Visiting Elio Sandri – Wine Guru of Barolo

Elio Sandri is one of the guru’s of Barolo. He has an amazing wine culture, respect for his land and the ability to explain all aspects of Langhe wines, with simplicity.

Elio is an artisan producer of Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barolo and Dolcetto in one of the most renowned areas of Piedmont, where unfortunately there are still too few winemakers who base their work on tradition and the search to enhance their terroir by reducing interventions in the vineyard and in the cellar to a minimum.

He welcomed us to the winery on a cold mid-April afternoon with a smile, a glass in hand, ready to treat us to a tasting and with a great desire to tell us about his idea of wine from the Langhe, without frills, but with a great deal of elegance.

Elio began dedicating himself to wine when he was still very young (his first harvest was at the age of 16) and he soon took over the reins of his family winery, Cascina Disa, which was founded in 1965 in the hamlet of Perno in Monforte d’Alba.

Cascina Disa has a long winemaking tradition: at the beginning of the 15th century there was already a settlement of monks who produced wine there.

The vineyards are planted all around the winery and Elio’s approach is completely natural: no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used, which break the balance between the vines and the land. The rows of vines are completely covered with wild herbs and during the growing season Elio only uses copper and sulphur to protect the plants. He uses no more than 700/g of copper per hectare per year however and he tries to use the bare minimum quantities of sulphur in the vineyard because he feels the effect can be felt in the wine. He prefers using orange essential oils to fight mildew.

Near the vineyard there is a dense wooded area that is preserved in order to provide a microclimate and biodiversity that he says is very important for his vines.

The cellar is built under the house and partly underground in the hillside: physically living above the cellar allows the winemaker to build a very intimate relationship with his wines.

Manual harvesting allows the best possible selection of the grapes that will be pressed in the search for maximum quality. The spontaneous fermentation contributes in a fundamental way to express the peculiarities of the territory and takes place in large old oak barrels and in cement wine vats, but Elio also experiments with small amphoras.

Time is the central theme of Elio’s work: wine needs patience and respect to be understood and exalted.

Elio is very careful with every manual operation in the vineyard, it is always a question of when, where and how. No year is the same, the vineyard has to be understood, just as each vintage has to be interpreted and, consequently, the work in the cellar also takes place with different timings and methods.

Even for Barolo Perno Vigna Disa, the top of the range, the ageing time in the barrels often changes: the minimum for the Barolo regulations, is 18 months, but there is no maximum limit for the time spent in contact with wood, in order to preserve both the integrity of the fruit and the longevity.

Elio let us taste some of his Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbera d’Alba, Barolo and Ciman, his Nebbiolo vinified and aged in cement, but with the same timings as a Barolo.

A visit to Elio’s is one of the best experiences you can have in the Langhe winegrowing area for a natural wine lover. You can find him on the Raisin app now.

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