While we all know that Barolo is the most famous red wine to come out of the Piedmont region, that doesn’t mean that it is the only one made using the Nebbiolo grape that is worth sampling. Amongst the many great wines from the region is the Barbaresco, which is another type of red wine that shares many similarities with its more famous cousin, but also some key differences that make it an entirely different proposition altogether for the experienced wine connoisseur.
A number of wine makes produce the drink, but perhaps the most famous of them all is the Cigliuti family. While not one of the biggest names in the wine world, the producer has quickly gained a reputation for the quality of their drinks in a rather short time period of around fifty years. Here we take a look at the history of the company and how it came to be, including an in-depth examination of their most famous of wines.
The vineyards and production facilities that make up the Cigliuti families territory has been owned by the family for four generations, starting with Fratelli Cigliuti back in 1964. Back then the company was fairly small and local in scale, as Fratelli simply used to sell the grapes that he grew to other producers while also creating an unbottled wine that he would sell at the local markets.
From this inauspicious start, the rest of the family first developed its passion for the craft. In particular Renato Cigliuti was the beneficiary of the years of knowledge that went into the creation of the drinks that his grandfather produced. With the combine knowledge of Fratelli, his father Leone and his uncle Romualdo, Renato began to learn everything that he needed to know to create great wines and started working with the family from a young age.
It was at this time that Renato decided that he would take over the family business, when the time came, and he began to experiment with the wines that he was producing in preparation. This led him to try thinning the grapes that he was using to create his wines, which was a practice that very few wine producers used at the time but has since become much more common.
The intention was to ensure that only the best of the crop of grapes went into the wines the family were producing, which would in turn up their value as the drink became more valued and sought after. It was certainly a risk, especially as he began the practice in post-war years where food was scarcer than it is today, but it did allow him to ensure that each bottle he produced maintained a level of quality. It was using this practice that that led to the release of the first 300 bottles of Barbaresco in 1964 and the official beginnings of the producer.
Renato carried on in this vein for a number of years, hesitant to continue any expansion of the land as he believed that his family would not have the same passion for the business as he had developed. In particular, he didn’t believe that his two daughters, Claudia and Silvia, would be interested in following him into the business. However, they soon proved him wrong and as they came of age they would often be found helping out in the vineyards. It was during this period that they began to really develop the passion for Barbaresco that their father had.
Discovering that passion in his daughters allowed Renato to begin expanding production, though they have yet to reach the size of other great winemakers as much by design as by necessity. Today the company is operated by Renato and his wife Dina alongside the two daughters that he never believed would be willing to work in the business. Together they oversee production of the wines produced in their company from beginning to end, spending much of their time working in the vineyards to ensure that they cultivate the quality of grapes needed to produce their great wine.
It is this philosophy that has allowed the company’s Barbaresco to attain the reputation that it has amongst wine lovers, who have noted that it is one of the best red wines to come from the region and that it ably stands alongside its more famous cousin Barolo, so much so that it was granted DOCG status in 1980, marking it out as a wine of true quality only 16 years after the company had first started to operate on more than a small, local scale.
The company prides themselves not only on the quality of their grape but also the fact that they let the wine take its own natural course when it reaches the cellar. Once the wines are ready for fermentation they are placed in steel vats before being aged on wood, all with minimal intrusion from the family, who believe this technique allows the wine to develop the characteristics for which it has become known.
The company’s signature wine has quickly gained a reputation as one of the truly great Italian red wines over its relatively short history.
The wine is a deep red in colour, which makes it striking to the sight before one ever smells its aromas. Once they do they will note that the wine is extremely complex, offering hints of black cherries and red fruits to draw the drinker in for the taste.
Upon reaching your lips you will be encountered with a strong wine that pulls those fruits into a perfect blend that also includes notes of spice and natural minerals, all of which combine to create a wine of true quality.
Deep red colour. The nose of great complexity and elegance with hints of black cherry and red fruits. The taste is very persistent and harmonious with notes of spice and minerals.
Furthermore, due to the fact that its tannins soften a little quicker than those of Barolo, the wine is also a little more approachable for those who are discovering red wine for the first time or want to get a taste of the region beyond the more well-known wine of the two.