‘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% Dolcetto
Sulphur: 18mg/l (total)
Suitable for vegans: Yes
Total Area Farmed: 2 hectares
Soils: Two main parcels – one on red clay ‘terra rossa,’ the other on ‘tuffo,’ a calcareaous soil with volcanic influence.
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, which together make up only two hectares. The vines were planted by Maria Luisa’s father in 1950 and 1952, with a small parcel also planted in 1960 and a more recent one in 2004. About 20% of the Dolcetto is on red clay with the rest on Tuffo. The red clay gives more concentration, more power and tannin to the wines, whilst the expression on Tuffo is much more delicate and elegant. The blend of the two creates a beautifully rounded and rustic wine.
Vinification: The grapes were destemmed and then fermented in 60-yr old cement vats (lined with glass). Fermentation took roughly 18- 20 days and the wine was on skins for the entire duration. Following pressing, the wine was racked into steel where it stayed for 18 months prior to bottling. No fining or filtration. Minimal sulphur was added only once at the destemming stage (none during elevage or before bottling).
Other: “La Milla” is the historic name of the land and vineyard, though they do not know the origins.