Visiting the Vietti Winery
@ 5 Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Castiglione Falletto, Piedmont, Italy (7/5/2016)

After my morning visit to the Cappellano Winery in Serralunga d'Alba, I had a 2:30 appointment at Vietti and plenty of time to the drive 10 minutes or so to Castiglione Falletto and get a bite to eat. That is, until I went the wrong way and spent nearly an hour driving through the mountain town of Perno. The good news is, I got to see and photograph some great views. See Getting lost in Perno with great views of Castiglione Falletto & Serralunga d'Alba.

Still, with a little help, I was able to arrive at close to my designated time.

Jump to the tasting notes.

For each image, I have posted a compressed (and possibly cropped) version. Click on it to see the original, much larger image.

After a quick bite at Locando del Centro, I drove the few blocks up the hill to Piazza Vittorio Veneto where the castle and the Vietti Winery are located.

Here is the castle (note that the original photo is quite large):

The clock tower and the Vietti Winery on Piazza Vittorio Veneto:

The winery gate and the view:

The winery courtyard:
The little door on the left of the building is for the tasting room from which I would eventually emerge,
but the tour would begin on the patio to the right, then proceed down the stairway at the corner of
the steps to the patio near the van.

I was met at the entrance by Elena Penna, wife of Luca Currado. She showed me around the outside and gave me an overview of the history of the winery while we stood on the patio that extends to the right overlooking the vineyards.

History of the Vietti Winery

The Vietti family has been in the wine business since at least the middle of the 19th Century, primarily as grape growers in those days. The winery lists its founding as 1873. Even then they owned important vineyards such as their plot in Brunate that they still farm to this day.

Late in the 19th Century, Mario Vietti, who was trained as an engineer, moved to America since his older brother was destined to run the family business. He lived and worked as an engineer in Boston for over 20 years. When his brother passed away, he returned to Castiglione Falletto to run the family farm.

Mario Vietti was innovative in a number of ways. He began making and bottling his own wine from his own vineyards. At that time, the family farm grew a wide variety of crops. Mario focussed the family efforts on growing grapes and producing wines. He planted Barbera in Scarrone which was considered a top vineyard. This shocked the locals because Nebbiolo was considered more important for such sites. He also bought or rented plots all around the Barolo region, which was very hard to farm and manage back in those days with no motorized vehicles. For these and other reasons, he was dubbed by the locals as Il pazzo Americano (the crazy American).

In 1957, Mario's daughter Luciana Vietti married Alfredo Currado. In 1960, Alfredo Currado became the primary winemaker for Vietti. Under his leadership, the Vietti winery continued to grow in size and prestige. It was one of the first wineries in the region to export its wines to the United States.

Alfredo was one of the first to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards. In particular, he bottled Rocche di Castiglione Falletto as a single-vineyard wine in 1961. This was a radical concept at the time. He later bottled single-vineyard wines from Brunate (starting in 1985?), Lazzarito (starting in 1989), Villero (starting in 1982?), and Masseria in Barbaresco (starting in 1971?). All of which they still bottle today.

Alfredo (along with Bruno Giacosa) is also responsible for bringing back the Arneis grape. By the 1960s, only a few rows of Arneis vines were left. Currado and Giacosa each replanted this white grape and to this day, Vietti still makes one of the best.

The Currados had three children, Emanuela, Elisabetta and Luca. In 1983 Mario Cordero, Emanuela’s husband, joined the Vietti winery. He coordinates marketing and sales. In 1990 Luca Currado, after training as an oenologist and getting some winemaking experience in Bordeaux and in California, began his winemaking career at Vietti. Luca oversees Vietti’s extensive vineyard plantings as well as handling the winemaking. More recently Luca’s wife, Elena Penna, started to work at Vietti on the marketing and public relations side. As mentioned above, Elena was my host throughout my tour of the winery.

My sense from talking to Luca and tasting their wines is that during the 1990s, Luca experimented with a variety of techniques, but that in the 2000s, he has settled into what might be called an enlightened traditional approach with winemaking. Under his leadership, Vietti is moving into the very top tier of Barolo and Barbaresco producers.

Winery Tour

The patio where Elena gave me an overview of the winery's history:
Directly beyond the railing of this patio is the Scarrone vineyard.
Across the way are northern, west-facing vineyards of Serralunga d'Alba.
The clusters of buildings in the distance are the hamlets of Baudana and Cerretta.
At the bottom of this page, you'll find photos of Castiglione Falletto, which I took
from the hamlet of Baudana on my way to dinner in Serralunga d'Alba.
(This photo is from the winery's website.)

Elena leading the way into the cellar:

Because the Vietti winery is built into the hillside of an existing historic town, it is a complex warren of rooms, stairs and hallways that is hard to follow (without a guide). On the winery website you can find Google Maps "Street View" tours of the winery. Below I have used a few screenshots from that tour to fill out a few missing links in my photos of my tours. It will be obvious which these are. I don't know if the copyright belongs to Google or the winery, but it is not mine.

Note that the vertical architecture of the winery allows the wine to move through its processes with gravity flow rather than pumps, since the fermentation takes place one floor below ground, and the aging cellars are below that.

The Fermentation Cellar

The stairs behind the door that Elena just took us through lead down into the main fermentation room with the large stainless steel fermentation tanks. There is also a bottling machine on the far right.

The large stainless steel fermentation tanks on the first floor below ground level:

The Malolactic Fermentation Room

Circling back to the original staircase, we go down a short flight to the malolactic fermentation room.

View from the malolactic fermentation room down into the new aging cellar:

The New Aging Cellar

Down another flight of stairs into the new aging cellar. In the big botti are 2015 Barolo: Castiglione, Ravera, Lazzarito:

Looking back up at the malolactic fermentation room from the new aging cellar. 2015 Brunate botte:

Left: Villero 2015 in barriques and the blue elevator door. Right: The elevator door open to show the tunnel to the older cellars:

Tunnel to the Old Aging Cellar

Passing through the elevator, a long tunnel to the old aging cellar. An exposed portion of the city wall:

The Old Aging Cellar

The old aging cellar from the tunnel side:

The stairs from the old aging cellar to the botti cellar:

A view of the old aging cellar from the stairs:

Some bottles in the old aging cellar and a closer shot of one the support columns for the old town:

The Botti Cellar

Ravera 2014 and 2015 in botti.

The Botti Cellar with barriques of 2015 Castiglione in the middle:

The Historic Cellar

Passing back through the old aging cellar, we go up a flight of metal stairs to the oldest part of the cellar:

The first part of the historic cellar from the top of the stairs:

Lots of barrels in the historic cellar:

More barrels in the next room of the historic cellar, as Elena goes into the 3rd room:

The 3rd room (really just a hallway) of the historic cellar has some extremely old bottles:

More very old bottles:

There are also stairs to the street and a tunnel to the castle:
Middle photo by Dan Moritz.

Elena told me that when Luca was a boy, the castle was abandoned, so he and his friends would go through this tunnel to play in the castle. I immediately thought back to my childhood and how much my friends and I would have loved that!

Up to the Tasting Room

At this point we went back the way we had come all the way through the tunnel:

From the end of the tunnel, we took the elevator back up to fermentation floor:

We then headed up the stairs you see on the far right (above) to the tasting room:

Tasting Notes

These wines were tasted between 4 and 5pm. There was a couple from Chicago who got to the tasting room shortly before I did. They are also big fans of the Vietti wines. Unfortunately, I did not get their names.

Where available, I have included some of the winemaker's notes on each wine in brackets after my note.

Flight 1.
I think these bottles had been opened that morning.
Flight 2.
I think these bottles had been opened that morning.
Flight 3: 2012 Single-Vineyard Barolos.
These were all from half bottles opened for us this afternoon.
Flight 4: 2010 Single-Vineyard Barolos.
Pop and pour from half bottles.
Flight 5: 1998 Barolo Brunate.
Luca is making great wines these days. Dare I say as good as anyone in the Langhe? I think so.

One question that came up during the tasting is that there are a lot of barriques in the winery, but none of the Nebbiolo wines we tasted of oak. Luca pointed out that half their production is Barbera which does spend 6-8 months aging in barriques. The Nebbiolo wines do malolactic fermentation in barrique because Luca likes to do battonage during malo. (Battonage just means stirring the wine.) Some of the Nebbiolo wines do some aging in barrique, but never new barriques. All are then aged in large botti.

The woman from the couple in the same tasting session and Luca & Elena
all laughing about the 2012 Castiglione with the upside-down label.

The guy from the couple. Unfortunately, I did not write down their names.

Views of Castiglione Falletto from Baudana

After my visit to Vietti, I was meeting a friend for dinner in Serralunga d'Alba. On my way there, I passed through the hamlet of Baudana (which can be seen in the photos at the top of this page from the patio of Vietti).

There I was able to get some long distance shots of Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery:
In the last 2 photos, it is easy to spot the tallest tower of the Castle in the center.
To the right of this, you can see the yellow clock tower with the pointed roof.
Everything you see between and below these two towers is the Vietti winery.
In particular, you can see the patio where Elena and I began our tour on the right
below the pointed tower. The base of it has a yellowish color.
The vineyard you see below the town is Scarrone.


Next was dinner with Bill Klapp at Centro Storico in Serralunga d'Alba.



All original content © Ken Vastola