It was a classic, foggy autumn day in Piemonte when I went to visit Alessandro Rivetto near La Morra; but if there’s one thing you can enjoy whatever the weather, it’s wine tasting.
Alessandro Rivetto is a Barolo producer located near La Morra, just about fifteen minutes from the Langhe’s most important city, Alba. A visit to his winery is a perfect stop for an afternoon adventure through wine country.
About Alessandro Rivetto: “Little things of great quality.”
The first thing that will strike you upon walking through the tall, wooden doors of the cantina is Alessandro’s exuberant personality: friendly, outgoing, and personable, he’ll immediately make you feel welcome. Alessandro comes from a family of winemakers, which has given him a solid background in winemaking; he still remembers following his grandfather Ercole around in the vineyards and cellar, and even before that, his great-grandfather. He recalls his grandfather’s words to try to make piccole cose di grande qualità: “little things of great quality.”
Even so, Alessandro says, “I started late,” referring to the founding of his own winery in 2012. But this hasn’t hampered his success or enthusiasm for producing great wines of the Langhe and Alto Monferrato, due in no small part to his own productive and technical know-how in winemaking, as well as to the vast network of support and friendship he has cultivated over the years in the territory. And he has a tight-knit team working alongside him: Mauro Adriano, sales manager whom I also had the pleasure of meeting, and Alessandro Bonelli, enologist—all long-time friends and business partners in this venture. One gets the sense that amidst the constant, hard work that goes into running a winery, there is no shortage of smiles and jokes to go around.
Visit the winery
For a wine lover coming to Piemonte in search of a tasting, Alessandro Rivetto couldn’t be more conveniently located: just fifteen minutes from the capital of the Langhe, Alba and five minutes from La Morra. It is a cozy structure where Alessandro ages his Barolo and Nebbiolo in used wooden barrels of secondo passaggio, or used once already. Winemakers do this to lessen the effect the oak gives to the wines. It may seem like a small difference, but as Alessandro says, “It takes very little to completely unbalance the wine.”
I visited one late fall day when the famous Piemonte fog was as thick as soup. Even during midday, visibility beyond fifty feet was shrouded in heavy mist. It gives the nebbiolo grape its name: nebbia means “fog,” and the grapes are harvested in late autumn when the fogs start to roll in. But this was less rolling, more complete territorial take-over; I’d never seen it this thick before. So I’ll take Alessandro’s word for it that the view from his winery is spectacular. There’s also the fact that his winery is located right in the center of Piemonte wine country, named a UNESCO World Heritage in part due to its stunning vinicultural landscapes.
The nebbia does make for a beautiful, hushed landscape and moody photos, but be sure to plan on several days visiting Piemonte if you come in the fall. You don’t want to miss this:
We’ve come to the part that everyone looks forward to in the winery visit: wine tasting. The tasting room is warm and intimate, with enough space for a medium-sized group—max 12 people—as well as comfortable for just a few people.
€10 standard tasting with four principle native varieties of the Langhe: Arneis, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo
€20 premium tasting to discover the “king and queen of wines,” Barolo and Barbaresco
Reservations? Yes: email info @ alessandrorivetto.it
Alessandro makes all the classic wines of the Langhe: Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto, and Langhe Nebbiolo, Arneis, Moscato d’Asti, and Nascetta. Quite the selection for a young winery!
Special mentions: Nascetta and Lazzarito cru
Alessandro Rivetto has just begun to produce Nascetta. This wine is a white among reds, growing as it does amidst nebbiolo for Barolo in Novello. This noble native variety has strong roots that go back hundreds of years, but it nearly disappeared in the last fifty; a stroke of luck and a chance discovery of a last-bottle-standing by Elvio Cogno reminded producers of its potential. It was brought back to life in 2014.
Alessandro’s Nascetta is made in purezza—that is, it’s a pure varietal wine, 100% nascetta. Producers may choose to add up to 15% of chardonnay or other white grape grown in the area, but as it’s such a rare wine I appreciated being able to taste the variety.
His flagship wine is the Barolo Lazzarito cru from Serralunga d’Alba, an area with lots of sandstone in its old, thin soils, which gives the wine power, spiciness, complexity, and great longevity. He notes, “The poorer in nutrients the soil is, the more aromatic the wine will be.” Not that his other Barolos are anything less. He calls his non-cru Barolo wine “classico,” because it almost seems sacrilegious to consider a Barolo as, well, normal. “Barolo is too good to be called basic,” he insists.
Piemonte in America
Notwithstanding the young age of his winery, Alessandro Rivetto’s wines have gained quite a lot of traction in the USA, where 50% of all sales go. When asked how Piemonte wines are seen by Americans, sales manager Mauro believes that they owe some of their success to the fact that it’s still relatively specialized—it certainly hasn’t become mainstream. “The American wine lover is bored of Californian wines,” he says. “Piemonte is trendy.” This is particularly true along the East Coast, in Colorado, and in Texas.
Restaurant suggestions from the producer
Need a couple of good recommendations for where to eat in the area? Alessandro and Mauro had more than a few suggestions:
Osteria More e Macine: Via XX Settembre, 18, 12064 La Morra CN
Locanda Fontanazza: Strada Fontanazza, 4, 12064 La Morra CN
Civico Undici: Via Urbano Rattazzi, 11
Trattoria Aldente: Via Elvio Pertinace, 1
Osteria dei Sognatori: Via Macrino, 8
L'Inedito Vigin Mudest: Via Vernazza, 5 Scala C
Voglia di Vino: Via Elvio Pertinace, 7A
Boia Faus: Corso Langhe, 59
Elsewhere in the Langhe
Carpe Noctem et Diem: Via Amedeo di Savoia, 5, 12042 Pollenzo CN
Trattoria dell’Amicizia: Via Monforte, 22, 12050 Roddino CN
Ristorante Ca’ del Lupo: Via Ballerina, 15, 12050 Montelupo Albese CN
Da Felicin: Via D.Vallada, 18, 12065 Monforte d'Alba CN
Further afield in Alto Monferrato
Ristorante Vetta: Piazza Ferrando, 2, 15010 Cremolino AL
Az. Agricola Alessandro Rivetto
Fraz. Annunziata Ciotto, 53/B
La Morra (Cuneo)
Via Crosio snc 15010 Cremolino (Alessandria)
(+39) 0173 1950108
info @ alessandrorivetto.it