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Forbes: An Italian Cinderella Wine Story: Elvio Cogno and Barolo’s Ravera Cru

In 1990, fourth generation winemaker Elvio Cogno bought a historic 18th-century farmhouse and vineyard situated at the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello—a quiet village in Italy’s Piedmont region. It was a humble, largely unnoticed beginning to what has become one of the most respected winemaking operations in the Ravera Cru of Piedmont. Cogno, who was born in Novello, understood the neglected potential of the Ravera vineyards and spent the past decades developing vineyard sites he felt had untapped potential. Now, 29 years later his son-in-law Valter Fissore, who worked along with Cogno for 25 years, continues to realize Cogno’s vision. In Barolo there are eleven communes, or crus, recognized for producing wines of ultra-premium quality. Of the eleven, Ravera has historically been the least celebrated, and not because the wines are inferior. Rather, says Fissore, “the Ravera Cru was overlooked because for decades the grape growers in Novello sold the grapes and did not produce their own wines. And, the owners of the best Ravera vineyards at the time were lawyers and they were not so interested in making Ravera Cru wines.”

Together, over the course of 27 harvests, the painstaking efforts of Cogno and Fissore have begun to change the fortunes of Ravera. Indeed, at a recent Elvio Cogno wine dinner at Boston’s Grill 23 & Bar, the crowd was humbled (and frankly, a bit dazed) by the quality of Fissore’s wines. Fissore is clearly uncomfortable with the effusive praise and admiration of critics and colleagues. When the praise starts piling on, he drops his head, gives a self-effacing “aw shucks” shrug and redirects the focus to his real treasure—his vineyards in the Ravera Cru. His longtime friend Master Sommelier & Beverage Director for Himmel Hospitality Group Brahm Callahan has followed the progress of Elvio Cogno wines for years. Callahan credits Cogno and the subsequent work of Fissore for the rise of the Ravera Cru. “Now, people see the true potential of wines from the Ravera Cru and Valter is the best of his generation, a brilliant winemaker.”

To explain the nascent interest in the Ravera Cru, Callahan points to Fissore’s obsession with purity of expression. And what exactly does that mean? It means Fissore grows four different clones of the same grape on four different parcels that have four different climactic exposures –all within the same vineyard site. He is breaking Nebbiolo down to small but significant differences within the Ravera vineyards and in the end making entirely distinct tastes of the same varietal from a single site… keep reading

Katie Kelly Bell, March 6, 2019
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Forbes: An Italian Cinderella Wine Story: Elvio Cogno and Barolo’s Ravera Cru