Other

Wine Talk: Q&A with Renzo Cotarella


Renzo Cotarella grew up in the tiny village of Monterubiaglio in Italy's Umbria region. While you may not know of Orvieto Classico, the white wine produced in this area, Cotarella himself is probably area's most important export.

Today, Cotarella is the CEO and Chief Enologist of Antinori, one of Italy's — and the world's — most popular, well-known and oldest wine producers. The Antinori family has owned and run the company for more than 600 years (and was even the subject of a profile on 60 Minutes).

In more recent times (1978), Cotarella was working for the local Orvieto wine association, where he met the legendary Piero Antinori; Antinori hired him in 1981, and Cotarella's been with the company ever since. Across all the estates Antinori owns, each has a dedicated winemaker and vineyard manager; Cotarella is their boss and, as of the coming spring, he'll have been at the company for 30 years.

Yet through all his experience and having worked with some of the greatest winemakers in the world, Cotarella prides himself on making elegant, drinkable wines that aren't overpowering and pair well with food. Good food, good wine and good company to share it with are all that really matter, he says.

Read on for our full interview with Renzo Cotarella.

Bottlenotes: Where did you grow up?
Renzo Cotarella: The small rural village of Monterubiaglio, in the province of Terni, Umbria, which is a few kilometers away from the small city of Orvieto.

What's the first time you remember drinking wine?
I remember drinking my first wine when I was seven years old. To this day the taste remains fixed in my mind. I was with the cellar master in the winery located in our home cellar when I tasted a partially fermented white wine.

What influenced you to become a winemaker?
I have a great deal of passion for the vineyard and the degree I took from the university was in agronomy. My interest in winemaking came about from the need to understand how to grow better grapes to make wine with great personality.

How would you describe your winemaking style?
I strive to make wine with intensity and authenticity — yet elegant and not too heavy. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes not.

What's the key to your winemaking success?
Provided I am judged by my peers to be a successful winemaker, there are many keys. Possibly the most important is to have the good fortune to work alongside of Piero Antinori. Next would be the deep passion for the career I have chosen. Finally, I am very fortunate to have experienced winemaking in some of best winegrowing regions of Italy and the [rest of the] world.

What's your favorite wine-and-food pairing?
Having a favorite wine-and-food pairing is not enough, as I love the diversity of food and consequently the diversity in wine. The most intriguing wines to drink are made from Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Aglianico. One suggestion would be a great Pinot Noir with partridge.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could enjoy one wine for the rest of your life, which would it be?
First of all, I hope I am not stranded alone so that I have someone to share this wonderful bottle of wine with. This being the situation, I would prefer a white Burgundy; say a Corton-Charlemagne, or more easily a bottle of Castello della Sala Cervaro.

What are your favorite winemaking memories?
I have many winemaking memories. Most of these relate to the opportunity to have met many wonderful people who have instilled in me the passion for wine. One memory that is very clear in my mind is the first time I met with Piero Antinori. I was just finishing my studies in the university and met Marchese in Orvieto. Another wonderful memory is meeting André Tchelistcheff, one of the most highly respected winemakers in modern history.

Do you have any winemaking-related disasters?
Luckily not. Even though I have managed through many difficult vintages, i.e., 2002 for Tuscany, but with resulting wines that I am very proud to have helped craft.

What's your motto for enjoying life?
Have passion for everything you to do in your life.


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Q&A: Danilo Drocco

I was born in the area, in a little village near Alba &ndash Rodello is the name. It is a little south of Alba.

Did your family make wine?

My grandfather owned a little winery in Novello, but he died during the Second World War. So my grandmother had to sell the winery to my cousins because she could not manage it by herself. My father decided to move to Alba. I was born in 1965.

How did you acquire a passion for wine?

Basically, from my father. My father was born in the winery, so he kept his passion for many years. So, from when I was very young, my father used to talk to me about wine. He transferred his passion to me.

As a child, I used to go to many wineries with him to taste wine. When it was time for high school, I decided to go to enological school. Then I started to work in a little winery in Barbaresco called La Spinola, owned by Mr. Berutti. The school gave me a fantastic opportunity, but I needed to have practical experience. In a little winery, you have to do everything from the bottling to the pruning. For me, it was really great training.

Where did you go from there?

In 1991, the University of Torino started a new degree in winemaking and vineyard management. At La Spinola it was not possible for me to work and attend the university so I heard that, at Prunotto, Beppe Colla was looking to hire a person for the winery. So I had this beautiful experience with Beppe, having the practical experience with the educational experience.

I worked with Beppe until 1994. That year he sold Prunotto to the Antinori family. Beppe managed the winery directly but, after the harvest in 1994, he decided to stop. I stayed on at Prunotto, thanks to the family and to Renzo Cotarella. I became winemaker, under the control of Cotarella.

So at Prunotto, I worked with Renzo and with Albeira Antinori, who was in charge of the winery. I worked with them until the summer of 1999 and then I moved here to Fontanafredda.

What was Fontanafredda like when you came?

Up to the 1990s, Fontanafredda was really a great estate with incredible wines. Even today, if we try old Barolos from 1985 or 1989, we can find outstanding wine.

Unfortunately for Fontanafredda &ndash but fortunately for the area &ndash the &lsquo90s was a great period for the renaissance of Barolo. That was the time the world of Barolo used to run one direction and Fontanafredda didn&rsquot follow this new philosophy.

The problem was, first of all, in the managing of the vineyard, so they looked for a new manager for the vineyard that was Alberto Grasso. They hired him at the beginning of the season, early spring of 1999, and they looked for a winemaker, and asked me.

Over the years, how have you changed how you have made Barolo?

I had the opportunity with Beppe Colla to work and understand the philosophy of making wine in the most traditional style. Then, at Prunotto with Antinori, I could try the new style of making Barolo. So, the traditional style used only big casks, racking only if necessary, but not racking too much. The second way was using barriques and managing the oxygen intake.

Another great opportunity for me was how to manage the wine in a barrique in the right way. In the &lsquo90s, most of the producers that started to age their wines in barriques did not know how to do so. So most of the wines were dominated by oak. Antinori, because of the long tradition in using barriques for Solaia and Tignanello, taught me the right way immediately. So for me, it was easier to work with barriques, because I had the knowledge it was not experimentation for me.

You start in barriques and finish in botti (big casks)?

Yes, when I arrived I had to make a difficult decision because Fontanafredda was known around the world as an ancient, traditional winery. There was the movement of the Barolo Boys. It was very easy to follow the commercial direction of the Barolo Boys: wine with a lot of new oak, wine with a lot of fruit. The problem is that it was not the right &ldquodress&rdquo for Fontanafredda. So I tried to find a middle road because people had this idea of Fontanafredda as a traditional winery.

I decided to use my knowledge of using the oak and for having cleaner wine, with richer fruit, but not too oaky. The first approach for me at Fontanafredda was to age all the Barolo in barriques for the first year, then in big casks for the second year and to bottle as soon after as possible.

I decided to follow this technique. If you use the barrique properly, you can increase the taste of fruit. Thanks to my experience at Prunotto, I could understand how much better it was to use barriques of second or third use, so immediately I started to buy barriques that I [first] used for Barbera and the next year I started to use them for Barolo.

How do you view Barolo today?

What is interesting is that it is difficult to find bad Barolo, as everyone in the area can produce very good Barolos. This is a great opportunity for all of us, because together we can improve the image of the wine. There is a great demand for Barolo all over the world.

Are the Barolos of today better than in the past?

Everybody talks about the increase of the quality of the wine, but that depends, in my opinion, on the increase in the quality of the grapes. We did a great job with the grapes. The grapes I crushed 15 years ago are completely different to now, in terms of talking about yield of grape per vine and maturation of the tannins. Today it&rsquos much much better, as now we have more knowledge of these qualities.

What are your favorite foods with Barolos?

I can answer this because my favorite food is pane e salami. For Barolo, it&rsquos not necessary to have a great dish. Seriously, if I have to match a 30- or 40-year-old Barolo, a classic match is brasato, or meat cooked in wine. The fat of the meat and the tannins and acidity of the wines match beautifully.

What other producers of Piemonte do you enjoy?

I love the wine of Vietti, I like the Vietti style. I like the Aldo Conterno wines. I love, for example, a new young producer here in Serralunga, Sergio Germano. In my opinion he is a great producer of the area. He can make Barolo and great white wines &ndash this is something that is not easy to do. I love also the wine of Clerico. Normally the wine of Serralunga and Monforte and some of the area of Castiglione Falletto &ndash these are the areas I love.

Prices worldwide on Wine-Searcher (US$, ex-tax, per 750-ml bottle):


Watch the video: 2017 Tignanello - Hump Day Happy Hour With #LockwoodEffect (January 2022).