90% of our work is done in the vineyards, with just 10% in the cellar.
The vast majority of our efforts at LA SPINETTA are dedicated to the vineyards, which are treated with the utmost care, attention and respect, particularly in regards to agronomic practices and production quantities. We utilize no, or the absolute least possible amount of chemicals and maintain a relatively small production (only 17-20 hl (3.1-3.3 tons) per hectare).
Not having inherited our land through generations of winemakers, our vineyards were carefully selected.
Our most precious Crus are Bionzo, Gallina, Starderi, Valeirano and Campè.
This was the first Cru vineyard LA SPINETTA acquired for the production of Barbaresco, in 1995. The acquisition turned out to be one of the winery's best investemnts, resulting in two fabolous wines Barbaresco Gallina and Barbera d'Alba Gallina - both very authentic expressions of this exceptional vineyard.
Shortly after the purchase of the vienyard, however, the Rivetti's feared they had made a huge mistake. This is one of the many stories worth telling...
Giorgio Rivetti still remembers the event as if it were yesterday. It was November of 1995 and Giorgio heard that a portion of this famous vineyard was for sale. The opportunity to obtain a part of this vienyard was incredibly exciting for Giorgio, particularly since he had been waiting several years for the right moment to finally invest in an important piece of land. While he was certain that buying Gallina was the right decision, he had to rapidly convince his two brothers, who were much less excited and much more concerned about making such a substantial investement. Giorgio knew that he had very little time to decide as other parties were interested in the land as well, and so he pushed and persuaded his brothers until they finally agreed. Perhaps because he was so excited, perhaps because he had to convince his two siblings, or perhaps because it was winter, Giorgio had not paid much attention to verifying the grape variety planted in this Barbaresco vineyard. He recalled having asked the seller if the vines were all Nebbiolo at the notary signing, which the seller had confirmed, but words sometimes have very little meaning. In the spring of the following year, an unpleasant discovery was made. One and a half hectares of the five purchased were planted with Barbera and not Nebbiolo! Giorgio encountered a difficult meeting with his brothers, who obviously blamed him for having made this poor investment. Little did they imagine, however, that Barbera Gallina would turn out to be such an incredible wine...
Today the vines in Gallina are between 55 and 60 years old. The hillside, 270 meters (885 ft) above sea level, faces entirely south. The ground is primarily calcareous, typical for the Crus of Barbaresco. What really sets Gallina apart is the fullness, richness and fruitiness of the grapes. Both the Barbera and Nebbiolo wines are opulent and full-bodied, which when combined with aging in oak, result in extremely sexy and elegant wines with a fantastic aging potential.
After the initial "bad investment" and the recovery of Barbera in the Gallina vineyard, the Rivettis continued to purchase additional important vineyard sites. In 1996, a year after the purchase of Gallina, the family acquired six and a half hectares on the hillside just behind Gallina, in the Cru vineyard known as Starderi. This time, however, they made sure that the vineyard was planted exclusively with Nebbiolo.
Although the geographical details of Starderi are nearly identical to those of Gallina (calcareous soil, 50+ year old vines, south facing and the same altitude) the fruit and resulting wine is quite different. Starderi is much more powerful than Gallina and can easily be mistaken for a Barolo. What Gallina offers in elegance, Starderi presents in power and length. Though we aren't quite sure why the two vineyards are so different, a slight difference in microclimate is likely responsabile. In fact, the vineyards are located in two different valleys; Gallina is situated in a much wider valley than Starderi.
Valeirano is the third important Cru, located near the town of Treiso. Only three hectares in size, this is the smallest of La Spinetta's Barbaresco Crus. A vineyard location in Treiso always implies a higher altitude and, in fact, the Valeirano vineyard lies 450 meters (1,476 ft) above sea level. Th soil is calcareous, but also contains many larger stones, excellent for drainage. The vines are 50 to 55 years old and the hillside faces due south.
The valeirano wines are very different from Starderi and Gallina. While Valeirano in general has the elegance of Gallina, it does not have the same full body. Instead, it amazes with minerality, giving the wine a unique identity, easily identifiable in a blind tasting with the other two Crus.
Bionzo, Costigliole d'Asti
Though much less famous, this Barbera Cru in the Asti area is amazing nonetheless. When we are asked the oldest age for a vineyard, Bionzo comes to mind. The vines in this vineyard have an average age of over 60 years and some are nearly 100 years old, with massive trunk-like bodies producing a very small, but incredibly high-quality, quantity of fruit. Green harvest is almost not necessary, as the old vines produce the exact small amount of fruit needed to make an excellent Barbera.
Barbera d'Asti versus Barbera d'Alba.
Giorgio Rivetti says, that the future of great Barbera is Asti. This declaration is based on one simple fact: virtually all the important hillsides in Alba area are already planted with Nebbiolo (for the production of Barbaresco in Barbaresco area and for Barolo in th area where Barolo can be produced). It is very unusual that a producer continues to produce Barbera d'Alba from a Barbaresco Cru, as in the case of Gallina. Barbera planted in the Alba area is usually found in locations where the conditions are not "perfect enough" for Barolo or Barbaresco, generally hillsides facing east, northeast or even due north. In the Asti area, however, the production of Barolo and Barbaresco is not allowed and therefore the most important variety is Barbera, planted years ago on the very best hillsides.
Campè, Grinzane Cavour
In the spring of 2000, a dream finally came true for LA SPINETTA through the acquisition of 8 hectare (20 acres) of Nebbiolo in Grinzane Cavour. When Giorgio Rivetti first began making wine in 19977, he was already fantasizing about producing Barolo. With no money in his pockets and no Barolo vineyard owned by Giorgio's family, it took La Spinetta 23 years to finally realize this dream.
The purchase of the vineyard alone was a huge investment, and in order to actually produce a Barolo wine another significant investemnt had to be made as well - the construction of a winery. Barolo can only be called "Barolo" if the Nebbiolo grapes come from a vineyard in the designated Barolo area and the wine is produced, aged and bottled there as well. Therefore, it was not an option to produce the wine in Castagnole Lanze where the three Barbaresco wines are made.
The story of the Campè vineyard is quite interesting, and if vines could speak, they would tell you how thankful they are that LA SPINETTA purchased the vineyard. The Rivettis took over this south-facing hillside from a producer who never had intentions of making a great wine. For him, making great wine implied production costs and wine prices for which the winery had no clients. In fact, although this producer was indeed selling Barolo wine, the Barolo produced from Campè was sold in bulk to other Barolo producers. Essentially, the winery was buying wine in bulk from other growers and selling it under its own label while at the same time producing Barolo from their own vineyards (Campè) and selling it in bulk to other wineries.
Such confusion didn't make much sense in our opinion and perhaps already gives an idea of what conditions the vines were in when we finally purchased the vineyard. Mass production with extremely high yields and use of chemicals to enhance growth was just the beginning. In 2000, however, all of this finally changed. Thorough a rigorous Green Harvest, LA SPINETTA reduced the previous production by 75%, leaving just 25% of the fruit on the vine. The use of chemicals in the vineyard was prohibited and instead fertilization was carried out utilizing horse manure and extensive manual work throughout the year. Today the result is a very healthy vineyard with strong vines, which though are already over 50 years old, have completely recovered and have the potential to live another 40 years.
Every bottle of Barolo Campè reflects these exceptionally low yields in an intensity of fruit that is very unique to LA SPINETTA and this particular Nebbiolo based wine. Harvesting beautiful fruit with ripe tannins allows us to produce a Barolo that is ready to enjoy very young, but also enjoys an incredible potential for aging.
LA SPINETTA S.S. / Via Annunziata 17 / 14054 Castagnole Lanze / Tel: 0141 877396 / firstname.lastname@example.org