The history of the Cieck Estate
We are in San Giorgio Canavese, Piedmont, between the towns of Turin and Ivrea, where we cultivate 13 hectares of vineyards. Our grapes are almost all Erbaluce, an ancient white grape variety native to the Canavese district. The rest are also native varieties: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Neretto and Freisa. What makes this area special is the use of the “pergola” vine training system, which creates large canopies in the vineyard. With this system we have to reach up to harvest the grapes. The estate was established in 1985, just a few kilometres from San Giorgio, in Aglié. Initially, it was just for fun. The intention was to become a small producer of sparkling wine. Remo, a typewriter designer for Olivetti and the son of farmers, travelled to France to learn how to make sparkling wine. In 1985, he set up the estate with just a few hectares of vineyard and vinified his first harvest: just over 2,500 bottles of Erbaluce Metodo Classico. It was released for sale in 1987. This was the debut of the Cieck estate, named after the old farmhouse in Aglié where it all began. Since then, we have moved to the locality of Castagnola, in San Giorgio Canavese.
There are three of us: Domenico Caretto is the agronomist, and he takes care of the vineyards and the cellar; Lia Falconieri handles administration, the commercial side of things, and communication; Remo Falconieri, the founder of the estate, “the Archimedes of bubbly” as christened by Carlin Petrini. At the age of 80-plus, he’s the first to arrive in the cellar every morning, at 8 o’clock.
Every vineyard has a name, a soul and a history
The oldest is Misobolo, which is now the name of our Erbaluce. We still have an original, ungrafted vine here which is almost 100 years old. It was planted at the beginning of the 20th century, before the phylloxera attack. Obviously, we look after it very carefully. Misolobo is a historical placename within the town: it is now home to a sanctuary where the opera singer and muse of Gioachino Rossini, Teresa Belloch, is buried. This is where Pietro Falconieri, Lia’s great-great-grandfather, used to grow his grapes at the end of the 19th century. Fascinated by the new-born Martinotti method, he tried to apply it himself, with a very sturdy barrel. This was “vin sfursà”, which fermented spontaneously in the barrel until Easter week, when it was time to draw it from the barrel and drink it. Then there’s the Brajassa vineyard, which belonged to Mariuccia, Domenico’s aunt; the Castagnola vineyard; the Cascinetto vineyard; and the Biaulej vineyard (Le Betulle). The Freisa vineyards belong to Carlin, Domenico’s father. We keep cultivating two small rows of Pinot Grigio which belonged to Grandpa Giacomo, out of the love of our heart.
Vigneto Misobolo: these are our historic vineyards. Since 1990 it has been the name of our Erbaluce. Today we also mention the name of the vineyard on our label. About 1.8 hectares of land.
Vigneto Brajassa: this vineyard was owned by Mariuccia, Domenico’s aunt and godmother. Over a hectare of Erbaluce.
Vigneto Castagnola: the rows that embrace our new winery. Just under a hectare planted with Erbaluce.
Vigneto Cascinetto: a small vineyard planted by Marilena and Remo, shortly after their wedding in 1968. It was all Erbaluce. Even today, Marilena still drinks only white wine.
Vigneto Biaulej (Le Betulle): rows of Nebbiolo, Neretto and Erbaluce.
The new winery was built in 2013 in the heart of the Erbaluce vineyards, in a vineyard already owned by the estate in San Giorgio Canavese
A modern, technological project but also green, to meet the estate’s new needs, including the need to save energy. We have solar panels for the production of hot water, a plant-based purification system for the treatment of wastewater in the cellar, and the recycling of rainwater for reuse to clean farm vehicles.
The fermentation cellar is equipped with modern, temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. All fermentation of the wines is temperature controlled. The cooling cell is used to store the grapes during harvest when the weather outside is extremely hot. If necessary, it can be heated to initiate the malo-lactic fermentation of red wines
this is where we store our traditional method sparkling wines, which rest on lees for many months, and the red wines that need refining. We use barriques and tonneaux for the ageing of our white, red and passito wines. We arrange the bottles of Metodo Classico in pupitres: this is where we perform manual remuage, i.e., the regular rotation of the bottles, positioned neck down in the racks, so that the sediment settles on the cork
this is the room where the Erbaluce grapes that will become Alladium are dried out. The drying process is completely natural and unforced. We still use a traditional technique dating back to the 19th century: the bunches are selected and hung one by one on special frames. This allows greater ventilation of the bunches and protects them from the development of mould and harmful bacteria without hindering the action of botrytis, noble rot, which characterises the passito. The bunches remain there for 4-5 months, from September to January/February. Then the grapes are destemmed and gently pressed. The first fermentation takes place in steel, then the passito spends at least five years resting in small French and Slavonian oak barrels. The barriques allow good oxygenation but need to be refilled periodically because the wood absorbs a lot of product.
We are members of the Fivi, Federazione italiana vignaioli indipendenti, which acknowledges the value of estates with their own winemaking chain: from the grapes in the vineyard to the wine in the bottle. www.fivi.it
ASSOCIAZIONE NAZIONALE LE DONNE DEL VINO
Lia is a Woman of Wine. A member of Le Donne del Vino, the Italian Association which unites of 900 businesswomen. Established in 1988, its members include winemakers, restaurateurs, wine store owners, sommeliers and journalists