Bera, Vittorio e Figli
- Asti, Piedmont, Italy
Thank you to importer Louis/Dressner for this profile of Bera:
You find good wine even when you are not looking for it. This time, Alessandra Bera is the one that found us.
Late in 2002, we received some exhuberant e-mails from a winemaker in Piemonte telling us we had to work with her wines. She had been given our address by her good friends in France, like Pierre Breton of Bourgueil, Marcel Richaud of Cairanne, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat in Cheverny and Claude Marechal in Burgundy. All these French vignerons had told Alessandra that her style of natural farming and natural wine would be a perfect fit for Louis/Dressner Selections.
Alessandra had our attention. We learned that she would be joining the festivities surrounding Catherine & Pierre Breton’s legendary Dive Bouteille tasting held every year the Saturday before the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers. We told Signora Bera that we would see her there.
When everybody met, it was clear her vignerons friends had steered us in the right direction. But Joe and Denyse, completely unfamiliar with Italian wine, were concerned working with a single Italian producer would prove challenging. So it was decided we'd visit the Bera family and that Alessandra would arrange a tasting with like-minded producers that would make sense in our portfolio. It included Cascina degli Ulivi, Cascina Tavijn and La Biancara, all of whom we still work with.
In this sense, we really have Alessandra to thank for opening up the world of Italian wines to us. It was of course something that Kevin had had on his mind since moving back from Rome in the mid 1990's, but this opportunity really kicked things off. Today, Italian wines have become a focal point for us, slowly but surely growing to over 50 producers. Alessandra and Gianluigi have also become dear friends.
The estate dates back to 1785, when the Bera's ancestors originally purchased some of the land from the Knights of Malta. By this time, the cultivation of grapes -- and in this area particularly Moscato grapes -- was already well-established since the 13th century (and once again we are indebted to those reviled Crusaders for their faithful spreading of the word “Grape” to every corner of the known world they traveled to!) By the end of the 18th century -and continuing the 19th and 20th centuries- the fame of Moscato (read: Asti Spumante) spread worldwide -- and so did slipshod production methods. With few exceptions, the bulk standardization of this wine has been the norm ever since.
The Bera family is different. This was the first estate to bottle and market its' own wine in the Canelli region. The estate lies in Sant’Antonio di Canelli, within the region of Serra Masio, the most prestigious and ancient of the area’s Moscato production. The grapes are entirely Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and are cultivated on steep, southeast slopes of calcerous marl (of ancient oceanic origins). All of the estate is cultivated in organic viticulture with an emphasis on creating an active, healthy ecosystem. All grapes are harvested by hand and their juice is fermented without inoculations. All the winemaking is done by Alessandra's brother, Gianluigi.
In addition to Moscato d'Asti, the Bera family also grows the precocious white grapes Cortese, Favorita and Arneis which they blend to make a fantastic white wine called "Arcese". For reds - all vinified with no filtering, fining or added S02- Dolcetto and Barbera are cultivated using the same care in the vines.