Cascina Valle Asinari is one of Piedmont’s most historic wineries and estates. It is located in San Marzano Oliveto (Asti province), in the rolling hills of Monferrato in an area known as the “valley of the donkey wranglers” (asinari comes from asino or donkey). Here, Barbera grapes grown on sandstone and limestone soils achieve their greatest potential thanks to the ideal conditions for the production of Barbera d’Asti Superiore and Nizza DOCG. (The second of these is one of Italy’s most recent and most exciting appellations while interest in the first is becoming increasingly popular on both sides of the Atlantic.)
The owners farm the estate’s roughly 20 hectares using organic farming practices and the winery is currently in the process of receiving its organic certification. But its future is biodynamic.
One of the things that sets this small winery apart from its peers is that the winemaker at Cascina Valle Asinari uses spontaneous fermentation during vinification. This means that the wines are not inoculated using cultured yeast. Instead, they let fermentation begin with naturally occurring, “ambient” yeast that lives on the grape skins and in the winemaking facility. As a result, these wines — including their Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore, and Nizza DOCG— are the purest possible expression of the estate’s terroir.
The wines are mostly aged in classic botti — large-format Slavonian oak casks — typically used by traditional-style winemakers in Piedmont. But some aging is also carried out in a mix of large-format casks made from French and Slavonian oak, with different degrees of toasting.
Cascina Valle Asinari also produces a top traditional-style Moscato d’Asti DOCG, considered a classic among its peers.
Did you know?
The winery’s Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore, and Moscato d’Asti are considered classics of Piedmont viticulture today. Thanks to its organic farming practices and traditional winemaking style, the estate’s Nizza (100 percent Barbera) has swiftly established itself as a benchmark for Piedmont wines.