Solo Roero told by his triad
For many people three is the perfect number per excellence, though it has nothing to do with the perfect mathematical numbers. For Pythagoreans, in the theory of numbers, it represents the surface, where the first surface is triangular. For the Chinese it is perfect as a number of the cosmic totality: sky, earth, man. Even this story has as its lowest common denominator the number three: 3 winemakers, 3 friends, 3 companies. This story, in some way, has a close connection with the concept of Chinese perfection: they are men, who work the soil, dependent on the tasks of the sky. The three distinct characters, the friendship that unites them, even if not from childhood, and the sympathy of their relationship, stand out. The interplay of jokes, laughter and truth makes the interview pleasantly fluid and lively, flowing between a few glasses of wine, on a typical rainy October day.
Solo Roero is an association born partly for fun, partly for necessity, the result of the work of three beautiful wine cellars, who want to give voice, value and respect to their homeland: The Roero.
Their symbol is the tandem: the three wheels of the wagon, symbol of the Roero, adapted to a more modern means of locomotion such as the bicycle, revisited in a tri-tandem. In short, you have to pedal together, otherwise you won’t go on.
By Lodovica Bo
Who are the Solo Roero?
(Better called The President, I hope he won’t kill me because I wrote it)
Hectares: 3.5 hectares
Labels produced: 6 (not all on the market)
Representative label: Desaja
I am one of a few words, but it is difficult to tell you what brought me here in a few words. I have been an employee since 1995-2009, and I never thought of thinking about a second life from a professional point of view. In 2008 there was a significant economic crisis, and I started thinking about starting to do something that would respond to my inclinations and passions. Agriculture was not directly, even if the themes of ecology, nature, and the environment were. I was lucky to have 2 hectares of family, even though I was not the son of a farmer. My father was of the generation that had found it easier to live in working conditions than his parents, who had worked hard in the country. In 2009 I resigned and started growing some vegetables for direct sale with the idea of combining an educational farm. I didn’t live with this at the beginning, but I used to do various activities that allowed me to meet Alberto and Luca. In 2011 I started making wine after attending courses in organic and biodynamic agriculture, and I grew up until today, which is my main activity.
Hectares (5 hectares, in production 3)
Labels produced: 5 (4 every year and one, not every year depending on production and quality)
Representative label: Sandro d’Pindeta”.
I attended the school of winemaking in Alba: my idea was to make wine from the beginning. I grew up with my grandfather who, as a child, took me to the vineyard and to the bowling alley. Since they didn’t succeed with bowls,” he laughs “I decided to make wine. I lived his last years of winemaking in his cellar and decided to go back to doing what he did. When I finished school I started making some wines, with some vineyards that I was lucky enough to find again, part of the vineyards were cultivated by my parents, who, although working in the factory, continued to cultivate vineyards. From 2005 to 2009, I did some winemaking trials, fixed the cellar, worked in other vineyards, returning home to work only the weekend. Then, as an employee as I was, it became my main activity for 2 years now, and today I have Stefano working with me. Over the years, both vineyards and bottles have grown.
Hectares: 4 hectares
Labels produced: 6
Representative label: Valfaccenda White
I also went to wine school in Alba. My family historically made wine. My father’s grandfather had a winery in Valfaccenda, where we now have the winery, but it was closed in the 1960s. My father did something else, continuing the wine out of passion. I chose this path, not because of my vocation but because it seemed fun; then I did viticulture at the university. I was in a consulting firm; at the beginning, it seemed fascinating to me the opportunity to sell your knowledge and your experience. We had 0.7 hectares, and with Carolina, my wife, we decided to start. So we redeemed part of the vineyards, and in 2010 we started. Until 2013 we made wine in another winery, then in 2014, we made our own. The advice gave many guarantees, but there is a risk of making wines that are technically flawless, unassailable for maintenance, but in the end, remain a little empty. In the meantime, I had become passionate about wines that were less performing but more alive. We started with what was in the vineyard: Arneis and Roero. The reality in which I work now is profoundly territorial. I have always believed that these two varieties were two peculiarities difficult to replicate elsewhere.
How did the idea of Solo Roero as a collective come about and what is the objective?
Luca: Solo Roero was officially born in 2014 (they discuss the year and when they met.) It was nice to meet each other without being childhood friends because the personal relationship has grown without superstructures around. For me, it was all quite natural, we met, we saw the respective vineyards, and we liked each other. The association was the last thing we could think. We started to talk a lot and to compare ourselves. Then came the idea of the association: sharing tools for the vineyard and the cellar, for the sharing of expenses. Then we would taste wines together, both ours and those of others.
Carolina: Then, in the last 5 years, things have changed a lot here. There was no Roero consortium, and the quality and wines were more standardized in my opinion.
Luca: That’s true because at the time, we were the only three companies to produce the Roero Designation of Origin. After a while, we shared things and thoughts, we got together, and we decided to set up the Solo Roero association (the search for the motto was not easy). It’s a strange thing to stand up and say, “We come from the Roero, where delicious wines are made, and we are very proud to do so.” Only Roero at the beginning also served to differentiate us from our neighboring Langhe, valuing our land for what it is: in 2014, it was not so obvious. Then, in 2015, the consortium was born, so the Roero grew in fame and prestige.
To tell it seems beautiful.
Alberto: as far as the goals are concerned, they are difficult to say: we did not find ourselves with goals at the start. But we do not deny the good that has made us at certain times to be able to talk about Solo Roero and that people have written and spoken about it.
What is SOLO VINO, and why is it born?
Luca: SOLOVINO is an event that we created in April 2017, with a great need to have a party and to find a girl for Alberto laughing. Seriously, we created it to do something more tangible and institutional: it’s a day of celebration where we want to bring many wine producers following a theme. First, we meet the producers, then there’s a day of tasting, and then we have a party. The idea is to dance while drinking wine, something quite unusual today. Each company must bring the most straightforward wine it produces, to be used for dancing. The basic idea is also to resize the concept of wine by removing it from the pedestal and bringing it back to rural simplicity. We want to be ambassadors of our territory bringing companies from all over Italy because we believe very much in our fellow winemakers, and we need to show them the importance of this territory so that they can find a link between what they drink and the territory where it was produced. The concept itself is simple: let’s be the farmers, let’s press the wine. We are not pioneers. We make wine in areas where we make wine for a thousand years. It only changes that we have looked at these hills differently, seeing the beauty inside, being aware of this, without shame.
How would you define the Roero as a land and as neighbours of the Langhe? What is its identity?
Alberto: The fact that it is close to Langhe, in some ways, has been a fortune but also a deficit, we treated Nebbiolo vines as in Langhe, by mistakes made in the past: the vine is the same but on geologically different soils. Perhaps, out of ignorance, it was thought that the same vine could produce the same wine. The Roero is a land for a vegetable garden, fruit, so you have to bring those characteristics in the wine. In the last 30 years, we have often produced wines that were not technically territorial, and as ONLY ROERO; instead, we try to make regional wines thinking of this land as if it were very far from the Langhe.
Luca: all of us, for example, make red wine from pure Nebbiolo grapes, which in recent years are appreciated for this return to simplicity. For us, however, it is nothing new.
We manage to do what we like, and this perhaps makes us genuine about what we do: to understand where you are in a territory and what you want to do as a style, it takes years.
How do you define your production methodology?
Handicraft: without many labels compared to natural or organic, despite the fact that almost all of us are certified. In addition to taste, we need to think about how wines are made: it is a path that we have taken together. We want to respect the land, as well as the pleasantness of wine; in the end we just want to produce wine in a well made way, without extremism, but with awareness.
Difficult moments where you have found in the Solo Roero a help?
Alberto: The mutual aid of Solo Roero applies to all the difficult moments that each of us has. Thirty days ago, for example, when I had an unfortunate accident at work, close to the collection of the Arneis, I arrived home from the hospital, and I found myself all the team in my company to help me, and it was a very moving moment; This is the real value of Solo Roero, the one that makes you want to live and continue.
There has been a high return to the land of young people in recent years. What is the role that the winemaker has today, and what should he have?
Enrico (The President): The figure of the winegrower as a farmer practically does not exist anymore. Most of the companies in this area have lost contact with the vineyard: The owner no longer knows the vineyard. Today there is a large foreign community that turns out to be the salvation of the territory, and then hand it over to those who make the territory productive. It is a pity because, for me, the best moment is the contact with the land: it makes me feel alive. I think that wine has almost become an industrial product that no longer passes through the hands of those who go abroad to sell it and conduct the tasting. I don’t want to make a moral judgment, but it makes me think.
Luca: We travel around talking about territory, and then we don’t know it? A territory is made up of stories, people, moments, from being more or less intimately linked to that territory
If you liked the interview, you could find more information on: http://www.soloroero.it
Or by contacting the association at the following e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram: only_roero / Facebook: @soloroero