• Wine and tasting for San Valentine’s Day

    Are you looking for an original Valentine’s Day present for someone passionate about wine?

    Here are some simple ideas for you from the Josetta Saffirio cellar:

    A gift certificate for a tasting for two: it includes a guided tour of the cellar and a winetasting experience. You can choose between the Authentic Experience: that include a visit and a tasting of four wines, one of which is a Barolo, for have the possibility to taste different types of wine and have a 360-degree view of the company’s wines. Or, the Barolo Experience, a tasting of five wines, of which three are: Barolo Classic, Barolo Persiera and Barolo Reserve. A tasting more focused on Barolo and the different characteristics of this  wine.

     

     

    – A gift certificate for lunch in the cellar for two people: a cellar visit and a tasting in the cellar is followed by a light lunch. Lunch includes three antipasti and dessert in the Piedmontese tradition paired with four of the Estate’s wines. It’s for anyone who appreciates total wine and food culture.

     

    – A gift certificate for truffle-hunting for two people: a truffle hunt with our ‘trifolau’ (truffle hunter) and his ‘tabui’ (truffle dog) in the local forest. It’s an experience for animal and nature lovers. The truffle hunt is followed by a cellar visit and a tasting of four wines (of which one Barolo) paired with a charcuterie and cheese board.

     

     

     

    -Picnic amid the vines for two: a cellar visit is combined with a tasting of four wines (of which one Barolo). Following the tasting, a lunchbox with everything for a picnic is supplied: threetraditional Piedmontese antipasti, bread, water, dessert, plates, knives and forks and cups. The lunchbox also contains a bottle of either Barbera d’Alba Superiore or Langhe Nebbiolo along with a Josetta Saffirio corkscrew. It’s an experience to have outside!

    -Gift certificate for an amount that you choose. The recipient can decide to use it to reserve an Experience on the Estate or convert it to buy wine.

    -A mixed box of six bottles of wine: You can compose your own box of wine, choosing from Barbera d’Asti Superiore, Langhe Nebbiolo, Barolo Classico, Barolo Persiera, Barolo Riserva, Langhe Rossese Bianco, Classic Method Nebbiolo Spumante, Moscato d’Asti, Passito, grappa and oil. Compose your box of six bottles as you see fit!

    All gift certificates are valid for a year; the recipient can decide when to use them. All activities should be reserved in advance and are subject to the availability of the cellar at any particular time.

    Contact us for more information and to get your gift certificate!

  • Animals in the vineyard

    There is no doubt that the estate’s vineyards are the beating heart of my work.Everything begins in the vineyards.

     

    The first fruits of my labours and the labours of my co-workers come into being there. And the vineyards need my constant care throughout the year.

    I have to keep an eye on what they need and when they need it, not only to bring home healthy grapes to make into wine, but also because they are part of a delicately-balanced habitat.

    In Monforte d’Alba, in the subzone of Castelletto, where my cellar is located, there is a great variety of biodiversity.

    The area’s many vineyards are offset by forests, fruit trees, hazelnut trees and meadows.

     

    I am personally committed to leaving my surrounding environment untouched: 30% of the estate’s area has been maintained or replanted as forest. Within this uncultivated, there is an educational area dedicated to truffles, an orchard, a hazelnut grove and also beehives.

    Areas such as these are ever more rare, despite their importance to the ecosystem and the local fauna which still take refuge in them.

    Each season, I’m lucky enough to meet up with some of these inhabitants, even if it is often for the very briefest of  moments.

    For example, this past spring I often exchanged morning greetings with a hare frolicking in the courtyard; it became almost a daily occurrence to see it dash out and then disappear into a hedge.

    During the harvest, when the grape clusters are nearly ripe and ready for picking yet another visitor confirms how good they are. Roe deer find them delicious–it would seem I’m not the only one who adores these sweet grapes!

    Even badgers like a stroll among the vines. And how do I know this? Because they always leave very tangible ‘evidence’ that they’ve been there.

    Sometimes in the evening, a fox steals out from the edge of a path, with its fluffy rust-red tail. It’s a rare treat to see one.

    Ladybugs, butterflies, bees and earthworms are a signs of a lively, silent nature hard at work.

     

    Over the days spent among the vines, I often come across a bird’s nest among the leaves. Robins and blue tits are the most usual, but they are becoming ever more difficult to spot. It is exactly for this reason that we have placed birdhouses in the small wood below the cellar, to help the birds build nests. We add balls of fat and seeds in winter to provide them with food during the cold season.

     

    Shortly we’ll start on a new project which I’m especially enthusiastic about: a circuit with various stops for families with small children. Its purpose is to get to know the vineyard and the different types of environment around it, as well as offering a chance to enjoy a day out in the fresh air.

    I would like to share what is closest to my heart: these vineyards that are home, but not just home to me.

    They are also a refuge and a safe haven for other living creatures that I feel a great responsibility for looking after.

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  • In what way does the weather influence the identity of the vintage?

    That the weather has a direct influence on each year’s results is irrefutable.
    Every winemaker knows that the same wine can never be had, because the weather, which is unique and unrepeatable each year, has such an effect.

    Often I realise that consumers look for a product they can recognise, with a familiar taste. This is just like going to a restaurant and asking for a drink of a particular brand and getting a similar, but different drink–one that we aren’t used to.

    Of course wine isn’t–and shouldn’t be–compared to an industrial drink.
    The latter should indeed have the same flavour to satisfy each client and reassure with the same, consistent taste.

    But wine is an expression of the land,

    the vintage, the weather

    and the winemaker.

     

    I find it really interesting to look for different sensations attributable to the weather in all its aspects (for example, different temperatures at different points during the year, the number of millimetres of rain, the percentage humidity, or the differing lengths of each season) and how these are expressed in the wine and influence each year.

    • Vintages with higher than average temperatures (especially from flowering to harvest) usually bring early-ripening grapes, with greater quantities of sugar. This results in higher than average alcohol content than in cooler years, which usually result in less alcoholic wine.
    • Years that are sunnier than usual can result in wines with more lively and intense colour (keeping in mind the colour characteristics of each variety) or wines with more attenuated colour.
    • Years with greater temperature fluctuations between day and night (especially towards veraison) enrich and amplify aromas and bouquet, while also adding to elegance and refinement.
    • Vintages that are especially favoured and of unusual quality are a result of excellent ripening (in all aspects) of the grape clusters, leading to a perfectly-timed harvest.

    The ideal weather for each variety differs; it is a rare-enough occurrence and it makes wines from exclusive parts of the world (for example, Nebbiolo in the Langhe region) unique.

     

     

    It is stimulating to look for and find all these aspects in a glass of wine, instead of looking for identical characteristics each year.
    To be able to taste different vintages of the same wine and perceive the many different sensations is what I look for and prefer.

     

     

    And it is also what distinguishes wine from any other type of conventional drink.

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  • Winery’s eno-turism projects: from the artistic activities to the picnic in the vineyard

    Here’s great news for wine lovers and anyone interested in the world of wine. Offers of food and wine served outdoors are on the rise in response to the demand for activities that put people in touch with nature and offer a chance to get out of the city for a day.

    Food and wine tourism focuses on getting to know wine-producing areas and local cellars. Winemakers in these areas offer various activities, in addition to wine tasting which make an indispensable contribution of economic development throughout Italy.

    For both experts and neophytes alike, visiting a cellar, getting to know the producer and his philosophy, learning about vineyard and vinification techniques and understanding the effort and enthusiasm behind each bottle of wine are all fantastic opportunities.

    This is not a marketing strategy, it is communicating essential information to the client–useful knowledge to help in choosing products that reflect his or her taste as well as ideas about responsible, sustainable production.

    We can no longer make excuses–we now know that we are what we eat and drink.

    What can Piedmont contribute to satisfy this thirst for knowledge?

    Here are some activities we recommend you try:

    • Guided visits to wine estates, with tastings accompanied by local products.
    • Spa and beauty packages using products derived from grapes, with their anti-oxidising and anti-inflammatory properties;
    • Visits to local vineyards, as well as exploring and trekking in them to enjoy nature and the area’s magnificent panorama;
    • Cellar and vineyard lunches that pair traditional local cuisine with typical wines of the area;
    • Scooter tours with stops in various cellars and wine shops;
    • Harvests open to tourists, so that they can participate in this unique experience firsthand;
    • Bicycle and electric bicycle tours for exercise that respect the surrounding region;
    • Truffle hunts with a truffle hunter and his dog, to discover all the tricks of the trade and observe a trained dog in action;
    • Artistic and cultural activities such as installations and design-oriented cellars, many of them built with environmental considerations in mind.
    • Yoga in the vineyard, to relax and exercise in the midst of breathtaking scenery;
    • Vineyard picnics.

     

     

    For this last activity the first picnic booking site, Picnic Chic, has been established.

    This platform helps picnickers to find restaurants, gastronomy shops and cellars that offer special experiences, such as picnic baskets with local products ready for tasting outside.

    A simple solution to the job of organising a day out.

    These experiences combine the discovery of new places, both close to home or further afield, with support for small Italian businesses that now more than ever are in need.

    It’s also the rediscovery of small villages and the beauty of Italy envied the world over.

     

  • The legend of “Masche”, or Piedmontese witches – tempestuous women like me

    I remember being little on cold winter afternoons with my grandmother recounting stories of the Piedmontese witches or

    “Masche”

    (pronounced mas-keh).

    I was half-afraid and half-charmed by these stories that had women as heroines with magical powers. My grandmother told me about these women who lived alone, and had black cats and nocturnal animals accompanying them out at dusk to mutter curses and spells.

    These women and their rites could influence the harvest of crops and grapes and even the health of people in the village.

    They were blamed for drought, sick farm animals or unfortunate accidents in the fields. They could make things disappear and reappear in strange locations; how often did I hear “aj sun le masche!!”, or ‘it must have been the witches’! whenever my granny couldn’t find her glasses. And I laughed, ‘but Granny, they’re on top of your head!’I don’t want to recount the stories people told here, but rather how I looked at it, growing up. As I said before, most of the women who were considered ‘Masche’, were solitary women who had had a misadventure in life, or simply preferred to live as they pleased, without giving importance to what people around them thought.

    These women, who frightened “normal” people, I would consider anticonformist, free and courageous.

    Independence and choices that go against the grain often scare people who are afraid of the unfamiliar. All the more so if the anti-conformist was a woman. Irrepressible women who made bold choices, choosing to ignore the dictates of fathers, husbands or whomever else to keep them happy.

    And instead, who followed their own desires even at the price of being viewed as a malevolent witch. I’m inclined to think that the legend of the witches came about because of limited knowledge in the areas of medicine, veterinary medicine and agronomy. Without a rational explanation of events, someone to blame was needed to explain the ‘why’ of each misfortune. The easiest and most efficient solution was to find a scapegoat, so much the better if it was a solitary woman with an unusual, if not wholly outlandish lifestyle.

    Women have always had to work twice as hard to obtain freedoms that we take for granted today: choosing which clothes to wear, who to marry or if to marry at all, which job to do–in short to make choices regarding their own lives. Perhaps it is in some way thanks to these ‘Masche’ that we can now live our lives as we wish, and make alternative choices that in the time of the witches would have been looked at askance.

    So hurray for the women with superpowers like courage, tenacity and a revolutionary spirit, ready to challenge any prejudice or superstition!

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