Cascina degli Ulivi is a Biodynamic estate winery in Novi Ligure in Alessandria province in the Tassarolo hills in the south of the Piemonte region, Italy. The main wines produced here include the Gavi DOCG white.
Owner: The late Stefano Bellotti (1958-2018). He died on 14 Sept 2018 (apparently whilst harvesting), having suffered from an illness. He was married to Zita. | See Natural Resistance.
Background: Stefano’s family arrived here in the 1930s. In a ‘phonecall on 06th Oct 2015 Stefano said ‘my grandfather Felice Bellotti bought the farm in 1936. Felice’s son was Roberto, my father, a medical doctor by profession, but an environmentalist by heart. So I grew up being sensitised to this way of looking at the world. I had three brothers, all of whom were more radical than me with their environmentalism. I was aware of the political protests of 1968 and went on my first environmental demonstration aged 14 in 1972 to prevent a rubber factory opening [at Diano San Pietro I think] in the Ligurian Apennines [it never opened], and another similar demo in 1974 or 1975. By the end of the 1970s though I was no longer into politics. I did my first harvest in 1975 but without the official paperwork. In 1977 I obtained my TVA [Value Added Tax] registration, aged 18. There was less than a hectare of vines, then. 2015 was my fortieth harvest.’ Stefano began working organically from the beginning, and introduced biodynamic methods in 1984.
Vineyards: 2002 14ha. | 2005 14ha. | 2007 16ha. | 2008 18ha. | 2013 ’22ha of vines, 10ha of arable land, 1ha of vegetables, 1,000 fruit trees, cattle and other farm animals,’ (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p187). Cortese (in the Filiagnotti and Monte Marino crus), Trebbiano, Malvasia, the small berried Dolcetto clone (Monte Marino), Moscato Rosso, Barbera (Monte Marino) plus another 12-ha of farmland for ble, garden.
Biodynamics: In a ‘phonecall on 06th Oct 2015 Stefano spoke of his biodynamic beliefs, telling me that ‘self-sufficiency makes sense. If you want good humans you need good earth. We are what we eat, and drink. Because the food we eat originates out of the earth it make sense to be kind to the earth. Modern farming has treated the soil with violence and hatred. It is an arrogant, short-sighted way of working.’ 500P is used twice, once in autumn on the vineyard soil and for the cover crops (legumes, crucifers, grasses and buckwheat) and again at end of spring, and in June when the cover crops are being ploughed in. Horn silica 501 is sprayed 2-3 times at the end of summer. Composted animal manure is seen to be too rich so cover crops are used instead (legumes, cabbages, grasses). 2kg/ha copper per year. No trimming.
Certification: 1981 Organic certification (AIAB). | 1985 Certified Biodynamic by Demeter Italia. 2015 Not on Demeter Italia’s list. | 2019 Member of Renaissance des Appellations.
Winemaking: Grapes are hand picked into small baskets. Foudres. Winemaking to CCIAA standard.
Semplicemente Bellotti Bianco: ‘Bellotti Bianco tastes like a Jura wine that has gone to Italy and been naturalized. Medium yellow in colour, the nose initially suggests a rich butter pound cake, with nut and citrus oils. Later, with air, the wine has a floral component, almost like lilies, with dry spice, quince, walnuts, and interesting Jura-like notes. Bitter walnut and churned butter aftertaste,’ says Doug Wregg (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011). | 2012 Piemonte. Cortese. No added sulfites (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p.152).
Monferrato Bianco, A Demûa: Doug Wregg says A Demûa ‘means “go and have fun” in the Genovese dialect. A field blend of five local grape varieties from a hundred year old vines: Timorasso, Verdea, Bosco, Moscatella (an old type of Chasselas) and Riesling. The grapes are from a single vineyard located in the foothills of the Apennines between Piedmont and Liguria. The pressed grapes are macerated and co-fermented under a submerged cap in large oak casks for one month. The skins are removed and the wine is returned to cask for one year before bottling. This is a true orange wine; golden in colour with a touch of tannin from the grape skins, almost nut-skin-like in appearance and flavour. Remarkable aromas of dried apricot, dried-flowers, pine and almond,’ (Caves de Pyrene list July 2015). | 2002 French oak, cream and very lively acidity ( Millésime Bio 2003). | 2004 Thick, orange peel, nice texture, and good weight, original (Millésime Bio 2006).
Monferrato Bianco, Montemarino: Mainly Cortese and 20% of unknown white grapes. Skin contact. Vinified in large botti. | 2001 Enjoyed this at Millésime Bio 2003. Elegant, soft, some gluey/cardboard at Mill Bio 2006. | 2002 Mineral core surrounded by ripe stone fruits, immediately appealing, elegant and clear, stylish at the Wine magazine tasting 2003. Bit herby for me, but again soft and rich at Millésime Bio 2006. €8.40 retail in 2005. | 2004 Concentrated fruit. Old wood comes through a bit at the end, but highly original, exotic without being too peachy, ripe skins here, peach stones and vanilla, but without any toffee bake (Millésime Bio 2006). | 2007 Cortese. 3 days of skin contact. No residual. Very rich, honeyed but dry at Millésime Bio 2009. Only bottled one month ago.
Monferrato Bianco, La Merla: A white wine named after a blackbird. | 2003 Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer. New oak (500-litre tonneaux on lees with batonnage. MLF) and some sweetness, vanillin, quite a heavy texture but interesting if a little clumsy (Millésime Bio 2006).
Gavi DOCG:1997 Clear nut, balanced palate, oxidised style, unusual. | 2001 Clean and quite intense (Millésime Bio 2003). | 2002 Slightly neutral aroma, but young and not fully evolved yet, crisp dry palate, slightly exotic twist to the fruit in the finish, mouthwatering at the at the Wine magazine tasting 2003. | 2004 Nice wild herb aromas, clean, bright straw colour, mid-palate has plenty of weight and softness and some wildness too at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2007 Rovere Oak aged. Oxidised. €7 prix public at Millésime Bio 2009.
IVAG: A No added sulphite wine. The name is Gavi spelled backwards.
Gavi DOCG, Filagnotti di Tassarolo: South west facing on red, acid soil. 100% Cortese. | 1997 2 days at 12ºC without fermenting ie skin contact, ferments in Slovenian botti. Shows acacia wood, vg. | 2001 Acacia wood, clean, good depth and minerality (Millésime Bio 2003). | 2002 Soft, appealing green apple nose with an attractive and intriguing apricot twist, lovely bright green colour, nice weight, exotic and ripe, soft acidity at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting 2003. | 2004 Labelled as Gavi del Comune di Tassarolo DOCG. €7.00 retail in 2005. Old vines vineyard, fermented in old acacia botti. Bit more complexity than the simple Gavi as the wood is interesting and the texture of the wine has more fibre, and the fruit has been lifted by the wood at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2007 Ages in 250-litre acacia wood with no racking/sulphur. Nice lift, fresh, interesting (Millésime Bio 2009).
Bwllotti Rosso: 2010 Vino da tavola Rosso. Mostly Barbera and Dolcetto, hand harvested and fermented in large oak “botti” and bottled with minimal sulphur (Les Caves de Pyrène list, July 2011).
Nibio, Terre Bianche: Made from Dolcetto or ‘Nibio’ in local dialect. | 2007 Piemonte. ‘No added sulfites,’ (Isabelle Legeron MW: 2014, p187).
Monferrato Rosso, Dolcetto Nibiô: Nibiô is the local dialect for Dolcetto. He split the vineyard in 2004 to make one wine from calcareous soils in ‘Montemarino’ and one from clay in ‘Terre Rosse’. | 1997 Texture, lovely finish. | 2001 Very crisp, delicious at Millésime Bio 2003. Attractive youthful ruby colour without being opaque, carbonic maceration, moderately intense, attractively grassy, nice even texture, ripe tannin, nice aftertaste too, not a blockbuster but very good at the Wine magazine tasting 2003. | 2003 Tannins a bit dry, and there is some carbon dioxide from MLF I think, and there is a bit of gas here too it seems at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2004 Nibiô Terre Rosse Nice bold colour, quite firm tannins, can feel deep roots here, and needs food as could be considered a bit aggressive (perhaps being too harsh), but as from clay will need time to settle at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2004 Nibiô di Montemarino Elegant limestone fruit and structure at Millésime Bio 2006. | 2005 Nibiô Botti. Bright & sweet, nice weight & freshness, clean, wild & firm at Millésime Bio 2009.
Piemonte Barbera, La Venta Quemada: Made with grapes from Brezza’s Tenuta Migliavacca. | 2001 90% Barbera, 10% Merlot. Good red fruit and fine acidity at Millésime Bio 2003. | 2004 90% Barbera, 10% Merlot. Nice soft cheesy plum fruit. Crisp, rich red fruit, appetising at Millésime Bio 2006. €5.70 retail in 2005.
Piemonte Barbera, Mounbè: 2001 Bright cherry and black fruit (Millesime Bio 2003). Pronounced youthful colour, very solid, soft new oak apparent, attractive clear fruit beneath, elegant tannins in a tidy finish at the Wine magazine tasting 2003. | 2004 Seductive style of bitter red fruit with plenty of width, moreish but plenty of structure too. Nice deep colour with a bright purple rim at Millésime Bio 2006. Bright colour, nice, wild and direct at Millésime Bio 2009.
Il Passito: Made from Moscato. Ferments in barrel for over 12 months. | 2000 Il Passito del Duemila, Vin da Tavola Bianco €14.00 retail in 2005. Earthy, sweet, slightly wild, but attenuated and a bit dull at the Wine magazine biodynamic tasting 2003. | 2001 Il Passito del Duemiluno, Vin da Tavola Bianco Deep toffee colour, quite an oily nose, bacon and bread nose, 16.0% alcohol, heavy toffee and vanillin, quite warm too, not really balanced but certainly unique at Millésime Bio 2006.
Other crops: 12ha of fruits, vegetables and cereals, plus a variety of farm animals = self-sustaining organism.
Cascina degli Ulivi
Strada della Mazzola, 12
15067 Novi Ligure (AL), Italy
Tel+39 0143.744598 |
Isabelle Legeron MW, Natural Wine, An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines grown naturally (2014, Cico Books, London & New York).
Wine magazine 2003 biodynamic wine tasting, 23rd April.