Cellar

As I mentioned when introducing the castle, the cellars are extremely large, clearly showing the designers’ intention to obtain the best possible options for wine production. They are built on different levels and follow the conformation of the underlying hill. The upper level cellar has vaults approximately 3.5 - 4 metres high, and is used for ageing wine in 35-hectolitre Allier oak barrels, and for storing wines that are ready for delivery. This cellar has a very interesting annex: an ‘infernotto’ (traditionally the deepest part of the cellars) passing under the hill and the Neive houses, stretching for around 33 metres. This was the old larder, and in winter, snow was gathered here to preserve fresh and cured meats, eggs, cheese, and bottles of Nebbiolo wine. At that time, in fact, prior to the arrival of wine expert Louis Oudart, Nebbiolo was a sweet, sparkling wine, and therefore unstable in the warmer seasons. In this somewhat ‘specialist’ cellar, the temperature remains stable for most of the year, changing very little, making it the perfect choice for the delicate in-bottle fermentation of the Spumante Metodo Classico. Pinot nero vines were thus planted, and production began with the harvest of 1995. On the lower level we can see a courtyard, preserving a large rare steelyard and wine press, and this is where grapes are taken and production begins. The steelyard was used to weigh the grapes and wine carts as they entered and left. The press has an original, technically advanced bar pull system, with a monolithic stone base that was used right up until the birth of the Vaslin press and subsequently the Bucker press. This two antiques were installed by the wine expert Louis Oudart during the period he spent as a consultant to the Counts of Castelborgo. On this level, the cellar stands about 4.5 metres high – a significant feat at the time of its construction. Here we have the fermentation and treatment plants for red and white wine, with automatic temperature control and racking systems. There are also other rooms on this level, in which temperature control allows us to monitor malolactic fermentation, although we also use them as barrique cellars and to age wine in the 33-hectolitre Allier oak barrels. In 1996, whilst replacing the cement baths that had been built there with a rather more modern wine-making plant and automatic racking system, we discovered a second ‘infernotto’ dug into the tuff stone and probably used as a stable for small animals, sheep and goats - part of the complex on which the castle was built in 1700. The room had been closed off with a wall to prevent unpleasant odours from entering the cellar. And closed it remained... for 300 years!