‘Borgatta’ is the ancient name of the property where Emilio Oliveri and his wife Maria Luisa currently reside, and where they farm their two hectares of vines. Both in their eighties, they do everything alone, something they have always done and continue to do to this day, They even harvest alone!
Emilio is a unique winemaker for many reasons. First, he is a rare example of someone that has dedicated his entire winemaking career to Dolcetto, a grape often found in the second or third wines of many producers in Piemonte. Whilst it typically has a reputation as an easy-going, fruity wine meant to be drunk young, the wines coming out of Emilio’s cellar couldn’t be more different. Structured, full bodied, complex, and aged in bottle for a minimum of 4 years prior to release, this is serious Dolcetto. This is a wine that shows what the grape can achieve when planted on prime soils (a combination of red clay as well as white ‘tuffo’), working with 60+ year old vines that have never seen chemicals, and treated with utmost care and respect.
Second, Emilio has never changed the way that he makes his wine. Since the 1960s the wines have always been made as naturally as possible, with zero corrections or manipulations, always fermented with native yeasts, never fined nor filtered. A tiny sulphite addition is seen at fermentation, with none added at any point afterwards (none before bottling either), resulting in total levels in the finished wine that rarely reach 20mg/L. Tasting through old vintages of Emilio’s is fascinating, and totally annihilates the myths that both Dolcetto and low SO2 wines can’t age.
Emilio and Maria Luisa have always worked under the radar, happy to sell most of their small production locally. In their old age and without much interest in technology, getting themselves ‘out there’ has not really been much a priority. It would be an absolute pity, however, for these wines not to be shared with the world. These are rustic wines ‘come si faceva una volta,’ a representation of tradition, of old methods, and of pure dedication. Wines infused with the energy of two of the kindest souls one is ever likely to meet.
Winemaker: Emilio Oliveri
Region: Ovada (Monferrato), Piemonte, Italy
Grapes: 100% Cortese
Sulphur: 32mg/l (total)
Suitable for vegans: Yes
Total Area Farmed: 2 hectares
Soils: Red Clay, ‘Terra Rossa’
Age of vines: 60+ years
Viticulture: Organic (certified)
Vineyards: All of the grapes for this wine come from Emilio and his wife Maria Luisa’s small estate in the town of Tagliolo in Piemonte. They primarily farm Dolcetto as well as a few rows of Barbera, but up until 2017 they also had a tiny plot of Cortese. Sadly the vines were wiped out by a frost in 2017 so this 2016 vintage is the very last that will ever be made. The vines were planted by Maria Luisa’s father in 1950 and 1952.
Vinification: The grapes were whole bunch pressed to conserve acidity but also to bring out more aromatics. Fermentation took place in steel and lasted around 2 weeks. The wine was then racked and put back into steel where it stayed untouched for about 8 months prior to bottling. No fining or filtration. Minimal sulphur was added only once at the pressing stage (none during elevage or before bottling).
Total Production = 500 bottles
Other: “Biancospino” is the Italian name for a Hawthorn, a small tree which has sharp thorns and produces white or pink flowers. Emilio has a few among the vines.