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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Wine Masters: Piedmont

Difficulty: 0

[woman] There are some wines, Nebbiolo based wines in particular,

that are so beautiful you almost don't need to drink them.

You can just sit with them for hours, and they keep releasing more and more perfume.

[woman 2] There are a lot of delicate perfumes, a lot, many,

so delicate that you're always chasing for them.

And they are so delicate that they come out in different moments

and when one is finished the other one starts, and go again.

Unless you understand the variety and what you're supposed to do with it,

it can just taste horrible.

Certain wines are harder to approach than others,

and Barolo is certainly one of them.

Seeing the master of Barbaresco apply his skill and his craft to Barolo...

It's the best of both worlds.

Don't be sure that this is the truth. Keep the doubt.

Always keep twenty, thirty percent of doubt.

[woman] We know nothing, my father is very keen in reminding us.

Because when you think that what you're doing is correct,

then there is no margin for improvement.

My father had this idea to make a Barbaresco more important than Barolo.

It was a crazy idea. Nobody thought that this would be possible. Unthinkable!

[man] Piemonte is in the northwest of Italy,

it's on the border of France and Switzerland.

The name means "foothills." It's in the foothills of the Alps

and they grow a particular black grape variety there called Nebbiolo.

It's quite hilly in the Langhe where these grapes are grown

and you get a lot of fog in the autumn,

and so "Nebbia" is the Italian word for fog.

[woman] The word Langhe means Tongue,

because you always see a row of hills and than behind you can see

the top of the other hills and then another row, another row...

so they look like long tongues, one over the other.

You can't immediately notice the stunning beauty of this area,

you have to stay here a little bit,

because it can be a foggy day and it takes time.

With the Nebbiolo it's the same, it shows itself little by little.

So I guess the personality of the area and the personality of the wine are matching.

Maybe that's why Nebbiolo loves to stay here.

What is special about wine made by Nebbiolo grapes?

They are unique.

[Gaia] It's really a variety that shows how less can be more.

It's a variety that is allowing the terroir to talk.

It's allowing the vintage to talk.

[Angelo] It has a personality, a distinctive character

and when you taste Barolo and Barbaresco you understand

that there is a site where the wine is produced, and not everywhere.

[Gaia] In the area of Barolo and Barbaresco the soil is quite homogeneous,

there is clay and limestone everywhere.

In Barbaresco where the soil has a little bit more sand,

we say that Nebbiolo comes out more open, more perfumed with softer tannins.

This is what Barbaresco is.

When you talk about Barolo, the Barolo area has much more compact soil, clay,

and so you get much more compact tannins and more bold wines.

That is why the Barolo are considered the masculine expression of Nebbiolo.

People tend to say, Barolo is masculine, Barbaresco is feminine.

No, I don't agree with that.

I think basically they're the same wine made in two different areas

and the quality levels are comparable, they're like twins.

It's not difficult to grow any vine anywhere, vines will grow, you know.

Out in the wild they are parasites, they grow up trees.

If you want to get top quality fruits, that's a very different question.

Now, with a variety like, say Chardonnay,

it's very easy to get ripe fruit, but with a variety such as Syrah

or Nebbiolo or Pinot Noir,

it's very difficult to get really good quality fruits.

The climate has to be correct,

the exposure has to be correct and the soils have to be correct.

And when you get those combinations, you'll get great wine.

[Sarah] With grape ripening obviously you need the sunshine for the photosynthesis

so you get enough sugar in the grapes.

But you also want something that keeps the grapes cool, particularly at night,

so that they're able to hang on to their acidity,

which is a really critical factor in balance.

The Piemonte has this lovely fresh wind,

but also the gentle sloping hills that you have in Piemonte.

These provide different exposures to the sunshine

that produce very different characteristics.

Because if you go along a slope, if you go around from one side to another,

just the direction that the vines are facing relative to the sun,

will really have an impact on the way that the grapes taste.

[Sarah] Vines have a choice, like all of us.

They can either thrive in their current environment

and put out lots of leaves and shoots and try and get as big as possible,

or, if it feels like it's in a bit of a challenging environment,

it'll try to produce some really enticing, attractive, aromatic, beautiful fruit.

Nebbiolo tends to lean towards being vigorous

and really putting out a lot of green material.

[man] Green harvest is something that

my grandfather and my father started in the 1960s.

Green harvest means basically cutting some of the bunches,

so that the vine is not stressed and the vine is not focusing

on the production of quantity but focusing on the production of quality.

[Gaia] We monitor vigor in many different ways.

One way is paying attention for example to the pruning.

So we prune only when the moon from full is going down again.

Because that's a moment when everything has lower vigor on earth.

So when you prune then, the vine is going to keep lower vigor during the year.

[Giovanni] Pruning is one of the most delicate processes.

We have about 55 people working with us in the vineyards

and only eight of them are the ones that have been trained and know how to prune.

So in these three months of the year

their job is basically cutting the fruit canes from last year

and selecting which one is going to be the fruit cane for the current year

and for the next year.

[Gaia] I always say when people drink Nebbiolo

they should pay attention where the taste is, and they would discover

that when you drink a Nebbiolo the taste is not in your mouth.

When you drink a Cabernet Merlot, they are very dominant in taste,

the taste is in the center of your palate.

When you drink Nebbiolo it's the opposite.

You swallow the wine and your palate has no taste.

The taste is in your throat, so it's very discreet in taste.

What you have in front, when you drink Nebbiolo, is texture.

Nebbiolo is a variety of tannins.

Tannins are like a brush, they clean every side of your palate.

[Sarah] I guess with any wine there are two factors.

There's the taste and than there's the structure,

the texture that you feel in your mouth.

With Nebbiolo it tends to be lighter red fruit such as strawberries, cherries,

and it tends to sometimes have a floral note,

so the typical descriptor of Nebbiolo is roses and tar.

And I think that what people mean when they say "tar" is that...

that smell of roads being laid or something very...

not industrial exactly, because that sounds even worse, but quite raw.

It's funny, in a lot of wine styles there are these little touches

of actually quite unpleasant aromas if you were to smell them on their own.

Such as kerosene in Riesling, tar in Nebbiolo, black pepper in Syrah.

In tiny amounts, these kinds of elements are what give these grape varieties

a sort of almost guilty pleasure.

[Burton] During a tasting people will say to you:

"Mr, Anderson, what do you taste in this wine?"

And I give them a couple of seconds to think about it and say:

"Grapes." "What, grapes?" "Yes."

I would not ever venture to tell you that a wine tastes like

blueberries or tobacco or spices,

just because that's the way I perceive it.

But... I'm a lost cause.

I belong to a family that was in the field of wine,

including me, for four generations.

The winery was founded by my great grandfather in 1859.

My grandmother, she became an expert,

she learned all about viticulture and winemaking.

And wine, at that time...

...she started to tell to her husband,

that he was unable to make quality grapes,

he was unable to make quality wine,

he was unable to drive the market in the correct way and so on.

How could my poor grandfather survive with a woman like her?

I was told that he used to say that

for a man it can happen to have a wife or woman better than him.

What to do? Only two choices: to follow her, or to kill her.

My father, Giovanni Gaja, learned that you have to become an artisan,

and to become an artisan, you have to do four steps:

Fare, sapere fare, sapere far fare, far sapere.

Fare: To do, everybody in life has to do something to survive,

to make money, to do something.

Sapere fare: To know how, this belongs to the artisan.

His dedication in terms of making better quality wine,

the wine that can represent what he dreams.

The third step, sapere far fare:

To teach how, to help his family to become artisan themselves.

And they are not finished.

Far sapere:

To transmit knowledge, to help consumers in the market

to understand about this project.

So my father had, when he was 27 years old, in 1935,

and they joined the winery, he had in mind this idea

to make Barbaresco more important than Barolo.

This was a crazy idea. Nobody thought that this could be possible.

Unthinkable! Impossible!

But these are the artisan people

that are able to make something possible that seems impossible.

[Giovanni] One of the characteristics of my father

is that my father is a perfectionist.

He's always optimistic.

[Gaia] For sure he's an optimist.

And it took me a really long time to understand how important this is.

He is always projecting into the future. He is never nostalgic.

Angelo is one of the most intense persons I have ever met, anywhere, in any field.

He is so energetic that sometimes we can't keep up with him.

[speaks Italian] The best comparison is to think of a volcano,

because he is full of energy, brimming with ideas,

always oriented, always projected on to new projects,

which he follows and nurtures with dreams, really, and with passion.

The biggest thing Angelo taught us is to cultivate doubt.

[Giovanni] He always tells us that we have to have at least thirty percent of doubt,

in everything that we do.

Don't be sure that this is the truth. Keep the doubt.

Always twenty, thirty percent of doubt.

We know nothing, my father is very keen in reminding us.

Because when you think that what you're doing is correct,

then there is no margin for improvement.

[Richard] The modern incarnation of Gaja starts with Angelo Gaja.

When he joins the company in 1961, aged 21 years old...

[Burton] ...he selected the vineyards that were best for Nebbiolo

in the Barbaresco area and developed them.

It was him who brought the techniques

that would improve the family Barbarescos that they had always been producing.

Controlling temperature during fermentation,

continuing using natural yeast.

He started using French oak, and perhaps most significantly,

he started bottling single vineyard examples of Barbaresco

to demonstrate the diversity of soils and styles that they could produce.

[Burton] He decided to start calling the Barbaresco after the vineyards.

A lot of producers started doing that at about that time.

Angelo of course, when he does something,

he does it with such dynamism that it has more impact.

But certainly, yes,

the fact that he identified by vineyard and that sort of thing was a major thing.

My grandfather and my father, they had the same goal.

The goal was: put Barbaresco on the map.

Make people understand how great this tiny place is in the world.

[Sarah] Barbaresco could easily have just been one of these

somewhat obscure regional wines that don't have the prestige of Barolo.

Barolo has a long-standing reputation

as being the king of wines and the wine of kings,

thanks to its popularity in the Court of Savoy.

It's because Gaja had the courage to say that he wanted to focus on quality

and in so doing, refused to buy any grapes that were not produced on his property.

Which meant that he wasn't able to produce a Barolo for a while.

And instead he had to emphasize Barbaresco as his origin

and really elevate that region as a name.

And today I think there are probably more people who've heard the name Gaja

perhaps than have even heard the name Barolo.

[Angelo] The brand of Gaja was already built by my father, very strong, in Italy.

He even pushed the name Gaja big on the label. Never seen before.

An idea like that.

In the past was the appellation, Barbaresco, Barolo.

But not the.. And in fact...

his theory was that the consumer has to know

who is the artisan, who is the producer.

So appellation and the brand are important the same.

[Sarah] They have three single vineyards, Barbaresco,

that for a while were not being called Barbaresco.

They, actually, after having made Barbaresco so famous,

chose to act outside of the DOCG

because they were blending a bit of Barbera

and they wanted to go their own way.

[Richard] So for many years the Gaja single vineyard Barbarescos

had a lesser appellation than Barbaresco, they were de-classified.

And that's because he wanted to blend in a different variety into the Nebbiolo.

He believed that a small amount of Barbera, sort of 10 or 15%

would provide greater freshness, a bit more lightness.

And this is a very radical experiment for the region.

And it means he was disqualified from calling them Barbaresco.

But he was fine with that, because his brand is the main thing.

[Gaia] Instinctively, my father, being an optimist,

is always projecting into the future.

And he always wants to see the bright side of it.

So whenever, in his life, he has been a man, and still today,

he is a man of change. For him, change is always positive.

Being an entrepreneur, how can you be pessimistic?

No chance, you know.

So I believe that you have to be able

to see the reality but try to understand that in the reality,

what gives you the chance of having optimism,

because there are other parts of the reality

that probably can make you pessimistic.

[Gaia] Even when bad things happen

he always tries to look at the good side of it, so climate change,

that has been approached many times in a very catastrophic way,

climate change is gonna oblige us to leave our land

and maybe in 30, 40 years from now we will have to go to England to make wine.

It can be very catastrophic, or, like my father,

yes, climate change is a great opportunity to show that me,

I will find a way to handle it, better than anyone else.

[Giovanni] Climate change made it possible for wines that in the past

were unthinkable to drink young, now you can drink them young.

A perfect example is Nebbiolo.

Recent vintages of Nebbiolo are definitely more approachable

and more easy drinkable than they were in the past.

[Sarah] The traditional belief was to get as much as possible out of the skins,

because Nebbiolo doesn't release that much color,

and so you would get macerations of 30, 40, even 50 days.

A teabag sitting in a cup of tea for 40 or 50 days,

you can imagine what kind of aggressive liquid

you're gonna get at the end of that process.

[woman speaking Italian] The most important job in the winery

is identifying, straight after the alcoholic fermentation,

the potential of every single vineyard.

And to destine them to

different ways of aging, choosing what will go in barrels,

what in tonneau, what in barrique,

so to immediately understand the potential of each batch of land

in order to highlight it in the best possible way during the aging process.

[Burton] In the old days with a Barolo or a Barbaresco,

you were taking your grapes and vinifying them in a certain way

to round out in these large barrels over years and years and years.

A lot of the wines that were made that way never did quite arrive.

They were unbalanced or they had strange odors and you don't find that much today.

Gaja was someone who believed in the Nebbiolo grape.

He thought that there was actually a lot of beauty, a lot of delicacy

that could be taken out of the grape in a comparatively short period of time.

Four or five years is probably good to start,

but some of them will go on forever, you know.

So I did some changes in terms to do steps

that I believed were important to put the wine in another stage.

But always Nebbiolo and always with the value of the family.

[Richard] As with all family businesses he's thinking about the next generation,

so his two daughters have now taken over and they're now able to benefit

from all of those changes and innovations that he put in place.

[Italian] And what is great about working for a family owned business is that

knowledge and secrets are handed down, passed on,

like values, from one generation to the next.

We are the ones that are entitled to bring this generation forward,

bring our values into the future.

[Gaia] That the dream that your grandfather had,

that project that your father carried,

is not dying with my grandfather, is not dying with my father.

In a family business the family can be an energy

that becomes stronger with more members coming in.

[Angelo] Gaia represents a new generation, represents the future.

I represent the past, of course.

But it remains to be seen whether his children will continue

with that same kind of absolute dynamic approach to things.

[Angelo] Gaia has a capability to reach

and to establish contact with people immediately, friendly, open.

I am not able to do that.

My father understands that the winery today is more my winery,

even though I didn't make the history.

It's more the winery of my sister,

it's more the winery of my brother, than his winery.

And so, if he feels, because we are always discussing,

we don't have a board of directors,

so we meet at lunch or we meet at diner and we discuss.

And we try to convince each other if there is something that we don't agree upon.

And when he feels that we are really, really convinced,

even if he doesn't totally agree,

he understands that we have to be the ones who are convinced.

There are some areas in the winery that I can be useful

and is useful for them, and they like having me there.

If not, I will go to Etna.

Wines, artisanal wines, they are not just an expression of land,

they are not just an expression of a variety,

they are an expression of the personality of the producer.

My father wanted to do something different,

wanted to bring back in the blend another variety, Barbera.

A project that for 15 years went on with great success.

But also a project that myself, my sister, my brother,

we decided to put on hold.

To bring forward this project with the same strength and the same conviction

and the same braveness of my father, we have to be our father.

We share many things in common, but we are not a copy of him.

We always felt that it is a pity that I can't show the purity of Nebbiolo,

so we decided to go back to Nebbiolo 100%.

[Giovanni] When we have a soil that is giving too much energy to the vines,

we plant cereals.

They suck energy from the soil and they make the soil poorer.

It's good to have a poor soil, but if the soil is too poor,

you might also end up not producing anything.

So in the soils that are too poor we just plant fava beans,

and fava beans have the opposite function of cereals.

Fava beans take nitrogen from the air and they give energy

and they give some more nutrients to the soil.

In the soils where we are satisfied with those characteristics

we plant different kinds of grass and we just let it grow.

[Gaia] Inside the Nebbiolo you have different individuals.

Those are what we call clones or cultivars.

If you walk my vineyards you can see that each plant makes grapes and bunches

that are a bit different one from the other.

In our opinion, when you do a cloner selection,

when you have a vineyard planted only with one clone, two or three,

you may make better wine but you make the variety weaker.

Because imagine a wine is like a person, they need to be in a healthy environment,

they need to eat properly, not too much, not too less,

and they need to have a good social life.

So, there is yourself surrounded by clones of yourself, what do you talk about?

You all have the same weaknesses you have the same strength,

you can't teach anything to your clone it doesn't know.

But if your vineyard is planted with multiple clones,

they can have more of a conversation, they can progress and learn from each other.

The first goal that we are looking for

is to recuperate resilience to the vines.

So the vines reach more attitude to defend even more by themselves,

to face what the weak suppose that can be a climate change.

In the way to be more prepared.

Other people is not doing the same and they make beautiful grapes.

We do it this way because we have the curiosity

and we believe it can be useful for us to reach new inspiration, new knowledge.

[woman speaking Italian] For about ten years in the Langhe region

we have been fighting against vine moths,

which are small moths that lay their eggs inside the grape,

and when the egg is ready to hatch, it breaks the skin of the grape...

and unfortunately causes the grape to rot.

The principle is based on the isolation of the pheromone

of the female vine moth in a lab,

and this pheromone is put inside a small thread, a wire.

And the aim of this project is

that the male vine moth can smell in the air the female pheromone.

He goes to the grapevines in order to mate and reproduce,

but it's not mating season, therefore he can't find the female

and we don't get new generations.

In this way, no insecticides or pesticides are used in the countryside.

[Gaia] Bees are important because they are pollinators.

They can help us in improving and growing biodiversity.

They bring pollen, flowers, they bring more grass.

And right now we are doing an experiment with them.

We are really at the beginning, but we are trying to understand

what's the connection between bees and the yeast.

Because we think that there is a connection between bees, yeast

and so the fermentation that happens inside the cellar.

It is a very interesting discovery and we would like to learn more

about the yeast that are brought in the bellies of the bees,

if year by year those yeast they change,

and if the yeast that are in their bellies

are exactly the yeast that we find on the berries of our vineyard.

[Sarah] Sorì San Lorenzo, Sorì Tildìn and Costa Russi.

These three wines are the sort of dream

of all wine lovers of Piemonte.

And to be able to experience vintages of these wines,

they represent the epitome of the sort of pleasurable, delicious, elegant,

but also incredibly long lived versions of Barbaresco.

The best winemakers are risk-takers

and that's something Angelo Gaja has never been afraid of.

He simply devotes himself to making quality wines.

For the English market in the '80s,

the importer that we had at that time starting to ask:

"Look, Mr. Gaja, why don't you produce wines at a lower price

with a very good value with the brand Gaja? We could sell a container."

It's not my work. No, thank you.

You have to produce a pink wine, a rosé. Forget it. No. Not buying.

You have to produce a sparkling wine. Bubbles. No, thank you.

What do you like to do?

We like to do what we did for 160 years!

We are completely making our product in our way.

Barbaresco is only one variety, so it's a blend of sites.

So Barbaresco is made with 14 different vineyards.

At the end it's not just 14 lots. Sometimes it's 30, 35 different lots,

because maybe one vineyard is fermenting in two different containers

and one has a very slow fermentation and the other one has a fast one

and they come out with different characteristics.

And so when it's time to do the blend of Barbaresco

we start to make the proportion

and you make a blend that can be a possible blend for Barbaresco

and you have it there in that glass.

I think that the quality of Barolo and Barbaresco and Italian wines in general

started to increase and to rise when the economic situation became better

and when finally the wines started to be exported.

[Angelo] In the last 50 years

wine lost the function of the food beverage.

It became a luxury beverage.

And the interest for luxury beverage has helped

the wines made by the Barolo grapes to be more understood.

[Gaia] For me, who really loves Nebbiolo are the people that drink wine every day.

If you drink wine every day then you like wines that go well with food,

you look for lightness, more than bigness.

And this is also what is making Barolo and Barbaresco

more popular and more appreciated.

The wines made by Nebbiolo grapes

are not blockbuster, are not opulent wines,

rich, creamy, marmalade. Not that.

It is far from being a big wine.

It's a wine of big texture, but of very delicate taste.

When you taste the wine without food,

maybe that you feel a little bitter tannins

and the acidity that can disturb a little bit you.

But when you match wine and food, this is fantastic.

The natural inclination is to say something with truffles.

You know, what grows together, goes together.

Historically people were saying: Barolo with game, Barbaresco with the feathers.

[Gaia] Obviously when the wine is young it has more tannins,

so you should go with something with more fat,

maybe a cut, a piece of meat that has more fat.

When the wine becomes older, the tannins are much more supple and soft,

so you can go more with the white meat.

[Gaia] You would think that it's awkward to have it with sashimi.

I had it with sashimi, it was amazing.

And if you go with certain cuts that are a bit fat like toro tuna, salmon, scallops,

the tannins of Nebbiolo, they cut through that fat,

the delicacy of the taste doesn't overpower that, it is an amazing pairing.

Certainly the old Barolo needed its elements, needed its types of foods.

I'd say today that you could certainly, at least try, variation.

You should pretty much try anything.

The only thing I would not recommend is having a Barolo with salad.

[Sarah] He wants to leave something behind when he leaves this world.

And his family are the caretakers of this incredible name

and wine that he's build up over this time.

[Richard] When you're getting to know a wine,

the personality of the people behind it is a really important factor

in your relationship with that wine,

what you think about that wine, and how you can sort of explain

some of the characteristics of the wine, by looking at the people who've made it.

[Angelo] I try to explain, and to tell the children,

what we have to do is to accept in the wines that we produce, small imperfection,

The capacity to lead and to have the control

of this small imperfection gives soul to the wine.

He became the example

of the new Piemontese winemaker.

[Giovanni] Living with Angelo and three women in the family

you have to be patient.

Even if you're not patient, you become patient.

[woman speaking Italian] It's not like other jobs.

We have the opportunity to keep one foot in the world,

and one foot in nature.

[Gaia] Barolo is not the blackest, the biggest, the meanest of all wines.

It's maybe the male personality of Nebbiolo,

but I still say that he's a gentleman.

And in the same way, when you have Barbaresco,

it's relatively softer. She's a lady, but a tough lady.

The Description of Wine Masters: Piedmont