ASCHERI – A SMALL QUALITY-ORIENTED PIEDMONTESE WINERY
he winery was established at the beginning of the 19th century in the small, but well known Barolo commune – La Morra. The founder, Giacomo, planted first vineyard there, a suburb, today called Ascheri.
At the time, Langhe wines were sold in distant markets in demijohns. Long and torturous transportation made wines unstable and prone to oxidation.
Eventually wineries found it safer to set up a market in the town of Bra, near Alba, to transact business. This allowed them to transport their wines a shorter distance and opened a new market - the Turin market – a metropolitan city and important manufacturing centre.
The Royal House of Savoy owned vineyards and property around Bra and invested considerable amounts of capital into the local economy.
For all these reasons, Giacomo Ascheri decided to relocate the winery to Bra in 1880 where it still functions today.
From the beginning if the 20th century to 1960, efforts were made to increase the product line (Barolo, Barbera d’Alba, and Dolcetto d’Alba).
Vineyards were purchased in Serralunga d’Alba, Verduno and Bra in the best locations.
Ascheri’s winemaking philosophy consists of simple but most important principles – to keep yields low, and strive to reflect the terroir through the variety of grape i.e. Nebbiolo for Barolo, Barbera for Barbera d’Alba and Dolcetto for Dolcetto d’Alba.
The winery also produces an excellent Arneis from the Roero region. This white, fruity, light and superbly balanced wine deserves more attention than it receives, in both Italy and abroad. The variety was close to extinction when a few courageous winemakers stepped in and started to cultivate it.
More famous is Gavi de Gavi, a delicate white fragrant wine produced fro the local Cortese grape. It should be consumed within a year or two of harvest to appreciate its delicacy.
Ascheri also produces a unique wine from the Viognier grape that originates from southern Cotes du Rhone, It comes from the Montalupe vineyard and can be described simply as the most appealing and intriguiging of all the Acheri white wines.
Moscato d’Asti, a low alcohol, extremely fragrant sweet and slightly crackling wine, happens to be a favourite of millions of enthusiasts. The secret of enjoying this wine is its freshens and youth. April or May following the harvest are best to consume the wine following the year of harvest, ideally.
Ascheri is serious about red wines and it shows. His Barolo Vigna dei Pola is a polished, full-bodied, typical Piedmontese Nebbiolo, with plum, leather, black cherry flavours, and smoke. The wine is smooth with ripe tannins and moderate acidity at a reasonable price.
According to Mateo, Barolo producers committed a serious error in judgement and marketed their wines by touting them as super premium products. Prices were increased and inevitably demand dropped, thus causing overproduction, Today Barolo’s 800 growers cultivate 1400 hectares and 300 producers try to balance between production, demand and pricing.
Ascheri’s other Barolo labelled Barolo Serrano 1998, exudes wild rose and dry flower aromas, is rich, full-bodied, deeply flavoured and well balanced.
Barbera, an underrated grape in piedmont, comes to its own in the hands of Mateo. His Barbera d’Alba Vigna Fontanelle 2001 is ruby red, fragrant with berry aromas and hints of vanilla. This full-bodied wine has a smooth texture with a long aftertaste, particularly suitable for meat-sauced pastas, and stews.
Ascheri is one of the few vignerons who planted Syrah, a typical Cotes du Rhone grape, in Piedmont. The law forces him to market it as vino da tavola, the lowest quality recognized by the law, not because it is inferior, but Italian authorities particularly in Piedmont, don’t recognize” French grape varieties.
Ascheri’s Syrah has a vibrant garnet colour, elegant aroma, a spicy flavour and full body with a long aftertaste.
It is cellar worthy for a few years to develop nuance.
Those who like Piedmontese red and sweet wines can look forward to excellent, reasonably priced wines in the future, particularly those from Ascheri.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu