Grapes: Barbera (65%) and roughly equal amounts Freisa, Dolcetto, and Grignolino.
Method of fermentation: Spontaneous wild yeast fermentation for three weeks in stainless steel, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Vines planted between 1960-1981. Less than 30mg/l free sulfur.
In a field in front of Matteo’s house, where the WOOFers also live at harvest, there are so many cool grapes: Brachetto, Ancellota, Dolcetto, Grignolino, for sure more that I’m forgetting. When I visited him a little after the harvest he was already regenerating the soil for future seasons, tending cover crops, and showing off a killer kitchen garden: peppers and tomatoes galore! Completo speaks volumes about Carussin. It had to be made for a harvest lunch, to be served cold with simple excellent foods: coppa, robiola, in-season vegetables. Lacking affectation, large (to share) low alcohol, because the day is young, and there’s work to be done.
Who: Bruna Ferro and her sons Matteo and Luca
Where: San Marzano Oliveto, south of Asti, north of Canelli (Piemonte, Italy)
What grapes: Barbera, Carica l’Asino, Cortese, Moscato
Key facts: Certified-organic, with biodynamic tendencies. They make beer. They have donkeys.
At the request of his grandmother Matteo Garberoglio emerged, dreadlocked and outfitted in anarchist/roadie attire from the bowels of the building. Matteo had no idea why I’d arrived, but he breezed past this detail and eagerly offered a tour of the winery. I presented the chance for a break from routine labor. I knew we had corresponded, but a lot of his family are working around this small estate in San Marzano Oliveto in the Italian Piedmont… maybe I’d written to his mother Bruna? Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Moments later brother Luca arrived, self-consciously dressed in somewhat preppie clothes: he felt it necessary to explain he was returning from having his photo taken. He also had no idea why I was there, but with an earnestly friendly demeanor Luca took over from Matteo, who returned to running the bottling line.
Luca proceeded to show me around the labyrinthine facility. The place is huge! At places comically so. Luca conceded this point. “Our equipment is too big! But it is what we have, so we use it.” Mostly empty tanks tower overhead. Giant tools lay idle. It is an understatement to say that in the future, Casussin have the capacity to ramp up production.
The estate was founded in 1927, with four hectares located on hills between Nizza Monferrato and Canelli. Luca’s grandfather started the modern history of Carussin, expanding acreage, moving the estate in the direction of organic viticulture. Today their 14 hectares are certified organic and integrate many biodynamic practices into their farming.
We had a fine time inspecting the tasting room and bar where the beer Luca brews is served alongside local cheeses and charcuterie to an audience of friends and neighbors. Luca is a huge fan of Dogfish Head, and even once made a pilgrimage to Delaware to visit the brewery. We sampled some tasty salamis and creamy cheeses with a line-up of Carussin’s current releases. Standouts among their wines included the Lia Vi Barbera d’Asti, a red made from 35-year-old vines planted by Luca’s grandfather, in the terra rossa soils in front of the cellar. Lia Vi is picked a little later, and seems more elegant than your normal Barbera. All parts knit together well. The name Lia Vi refers to a little bird that lives in the vineyards and makes nests by knotting together pieces of vine.
Of the 42 wineries in the area of San Marzano Oliveto only two are organic. Quality wineries like Carussin are struggling to do things in the right way.