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Cascina Sòt, Monforte d’Alba (Barolo)

Cascina Sòt is a family run winery in Monforte d’Alba. In 1975, after years of sharecropping, at a time when many were abandoning the countryside, Giuseppe Sanso and his wife Maria bought the estate. Like most farmers, Giuseppe and Maria’s harvest was a mix of fruit, grain and grapes to sell in bulk.

In 2008, their son Leonardo Sanso and his wife Silvana took over the business and decided to focus exclusively on viticulture and the production of high-quality wines from their two hectares of vineyards. Leonardo’s vineyard knowledge combined with his desire to deliver top-tier wines led to significant improvements. Firstly, the old Dolcetto vines in the family’s best vineyards were replaced by new Nebbiolo grape varieties. The second big step was to acquire more land in Monforte to increase the production and the range of wines offered. In 2014, after working as an oenologist in a few local wineries, Maurizio Sanso, joined his parents determined to further improve the quality of Cascina Sòt wines and take the business to the next level. More recently, Maurizio’s younger sister Lorena joined the firm to run the office and marketing activities.

The Sanso family today owns 19 hectares of vineyards mostly located in the highly regarded Bricco S. Pietro subzone in Monforte. Bricco San Pietro is the second largest Cru in the commune of Monforte d’Alba, preceded only by Bussia. It is located along the west side of Monforte, on an altitude ranging from 250 to 520 meters above sea level and its soil, like Bussia’s, is formed from clays, limestone and Sant’Agata fossil marls, a very ancient soft rock dating back 10 million years.

Cascina Sòt produce two Barolo from their best vineyards in Bricco San Pietro. The straight Barolo is made from 25 years old vines located in the upper part of the hill. The Barolo Bricco San Pietro is made from the family’s oldest vines, which are about 88 years old.

In the vineyard, the Sanso Family follows “Lotta Integrata” principles, which is a sustainable agricultural method increasingly followed in Europe focused on protecting the environment by significantly reducing the use of chemicals and pesticides and by implementing measures to protect the crops and the surrounding environment. Under the “Lotta Integrata” regime, wineries must follow specific practices in the cellar as well and are subject to annual inspections by the local authority. Several tests are run on the soil and the winery is inspected to ensure that all requirements are duly met.

A balanced green harvest is conducted throughout each growing season, undertaken usually three times before harvest:

1. during fruit set (i.e. when the flower starts developing into a grape) first selection;

2. during Veraison (i.e. when the grapes start to grow and change colour) second selection; and

3. 10 - 15 days before harvest, third selection, where unwanted clusters are removed. This ensures that at time of picking, all grapes are healthy and in perfect condition.

Work in the cellar is traditional and focused on maintaining the quality of the wine throughout the entire vinification lifecycle. The grapes arrive in the cellar instantly after picking and a further manual selection takes place (normally overseen by mum Silvana and her daughter Lorena) before crushing commences. To further improve the quality of the juice, the family uses a special machine called a “Buratto”, a cylindrical steel turbo tumbler used to separate the grapes from their stalks.

After crushing, a slow and gentle fermentation takes place in stainless steel (for the Barolo) and in traditional open wooden vats (for the Barolo Bricco San Pietro) at controlled temperature.  

Pump over and foliage is entirely manual. 3 pump-overs and 3 punch-downs are carried out daily during fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is spontaneous and for certain wines takes place in wood (to enhance perfumes and colour concentration).  Another technique used by the family to maintain homogeneity in the juice is to increase the temperature of the winery, rather than increasing the temperature of the vats (as most producers do) to push the Malolactic fermentation to completion. This practice, Maurizio believes, guarantees a gentle and uniformed fermentation.

Traditional large Slavonian oak 'botti' are used for ageing the Barolo straight, which normally spends 32 months in wood. The  Barolo Bricco San Pietro is aged in 60% in new French oak tonneaux and 40% in used barriques for 28 months. The Riserva ages in French oak tonneaux for 24-32 months.

All wines spend a period of time to rest in stainless steel prior to bottling: 6 months for the straight Barolo, 12 months for the Bricco San Pietro and 54 months for the Bricco San Pietro Riserva.

During the entire vinification lifecycle, the wine goes through at least 30 lab tests to ensure top quality and the total absence of defects. This is how you achieve purity and elegance according to the family, by meticulously monitoring quality every step of the way and by making the necessary adjustments to ensure the final wine in the bottle is absolutely perfect.

From 2018, the Sanso family decided to label their straight Barolo as a “Barolo del Comune di Monforte d’Alba” to further highlight the fact that the juice for this wine comes exclusively from their vineyards located in the commune of Monforte.                                                                                       

From 2019, the Sanso family started a special limited production of a Metodo Classico 100% Nebbiolo Blanc de Noir Millesime Pas Dose, which spends 36 months on the lees. Quantity produced is very limited (1400 btls only) and the wine will be released in May 2023.

Most recently, the family acquired an impressive 50hl “Tino” barrel from the famous Austrian maker Klaus-Pauscha. The Sanso family never rest from their communal efforts to constantly push the quality of their wines higher.

The arrival of Maurizio back in 2014 has certainly played a fundamental role in the development of the cantina. His meticulous attention to detail, together with great respect for the Langhe traditions and forward-looking ambitions are unparalleled.

Cascina Sòt has established an emerging cult following across the globe in the last few years thanks to the superb quality of their wines. The question now is how much longer can the Cascina Sòt wines continue to remain the perfect example of an “insiders Barolo” ?  

Ultravino is deeply honoured to have played a role in bringing this exceptional Monforte winery to the attention of discerning fine wine lovers in the UK and the Far East.   

Ultravino is the UK exclusive importer

Wines:

Barolo Docg

Barolo Docg, Bricco San Pietro

Barolo Docg, Bricco San Pietro Riserva