Organic… No additives or chemicals… Fermented with only yeasts naturally present on the fruit… The producer of this wine, like lots of other producers from all over the world, have learned to utilize these vineyard and cellar techniques, and buzzwords like “biodynamic”, “natural”, and “authentic” to characterize winemaking that its original practitioners performed almost entirely out of necessity and ignorance.
It would be too easy at this juncture to write “long live necessity and ignorance” but that would be a bit glib, excessively provocative, and not altogether reflective of my true feelings anyway. HOWEVER, prior to World War II, nearly all farming worldwide was organic. Commerical chemical fertilizers only slowly gained hegemony over good old-fashioned manure or mulch. Just a few generations ago, winemakers didn’t introduce any additives or chemicals to their wines partly because it never occured to them to do so, but mostly because it’s just fundamentally unecessary. And back in the day, in rural Italy, and nearly everywhere else, frugality was both a virtue and a necessity, so spending for yeast, when Mother Nature gave it to you for free, and already attached to the fruit no less!
So clearly wines like this are part of a new and seemingly quite powerful “back to the garden” movement sweeping food and wine, and three cheers to that. And provided that this sort of approach is born out of a genuine devotion to ecological sustainability and terroir, three more. There always have been and always will be those who fake it and pay the lip service, so as always, caveat emptor, but consumers and farmers alike are coming to realize that more often than not less is indeed more, and that cooperating with Mother Nature in the long run is waaay better than fighting her…
The one thing about this wine that does reflect a little contemporary thinking about winemaking, at least within the Piedmontese oenological tradition, is that it’s a blend of Dolcetto and Barbera. And though the dark, round, and tannic nature of the former seems like the perfect counterweight to the brightly acidic affability of the latter, blending these two ,or any two (or more) varities in one wine is almost unheard of in any part of southern or central Piedmont. Viva l’innovazione.
In keeping with the unpretentious, old-timey, character of this wine, I served this wine with just a good old-fashioned made from scratch pan pizza – dough AND sauce, with fresh mozzarella from Salerno’s up the street, basil from the freezer (orginally from my neighbor Maria’s garden) anchovies on my side, none on Madam Jenny’s…
Cascina degli Ulivi “Rosso Bellotti” Vino da Tavola Non-Vintage
Very deep youthful purple/garnet color. Big nose of band-aids, prune, river stones, blackberries, dark chocolate, and a touch of brown spices. In the mouth, the wine is smooth, round and fruity with a nicely balanced acid/tannin stucture, and a crunchy, pulpy texture with vivd flavors of red plums and faded roses. Beautiful ripe strawberry fruit on the tart finish. A solid and honest wine with real personality.