An Interview with Marcarini Winery
The Marcarini Vineyards
What is the history of the land you are on? What was it used for before your winery owned it or did someone else own it previously?
The Langhe area has always been known for being highly suited to viticulture. In the past, it was easier to combine wooded or untamed areas and vineyards were often used for vegetables and fruit groves. Today, the area in which we live is almost completely dedicated to vineyards (there is some hazelnut and fewer woods. Marcarini is fortunate to have had vineyards here for a long time.
What clones and selections are used?
All of our vineyards have more than one clone, meaning we have many clones of the same variety. We select based on the quality of the grape.
Where does the water sources for the vineyard(s) come from?
Water reserves come from rain and from reserves under the vineyards.
What trellising systems does the winery use? Why do you prefer that system?
We use upwards-trained vertically trellising, with Guyot pruning. The main advantage of this type of training is surely that it contains production and increases the quality of the grapes. Guyot pruning guarantees good ventilation and excellent exposure of the leaves.
What are the different soil types from each of the vineyard sites? What do these soils do for your wines?
The main difference between our soils is the ratio of sand, loam and clay. As for the La Morra area (where we produce Dolcetto Fontanazza, part of the Barbera d’Alba, part of Langhe Nebbiolo, Barolo Brunate, La Serra and Barolo del Comune di La Morra), there is more clay. Thanks to this clay, the soils have excellent humidity, and there is better cationic exchange between the soil and the vines. These characteristics translate into elegant, well-structured wines.
As for Dolcetto Boschi di Berri, also in La Morra, it’s totally different: This is a pre-Phylloxera vineyard and in fact, the soil is mostly sand. This has allowed the vines to survive Phylloxera (along with two other important factors, which are the altitude and the fact that the vineyard was surrounded by woods, but now hazelnut trees). There are centuries-old vines on their original rootstock on this parcel of land.
Our Roero Arneis is in Montaldo Roero and the roots dig down to where there is a much higher percentage of sand. This means the soil is looser, so there is less stagnant water. The soil is also not as rich as the one in La Morra. Wines from here tend to have high minerality.
In Neviglie, where we have a holiday farm, we cultivate Barbera D’Alba, Moscato D’Asti and Nebbiolo for Lasarin. The makeup of this soil is the perfect combination of the soil of La Morra and the sand of Montaldo Roero. The wines are particularly fresh and perfumed.
Do any of your vineyards have names? If so, is there a story behind those names?
Barolo Brunate: Brunate is the name of the current MGA. In the past, it was called “Brinate,” because when it came time to pick the grapes, they were usually covered in a very light frost. Brunate is located in a natural amphitheatre, where the day/night temperature swings are significant and lead to the formation of frost. Probably due to an error in transcription, the name became Brunate.
Barolo La Serra: La Serra is also the name of the current MGA. Like a greenhouse, La Serra hills experience more consistent temperatures between day and night, with respect to Brunate, thanks to continual breezes that cool even the hottest days.
Langhe Nebbiolo Lasarin: Lasarin is a made-up name that means it comes from younger vines. The “in” at the end of the word means something small in the Piedmont dialect). Lasarin = little La Serra.
Barbera d’Alba Ciabot Camerano: There is a “Ciabot” in the La Morra Barbera vineyard. This word in the Piedmont dialect means small Langhe farmhouse, used to house the equipment. According to history, the big Camerano family of La Morra lived in this one. That’s where the name Ciabot Camerano came from.
Dolcetto Fontanazza: Fontanazza is the name of a tiny village in La Morra. The vineyards for this wine are located here.
Dolcetto Boschi di Berri: Berri is a hamlet of La Morra. This vineyard is located at the highest part and in the past, it was surrounded in woods.
If you have large vineyards, do you only use a portion of the vineyard to produce specific wines? How did you choose what portions to use?
In the comune (municipality) of La Morra, particularly Brunate and La Serra, we decided to dedicated parts of the vineyards with the best exposure for Nebbiolo (specifically for Barolo). The rest is for Dolcetto and Barbera.
The Brunate and La Serra cru wines also get only the best grapes. Choosing the best grapes for these wines takes place every year, based on the best results of the phenological analysis of the grapes.
The Marcarini Winery & Winemaking Process
What makes your winery different from others in the region? In Italy?
Our winery is different because of its long history, which has contributed to its reputation. Marcarini has been around for six generations and its never swayed from its deeply traditional style. We also work only with estate-owned vineyards and our family manages the entire production chain, from the vineyards to the bottle.
What is the winery’s long-term plans regarding production levels, vineyard replanting, style of winemaking, consumer targets, etc.
We have many projects, but our goal is always to improve the quality of our wines, service and image. We recently started a project to increase the quality of our top products, Barolo La Serra and Barolo Brunate, with a meticulous selection of the grapes in the vineyard. We never wanted to increase quantity, but to concentrate on the quality. There are other projects, such as re-planting our plots, in small batches, and where necessary.
Marcarini’s vinification style is strictly traditional (we use large Slavonian oak barrels, do submerged-cap maceration for our Barolos, and use natural corks to name just a few things we do). Obviously, a traditional style, but with updated technology, to stay in line with worldwide sales.
Our target clientele is very extensive. We make many types of wine for varied tastes.
What vintage had the most challenges and what were those challenges? How did you overcome them?
2002 and 2014 were the most challenging.
In 2002, hail completely devastated our vineyards bringing the production numbers to zero, just a few days before harvest.
2014 was very difficult but for different reasons, in that, we were able to get good results in adverse conditions. The rains were incessant and heavy, especially from January until mid-July. There was little sun and the temperatures were cool and humid. At the end of summer/early fall, it was a little warmer, which led to ripening. Nonetheless, we did massive and bold work in the vineyards and ended up producing half what we normally produce. We focused on managing the canopy to best expose the grapes to the sun and reduce the humidity around the vines. Another important intervention was green harvest and the later selection of the best grapes during harvest.
What cooperage does the winery use?
We are currently using Austrian casks – by Stockinger and Pauscha.
Is there a philosophy around cooperage?
Our philosophy is to use large Slavonian oak casks.
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