While we’re at it…


I am writing this post following the polemic that Franco Ziliani launched over the advertisement for the new wine, Già di Fontanafredda. I would like to state my position as a wine producer from Serralunga d’Alba who feels involved seeing the outpouring of comments left on the blog vinoalvino.org .

First of all, I am not here to criticize the commercial and wine-production decisions made by Fontanafredda; everyone, in his own home and within the law, can do what he wants. But this does not preclude the expression of my own opinion.

My thought is that the advertisement is good and will work. But nor does this preclude that those who have been living in the world of wine for a good while, and who love it, would legitimately expect that the name of Serralunga d’Alba, so important from the very beginning, would be associated with a Barolo and not a vinot. I myself would expect this.

It’s too bad, because lately I find myself liking Fontantafredda’s policies: Low sulphur content in the wines, recycled glass, paper labels that are also recycled, research. The territory needs big producers that set good examples. It is true that revolutions start from the bottom, but if sometimes they could arrive also from the top, they would be quicker and painless, with greater benefits for all and fewer sacrifices.

At the end of the video I liked it, but after seeing it two or three times and carefully analysing the words spoken by Signore Marino, I thought that if Serralunga is a region that produces special wines, I shouldn’t think that a vinot can belong to this group.

But what is a vinot?

For those who do not come from Piedmont, the literal translation of vinot is vinello (a light or thin wine). It is a light wine for whatever meal, and was an integral part of the nutrition of an earlier epoch. Before and immediately after the World War, it was even drunk in greater quantities than water. In today’s world, however, the word – and the product – vinot is used in a derogatory way: Little body, watery, far from the concept of modern qualitative standards.

In my comment to the post I said that my father and grandfather, in addition to the classic wines of Langa, produced and sold a lot of vinot, and I am not ashamed of this: They behaved just like all of the other wine producers in our area – and I emphasize the word “all”.

During that time, in fact, one drank a lot of wine in demijohns, since one worked hard and wine was considered to be energizing nourishment. Given the great quantities consumed, it couldn’t be too heavy or alcoholic. The yields in the vineyards were very high and the harvests were often cold and rainy; it was therefore normal to produce simpler wines, of a quality we would now consider inferior. Normally it was composed from Dolcetto, Barbera or Nebbiolo in the bubbly version, this last being more typical in Roero.

Sometimes it came from other, undefined, parts of Italy, more or less legally; the most sought-after wines had a low acidity that made them easier to drink. I am telling you these things because my family has been producing wine for one hundred years and wine was not, contrary to what some would believe, born in the 1980s. I am telling you these things because I know my land. The inhabitants of Serralunga came to my family’s property, which is called Tenuta Loirano, and half of which is administratively and incorrectly under the municipality of Sinio, to harvest grain and grapes, to dance and even to marry. Barolo was, yes, important and prestigious, but few drank it. On the piazza of the negociants, Barolo of Serralunga was recognized at the time as the best, so much so that it didn’t matter which producer it came from; Serralunga itself was the guarantee of prestige. I am telling you these things because there is a lot of talk about remembering history, but this is rarely done for the wine of Langa.

Forgive me for the long post, but I felt the need to precisely define certain historical concepts and I ask you as I ask myself, will the future of our land be vinot?