Airali, Tenuta Carretta’s Alta Langa DOCG

Magazine

Airali, Tenuta Carretta’s Alta Langa DOCG

12 June 2024

Nestled in the high hills of southern Piedmont, near the Apennines, Alta Langa is the cradle of Italy’s quality sparkling wine tradition. Recently, Alta Langa has also become the name of a prestigious DOCG.


Its certified origin, mandatory vintage indication, hand-harvested grapes, and limited production make Alta Langa a unique and esteemed artisanal sparkling wine. The prolonged aging on the lees in the bottle results in a wine that is elegant, complex, and sapid, with great aging potential. Alta Langa DOCG is a Traditional Method "millesimato", meaning each bottle must display the vintage year on the label.

Tenuta Carretta's vineyards for Alta Langa are located in Cissone, a town at 660 meters above sea level, known for its stunning forests, hazelnut groves, and pastures—a stark contrast to the monoculture of vines in the lower Langa. These high hills are ideal for growing Pinot Noir, a variety cultivated in the Langhe for over a century and a half, and Chardonnay, which arrived about fifty years ago. Both are used to produce tra Tradition Method sparkling wine which achieved DOC status in 2002 and DOCG in 2011.

SOIL AND CLIMATE OF ALTA LANGA

In Cissone, on the Airali slope (from which the estate's labels take their name), Tenuta Carretta cultivates about 6 hectares of Pinot Noir and 2 hectares of Chardonnay, planted from 2015 onwards. The soils are marine sedimentary in origin, formed in the Miocene from ancient seabeds, much like those in the Bassa Langa. However, here calcareous marl dominates, with less clay and a more stony composition. This “Pietra di Langa” has been used for centuries to build farmhouses and dry stone walls and is still valued in local construction today. Langa stone originates from underwater landslides that layered sand over muddy seabeds, which, under immense pressure from ancient oceans, compacted into marl slabs primarily composed of sand, cemented by carbonates in the water.

This “stony” soil, combined with the cooler climate of the Alta Langa hills—swept by winds from the Alps and the Ligurian Apennines—creates the perfect micro-terroir for grape varieties that thrive in harsher conditions, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These varieties produce grapes that offer the freshness and acidity necessary for exceptional sparkling wines.