Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa was founded by Antonio Scarpa* in 1854. Scarpa’s reputation was made beginning in the 1960s and 70s by Mario Pesce, whose father purchased the winery some years earlier. Mario was one of those souls who, while respecting the traditions and history of his region, was ambitious enough to think that they could do better – and specifically that the Monferrato could produce complex, age-worthy, and elegant wines. He spent time in Burgundy and Alsace studying French techniques in the vineyard and the cellar and used what he learned to experiment and develop more careful techniques in his own vineyards and cantina in the Monferrato. He came to be widely respected among wine producers throughout Piemonte, including by winemakers as diverse as Bruno Giacosa and Angelo Gaja.
The Monferrato had been known for Barbera for a long time, but no one treated it as anything other than an everyday wine until 50 years ago. In fact, the old tradition was to vinify Barbera as an everyday white wine! Mario Pesce and Giacomo Bologna were the first two producers to make an “importante” Barbera d’Asti, starting in the 1960s. They each chose to do it in a different style, Pesce using essentially traditional vinification and aging techniques, and Bologna modern ones. Out of their parallel efforts came Scarpa Barbera d’Asti ‘La Bogliona’ and Braida Barbera d’Asti ‘Bricco dell’Uccellone’.
Since the early-mid 1900s, Scarpa has been purchasing grapes from growers in Barolo and Barbaresco and bringing them to their own cantina in Nizza Monferrato for vinification and aging. In fact, Scarpa was among the first to bottle and label Barolo, in 1949, and they were among the founders of the Barolo and Barbaresco Consorzio. Because of Scarpa’s historical importance in the wines of these areas, the DOCG rules give them special permission to continue purchasing grapes and make Barolo and Barbaresco in their cantina in the Monferrato..
Farming and Vineyards:
The estate vineyard is in Castel Rocchero, in the province of Asti, 10km southeast of Scarpa’s cantina in Nizza Monferrato, or 30 km due east of Alba. The vineyard is on the border of the two parts of the Monferrato: the Monferrato Astigiano (i.e., around Asti) to the west and the Monferrato Alessandrino (around Alessandria) to the east. The total area is a contiguous 50 hectares, of which 27 hectares are planted. The rest is forests (including truffle forests!) and fields, which Scarpa deliberately leaves unplanted in order to maintain biodiversity and healthy vineyards.
The Barolo, Barbaresco, and Nebbiolo d’Alba each comes from a single grower with whom Scarpa has a long-term arrangement and whose farming Scarpa directs. The Barbaresco vineyard, Tettineive (2.5 hectares), is outside of Neive, near the cru of Cottà. The Barolo vineyard, Tettimorra (1.0 hectare), is near La Morra, between the crus of Bricco San Biagio and Roggeri. The Nebbiolo d’Alba vineyard, Bric du Nota (2.5 hectares), is in Monteu Roero, the highest of the Roero wine-producing villages
Farming in the estate vineyard is practicing organic for all the wines exception of Casa Scarpa. An average of 8 treatments with the classic Bordeaux mixture of sulfur and copper is used; soil is tilled between vines; and there are more than over 15 types of cover crops.
Scarpa has two winemakers: The chief winemaker, Carlo Castino, has been at the winery since the 1960s – for over 50 vintages now, and almost since the beginning of Mario Pesce’s era! Assistant winemaker Silvio Trichero started helping Carlo in 2004.
Grapes are hand picked and fermentation takes place with native yeasts with a pied du cuve. Only in rare circumstances is the fermenting wine must give a neutral yeasts. Nebbiolo based wines and Bogliona are transferred to 54HL botti. . Maceration usually lasts 10-12 days for Casa Scarpa, Brachetto, and Rouchet; 12-15 for I Bricchi; and 15-18 for Bogliona. Nebbiolo based wines get a minimum of 3 weeks. Filtering is a natural decant and cardboard filter at 5 micron. Wines are fermented dry to less than 1 gr./lt. of residual sugar and the total SO2 is around 100 mg. / lt. .
All of the red wines undergo extended bottle-aging in the cantina before release that lends all of the Scarpa wines their signature elegance. Each year some wine are continually added to the library to age even longer. The Scarpa library currently comprises 45,000 bottles dating back to the 1960s.
Total annual production is 90,000-100,000 bottles – that’s of 14 wines and 10 different grape varieties! Scarpa sells off a lot of fruit each year. 40% of the production is Barbera and 80% is from old vineyards.