Dario Stroppiana

BACKGROUND

The winery is owned by the Stroppiana family whose members are the parents Dario and Stefania and the two siblings Leonardo and Altea. Everyone is involved in the project taking care of the different elements of the management, from the vineyards’ training all the way down to the sales. Both Dario and Stefania’s families have a deep viticultural background in the Barolo area in Piemonte.
The estate dimension’s allow a classic family managed business and this means that meticulous attention can be dedicated to every production phase.
Dating back to the first half of the XX century and with Oreste (Dario’s father) at the time as winery founder, the property vineyards occupy an area of 10 hectares sitting at 400 mt. above sea level, in the Barolo district and more specifically the estate is located in Rivalta La Morra and the vineyards in the municipalities of Verduno and Monforte.
Stefania was born in Monforte and this gave the family the opportunity to produce in the famed Bussia cru. Currently the yearly production amounts to 45.000 bottles.

Italy offers a huge amount of indigenous varieties and Piemonte doesn’t take any back seat when it comes to viticultural diversity.
Useless to say that La Morra area is nearby Alba and this red wine quarter is favorable for the cultivation of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo giving the way to the Stroppiana’s wine range, each displaying the peculiar characteristics of the local terroir. The only white grape cultivated is the local hero Nascetta which is undergoing a true and authentic revival in the Langhe area.
The estate produces the following wines: Dolcetto d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba (unoaked), Barbera d’Alba Superiore Altea, Langhe Rosso (the cantina’s only blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera), Langhe Nebbiolo and the Barolos range (starting from Leonardo all the way up to San Giacomo, Bussia and the top notch Bussia Riserva).
The Dolcetto’s vineyards are planted in Bussia, while fruit for the Barberas and the Langhe Nebbiolo is sourced from both Rivalta and in Bussia. The Nebbiolo grapes for the Barolo Leonardo comes from Verduno and Bricco Cogni in Rivalta, the San Giacomo from the homonymous area and the Bussia … to Bussia of course!
With the 2015 harvest, the Stroppiana debuted with the first ever white wine produced, the Langhe DOC Nascetta which has slipped into oblivion in the past, but more recently has been rediscovered and revaluated.
The soil here can be described as mixed consistency tending towards clay. The twelve months vineyard cycle in Stroppiana property is characterized by particular attention to grape quality sacrificing quantity and bunches are selectively thinned in July and August allowing the remaining grapes to ripen in the best possible way.
Useless to say that La Morra area is nearby Alba and this red wine quarter is favorable for Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo Langhe and Barolo. Harvest starts when the grapes are perfectly ripe. Dolcetto is an early ripening variety and is aged in steel vats (to preserve the inherent fruitiness) and then bottled the following summer, when the weather is hot. Barbera is the second variety harvested and then – last and always considered the almighty king – it is Nebbiolo’s turn, a super late ripening variety.

Langhe is the hilly fertile sub-region east of the Tanaro river and south of Alba, in the Cuneo province at altitudes of between 450 and 800 metres. Barolo and Barbaresco both lie within its boundaries. The name ‘Langhe’ is the plural form of langa, a local word for a long, low-lying hill. These hills can be geologically considered as an extension of the Northern Apennines. The soil consists mainly of marl, clay, limestone and sandstone which can easily be eroded and through which the waters have carved a tight network of valleys of varying width. The high number of grape varieties cultivated is justified by these complex pedo-climatic conditions.
Langhe is also the name of a regional DOC zone, which is used to classify wines made outside of the traditional Piemontese varietal scheme (Nebbiolo, Barbera, Cortese, etc). Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines from the region are, for example, classified as Langhe DOC. Unlike Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Nebbiolo (established in 1994) can be cut with 15% other red indigenous varieties, such as Barbera or Dolcetto. Leading, quality producers of Barolo and Barbaresco are more inclined to use 100% Nebbiolo, recognizing its role as a stepping stone, usually using the fruit from vines that are very young and capable to produce more accessible Nebbiolos.

The Stroppianas have a long established tradition in the hazelnuts production having decided in the past to dedicate the best exposed areas for this crop with roughly 14 hectares planted. The area is destined to expand over the next few years. Overall the crop combination timing is just perfect because the operations in the vineyards and in the hazelnut groves usually alternate. Only rarely have the hazelnut and Dolcetto harvests overlapped.
The variety of hazelnut cultivated in Piedmont is the Tonda Gentile Trilobata, whose production is located in the heart of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria provinces, more specifically in the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato hills. The special characteristics of this variety include the nut’s roundness which facilitates quick mechanical shelling without damaging the kernel. Its’ thin shell offers a high shelled product yield of between 46 and 50%. The Tonda Gentile Tribolata is very aromatic with a limited fat content, ensuring successful storage without rancidity.

The grape origin is not entirely certain. There are those who argue that this grape is genetically from the Langhe, while there is a second party which argues that its origin has to be tracked in Liguria, where it is known with the name Ormeasco. In both cases, it is assumed that Dolcetto has arrived, in either area, during the medieval period due to commercial trades. The earliest records on “uva Dolcetto” date back to 1700 and currently this variety is used in Piedmont for the production of several monovarietal wines under the registered designation of origin DOC and DOCG system). Among these appellations, certainly Dolcetto d’Alba is the most widely known and consumes have  spread beyond the confines of Piedmont in the new millennium. Dolcetto d’Alba is produced in vineyards that are part of the right bank of the Tanaro river, an area also famed for incredible quality driven local hazelnuts production.    
Quoting Eric Asimov in one of his famous articles published on The New York Times: “Of Barbera and Dolcetto, it’s always seemed to me that Dolcetto was the less appreciated. For better or worse, Barbera producers have taken their stabs at transformation, trying to make age-worthy wines reared in oak barrels, and charging prices that reflect their ambitions. Some have succeeded admirably, though I generally prefer the simpler versions for their vivacity and clarity. But Dolcetto — thankfully, perhaps — has not been favored with similar efforts at improvement. Instead, it is almost always free of the blemishing of new oak flavors. Left to its own devices, Dolcetto offers what naturally makes it so winning: an object lesson in the very Italian push-pull of blending bitter and sweet flavors, along with an earthiness and a rounded, lightly tannic texture”. Enough said!

Stroppiana decided to produce two different Barberas: the tank version made its debut recently in 2015 (only 300 cases produces) as an expression of a fresher and fruit forward style. On the other hand the Barbera d’Alba Superiore Altea, named after the couple’s daughter, carries more layers of structure and complexity due to the barrel ageing and is released later during the year compared to the one raised in steel vats.
Quoting Dario “I like approachable wines to be enjoyed with lively pleasure, possibly shared with your beloved ones in every occasion and beefy, super extracted Barberas are not part of my wine culture”. Linking Eric Asimov’s quote with the one from Dario, it is almost a natural consequence that the Stroppianas never embraced the Barbera’s new wave emerged in the late 90’s marked by the distorted use of the new oak as a modern interpretation to please certain palates.
Barbera is always been a popular wine in Piemonte, a classic hosteria style pleasure just perfect to match local food. The Barbera del Monferrato is the most drinkable, with a pronounced acidity and cherry highlights, while Barbera from Alba  is more dense, dry and full of polyphenols and structure, just like the Nebbiolo, benefits from heavier soils made of clay and limestone.

Stroppiana produces 3 tiers of Barolo starting with Leonardo (named after the couple’s son) coming from the youngest vineyards (1996) in Rivalta di La Morra and Verduno. This wine is meant for midterm cellar ageing, while Barolo Bussia, Barolo Bussia Riserva and Barolo San Giacomo, are all to be considered cru areas and capable to reach their own 30 years long lifespan. The Bussia vineyard, in the commune of Monforte d’Alba in Barolo, is a very long stretched area from the town of Monforte d’Alba in the very south of the Barolo region up to somewhere in between the town of Barolo and the town of Castiglione Falletto. Because of its position and medium dimensions, the soil varies a lot depending on the proximity level and, of course, exposition. However, the soil in general consist of marl, limestone, marine fossil sediments, plenty of iron and tufa and has the potential of producing very concentrated, structured and firm wines with a lot of deep, rich aromas and with great ageing potential. The latter trait also usually requires patience. On the other hand the San Giacomo Barolo’s expression is a bit more frutier and accessible compared to the Bussia’s wines. The town of La Morra, which overlooks a succession of gently rolling, vine covered hills is extremely pretty, and as you leave the town, one of the roads that descends through these hills, in a setting characterized by beautiful colors and scents, leads to the hamlet of Rivalta. Dario is working hard to make his single vineyard San Giacomo famous too: it usually opens with a whirl of intriguing scents, a combination of red fruits and flowers, notes of bark and sweet tobacco. Full and firm on the palate, with evident tannins, it opens and closes with an enveloping sensation of ripe fruit. Full-bodied, its freshness and savouriness flow through its lingering persistency. Dario, when asked about his technique, states that he has a soft touch in the cellar and listen to the wine’s soul speaking to him. An extreme personal view that requires attention and enthusiastic approach during all the ageing stages. No prefix recipe, just artisanal flexibility.

Consistency is the main element throughout the years because Stroppiana has never failed and always met the customers’ expectations. The results are excellent wines displaying a true sense of place and the results have been praised and awarded by wine critics and loyal customers. Stroppiana wines are widely exported and the main markets at the moment are Great Britain, Japan and Midwest USA, Florida.

In a nutshell

  • Who: Dario Stroppiana
  • Where: Piemonte, Rivalta di La Morra
  • What: Nascetta, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo
  • Hectares: 10
  • Quantity: 45,000 bottles
  • Plus: Barolo specialist owning famed cru vineyards

Wines

Map

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