Grape(s): 100% Nebbiolo
Localization: Piedmont, Italy
Tasting Notes: This wine is aged both in barrel and in bottle for a couple of years before release, which leads to refined tannins and gentle but persistent acidity. It also means the wine has found its own balance, and is very much ready to drink. Aromas of roses and black cherries with spicy and balsamic notes. Plenty of cherry, earth, tar, and eucalyptus flavors are apparent, with tingling acidity and some lingering tobacco and earth notes.
The Domain: Schiavenza is located in Serralunga d'Alba in the heart of Piedmont's Langhe district, celebrated for its great Barolo vineyards. The estate was founded in 1956 by the brothers Vittorio and Ugo Alessandria; the estate and surrounding area were formerly part of the Opera Pia Barolo (a castle that is kind of like the Hospices du Beaune: part educational institution and part hospital) whose vineyards were traditionally worked by sharecroppers. The local dialect for sharecropper is schiavenza. Today, the estate is run by the second-generation Alessandria sisters, Enrica and Maura, and their husbands Luciano Pira and Walter Anselma.
In the vineyard, they do not use pesticides or herbicides. Harvest is manual and is conducted according to the phases of the moon. In the cellar, they use only naturally occurring yeasts, and ferment the wines in cement cisterns. In terms of aging, this is no modern barrique-aged Barolo estate: the wines here are aged for extended period of time in the traditional large Slovenian barrels called botti. The quality here is shockingly good. Schiavenza's wines are elegant, pure expressions of Nebbiolo that would embarrass many a more famous address. to the market at prices that are lower than ever.