Last week I had the amazing opportunity to step into the world famous Ceretto winery and get to know Roberta Ceretto, granddaughter of the founder, Riccardo. Even though I had already visited this historical yet modern “cantina“, it was far more interesting to sit down with a member of the family. As we listened to her stories, we sipped on their famous Arneis called Blangè. Recognize this bottle?

I must admit I had always snubbed my nose a bit at this wine because I always thought of it as just a “showy” wine. But there is so much more to it than I thought. It is part of the history of white wines in Piemonte. Roberta really opened my eyes and intrigued me with the story behind it.

Blangè was revolutionary for Ceretto. Roberta’s father Bruno started growing Arneis in Vezza d’Alba, in the Roero area. At the time, hardly anyone knew or paid attention to this local white wine variety. They had to sign about 60 contracts just to acquire 7 hectares of vineyards. Always forward thinking, Bruno and his brother called “the Barolo Brothers”, were seeing this new aperitivo culture taking over Milan and Rome in the 80s. White wines were perfect for happy hour and finger foods. In 1985, they were one of the first to put their local white wine in a clear bottle and started to think about “marketing” of their label. Something not many were doing at the time. In fact, it was also the era of big brands and stylists like Dolce Gabbana, Armani, etc. and the Cerettos wanted to include wine in this movement. The first thing they wanted to do was give the wine its own “nome di fantasia” and call it something chic and easy for foreigners to pronounce. One part of their vineyards was actually called Blangè. Liking the name, they designed a flashy and memorable label. In 1985, they were producing 50,000 bottles of Arneis Blangè.

Then there was an explosion! It worked! Starting from 50,000 bottles 30 years ago, they have now reached a production of 600,000 bottles coming from 80 hectares…just of Blangè! This makes up about 50% of their production. Ceretto is much more than just Blangè though. They produce some top tier Barolo and Barbaresco in the area to name a few. When asked whether their name association with mainly Blangè was a good or bad thing, Roberta had an interesting answer.
Thanks to Blangè they were able to make important investments to improve the quality of their wines and family business. Little by little they built the architectural symbols of Langhe like the “Cubo” in Castiglione Falletto, the “Acino” in Alba, and the colorful Cappella di Brunate. Ceretto is going all organic for their Barolos and Barbarescos which can create very high initial costs but is what they feel is ethically correct. They have continued to grow by producing Relanghe torrone and let’s not forget buying three michelin star restaurant in Alba, Piazza Duomo and the more casual version La Piola downstairs. “We are collectors of land because we love this territory so much!”, enthusiastically exclaimed Roberta. She concluded by saying that they have a certain affection towards Blangè and pride in their other wines. Hopefully they opened up the road for Arneis which is now known all over the world.
If you are interested in their architectural masterpieces and symbols in the Langhe you can check out one of Claudio’s old blog posts here!
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