The Monchiero Carbone winery is located in Canale, in the heart of the Roero hills where its foundations were laid in 1987 when the large farmhouse in via S.Stefano Roero was purchased. The well-established winemaker Marco Monchiero was returning to his home town after many years working away in various Italian wineries, and the decision to buy was certainly influenced by the allure of an extensive wine cellar which had been built beneath the house by a rather well-off local family towards the end of the 1700s.
Marco and his wife Lucetta Carbone brought together two families whose wine-making traditions, dating back to the early 1900s, had been interrupted for several decades before this venture was taken on.
Production finally began again in 1990, aided by their son Francesco who had recently started studying winemaking and who showed an unmistakeable desire to take on the family vineyards.
Though this may all seem relatively recent, the origins of both families and their links with vinegrowing actually go much further back into the past.
It was as long as 1918 when Clotilde Valente, the great grandmother on the Monchiero side, purchased the Monbirone vineyard with her own dowry. She then proceeded to tend the vineyard for the rest of her days, initially while awaiting the return of her husband after he emigrated to America and then after, when he was then engaged in the Great War, and then while enduring the solitude of an early widowhood. The Monbirone vineyard still lends its name to a Barbera which has been bottled since 1960.
It was also in the early 1900s when Enrico Carbone, nicknamed Ricu, married the young Lucia Gioetti: beautiful, tall and graceful, and known as "the Blonde one." Daughter of the Count of Canale's wealthy tenant farmer, Lucia was provided with a dowry that included a good sum of money, and this was naturally used to purchase a piece of land; it was located on a hill in the village of Vezza d'Alba called Tanon (Tanùn in the local dialect). Ricu immediately decided to plant a vineyard of Arneis, to bring out the best aromas and appeal of a wine which - in keeping with the tastes at the time - was produced as a sweet white to be enjoyed both during moments of celebration and time spent in the company of friends.
Two vineyards, two terroirs.
Monbirone, with its hard and limy - almost chalky - soil, where just two drops of water are all it takes for the ground to become as slippery as soap; a vineyard that is as hard to work and tough to mould as the Monchieros themselves, but which is ideal for giving structure, power and grandeur to the Barbera variety.
And the light and dry sandy soil of Tanon, which seems to have been specially designed to bring out all the aromas the and appeal of Arneis, which is as warm and friendly to work with as the Carbones.
These events link the lives of the family ancestors to the history of a vineyard were passed down as stories told around the hearth fire. They testified to the fact that the land was everything for those generations of farmers: the whole family felt involved when choosing a vineyard; they farmed it for generations driven by a feeling hovering between necessity and pride.
Later it was Francesco Carbone, known as Cecu d'la Biunda - son of Ricu and "the Blonde" - who transmitted to his grandson Francesco Monchiero this feeling of pride and an attachment to country values. Now running the estate, Francesco decided to express his gratitude to his grandfather by dedicating to him one of the Roero Arneis wines still produced on the Tanon vineyard: "Cecu."
In the last few years, Francesco has continued along this journey with determination, giving the utmost importance to what has almost become a ritual selection, taking the greatest care over the identification of the land, for it is recognized as being the true source of quality in the wines.
The estate has grown over the years, with the planting of a number of vineyards: one of Arneis on the Renesio hill in the commune of Canale, where the Arneis grape varietal is thought to have originated according to several documents dating back to 1478; a prime Nebbiolo site in the Anime district, which has come to double the Monbirone vineyard; and Printi, which Francesco "fell in love with" at the tender age of twenty. Finally, there is the latest vineyard recently purchased in the village of Priocca, closer to the river Tanaro on the Genestreto cru: approximately 10 hectares on a gentle hillside surrounded by wild camomile, where the clayey soil packed with magnesium aroused Francesco's winemaking imagination, and the first, somewhat surprising results provide the foundations for expecting a future revelation soon to make its début among the winery's labels.
Monchiero Carbone pictures