CASCINA DEGLI ULIVI di Stefano Bellotti, Novi Ligure
Certified Organic by CCPB and Biodynamic by Demeter, natural
Stefano Bellotti was a maverick, a true artisan and a terroir-warrior. He left Genoa in his late teens, having always been attracted to rural life and returned to the tiny abandoned farm originally purchased by his parents after the war in Novi Ligure. At this time, the late 1970’s much of Italy’s farming was industrialised and chemical-heavy, something that Bellotti eschewed.
By 1981 he was working organically and in 1984 discovered biodynamics which became a model that for him, made sense. Bellotti focused on biodiversity to promote healthy soil and employed a rotation system where certain vines were left alone in order to give the soil the opportunity to revitalise itself. As for winemaking, he once said in an interview: “Humans don’t make wines: microorganisms do. This is a sacred world we don’t understand anything about!”
With great sadness we heard of Stefano’s passing in September 2018. His daughter, Ilaria is now managing the farm, gardens and vineyards.
Cascina Degli Ulivi in the words of Stefano Bellotti:
“We are a farm with 20 ha of vineyards, cereals, animals, B&B and a restaurant using exclusively biodynamic and organic products, mainly coming from our farm.
We have been practising biodynamic agriculture for 30 years now and we consider the soil as a living organism belonging to the cycle of every living thing; we promote soils health and in turn the plants produce excellent fruit. The soil is nourished by green manure using pulses, cruciferous and graminaceous plants with up to 30 different species. Treatment sprays are limited to the use of sulphur and Bordeaux mixture in very limited quantity (about 2 Kg of copper per hectare, per year) and, of course, biodynamic preparations. We strive to make wines that are the true expression of the vintage, the terroir and the personality of the person behind them. The grapes are harvested by hand in baskets; pressing is soft and fermentation takes place naturally, without using any oenological additives (yeasts, enzymes, fining agents). Wines ferment in big wooden barrels. We do not carry out any fining; we just lightly filter when bottling. The total sulphur content is low because we don’t add any. The yield per hectare averages 6 tons”.
Stefano’s Semplicemente wines, the white, a Cortese, the red, a rustic Barbera/Dolcetto blend, are made for everyday drinking. With its joyful freshness the white is a young, easy and very supple wine. It is just so drinkable and uncomplicated. As Stefano says: “It doesn’t “get you committed”.” The red version is, in his words, “a frank and direct wine. It doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. It doesn’t get you into any trouble. Pasta’s best friend!”
100% Cortese (from southerly-exposed red clay soils) fermented in large wooden vats, the vats with more structured wine becomes Gavi DOC (eventually the relentless bureaucracy took its toll on Stefano so he decided to leave the DOC and renamed his wine IVAG as opposed to GAVI). The lighter, more aromatic becomes Semplicemente Vino Bianco.
IVAG is fresh and vibrant, with subtle fruit aromas and flavours – really delicious and energy-filled wine.