Elvio Cogno

Piedmont, Italy


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The Elvio Cogno winery sits at the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello in the Langhe area of Piedmont, one of the 11 communes in which Barolo is produced. Ravera is the finest cru of Novello, encircling the top of the hill and the winery, reaching a 380-meter (1,246-foot) elevation, with breathtaking views in all directions. At sunset on clear days, a turquoise horizon frames the farm, hence the name “Petorchino,” or “blue feet,” for this vineyard land.

Surrounded by 11 hectares (27.18 acres) of sloping vineyards, Elvio Cogno produces 11 estate wines. These wines include four Barolo DOCGs: Cascina Nuova, Ravera, Bricco Pernice and Vigna Elena Riserva; two Barbera d’Alba DOCs: Bricco dei Merli and Pre-Phylloxera; Bordini Barbaresco DOCG; Montegrilli Nebbiolo Langhe DOC; Anas-Cëtta Nascetta di Novello Langhe DOC; Dolcetto d’Alba DOC; and Moscato d’Asti DOCG.

Valter Fissore and Nadia Cogno cultivate indigenous varieties — Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Nascetta — with organic vineyard practices (working towards certification), low yields per hectare and respect for the natural balance of the vine. The limestone-based soils deliver elegant Nebbiolo that Valter describes as “precise and pure”. The wines are meant to evoke memories of time and place.

The meticulously groomed vineyards are densely planted with 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare, vertically trellised and Guyot pruned, the rows oriented to take maximum advantage of the sunlight while traversing the hillsides to prevent erosion. Grasses are grown between the rows to hold the rainfall and soil in place and to encourage healthy microbial life in the soil. Many of the vines are 30 years old, with the Ravera vineyard 50 to 70 years old and the Pre-Phylloxera vines more than 120 years old!

The Pre-Phylloxera Barbera vines are remarkable not only for their age — they are one of the last archaic vines of the Langhe area — but primarily because they maintain the original Barbera characteristics, since the vines are ungrafted. Planted before the arrival of phylloxera in Langhe, located in Berri near La Morra village, the soil is very rich in sand which provides a natural protection against the phylloxera louse.

The climate is influenced by the Alps to the north and the Ligurian Sea (part of the Mediterranean) to the south. The intersection of these two opposing geographic features results in morning fog and large diural temperature changes. Elvio Cogno receives up to one meter (3.28 feet) of snow in the winter, plus spring showers, which eliminate the need for irrigation.


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Valter and Nadia take a very minimalistic approach to winemaking. Their philosophy is that terroir is the first and foremost determinant of a great wine. The less human manipulation, the more a wine’s true character is expressed — its personality, identity and elegance

“We work to respect the characteristic of the soil and the characteristics of the vineyard,” explains Valter.

“When you drink my wine I want you to understand this is Barolo, this is Nebbiolo, this comes from Piemonte. This is very important, I don’t want you to drink my wine and say ‘oh this is very good, but where does it come from?’”

Adhering to as natural a process as possible, native yeasts are used for all Elvio Cogno wines except the Moscato d’Asti (which is also their only wine that is fined and filtered, a traditional step before bottling this wine). Long macerations (skin contact through submerged cap) and slow fermentations with indigenous yeast at cool temperatures are used for the red wines, resulting in richer flavors and greater complexity.

Moving away from the French barriques that had become popular in Piedmont, their red wines are usually aged in the traditional large (used rather than new) Slavonian oak casks. This aging does not alter what mother nature has created — classic fruit-driven wines that are balanced and elegant, with well-integrated tannins and remarkable longevity. These are wines that evoke a sense of place and purity from the autochthonous varietals of Piedmont.

The Albeisa Bottle

The Albeisa bottle dates back to the beginning of the 18th century, when the Alba-area producers, wishing to distinguish their exceptional wines, adopted a bottle with a distinctive shape and named it the Albeisa, or Alba bottle. With the invasion of Napoleon, however, this bottle was gradually replaced by Bordeaux and Burgundy bottles. These were more economical, with a more regular profile since the glass was blown into molds that were perfectly cylindrical. In 1973, a small number of producers decided to resurrect the venerable Albeisa bottle, adding the name Albeisa in relief on the bottle. The wines of Elvio Cogno are bottled in the Albeisa, which is reserved for wines only from the official denominations of Alba, in the Langhe hills.