It was late February. The sky over Barbaresco was low and dark.The landscape was bedraggled from the rains and snows of winter. Our friend Christian drove us down a series of rutted dirt tracks to arrive at a big, dejected farmhouse with tractors and tools lying around a U-shaped courtyard. A tall, bulky young man with a baby face emerged from the cantina. He introduced himself as Paolo. We walked around the edges of the deeply muddy vineyard, which faced south to southwest. The slope of the land was here gentle and there steep. The river Tanaro flowed, swollen with winter, at the edge of the property.
Paolo Veglio is a young man, barely 30, but he has been working in the fields since he was a little boy. He comes from a family of professional people -- his father is an architect -- but the only work he ever desired was in the fields and among the vines of his family's small estate at the edge of Barbaresco. All of which is to say he learned about wine-making from the old tenant farmers who used to work the property.
We stood outdoors chatting for a while. Then Paolo led us into a cellar that was as spotless and beautiful as any I'd ever seen. His mother had made up plates of tasting snacks, which we welcomed because we hadn't eaten lunch. She was watchful. We took our first sip of his base wine, a Dolcetto. We looked at each other in astonishment. The best Dolcetto any of us had ever tasted. Paolo's mother relaxed a little. But she watched everything we did and said; she spoke no English, but in truth our facial language communicated everything she needed to know.
Cascina Roccalini produces small quantities of four different wines: Dolcetto, Barbera, Barbera Superiore and Barbaresco. Domenico Selections will have them for this autumn. We can't wait.
Pedigree via Bruno Giacosa and Dante Scaglione: an interesting backstory
Paolo started making demijohns of Dolcetto for family and friends. In 1994 he was given Freisa to work with as a test. Bruno Giacosa's enologo, Dante Scaglione, took an interest in what the young man was doing. Soon Giacosa was buying Paolo’s grapes. This arrangement continued for a number of years.
Photo by Alessandro Franceschini, Lavinium
In 2005 Paolo started making wine under his own label. Paolo was the first (and still only) producer that Scaglione approached to offer his services after Dante set up his own consultancy in 2007. According to Paolo, Scaglione has no “formula” for making wine. He works to bring out the best in the fruit – and the fruit here is very good, especially as much of it comes from vines that are up to 50 years old.As Dante said in an interview on the excellent Italia wine site Lavinium last July, "Ma io collaborerò solo con chi penso abbia grandissime vigne".
I will only work with someone who I think has a great vineyard.
Paolo Veglio has the land, the vines, the knowledge and the passion to become one of the best Piedmontese producers of his generation.