“I bottle the wines when I feel like it”.

This is a classic reply from Flavio Roddolo, a tough, legendary vigneron in the Langhe. When I asked what the difference was between his Dolcetto d’Alba and the Superiore, he chuckled, looked at Claudio and said in Piemontese, “She is worse than a woman”! I guess he doesn’t like being asked too many questions!
As we drove up the driveway to this old farmhouse in Monforte, Flavio peeked his head out the door and then shut it again and disappeared. I have to admit, I was a little scared and imagined him coming back out with a shotgun to keep us trespassers away. (I did make an appointment).
I cheerfully introduced myself as the girl who made the appointment. He just grunted at me and started walking around the house. Little by little, Claudio in Piemontese, started warming him up and he slowly revealed his very straightforward personality.
With no interest in what we did for a living or who we were, he showed us his old bottles in the tiny cellar. Most things he mumbled about I did not understand but I could tell he was upset about something. Apparently he had some unexpected visitors that morning and at lunch time and did not have time to get on the tractor and do the work he needed to do in the vineyards.  He is a one man show and does it all!
Old cellar – Keeps bottles upright because that is the way his dad did it…
The steep staircase was slippery and the smell of tuff, earth and dampness filled the cellar. Without telling us anything about the usual process of aging the wines, Flavio started talking about the whole business of guidebooks and scoring. Something he does not buy into all that much despite some high scores for his small production of about 25,000 wines a year.
Trying to ask questions:)
He showed us his poor vineyards which unfortunately this year are suffering from the disease called peronospora. It is a serious fungal disease which dries out the leaves. Together with the combination of hail, he estimated that he would come out with only about 50% of his usual production this year. Maybe this is was why he was especially grumpy. However, we did get to taste some 100 year-old table grapes which beautifully covered the side of his house.
Peronospora and hail damage
The tasting was interesting. The wines were bold, tannic, austere and rustic, just like the man himself. His Dolcettos were hard, aged in stainless steel and not your easy-going-juicy-drink-as-soon-as-possible Dolcetto. Even the Barbera was quite tannic, and it was a 2007! Normally Barberas are drunk young, but since he tends to “forget” about his wines, this was the current vintage he wanted to drink with us. As we tasted his Nebbiolo 2009, he told us he was used to his dad’s old style of wines and just kept on making them that way. Roddolo’s one and only Barolo Ravera was a 2008. Without hesitation, I bought one of those since it is one of my favorite vintages. Like all his wines, this one needs to be cellared for quite a long time IMO! Lastly, we tasted his 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. A little smoother than the rest, it was a nice change from the usual local varieties.
His office
We ended up talking to him for at least an hour. I have to admit, he made us laugh with his all too honest answers but he couldn’t hide his frustrations. When trying to look at the bright side of a poor vintage he said there are normally at least good mushrooms in the mountains. Then he exclaimed, “there aren’t even those this year!”. My heart went out to this older man who is so raw and old-fashioned that he doesn’t even have a computer. I wish him the best of luck to stay positive and keep making his excellent rustic and real Piemontese style wines. We thank him for taking the time to spend with us!
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