The title of this post might seem misleading: Alba and environs are certainly not Milan, Paris or New York and are definitely not famous for dictating global trends. My aim is to immerse you in the atmosphere of this hilly zone and try to predict the near future of wine and, in general, that of this amazing area’s economy, which is undergoing rapid change.
Our current context is closely tied to the difficulties experienced by the country as a whole. Even though Alba has Always been a happy island, and in part continues to be so, the crisis has been felt even here. Lay-offs are the order of the day and large businesses, which made this area’s fortune, are suffering, especially due to failure to implement generational changes in leadership. The world of wine tourism is growing and I think this will be the main outlet for the future of Langa. Interest in Barolo and good food is increasing exponentially and growing numbers of foreigners are peacefully invading our country, with ever-greater appetites and thirsts. It is easy to predict that we will need more high-quality structures for hosting high-profile tourists. It is even easier to see that foreign languages will be increasingly important, and that Russian, Portuguese and Chinese are not to be underestimated. I think that the near-future will also smile upon Alta Langa, which is less-known, more wild and less promoted, but perhaps more romantic and intriguing.
Respecting our land will be fundamental, we are now breathing the winds of change among wine producers, who are quickly turning toward more respectful, more intelligent and less polluting wine-growing. The future lies in a healthy, non-transgenic countryside, detached from the homogenisation and standardisation of multinationals. Too many disasters have been allowed to happen between the post-war period and the present day. Systemic treatments will be abolished, chemical weed control will be wholly abandoned and green manure will be considered standard practice. To read more about this topic, take a look at my post/New Year’s wish from earlier in the year.
Ferrero, Miroglio and Mondo were once what determined local decisions and social change. Today I think that it is the wine producers, thanks to the world’s interest in what they do, who have the chance to dictate the direction of the entire region. I think that the area’s leadership lies in the capacities and vision of wine producers, even if we might not realise it yet.
Wealth in Langa over the last 50 years has come thanks to the strong dedication to work that has always characterised the people of this area. The classic example is of the worker who works during the week or at night at Ferrero and during the day or at the weekend fleshes out his pay cheque cultivating his own hazelnut trees or his father’s vineyard. In the future, maybe that vineyard or hazelnut orchard will become his main job, and the abandoned country house will become a bed and breakfast.
On the wine scene, I think that the less-known native grape varieties will become increasingly important, creating themselves a powerful market niche. Freisa, Pelaverga, Nascetta, etc.… will improve qualitatively and establish themselves over time. Another trend that is catching on are sparkling Nebbiolos. Classic method, Charmat method Nebbiolo whites and rosés are increasing their presence in Langa and Roero wineries, and will soon be appearing on local wine lists. The intensity of this wave will grow year after year and could turn out to be a huge surprise.