LA RAIA, biodynamic estate in Novi Ligure the Gavi DOCG region of Italy. In 2001 Giorgio Rossi Cairo (see also Cascina Cucco) bought the La Raia, Cascina del Melo and Cascina Bergaglio estates, creating a single 110 hectare estate. It is managed by Caterina Rossi Cairo and Tom Dean, who live here with their children, Matthias and Elena. They organise summer camps for children. Use the fields for cereals grown in rotation. In 2015 I was told told has a new venture called Porta Natura which sells fruit and veg.

VINEYARDS | 2013 Tom Dean told me La Raia has 32ha of vines in total, 55ha of fields and 30ha of oak forests. The vines comprised 30ha of Cortese, and 2ha of Barbera. The vines were conventionally farmed until 2001 when Tom Dean took over. 400 metres. 4,500 vines/ha. 9-70 yo Cortese. Barbera on well drained, south-facing slopes. Planted with an old massale selection it seems. Single guyot with 6 buds. Cover crops like rye for its deep taproot to open the soils. Bacterial sprays for powdery mildew, plus sulfur. 2019 Tom said he had planted over 6 hectares of new Cortese vineyards for making Gavi DOCG. 

BIODYNAMICS | Tom Dean told me he converted to biodynamics with help from the late Stefano Bellotti of Cascina degli Ulivi. | 2019 Tom said ‘the biodynamics are run on same principles – cows in pasture, cereals, and alfalfa. Green manuring in the vineyards.’

CERTIFICATION | 2006 Full Demeter Biodynamic certification from summer 2006. | 2019 Still certified by Demeter Italia.

WINERY | 2,500+ square metres. Created by architect Ivana Porfiri. Has a glass crystal facade behind which are the stainless steel tanks, plus a rammed clay wall sheltering the winemaking equipment. In building the wall the ancient ‘Pisé’ technique was used, whose clay walls were traditi onal in Gavi until the modern era. Austrian Martin Rauch, who pioneered modern technical applications for traditional rammed earth construction, advised on this project.

WHITE WINES

GAVI DOCG | 2004 Hand picked. Destemmed. Pressed. Static settling apparently. Lees aged. Around 47,000 bottles annually. Lovely crisp clear mineral style white, bright light straw colour, soft, ripe, clean nose, not estery or woody, but delicate white peach; fine acidity and a lovely clear aftertaste in Sant’Angelo in Colle, March 2006. | 2010 60,000 bottles. Nice broad Gavi taste at Millésime Bio 2012. | 2013 Some spritz, nice and creamy, clean at Millésime Bio 2015. | 2014 This was a bit glue-like at Hawkwood 16-17th Nov 2015. | 2018 13% alc. Bright fruit in NYC in 29 June 2019 during my VIA BD presentation.

GAVI DOCG, PISE | From single old vine vineyard in Novi Ligure. The oldest vines of La Raia. The soil is dry, sandy and with a characteristic light colour. It is well drained and de-grassed from springtime to the end of summer. 400 metres above sea level. South, south-west exposed promontory. Hand picked. Destemmed, Pressed. Stainless steel, temperature control. Lees aged. | 2004 Lovely crisp clear mineral style white, bright light straw colour, soft, ripe, clean nose, not estery or woody, but delicate white peach; fine acidity and a lovely clear aftertaste but just a bit more concentrated than the ‘La Raia’, with lees aging giving it a hint of breadiness in Sant’Angelo in Colle, March 2006. | 2009 15,000 bottles.

GAVI DOCG, TERREBIANCHE | Old vines. Hand picked. Destemmed. Pressed. Static settling it seems. Lees aged. Around 4,000 bottles annually.

RED WINES

PIEMONTE BARBERA | Hand picked. Around 3,400 bottles annually. | 2013 Steel. Nice simple modern plum, tanky, bit green at end at Millésime Bio 2015.

PIEMONTE BARBERA, LARGE | Largè = ‘generoso’ in local dialect. 18m in oak. | 2010 Rich oak, a bit anonymous, cedary, blackcurrant-like, heavy too for a Piemontese wine, but also interesting at Millésime Bio 2015.

CONTACT

La Raia, Strada di Monterotondo, 79

I-15067 Novi Ligure (AL = Alessandria), Italy

Tel+39 0143.743685 | www.la-raia.it