Vinchio Vaglio Serra
This magnificent, quality focused “cooperative” creates wines that many feel are the very reference point for Barbera d’Asti. Piloted by a dedicated group of winegrowers, with work in the vineyards and cantina overseen by Barbera Master Giuliano Noe, Vinchio Vaglio Serra creates Barberas and other wines from the finest vineyards in the Monferrato. Development of wine from the grapes of these vineyards, many of which cover a few acres at most, can only be managed by a larger entity, a cooperative of vinegrowers dedicated to quality vs. bulk production. While the term “cooperative” sometimes conjures negative connotations, many Italian cooperatives create some of the best wines of their regions, particularly in Piemonte and Alto Adige, where steep, hillside farming is the norm, and vineyard plots are often parceled small.
Naturally organic (the vinegrowers and their families work daily in the vineyards), with a dedication to their environment (VVS is completely solar, a net contributor to the grid), VVS combines tradition with modern, clean practices to create beautiful expressions of indigenous varietals.
Headlined by their brilliant Barberas in the classic “Asti” style, many of which come from single vineyards, the wines created by this group of vinegrowers are perfect representations of their terroir. From the inexpensive “Piemonte Barbera”, to the classic “I Tre Vescovi”, to the bold expression of Barbera found in “Insynthesis”, the Barberas from Vinchio Vaglio Serra evoke the beautiful land they come from. In addition to their Barberas, the winery has been a pioneer in reviving some ancient local varietals, like Ruche di Castagnole and Grignolino.
Finally, the magic of Vinchio Vaglio Serra’s sweet wines is indescribable. A delicious indulgence, the Moscato and Brachetto from these vineyards are a world apart from the mass production sweets that crowd supermarket shelves in America. Careful work in the winery, as well as the perfect position of these vineyards, make the dessert wines from VVS sweet, but not cloyingly so, with a bright finish that makes even the most skeptical wine lover order another glass.
The towns of Vinchio and Vaglio Serra are located between Asti and Alessandria, near Nizza Monferrato in the heart of the Barbera d’Asti appellation. The hilly country here makes for beautiful driving, and even better wine. This area of the Monferrato, along with areas in the Langhe and Roero, was named an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014 for its beauty and landscape. Nearly every resident in these two small villages has something to do with the wine made at the local Cantina, Vinchio Vaglio Serra.
The soil here is a mixture of three types, which combine to create complex and beautiful Barberas unlike those found anywhere else in the world:
“Terre bianche” (white soils) mix of calcareous marl with a high percentage of clay and silt, which help create wines of medium acidity with excellent structure and long ageing potential.
“Terre rosse” (red soils) mix of clay and silt rich in copper and magnesium, quite rare and primarily located in Castelnuovo Belbo and Incisa Scapaccino. These minerals develop the wines complexity and structure.
“Sabbie astiane” (sandy soils) provides the beautiful fruit and ethereal aromatics, and helps make for an enjoyable, easy to drink wine.
While the Langhe is focused on Nebbiolo, and as such, the best vineyards of Alba are dedicated to that varietal, the Monferrato is all about Barbera, and all the best sites are dedicated to expressing the very best of that varietal. What it lacks in complexity, when compared with Nebbiolo, it makes up for in sheer drinkability. Barbera makes nice wines that can be enjoyed in their youth, and the terroir of Vinchio Vaglio Serra is noted as the very best for the varietal.
Vineyards and Vineyard Management
The vineyards of VVS are found throughout the communes of Vinchio and Vaglio Serra, and neighboring villages of Incisa Scapaccino, Cortiglione, and Nizza Monferrato. Founded by 19 vine growers in 1959 as a means to vinify and bottle wine from their own vineyards, the cooperative has grown to over 150 vine-growing families, coordinated and managed by Enologist Giuliano Noe. Each family works in the vineyard to produce quality grapes, working closely with the winery to achieve the very best outcome desired for the vintage. Many of the families’ wines make a single vineyard wine, such as “Laudana” from the famed hill of “Nizza” (which is now one of three “crus” of Barbera d’Asti).
I Tre Vescovi Barbera Superiore is made from grapes harvested from what would be a single vineyard, but is owned by several vinegrowers. The same for “Vigne Vecchie”, where the average age of the vines is around 75 years. These amazing Barberas, along with the other varietal wines created from vineyards in this beautiful hamlet in Asti, are truly a reference for all Barberas, and Vinchio Vaglio Serra continues to be the standard bearer for its native grape.
Note that “Valamasca” Moscato d’Asti is from a single vineyard of the same name, which means Valley of the Ghost. This applies also to “Nivasco”, which is created from the wonderfully aromatic and berry-sweet grape, Brachetto.
In the Cantina
Giuliano Noe is considered a master of Barbera, and is credited with “taming” its acidity through work in the vineyards and cantina. He was awarded “Winemaker of the Year” for this accomplishment in 2005 by the prestigious publication, Gambero Rosso. He continues to create Barbera based wines in both traditional and modern expressions. Where I Tre Vescovi is arguably the perfect representation of the grape and its native terroir, Insynthesis is a monster wine, international in style, created to show off what dedicated work in the vineyard and manipulation in the cantina can do. His experience in Monferrato is unmatched and his dedication to the indigenous varietals of Asti benefits the wine world greatly.
ITICOLTORI ASSOCIATI DI VINCHIO & VAGLIO SERRA E Z.L. S.C.A.
Regione San Pancrazio, 1
14040 Vinchio (AT) Piemonte Italia
Ph: +39 0141 950903