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Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a Bottle

Castiglione Falleto, Piemonte   

Primary Grapes: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Arneis

Primary Appellations: Barolo DOCG, Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Roero Arneis DOCG

American Importer: Dalla Terra Winery Direct

The Wines…

Vietti is one of Piedmont’s most storied winemaking houses, and among the most respected in Italy. The Vietti name first began to grace bottles in 1919, but the family had been producing wine since the 19th century. Along the way, Alfredo Currado helped save the grape Arneis from extinction in the 1960s. His son, Luca, helped define Barbera as one of Italy’s greatest grapes in the 1990s. (All of this from a family whose Barolo wines are among the most sought-after in the world).

Controversially, Luca and his wife Elena sold Vietti to an American investor, but they remain in control of the winemaking house. It could prove to be one of the family’s shrewdest moves, as it has allowed them to stay competitive for leases on Barolo vineyards. It has also given them the chance to expand their portfolio of wines in new directions that would have previously been off limits.

Today, they offer an impressive array of wines, 17 in total at last check, with ambitions to create a Timorasso from the Tortona region in the near future.

…And Why They Stand Out

I cannot emphasize enough how impressive Vietti is. They do not make my favorite wine in Italy (that will remain a secret). Heck, they do not even make my favorite wine in Piedmont (that too: a secret). But I cannot think of another producer who has mastered so many different grape varieties on such a scale as Luca and Elena Currado. They’re like Stephen Curry at the three-point line: they just buried it time and time again with these wines.

Their four cru Barolo from Brunate, Ravera, Lazzarito and Rocche di Castiglione are rightly clamored for, and at $150 a bottle (or so) they are fairly priced … seriously.

But who else would go to the trouble of making what is essentially a Barolo (the popular “Perbacco”), and declassify it as Nebbiolo Langhe so the masses can afford it? Who else would dare to uproot old Nebbiolo vines in the Scarrone cru and plant Barbera — as Luca famously did in the 1990s — to prove the grapes worth? Who else would speak of Arneis with the same amount of affection as Nebbiolo, as Luca has done in our conversations?

Piedmont is Italy’s most complex and compelling region for wine, and Vietti takes its position as ambassadors for its constellation of grapes seriously. You won’t find any Chardonnay or other international grapes in their portfolio. But Freisa? Timorraso? Vietti will have a go at it and we are likely to fall in love with it.

Originally listed: August 2015. Renewed: November 2017.

Visiting Vietti

Tastings: Wine cellar tours are available by appointment only and can be booked online.

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