We recently introduced you to Collette O’Leary, Head Winemaker at Henners English Vineyard, and her unconventional journey to the world of winemaking. This month, we would like to tell you more about Carlo Manera, Head Winemaker at Il Cascinone, who has almost literally spent his life amongst the vines…
Carlo’s Grandfather, Livio, was a joint founder of “Antica Contea di Castelvero” in 1954; the Monferrato cooperative that would one day become Araldica. Both of his parents are qualified winemakers and he grew up in the flat above the winery offices at Araldica, spending his childhood playing amongst the vines.
After graduating with a degree in Oenology, Carlo worked several vintages around the world, before joining Il Cascinone full-time in 2013 and taking over from his Father as Head Winemaker in 2016.
When you speak to Carlo it isn’t immediately obvious that he has such an impressive viticultural heritage; he’s quietly spoken, amicable and unassuming in his knowledge of wine. Although he’s not a fan of interviews, once he gets chatting about wine and winemaking, his love for it takes over.
The range produced by Il Cascinone means that Carlo regularly works with a number of winemaking techniques, but which is his favourite?
“From a winemaking point of view, one of the [techniques] that I prefer is the drying process to make late harvest style wines like our Moscato Passito. I find it so interesting that in changing the temperature or humidity just a little you can [significantly] change the quality and aroma profile of the grapes.”
Despite being raised in an area steeped in winemaking tradition and law, Carlo isn’t afraid of innovation in the vineyard and winery. For his Father’s generation innovation meant a break from tradition by planting international varieties, like the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay planted at Il Cascinone for example. In contrast Carlo is looking to the past, experimenting with grafting near-forgotten varieties, such as Slarina, which was removed from the list of approved cultivars for Monferrato in the 1940s. His inspiration also comes from the future of winemaking. Alongside traditional botti and barriques, Carlo experiments with other maturation vessels, such as two ceramic eggs he recently installed in the cellar.
While his experiments with winemaking are fascinating, arguably his most important project is that of sustainability. Carlo is well aware of the potentially harmful effect that winemaking can have on the environment:
“We can see that vineyards today are not natural; [when] there are less than 4,000 plants per hectare it isn’t natural, so we know that we have some impact on the environment. Over the next year we will stop using sprays and mechanical equipment in the…vineyards and we will start purifying and re-using wastewater from the winery in the vineyard.”
His sustainability project began with the vineyards at Il Cascinone in early 2019, and they received full accreditation later that same year. Carlo hopes to expand the project to every aspect of the winery:
“The aim is to be 100% sustainable from every point of view; from the cellar, to the vineyard and for the people who work the cellar as well…”
This awareness and desire to “leave things better” make Carlo exactly the kind of person we like to work with, here at Boutinot. But the thing about Carlo is that, no matter how excited he is for the future of winemaking and how full his head is with ideas for new experiments, his feet are planted firmly in the history and tradition of his heritage. This becomes apparent when asked about his favourite wine and food pairing: he laughs and says, “I have to say Barbera, really, don’t I?”