Our Wine of the Year: An Interview with Claudia Cigliuti

Friday, January 7, 2011

Owner and Winemaker Renato Cigliuti
Yesterday, I announced the 2005 Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella as the 2010 Wellesley Wine Press wine of the year.  In prior years I'd named domestic Pinot Noirs as my wine of the year so it wasn't too difficult to track down winery representatives to answer a few questions.  However, this year's winner comes from the Piedmont region in Italy.  Luckily it wasn't difficult to reach Renato Cigliuti's daughter Claudia for a response to these questions:

Q: I've heard there are "traditionalist" and "modernist" style producers in Barbaresco.  Does that terminology exist in Italy?  If so, which camp does Cigliuti fall within?  If not, could you describe your winemaking style?

Cigliuti: The "modernist" and "traditionalist" style are not very popular any more in Italy, like in the past...in the 90's. In our opinion the most important thing to make a great wine is to have the best quality grapes and a good balance in oak.

Q: I've enjoyed both your Vigne Erte and Serraboella Barbaresco wines.  They're both such powerful and pure expressions of Barbaresco.  Could you describe the differences in site and winemaking style between these two wines?

Cigliuti: The main difference between Barbaresco Vigne Erte and Serraboella is due to the age of the vines.  In the Vigne Erte the vines are about 10 years old while in Serraboella the age of the vines is from 25 to 55 years old.  The old vines give more complexity, intensity, structure and length to the wine but both of them reflect very well the character of the terrain where they come from.

In fact Vigne Erte is located on the cru of Bricco di Neive (350 meters above sea level) and faces Southwest with sandy and calcareous soil. Serraboella is located on the cru of Serraboella (350 meters above sea level) faces Southwest with chalky soil.

The winemaking style between Vigne Erte and Serraboella is almost the same, very balanced in oak.  They are aged for about 25 months in 2000 Lt Slavonian oak casks, only a small percentage of Serraboella is also aged in French oak barriques and tonneaux.

Q: What would you say is the best time of year for an American to visit Piedmont wineries?

Cigliuti: In our opinion the best period to visit Piedmont wineries is beginning of September because at that time it is possible to understand and evaluate the quality of the wines from the grapes left in the vineyards. It is very important to see the way of managing the vineyards and the yields we leave to have a good quality wine. Also October is interesting because the vineyards are very colourfull and you can also smell the parfums of the fermentation in the cellar.

Q: Do you offer winery visits and tastings with an appointment scheduled via E-mail?  If so, what should we expect on a visit to Cigliuti?

Cigliuti: We accept visits by appointment (because only the family is involved in all kind of  works of the estate) and it's always a pleasure to receive visitors and show our philosophy of making wines. They should expect a simple visit to a very small estate (7 Hectares) where the family will receive them and show all the process of making wine starting from the vineyards to enjoying a glass of wine together. Cheers!

My thanks to Claudia Cigliuti for her kind and thoughtful response to my questions, and congratulations to Cigliuti on their outstanding wines.

I hope you enjoyed reading my top 25 list as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Click here to download the entire WWP Top 25 Wines of 2010 in pdf.

Here's to discovering more great wines in 2011!

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