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La Borgatta

It’s very rare to find a winery and vineyard that is able to transport you back in time; a winery that feels like stepping into a beautifully preserved black and white film photograph. That is what La Borgatta achieves; not because they’re creating something atavistic, but simply because this is how they’ve always done things — largely unchanged since the 1960s.

The wines are the definition of timeless; these are classical beauties; yet ones made without restraint. This is like drinking the thinking of decades gone by, transported into today’s world.

LITTLEWINE spoke to Emilio for this piece, with the kind help of Modal wines for translation and photographs

People: Emilio and Maria Luisa Oliveri

Place: Piemonte, Italy

Varieties: Dolcetto and Barbera

Farming: Organic

Hectares: Just under two

Did You Know? They have also remained dedicated to the varieties that they initially planted, largely unphased by trends and what their neighbours were doing. This means that while other producers sometimes see Dolcetto as an inferior grape variety, destined for entry-level cuvées, La Borgatta has always taken it seriously and given it just as much attention as their other varieties.

In many ways, the vineyards and life at la Borgatta represents a pre-technological era. Things here remain in black & white, and they’re simply better that way. Emilio says,

“When I started working with Italo [Maria Luisa’s father], the approach in the vineyards was very simple. We used sulphur and a little bit of copper when necessary, and we worked the soils to control weeds and grass, though again only when necessary. I saw how well this worked for us, so I never saw a need to change our methods.”

There’s the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and here that really rings true. Why change their methods when they work, or their philosophies when they’re central to their way of life? He continues,

“Having grown up close to nature and to the land my whole life, something really did not sit right with the idea of spraying strange products onto the soils, products that had been engineered and manipulated in a laboratory, and products that mostly seemed to have destructive effects. We used our common sense and stuck with what we knew had worked for decades. We also had no desire to look for shortcuts or to simplify our workflow. The manual work in the vines is one of our favourite activities, and we cherish it. Plus, we couldn't really afford any fancy products! In our gut, we knew the chemical way was not the true way. We must protect our earth at all costs. For us, without this land, without our plants and our vines, there is no reason to live. We have been caretakers of this small but cherished piece of land for decades. It is...

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