Why you should drink Val Borbera wines
We were in Val Borbera, a fascinating Piedmontese valley, where two companies – Cascina Barbàn and Nebraie – are reviving local vineyards.
The Val Borbera , a Piedmont valley to be discovered, is historically linked to Liguria: in these places the Ligurian spirit is still breathing. It is surrounded by mountains that literally isolate it from the surrounding valleys and it is an area little touched by industrialization, where as a result nature is uncontaminated.an area historically devoted to winemaking, now in a phase of rebirthHistorically, vines have always been cultivated in Val Borbera, but today the crops have been almost all abandoned, especially since the second postwar period: many valley dwellers have moved to the city, towards industry, where they perceived a greater possibility of work, where the economic boom was taking place. In the 1950s, from Vignole to Carrega there were 275 hectares of vineyards. Only in Alta Val Borbera more than 60 hectares. There are and have been found papers that show that in the Napoleonic era the shore of Figino, but also Sisola, Cantalupo, Roccaforte, Rocchetta and Mongiardino, were rich in vineyards. The main vineyards of this area were mainly Timorasso , but also other black grape varieties including Croatina , Mostarino ,Nibiö (an ancient variety of red-peduncle dolcetto) and Muettu .
The rebirth: Cascina Barbàn
In the valley there have been some interesting wineries for several years, such as that of Ezio Poggio. Many companies, on the other hand, simply grow the vine and sell it to other producers.cascina barbàn produces natural wines with recovered vinesFor some years, however, something has been moving in the valley: we have told you about Maurizio (singer-songwriter and frontman of the Ex Otago band) and Martina of Cascina Barbàn , a small but interesting farm of young former citizens. Today, according to plan, it has become a cellar: Pietro and Maria Luz have also joined the team, also Genoese from the city with country life in their hearts. What in 2013 was a project at the beginning, today has become a constantly evolving reality: in Cascina Barbàn natural wines are produced with native vines recovered from old vines. On 10 November 2019 the new winery recovered from the ancient ruin was inaugurated (the place where the company and winery stands is historically called Le Cantine di Figino) and the 2018 vintage will be the first to go on sale. Among their most interesting wines is Barbàn, a red produced with more than 20 different varieties.
The rebirth: Nebraie
In 2014 Andrea Tacchella, from the Nebraie farm, also arrived , another new natural wine producer passionate and full of ideas, a former commercial account who left the Milanese life to return to his family lands and indulge his passion, starting a new adventure in the world of vine cultivation and natural wine production. Andrea tells us: “ We know that there is a winemaking tradition in our valley, because the knowledge of the fact that the vineyard was cultivated in the upper Val Borbera has also been handed down orally. There are documents of marketing of grapes and wine, both towards Genoa and Liguria and towards Milan“. Andrea has recovered land but planting only new vines, mostly Timorasso, with which he produces a still and an interesting Timorasso refermented in the bottle: the Bolle in Valle .
The project for the Val Borbera
Cascina Barbàn and Nebraie found each other immediately and immediately began a collaboration made up of friendship and exchange. The boys have a truly ambitious project: to make the valley grow , also through wine, to bring it to the attention of a certain type of tourism and consumption, and to make it interesting for those who today find themselves intolerant of city life and are looking for an alternative. .the return to a slower lifestyle in contact with natureThe ambition is in fact also to attract new people and families, to recreate a community and a new economy in the area, in the name of a slower lifestyle, made up of a lot of work and commitment, in close contact with nature , for the maintenance of the typical product and agriculture, but respecting ecosystems and biodiversity . “Our project is to rediscover and make known the values of viticulture and agriculture in the area. Both of us at Cascina Barbàn and Andrea believe in biodiversity. Andrea has corn, we at Cascina Barbàn have the vegetable garden and the typical beans of Figino, a great local product, we also have wheat of ancient varieties. Biodiversity offers many opportunities, and believing it we want to promote not only our products but also a new way of understanding being a farmer and producer ”explains Maurizio.
Of course it is not all simple, the difficulties in this type of business exist and are very concrete: beyond the wild animals and the climatic tantrums, there are those related to the real recovery and implementation of the activity , the current situation of abandonment and decay of the countryside in general, require resources and time for restoration. The cottages where production structures can be created tend to be in poor condition, not to mention the recovery and re-cultivation of the land. To all this is added the bureaucracy, which often does not help much. But some brave enthusiasts put themselves into it, believe in it and even succeed.
The projects of these two companies literally met, welcoming each other and finding a common purpose: to create a network with other companies in the area to promote the rebirth of the wine-growing Val Borbera . On November 15th, the first event was held that brought together all the producers of the valley with their grapes and their wines to mend the enological history of this Apennine territory: Bevi la Val Borbera , a tasting dinner in the Foresteria la Merlina restaurant in Dernice, where all the wines produced in the valley were tasted and their story could be heard directly from those who produce them, in combination with local food.