Our visit to Romano Dogliotti’s winery, La Caudrina was quite an event. Romano was one of the first moscato growers to bottle his own wine. As in Champagne, where “farmer fizz”/”grower champagne” is produced by growers who used to sell their grapes to the large Champagne houses and now are bottling their own grapes and where there is great demand in the US market among fine wine consumers, Romano produces “grower” Moscato D’Asti and Asti, artisanal, vineyard specific wines where he controls the process from vine to bottle. Tom Stevenson in Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine calls Romano a “real star of Moscato D’Asti”.
Azienda Agricola Caudrina was founded in the 1940s by his father, Redento, in the commune of Castiglione Tinella (province of Cuneo) between Langa and Monferrato in the Piedmont region in the historical heart of Moscato country. Our bus wound its way up the steep hill with views of the goregous countryside to reach the winery. All around us were rows of vines, with roses lining the driveway. It was quite obvious seeing the hillsides that this was a hand-harvested operation. We were in “grower” moscato country.
Romano’s father, Redento, grew moscato in Castiglione Tinella but sold to the larger wineries. When Romano got involved in the late 70’s, Romano started the winery on a path of producing its own Moscato D’Asti, La Caudrina. Over the years, Romano kept expanding his labels and producing single vineyard wines including a grappa with renowned grappa maker Romano Levi. In the late 90’s, Romano acquired barbera vineyards on the Bricco Cremosina in Nizza Monferrato. In order to do all this, you have to be strong-willed and tenacious which defines Romano.
In 2017, Romano was named the new Presidente of the Consorzio dell’Asti and he is considered to represent the agricultural soul of Moscato D’Asti. He gave the opening address on our first night and beautiful evening at the historical and gorgeous Consorzio headquarters in Asti.
On our visit, Romano got into the details of growing grapes and making the different wines. Everything in his winery was very hands on with great attention to detail.
The moscato grape requires a very specific technique to preserve all the grape’s fragrance and Romano takes great care to get the most out of the grape. He and Alessandro showed us the steps taken to make the wine.
Immediately after harvest, done only by hand, they press the grapes softly and take great care to clarify the must. This clarification is done using diatomaceous earth filtering with a rotary vacuum drum. The vacuum pump draws the wine into the interior through a wire mesh and pumps out the wine, a blade shaves off the top layer of the DE removing the layer of wine deposits. (Bird, Understanding Wine Technology). It was very cool to see one of these filters in action and how effective it was to filter out the solid matter.
Romano went into great detail explaining the process of fermentation for wines of different ATMs. After filtering, the grape juice is refrigerated in tanks at 2˚ C below 0 until it is time for the temperature controlled fermentation in the autoclave. The autoclave has several layers of nested tanks, one of ethylene glycol for chilling and one for insulation. Romano is able to set the level of ATMs/Carbon dioxide and alcohol, he wants in the fermenting wine, hence lower for Moscato D’Asti (1-2 ATMs), (4.5-6.5 ABV) and higher for Asti (4-5 ATMs, 6-9.5 ABV) )wines. Once fermentation is completed, they filter the wines again using centrifical separators and micro-filters.
We were wine and food lucky at La Caudrina. We went through tasting their wines (but it was very hard to spit in a setting like this) and then had an incredible meal prepared by his wife, Bruna, full of cheese, bread, wine, salads and plin.
Piemonte Chardonnay “MEJ” – Whole grape has been gently pressed and the first must is put into thermoconditioned tanks where the initial fermentation takes place at 18-20 ˚ Fermentation is then continued in small French oak barrels. Straw yellow, pineapple, peach.
Spumante brut Lunatica – This wine was made with the albarossa grape. The grapes are pressed immediately after harvesting and then the must is filtered. The next day the yeasts are inoculated for the first fermentation which will last about 30 days in a temperature controlled tank of 15°C. After the wine will rest for about three months on the lees, there after the second fermentation will be inoculated with yeast extract and will take place over the course of 40 days. The wine is now ready to be filtered and prepared for bottling. Slight amount of residual sugar, 6 grams I loved this wine and found it refreshing and one I wanted another glass of.
Moscato D’Asti “La Galeisa” – Single vineyard 3.5 hectares, 100% moscato bianco, vine age 48 years, straw yellow, intense aromas of sage, peach, lemon, delicate, round, lingering finish.
Asti “La Selvatica” – Single vineyard, 2.5 hectares, 100% moscato bianco, vines 43 years, foam is fine with persistent perlage, pale straw yellow, slightly sweet with lighter notes of sage, peach and lemon. In my notes I wrote that Romano said Selvatica means wild woman but I guess you can tell that by the label as well.
Barbera D’Asti “La Solista” – Single vineyard, 2 hectares, 100% barbera, vines 43 years old, Estate vineyard in Nizza Monferrato. After fermentation, malolactic fermention then stainless steel and bottling. A fresh and ready to drink wine.
Barbera Del Monferrato”La Guerriera” 100% barbera Fermentation in autoclave to produce a slightly sparkling wine
Another food and wine heaven moment on this trip.
At the end of the meal, Romano brought out these 2 wines.
Acquavite Di Uva Moscato “La Caudrina” and an incredibly delicious passion, Piemonte Moscato Passito “Redento” named after his father. These wines paired with cookies and hazelnut cake left us very happy and very full after the visit with Romano and his family.
The wines were delicious and it is a true pleasure to drink and share a meal with like-minded people among the vines. This visit just reinforced to me that Asti is a destination and Moscato D’Asti is not any moscato wine it is in many ways needs to be considered a fine wine.