Our land originated from the Balteo Glacier, which dragged soils rich in numerous minerals down from the Valle d’Aosta. This is how the Moraine amphitheatre of Ivrea was created, split in half by a river: the Dora Baltea. The variety of minerals can be found in the wine grown here and this is a characterising feature of our wine.
The peculiarities of our wines are linked to the characteristics of the climate and soil where our vineyards are planted and to the particular techniques and traditions that reside within us. The cradle and home of the appellation Erbaluce di Caluso is the Moraine Amphitheatre of Ivrea, created by the glacier that descended from the Valle d’Aosta during the Pleistocene. The soils were made up of the debris that was transported and placed by the glacier between 900,000 and 19,000 years ago, during ten ice ages. The resulting soil is rich in stone and consists mainly of sand, stones and pebbles. The valley of today’s Dora Baltea is the only one that has been carved through all the great tectonic plates of the Alps. For this reason, the Moraine Amphitheatre of Ivrea exhibits a wider variety of minerals than other amphitheatres in the Alps, with a rich presence of both silicate and carbonate metamorphic rocks. This particular wealth of minerals lends the wines a particularly rich savouriness.
The Moraine Amphiteatre of Ivrea
Seen in greater detail, the Moraine Amphitheatre of Ivrea consists of a low relief in the shape of a high plateau, particularly on the southern side: Erbaluce is grown between 200 and over 500 metres above sea level.
The vineyards are situated in loose, acidic soils, with a very recent matrix and good stone structure, made up of sand, pebbles, stones and a small amount of silt and clay.
These are poor soils that provide little stimulus for plant growth. However, as the roots of the vines penetrate deeper, they find richer soil in the underlying strata, sometimes with a fair percentage of clay.
Native grape varieties
The first news of the Erbaluce grape dates back to 1606, when it was mentioned by Giovan Battista Croce, jeweller to Duke Carlo Emanuele I, under the name “Elbalus”. Various theories regarding its origins have been formulated over time: the first is that it is descended from the Greco di Bianco grape and was brought to the in Canavese area by the Roman army after it left Thessaly and transited through Magna Graecia The second is that its ancestor is a variety of the French grape Clairette Blanche (widespread in the Cote du Rhone), and is therefore related to the Spanish Airen and the Greek Rhoditis, and that it arrived in Canavese area during the rule of Charlemagne. The last and most widely accepted hypothesis is that it is a true native Canavese vine, related to the Rhaetica or Raetica grape, mentioned in the days of Pliny the Elder (in the 1st century AD).
The ancient name of this grape, Albalux, seems to originate from the colour developed by the berries in autumn: the warm pinkish highlights become deeper, amber coloured, in the parts of the grape exposed to the sun.
Erbaluce is one of the most versatile grape varieties: it produces three different types of wine within the same appellation: still white wine, traditional method sparkling wine and passito. Erbaluce is able to accumulate sugars in medium concentrations while maintaining a considerable acid content. Its high natural acidity enables the production of excellent sparkling wines, endowing them with the capacity to age. It is also rich in extract, with low to medium alcohol potential, few free aromas, but several aromatic precursors. Erbaluce has a thick, crisp, resistant skin. The thickness of the skin offers good resistance to mould and excellent development in a humid environment like that which characterises the Canavese area and enables us to achieve excellent results with direct pressing, which is necessary to make excellent sparkling wine. The bunches are rather sparse, allowing excellent results with drying. Recognition of the appellation came in 1967: it was among the first Italian wines to be protected. Recognition of the Designation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin was assigned with the Decree of 8 October 2010, published in Official Journal no. 248 dated 22.10.2010.
The Erbaluce vineyard
The Erbaluce vineyard is traditionally cultivated in the form of a pergola.
The “Pergola Canavesana” or “Pergola di Caluso” has a flat top and a height of between 180 and 200 cm. The average vine layout is four metres by two metres, resulting in a plant density of 1300 vines per hectare. Traditional pruning is known as “three-pointed”, with three canes, each bearing ten buds at the end. There is a spur, a fruit cane, a two-year-old fruit cane and a third fruit cane on a three-year-old branch. This system means that all the main operations in the vineyard, pruning, green pruning and harvesting, must be done by hand.
The legend of the Nymph Albaluce
There is also a legend about the origin of Erbaluce. It is said that the moraine hills formed by the glaciers were once inhabited by nymphs. One day, a nymph named Alba saw the sun and fell in love. Theirs was an impossible love because the two lovers could not meet. The Moon decided that, when the Sun rose, she would not leave the sky, allowing the Sun to secretly reach the earth to meet his beloved nymph, Alba (which is Italian for dawn). That eclipse gave birth to Albaluce, a wonderful creature with dewy skin, lustrous hair and blue eyes. She was so beautiful that she became an object of veneration until the resources of the lake were no longer sufficient and new land had to be created for cultivation. A large canal was dug to let the waters of the lake flow out, but they swept over everything, spreading death. The nymph Albaluce wept with grief. Her tears fell to the ground and transformed into a vine laden with bunches of juicy white grapes. And so Erbaluce was born.
Il Neretto di San Giorgio
Tra i vitigni che coltiviamo, un posto speciale tocca al Neretto di San Giorgio.