Since June 21st, 2014 it is finally official...
the 5,000m2 of Contratto’s unique and amazing cathedral underground cellars have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There are only 1,000 UNESCO sites worldwide, of which 50 are in Italy. We are open for winery visits seven days a week, by appointment, and look forward to sharing this extraordinary place with you.
Contratto boasts over 150 years of distinguished winemaking history and, in fact, was the first winery in Italy to make vintage metodo classico (traditional method) sparkling wine. Contratto bubbles were the wines requested by the Vatican and the royal houses of Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s and many bottles were exported from the small village of Canelli to the far corners of the British Empire to be enjoyed on the tables of ambassadors and colonial governors.
Contratto has officially been in the hands of Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta since June of 2011, but the idea of taking over the Contratto sparkling wine production had already been "planted" in 2007. For four years, La Spinetta had secretly been making metodo classico wines at Contratto using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from the Oltrepò Pavese.
Contratto works closely with selected growers in the Oltrepò who understand the importance of quality, though the long-term plan is to invest in additional vineyards in Alta Langa in order to work with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from 100% Estate-owned vineyards.
Contratto's ultimate goal is to prove that Northern Italy has the soil and climate to make Spumante wines that rival the top sparkling wines of the world.
Wines made at CONTRATTO:
Millesimato Extra Brut
For England Blanc de Noir, Pas Dosé
For England Rose, Brut
Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut
De Miranda, Asti Spumante
Not just sparkling wine but also Vermouth
100 years of history, a revival of a fashion and a great drink…
The first Contratto Vermouth recipes date back to the 1890s when herbs and spices were used to cover "off tastes" or oxidized wines. At that time, nobody dared to throw away wine and the herbal infusion would mask any unpleasant tastes. In the 1920s, Vermouth production increased, though a lot of oxidized wine was still being used as the base wine, but recipes were modified for a fresher taste. Most of the Vermouth was exported and this type of spirit became the "in" drink of the time. Contratto Vermouth di Torino became very popular in the 1930s, the winery's annual production soaring to 100,000 bottles.
After World War II, the popularity of Vermouth diminished, though it was still consumed in Europe and overseas. By the 1960s, Vermouth was no longer considered fashionable, especially in Italy, so the Contratto’s decided to cease its production entirely.
Today, with the revival of classic spirits and a booming cocktail culture, Contratto is reintroducing four historic products that embrace both the old tradition and a modern demand: Contratto Vermouth Bianco, Vermouth Rosso, Americano Rosso and Fernet. Cortese, an indigenous white grape variety, is the base wine used for the White and Red Vermouths and Americano. The wine is then infused with premium natural herbs, spices, roots and seeds combined with Italian Brandy. A slow, cold maceration process is carried out according to tradition, resulting in a sophisticated elixir that is complex, fresh, exciting and well-balanced, revealing Asian medicinal herbs, Italian spices and citrus fruit. These are boutique aperitifs that will make any Vermouth or Americano-based cocktail an exceptional experience.
A visit to the cellars of Contratto is a one-of-a-kind experience. Its historic underground cathedral cellars represent a treasure for the region and are among the finest of their kind in all of Europe. Housed in an elegant edifice built in Italian Liberty-style, the Contratto winery welcomes its guests through impressive wrought iron gates and an enchanting cobblestone courtyard. A gallery holds documents and photos recording the company’s history and the “sala dei sacchi” displays a fascinating collection of antique instruments and machines once used in the vinification process. The highlight of the visit to Contratto is a journey into the 32 meter-deep cathedral cellars where, for almost 150 years, bottles of sparkling wine (produced with the Moscato grape until the 1940’s when Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were introduced) have been stored. The visit culminates in a tasting of Contratto’s current production of high-end sparkling wines and artisanal Vermouth.
Contratto is pleased to receive visitors 7 days a week, preferably by appointment. To book a visit, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +39 0141 823 349.