The Barbera grape was born in the Monferrato area and is still today the area’s mostly widely grown varietal. Even though the first official documentation of this grape dates to 1798, when Count Nuvolose planted the first vineyards of the variety in the Piedmont, it has origins that reach back to ancient times. Barbera grapes were then called “Vitis vinifera Montisferratensis” to characterize it as a typically Monferrato varietal.
The Barbera is a red varietal cultivated in vineyards on hilltops that enjoy the best exposure and sunlight. It ripens later than other varieties and is usually harvested between late September and mid-October. The vines produce medium-sized bunches, the grapes are slightly oval, rich in sugar and colour and their skins contain an average amount of tannin.
Although the Merlot variety originated in south-western France, by the end of the 1800s it was already widely grown in Italy, thriving in its ideal climatic conditions.
Its name comes from the fact that young blackbirds (merlottos) had a particular preference for the sweet fruit that grew in bunches from its vines.
Merlot is a red grape varietal that grows in medium-sized bunches of average-sized round, purple-blue grapes with a pruinose skin of medium consistency with a sweet, succulent flesh and a slightly grassy flavour. The vines grow best on cool humid hilltops, as they do not like the drought of dry summer heat. They flower early and are therefore vulnerable to springtime frost and sudden changes in temperature.
Nebbiolo is autochthonous to the Piedmont area and its name could derive from the Italian word nebbia, or mist, as the grape’s skin is covered with what looks like hoarfrost, or because it is harvested in late October, when the vineyards are enveloped in dense morning fog. The grape bunches are larger than average and shaped like elongated pyramids, winged and compact; the grape is average in size, round-ellipsoidal, with a thin but resistant, pruinose, dark purple skin.
The vine produces black grapes that are ideal for making extraordinary high quality wines that age very well. Nebbiolo is the most prized of the Italian red grapes and offers its most splendid characteristics when cultivated around Barolo and Barbaresco in the Piedmont area, where its refined elegance is exalted and where all the nobility and power it exudes renders the grape truly unique.
The Chardonnay varietal originated in the Bourgogne countryside in France, but is successfully grown all over the world. The grape’s many varieties of aromatic components makes each wine different, depending on the terroir and climate in which it was grown. It is the main ingredient of the best Spumantis in the world. Almost all of the great Chardonnays made in Italy spend time in wooden casks and barriques, thus homogenizing the end result to a certain extent.
The vine’s leaves are wavy, smooth and medium sized; the small-medium sized compact and cylindrical bunches have round green-yellow pruinose grapes that ripen by mid-August.
The white grape Sauvignon vine originated in the Bordeaux. It is important to specify “Sauvignon Blanc”, as there are several other varieties such as Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon Rosé which, due to the different coloured grapes, result in more full-bodied wines. The vine has an average-sized, intense-green, rounded trilobite leaf; the grape bunch it produces is small-medium, cylindrical, winged and compact; the grape is medium-large, round and has a thick, golden-green, speckled, pruinose skin. The vine is a vigorous plant that needs extensive pruning to prevent leaf overgrowth.
It is very easy to identify a Sauvignon vineyard: it has a very strong and penetrating aroma. Thanks to very careful selection in the vineyard and the increasingly expert use of wood, great Sauvignons can be aged for a long time.