It is a story that starts like many others in Italy, a great-grandfather who cobbled enough together to purchase an underrated parcel of land and with great determination, turned it into something viable for his children. Each new generation adding and expanding onto the humble beginnings to create a living legacy.
Michele Chiarlo’s father, Pietro, was this very great-grandfather who in the 1930’s invested into the future of Piedmontese wines and purchased a small estate in Calamandrana. Working entirely by hand, Pietro tilled the soil and planted native vine varieties, which are still producing to this day. Educated alongside some who would become to be his greatest wine contemporaries, Michele Chiarlo, transformed his father’s parcel of land into 110 hectares of vineyards that are symbolic of great Piedmontese wines.
While the winery’s beginnings follow the same romantic narrative as many others, Michele Chiarlo’s story diverges, carving out a new road for Barbera and Barolo and its impact on the global wine industry.
In 1956, Michele bottled his first wines under the auspices of his own name, signalling a little of what was to come. Bound tightly to heritage, yet understanding that tradition is not static, sustainable innovation has always been a central core of the winery’s principles. So how does one balance discipline and tradition with pop art and modern luxuries? We sat down with Stefano Chiarlo to get a better understanding.
The core tenets of the winery are discipline, tradition, art, sustainability and pop. What is the significance of pop, how does it interact with the other principles?
For us, Pop is a way to communicate important things in a fun and modern way. It is an approach we have always had, which is why among the artists that contributed to Art Park La Court, there are works by Nespolo who is an important Modern Pop artist. He created La porta sul vigneto (The door to the vineyard) piece for the park. In general, we want Pop to be a symbol of our communication. In a region like Piedmont, which is greatly stories and very serious, there is a need to share our stories in a more ‘Pop’ style to engage with a younger audience and new consumers.
Michele Chiarlo is highly committed to upholding sustainable practices and continually innovating procedures in order to ensure the longevity of the land. This is evident in the winery’s participation with VIVA. Please explain a little about the motivation to become involved with VIVA and what it means for your wines.
For us, joining VIVA was a natural continuation of a process began more than twenty years ago in our vineyards, especially in the grand crus, to arrive at the point of being certified today. However, VIVA is much more than just how we manage our vineyards. With their global philosophy of sustainability, it involves every aspect of the business, and so it was important for to us to embrace it in our own company as we believe sustainable certification will become increasingly important for the consumer of the future.
The dedication towards native vines, such as Barbera, shown by Michele Chiarlo has been a fundamental platform for its emergence on the international wine scene. Now that it has become such a renown and revered wine, how do you hope to continue enhancing it in the future?
Beyond Barolo and Barbaresco, which are definitely in a long-standing spotlight, Gavi and Moscato have immense potential to be better communicated and shared. In particular, we strongly believe in the Nizza DOCG appellation, born in 2014, which have supported since the beginning. For us, the Nizza DOCG will become the top appellation of barbera, drawing in an international reputation. This is because the vineyards which can used the Nizza appellation are all found in an area historically better suited for the barbera variety, exclusively within Monferrato and limited to only 18 municipalities.
Palás Ceraquio, Michele Chiarlo’s stunning guest house in La Morra, defines luxury hospitality. How do you deliver a high-quality, modern experience, while continuing to respect the land and the heritage of the region?
For us, the fundamental approach at Palás is to offer luxury hospitality that feels familiar. Palás is more than a hotel, it is ‘a house of luxury.’ Which is why when you stay, it feels as though you are part of the family. The idea is to have all the comforts of a hotel in a relaxing and genial environment.
And lastly, when guests visit, whether it is the Art Park La Court for a day tour or the Palás for an extended stay, what can they expect of the Michele Chiarlo experience?
We hope they experience the best of Piedmont: the top crus, the evocative landscape and the cultural history of this region. For us, experiencing the grand vineyards of Piedmont is in fact to experience something alive and we work hard to share this vivacity with our guests at both Art Park La Court and Palás Cerequio Resort.
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