Orsola / Castello di Tassarolo
Ran by Massimiliana Spinola and Henry Finzi-Constantine, L’Azienda Vitivinicola Castello di Tassarolo is situated in the commune of Tassarolo in the heart of Gavi in Piedmont and consists of 20 hectares of vineyards that surrounds the winery. The variety of vines cultivated on the estate are “Cortese di Gavi”, Barbera and some Cabernet Sauvignon. The Spinola family, who has inhabited the castle in Tassarolo in some form or another since 250 AD, has been making wine from these vines since the year 1367! In 2006 Henry and Massimiliana began developing biodynamic methods of viticulture that guarantees the maximum respect for nature and the environment.
Henry, born and raised in London, is the first to develop working heavy horses in the vineyards in the North of Italy. He concerns himself with working the land and the health of the vines. He is collaborating with other experts in the field, in designing and developing draught equipment for biodynamic farming methods in the vineyards. He has also been a passionate student of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies for over 20 years, and applies this methods to his work in the vines. Henry currently holds courses that teaches the theory and practice of heavy horses within the vineyards, forest and fields. And is developing a nationally recognized certificate for the various fields of work suitable for implementing heavy horses, in regards on promoting heavy horse work in Piedmont.
Massimiliana works closely with their enologist Vincenzo to make the wines in the cantina. Together they have developed a method of making white wines without any added sulfur and without oxidative properties, a difficult feat for many involved in Natural Winemaking. They attribute much of their success in this endeavor to the health of the soil and grapes afforded by Henry’s biodynamic work.
Certified Organic (Bios) and Practicing Biodynamic.
Watch this interview we conducted with Henry and Massimiliana:
Awarded the Snail by Slow Food and featured in the Slow Wine Guide 2013. The Snail is awarded to a winery for the way they interpret values (organoleptic, territorial, environmental) in harmony with Slow Food.
Orsola Gavi DOCG
The compelling label of this brand new J&F collab is based on a portrait that the iconic Andy Warhol made of Orsola Spinola, a relative of the Castello di Tassarolo owner and winemaker Massimiliana Spinola. As Massimiliana herself tells the story: “Orsola lived in New York for a few years when Warhol was still alive – she collected many American artists’ works because she was passionate about American modern art, but she especially loved Andy’s art. In fact, she was so keen on him that not one, but two portraits of her were painted by Warhol, both still hanging in her house not far from our winery.” In homage to the beautiful Orsola, one of these unique works of pop art graces the label, and the wine was named after her.
Grape: 100% Cortese di Gavi
Vineyard: Marl, silty-clay, 300 meters ASL. Selection of various vineyards, all estate-owned and biodynamic- and organic-certified.
Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested in small crates (maximum of 19 kg) in order to keep the grapes as intact as possible. The grapes are then immediately pressed in a pneumatic press, and the best part of the must is transferred to temperature-controlled vats for the start of the alcoholic fermentation, using only indigenous yeast. The wine is fined (vegan-friendly), filtered and a small amount of sulfur is added before bottling.
Personality: Elegant and attention-worthy just like the lady on the label! Straw yellow color with green highlights, intense floral nose of orange blossom and camomille. Fresh, fragrant, light, lively and persistent – serve well chilled with a wide variety of dishes or just on its own.
Age of vines: 50 years
Yield: 10,000 bottles, 40 hl/ha
Altitude: 300 meters above sea level
Exposition: Slightly towards the north with good sunlight
Soil: 2 hectares of Marl, clay, and limestone, worked by horses
Varieties: 80% Barbera, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vinification Method: Hand harvested with no added sulfites. On average the wine ferments in 3 weeks with indigenous yeast only.
Tasting Note: Ruby red color with garnet tinges. Heady aroma with scents of ripe fruit. Warm, soft taste, spicy at the finish.