I was having a rough time this morning, trying to generate something worthwhile here. And then I remembered, I can always go back to the places I am happiest.
I am no wine critic- I’m just a girl with a blog and a passion for Italian wine. I work in the wine business too, and sometimes my hobby (wine) and my career (more wine) intersect with my personal life (even more wine). No place is this more true than within the warm brick walls of the Paolo Scavino winery. I used to sell these wines. Then I met Elisa, Enrica and Enrico Scavino and I fell in love with this family. As both a professional and a hobbyist, I truly believe in the work they are doing here. The proof is in the wines!
Papa Enrico takes time out during the harvest to greet some local wine tourists from Alba.
Paolo Scavino is a historical gem of the Barolo region. It was founded in 1921 in Castiglione Falletto by Lorenzo Scavino and his son, Paolo. For four generations the family has focused on producing high quality wines from three local grapes: Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo.
The family Estate vinifies its own grapes from 23 hectares in the Barolo area and produces approximately 120,000 bottles par year. In a region like the Langhe, this is not a lot of wine. It’s a drop in the bucket.
Enrico, the current Papa and Patriarch of the family, has always been a curious man- an inventor of new machinery and one to embrace experimentation in the winery and the vineyard. Through all of this it is Enrico’s care of the vineyards and passion for terroir that has always defined his work and the work of his daughters. Their core belief is that the work is done in the vineyard- viticulture before oenology.
I think the winery saw a period in the 1990’s where small barrels and various oxygenation techniques were used that has unfairly defined them as a “modern” wine-making facility. The truth is, that was a phase of experimentation, just one small part in a history focused on an overall achievement of excellence. Under Enrico’s curious and open-minded direction, the winery has continued to evolve for many years. They now work with unique expressions of Nebbiolo in the 19 historical cru they own in 6 of the 11 villages of Barolo area. This fragmentation is exceptional, as well as back-breaking during the time of harvest. It is also extremely valuable- the ultimate opportunity to explore diversity and terroir.
I watched during the last two harvests, and I saw when each load of grapes come through the winery, that either Elisa or Enrico (and sometimes both of them), stand at the de-stemmer as the crates are offloaded by hand. They manually check each bunch for imperfections before they are allowed to pass through. No stray under-ripe bunch, no leaves or twigs go unnoticed. I “helped” with the 300 crates of Monvigliero grapes this year, and it is no small task. With a minute team of 5 or 6 people, the family still manages a quality control I have not seen in many other wineries.
Out of 300 crates- at least 4 were tossed out due to imperfections. And this is after the careful selection during the harvest itself. That is a pure commitment to quality.
History. Purity of expression, complexity and elegance. And joy. There is a lot of happiness here.
I was reminded the other day of a quote from Bob Dylan that made me think of the Scavino family: “A Man can consider himself a success if he wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and in-between did exactly what he wanted.”