The world is changing, it is continuously evolving.
The times, people, society, consumption, trends, markets, governments, climate all change …. and so does wine.
The Barolo that my grandfather Settimo Giuseppe used to make is different from the one my father used to make and my father’s is different from mine. The Barolo made by my children will be totally different as well. So how can we talk about tradition?
Modernism and traditionalism
In the 1980s we saw a sharp contrast between modernism and traditionalism in the wine cellar, but to take sides never amounts to anything good.
It’s not a question of right or wrong: what counts is what we want to be, make and transmit with our wine. My grandfather based all his work on his own experience and popular beliefs: ancient knowledge which today unfortunately is disappearing. He carried out the work manually and used wooden containers.
Today, thanks to the “Modernist revolution” we can establish the degree of maturation of the grapes, we use stainless steel tanks and decrease the size of the grape bunches, so as to get a higher quality from the raw material. We, modern winemakers, can take advantage of laboratory testing and consult wine experts who have technical and scientific knowledge that was once unimaginable.
Modernism has therefore made a number of positive innovations for wine production, but I chose a personal way, aimed at traditionalism.
In fact, my Barolo is well structured, it has a good presence of tannins and is not too colored. I consider myself a traditionalist because I don’t follow current trends; I use barrels, which are the right tools for aging my Manzoni.
A comparison of two Barolo wines
The main difference between my Barolo wines, the Gattera and the Manzoni, is based on the yield per hectare.
The first of the two, which has a 7.500 kg/hectare yield is a classic Barolo, in the truest sense of the word: good tannins, medium structure and a taste ranging from toasted hazelnut, plum and dried fruit in general. It emanates fruity aromas such as cherries, with a marked predominance of tobacco, the typical Annunziata fragrance.
The Manzoni, on the other hand, with a 5.500-6.000 kg/hectare yield is much harder, because of the high concentration of tannins due to the very limited production. There has to be tannins. It is a natural preservative and an essential characteristic of Barolo wines.
During the best vintages I choose to apply post-fermentation carbonic maceration, by letting the wine macerate in the must. The result is greater complexity and a higher presence of tannins which needs balancing.
As a result, I round it in barrique barrels, because this small barrel type gives off “more wood” than the bigger ones and tends to soften the wine.
I had to learn to get to know the barrique barrel and it wasn’t easy: I used both new and used barrique barrels, searching for the right level of roasting in order to enhance the quality of the wine, without altering its soul.
The Manzoni Barolo is therefore much darker than the Gattera; its scent is of tobacco and dried mushrooms, hazelnuts and plums. It’s much more structured, rough and difficult to drink, but it has an outstanding crescendo that lasts 15 years.
Well, at this point there’s nothing left to do except taste our wines and judge my preference for traditionalism for yourself.