Paolo Scavino, artisan work with oak in Barolo

Familia Scavino

Originally published in 25/05/2017.

We like a lot to do wine research. Not talking about doing wine tasting but more about studying and learning more in depth about winemaking processes, winemakers and the history of relevant wine areas. It is highly passionate to discover people doing really interesting things in faraway places and how years developed into what we know nowadays. The battles of the past, for example, the birth of DOs, AOCs or DOCGs around the globe.

Normally, you know different things about the way they make wine in Rioja for example, where they use French and American oak 225-liter oak barrels for ageing the wine. Or in Valpolicella in Italy where the most classic way for ageing the wine are big Slavonian oak botti of 5, 10, 15 or 20 hectoliter. The difference between producers in these areas can be how old the oak is or how many times they use each barrel. But what happens when you find a place in which the use of oak turned into a battle between producers? This is what happened in Barolo, with the so-called Battle of Barolo.

In the late 1970s there were two ways of facing vineyard labor and wine ageing. Some young winemakers started going against old customs performing green harvest which was seen by their elder as a sacrilege. At the same time, the use of oak in the cellars resulted in another confrontation. The so-called Traditionalist producers were defending the complexity and elegance in their wines using large casks or botti that would help soften the typical harsh tannins of the Nebbiolo grape. This tanicity came from longer period of maceration to extract color which brought high tannin levels. On the other hand, the Modernist producers wanted wines with power and concentration coming from the use of more matured grapes, thus reducing maceration time and keeping the use of the 225-liter barrels that would make their wines get into the top positions of point-awarding magazines’ lists. This situation dragged well until the new century, when a new in-between style of making wines started to be predominant.

Paolo Scavino is a family-owned Azienda Agricola located in Barolo country, in the village of Castiglione Falletto. It was founded in the year 1921 by Lorenzo Scavino and his son Paolo, and nowadays it is run by Enrico Scavino and his two daughters, Enrica and Elisa. The Scavino family distinguishes itself from the beginning for the scrupulous care of the vineyards and passion for terroir. Their core beliefs is the supremacy of the viticulture above the oenology. They work to show and valorize the unique expression and identity of the 20 historical cru they own in 7 of the 11 villages of Barolo area. Such fragmentation is quite exceptional but extremely valuable. It’s an opportunity to valorize Nature diversities. Purity of expression, complexity and elegance it’s what they aim for their wines.

Rocche dell’Annunziata is the Barolo Riserva of Scavino family, a historical, prestigious grand cru from La Morra village purchased in 1990.

From the homonymous vineyard of Monvigliero comes the second Barolo that can be properly considered the grand cru of Verduno village. This cru was first vinified for the 2000 vintage and blended into the Barolo until the 2007 vintage, when this vineyard was bought by the Scavino family and made as a single cru.

Bric del Fiasc is for sure the most representative Barolo of their estate. The Scavino family own this vineyard, located in Castiglione Falletto, from 1921. Here the Nebbiolo grapes were always the best: consequently in 1978 Enrico convinced his father Paolo to vinify these grapes separately and show for the first time the potential of this site. One of the first grand cru to be made as single vineyard Barolo. Image and identity of Paolo Scavino winery. Over the years Bric del Fiasc has been recognized as one of the best expression of Barolo and has been rated several times as one of the top wines from the most important wine experts and magazines.

Trying always to find the best expressions for his Barolos, Enrico, helped today by Elisa, has changed a bit in the years his vinification and aging process. Today the maceration and alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel rotofermenters is followed by 10 months of aging in 225 liters French barrels with only a 15/20% of new oak and other 12 months in big casks of 5,000 liters of French and Slavonian Oak.

Soon we will talk to Elisa Scavino about her winemaking philosophy and the use of different oak vessels for the ageing of their wines.

Photos (c) Paolo Scavino