The Underground Cathedrals … of wine?

Some cathedrals announce their presence with lofty spires that draw the eye skywards; Milan, Cologne, Westminster etc. But others are hidden away underground, and you might never even know they are there unless you have visited them for yourself. The latter can be found in the area of Asti in Canelli, capital of Italian sparkling white wine (Spumante) since 1850 when Carlo Gancia imported the “champenoise” method from France.

Recently they have been called “Underground Cathedrals”, with naves, ambulatories, transepts, and large cross vaulting that would not be out of place in the great cathedrals you might find on the surface. Built from exposed brick set into the tuff hills, they constitute authentic masterpieces of architecture.

These cathedrals of spectacular beauty, uniqueness and historicity are composed of galleries, underground passages, long corridors and broad vaults emphasized by a clever play of light that highlights the imposing excavation works and exposes, in certain areas, the tuff of Canelli.

The cathedrals have their origins as small conservation caves, likely built during the XVII century, and remodelled and enlarged throughout the centuries into the form they take today. Built in order to preserve land products, salt, and other goods that passed along the trade routes for Savona and Vado Ligure -historical ports and commercial hubs on the sea of Canelli – 15 kilometres of underground galleries, reaching 40 metres in depth, stretch below the ground of Canelli.

Over time wine became the primary good produced in the area, and the calcareous tuff of Canelli proved to be a precious ally to winemakers. Hard to carve and incredibly stable; it is a perfect insulator and thus maintains a constant humidity and a temperature between 12 and 14 degrees – ideal conditions for the aging of great wine. For this reason, starting from the second half of the IX century and during the first years of the XX century, several kilometres of galleries were dug under the city of Canelli. These galleries served not only for the storage and aging of wines, but also for the entire process of winemaking. The remains of this process (presses, filtering systems, vats, barrels and machines) are still visible today and stand as tangible memories of the past.

Some of these Cave-Cathedrals (in which darkness protects the wine during the long and delicate stages of its preparation) have produced the most prestigious sparkling white wines (Spumanti) with the traditional method. While visiting, you could be lucky enough to see the “cellarman” working on the bottles that are in the “pupitres” (he works on every single one of them every day, and there are thousands).

In summary, these are the main stages that are carried out in the production of the wine:

  • Over the course of the first period in the cave the wine acquires its “perlage” and the complexity of a bouquet from the fermentation process. It is during this stage that the bottles become frothy;
  • The bottles are then transferred to the “pupitres”, which are the wooden wine holders that have become the symbol of the Classical Method. Here, every day, the cellarman rotates every bottle 90 degrees and inclines it towards the ceiling for the sediments to deposit in the bottleneck;
  • The process continues with the “degorgement”, during which the cap of the bottle is gently removed to eliminate the sediment. In the last phase the “liqueur d’expedition” is added, which is a secret dosage of wines, sugar cane and other ingredients that give a unique touch to each one of these sparkling wines.

Thanks to their beauty and importance, the “Underground Cathedrals” have been recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO within the “Wine landscapes of Piedmont: Langhe Roero and Monferrato”.

I highly recommend you experience the magic of these unique and charming sites in person!
They can be visited by making an appointment:

Web site Reservations
BOSCA cantine@bosca.it
CONTRATTO visite@contratto.it
GANCIA franco.ferrero@gancia.it
COPPO www.coppo.it/cantine

 

Enjoy your visit and wine tasting!

Giovanna

Moccagatta_cole

The town of Barbaresco is easily recognizable from the lookout tower (XI sec.) With a square plan, the building probably belonged to a system of watch towers that had developed along the Tanaro river on the territory of the cities of Asti and Alba, heritage the Duchy of Monferrato.

From the top of the tower you can see all the surrounding countries, the course of the river Tanaro, Alba, Cherasco on the one hand, on the other Asti. The most famous of the wines produced in the municipal area is the Barbaresco who took the name from the country and made him famous.

Moccagatta Winery

Moccagatta_bric balinSergio and Francesco with their respective sons Martina and Stefano carry on the business of their father Mario that inherited in 1952 the cascina Moccagatta. In the 12 hectares of vine between Barbaresco and Neive grow Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Chardonnay for an average annual production of 65,000 bottles.

The search of a balanced production, a special care over the vines from pruning to green harvest in summer, and the use of modern facilities and equipment in the cellar have turned out to be fundamental to produce high quality wine.

Moccagatta_bric balin buschet

The soil characterizes the three single vineyards Barbaresco. Basarin from Neive with a sandier soil is more elegant and richer in perfume, Bric Balin inside the appellation Muncagota in Barbaresco is richer in clay that produces a powerful and fruity wine, Cole, closer to the center of the village of Barbaresco, is more complex, full-bodied and concentered thanks to the Sant’Agata marl.

WINES

Barbaresco                                                            moccagatta_degustazione

Barbaresco Basarin

Barbaresco Bric Balin

Barbaresco Cole

Langhe Nebbiolo

Barbera d’Alba

Dolcetto d’Alba

Langhe Chardonnay Buschet

Langhe Chardonnay

                                                  

                                                

VISIT AND TASTING ON APPOINTMENT                               moccagatta_cantina bottiglie

MOCCAGATTA

Strada Rabajà, 46 – 12050 Barbaresco (CN) Italia

Tel 0039 0173 635228 – Fax 0039 0173 635279

e-mail: info@moccagatta.eu – www.moccagatta.eu

Monferrato wines
I present a beautiful-young-old company that produces excellent wines in the nearby Monferrato, knowledge comes from my great love for the Barbera d’Asti and initial encounter with Claudio exciting. Guests were from them for a tour and tasting were happy for both the rich tasting and for the warm welcome and again for the great expertise of Claudio.
Duilio Da Casto Winery

Our winery is a small family business that has been passed down for five generations. 

Our 7 hectares of vineyards are located in an area close to Agliano Terme. This area has  been identified as one of the most suitable terroir for the production of the Barbera grape.

Duilio My father takes care of the vineyards, the true heart of our winery, with the invaluable help of my mother Gabriella and my uncle Felice.

I have completed studies in Viticulture and Enology and now do my best to make and develop our wines.

The simplicity and the constant search for quality are the philosophy of our company, which produces wine that respect the land as well as the plants. Throughout the process we are inspired by the values that have been handed down by our ancestors. 

Claudio Dacasto

Wines

  • Monferrato Bianco Arneis “Vianus”
  • Vino Rosato “Vianus Rosè”
  • Piemonte Chardonnay “Bourg”
  • Barbera d’Asti
  • Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Camp Riond”
  • Monferrato Rosso “Forestiero”
  • Vino Spumante Metodo Classico Brut “Quattro”

Cellar, Vineyards and Tasting room – Fraz. Vianoce n.26, 14041 Agliano Terme

Vineyards and Tasting room – Fraz. Salere n.57, 14041 Agliano Terme

Tel. +393339828612
www.dacastoduilio.com
info@dacastoduilio.com

Between April and October every day from 5 to 7 pm , the rest of the year only with booking

It’s always well-accetped small notification before the tasting

Booking of the Tasting and tour of the winery: +393339828612 

Languages we speak

Italian, English, French

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