The Wine: #SoloVino Barbera 2020
Maurizio Ferraro #SoloVino Rosso Barbera is a red natural wine made from Barbera grapes grown organically in the Monferrato area of Piedmont, Northern Italy. The grapes are hand-picked, de-stemmed, pressed and put in stainless steel vats. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts, unfined, unfiltered. The wine is bottled additive-free without any added sulfites.
The Producer: Maurizio Ferraro
Maurizio Ferraro's winery's history began in 1819 with the barter of a donkey for a vineyard by Maurizio’s homonymous great-great-great-grandfather (not swearing on the correctness of the number of greats). Maurizio, having taken the reins from his father in the late ’90s, begins approaching organic farming and winemaking in 2000 and completes the leap to fully natural ways in 2006.
Nestled on the rugged yet enchanting hills near Montemagno in the Monferrato in Piedmont, Maurizio’s vineyards see lovingly cultivated the traditional local varieties of Barbera, Ruchè, Nebbiolo, and Grignolino for red and Timorasso and Chardonnay (long since naturalized) for white. No chemicals or irrigation in the vineyards, in the cellar only wild fermentation, no temperature control nor additives of any sort nor any added SO2. Vibrant, living wines that change with each vintage (along with their labels) and always full of character.
The Region: Piedmont
Piedmont (or Piemonte in Italian), described by many wine lovers as the “Burgundy of Italy”, is without a doubt one of the most revered wine-producing regions in the world.
Piedmont, which literally means “at the foot of the mountain”, is located in the northwestern part of Italy. It borders with France (west), Valle d’Aosta (north-west), Lombardy (east), Liguria (south). The capital of Piedmont is Turin, its biggest city, and main industrial center.
In this very similar to Veneto, Piedmont's wine landscape is defined by the presence of several indigenous grape varietals, which give a wide array of incredibly unique wines. Piedmont’s traditional winemaking has one main characteristic: grape varietals, native or non-native, are almost never blended.
The association with Burgundy comes from three essential facts:
1) Great focus on the quality of production over quantity: wineries in Piedmont tend to be very small, mostly family-owned, and are integrated with the environment.
2) Terroir-driven approach to viticulture and winemaking: vineyards are carefully subdivided in cru (zonazione in Italian), which give unique wines with a specific character.
3) Nebbiolo, one of the most famous red grape varietals in the world, is vinified following a similar approach to Pinot Noir in Burgundy – for example, it’s never blended.
The Red Wines of Piedmont
Nebbiolo is for Piedmont what Pinot Noir is for Burgundy. There are several Nebbiolo-based DOCGs - Barolo, Barbaresco, Ghemme, Gattinara - and it's safe to say that Nebbiolo is the most representative red grape varietal of Piedmont.
Other notable red grapes are Barbera, in all its incarnations - Barbera d'Asti, Barbera d'Alba, Barbera del Monferrato - Dolcetto - Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba, Dolcetto di Ovada, Dolcetto di Dogliani - and Brachetto d'Aqui.
Less common but very interesting, especially after being rediscovered by a handful of excellent producers, varietals such as Pelaverga, Freisa, and Grignolino, have found a new place in Piedmont's winemaking landscape.
The White Wines of Piedmont
Piedmont is very often, and mistakenly so, identified as a land of red wine – most notably Barolo and Barbaresco. However, among Piedmont’s most exciting wines, there are several whites. Erbaluce di Caluso, Gavi, Arneis are all native grape varietals vinified superbly into exciting white wines.
Moscato d’Asti is another one of Piedmont’s mainstays, famous in its Asti Spumante iteration, the ubiquitous sweet, white, sparkling wine.