, grilled Abate pears and tamarind peel on fried sage.
The name means “2 crazy people” and the label is nothing but Maurizio’s wedding’s invitation card. Barbera 2016 is fermented again in 2018 with the skins from that vintage, the result is sharp as an executioner’s blade yet carnally full and satisfying: smoked pomegranate on china root; black rye bread.
Author: Giovanni Segni ©