The Cantina Margherita Otto produces wine from one grape: NEBBIOLO
In the first vintages, I produced only a traditional assemblaggio Barolo.
By this method, the various vineyard parcels are co-fermented for maximum harmony and balance. The precise logistics and order of this work is entirely dependent on the conditions of the vintage and how and in what order the vineyards ripen. As each vineyard matures and is harvested, the fruit is added to tanks with fruit already in fermentation. This is called a “continuous ferment” and has fallen out of general use, but is consistent with older, traditional winemaking practices in this region.
On a practical level, the Monforte fruit typically ripens significantly later than the other vineyards, due to its high altitude and east-southeast orientation. In most vintages this means that the fruit arrives too late to be mixed in the vats with other fruit as those fermentations have already finished or are nearly finished. For example, in 2017 the Monforte fruit fully ripened about 3 weeks after the other vineyards and was fermented separately. The various 2017 wines were then mixed post-alcoholic fermentation for the extended maceration. In other vintages, such as 2015, the Monforte was ready to pick a few days after the Pernanno and Sotto-Rionda began fermentation and all the fruit was fermented in a single vat. Since 2017, I have left Monforte to ripen fully every year on its own time, and have subsequently had to ferment it separately, as it consistently gives the best result when picked about 2 weeks after the other vineyards.
For the alcoholic ferments, I use lined concrete tanks of 40 and 60hl with no temperature controls. The ferment is by indigenous yeasts. Typically 2 pump-overs are performed per day during the phase of active fermentation. Ferments typically take 10-14 days to reach full dryness.
Once the primary ferment is completed, the wine remains on the skins for an extended maceration. I use the ancient “cappello sommerso” method post-fermentation to submerge the floating pomace in the wine. This step gives the wine more structure, color and aromatic complexity. In a normal vintage the maceration period will go an additional 20-25 days after the end of the ferment, for a total of 35-45 days. Again, each vintage is different and the quality and characteristics of the skins determine the final maceration time – it is not a decision I impose on the wine.
After the extended maceration, the wine is pressed off the skins and racked to the concrete tanks or a stainless steel tank. 100% of press wine is used; it is immediately added to the free-run wine. After 6-8 days of settling, the wines racked off the rough sediments. The malolactic fermentation typically begins after this first rack off the rough lees and takes 10-20 days, depending on the vintage. The wines are racked to the wooden botti about a week after the malo finishes.
At Marghertia Otto, large oak casks are used for the aging.
The cantina has botti of 10, 25, 35 and 50 hectoliters, all made by the Mittelberger cooperage in Bolzano, Italy. The wood is French oak sourced in the Alsace chosen and worked for neutral flavor effect. A few smaller casks of 225 and 500 liters are used for wine that is left over after the casks have been filled. These barriques and tonneaux are purchased from reputable local wineries after at least 4-6 years of use so there is no flavor influence from the wood. During the cask aging period, the wines are typically racked no more than once per year, sometimes less if the wine develops normally.
After 32-34 months in wood, the wines are racked to a single large stainless steel tank in preparation for the bottling. A mobile bottling line with GAI and ENOS equipment is used and all of a vintage’s production is bottled on a single day for maximum consistency from the first to the last bottle. The wine is not filtered nor fined. Margherita Otto uses 750, 1500 and 3000ml Albeisa bottles.
The wine is put in the market in March of the fourth calendar year after the harvest.
The “Vino Rosso” experiments of 2012, 2013 and 2014 were made by the same methods as I use for Barolo, just in smaller quantities and with rudimentary equipment.
Beginning with the 2019 vintage, the Cantina produced a Nebbiolo Langhe. The same general methods are used as in the Barolo, but without the extended maceration and only 14-16 months in cask. The first release will be in June 2021 (if I am happy with the result!).
In 2017 and from 2019 onwards, I made about 200-220 bottles annually of Rosato di Nebbiolo. It is made from bleed wine of the Barolo after about 28-36 hours of skin contact. Not for sale, I make it for my wife Daniela, and then family and friends.