Carussin

Who: Bruna Ferro and her sons Matteo and Luca

Where: San Marzano Oliveto, Piemonte. South of Asti, north of Canelli

What grapes: Barbera, Carica l’Asino, Cortese, Moscato

How many bottles: 100,000

Key facts: Certified-organic, with biodynamic tendencies. They make beer. They have donkeys.


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Carussin “Il Carica l’Asino” Vino Bianco

Certified organic, biodynamic methods
Soil type: chalk/clay
Elevation: 350-400m
Grapes: 60 year old Carica l’Asino, Favorita, Sauvignon Blanc and Cortese.
Method of fermentation: Native yeast fermentation
Bottles made: ±5,000

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Carussin “Completo” Vino Rosso 1L

Certified organic w/biodynamic practices
Soil type: chalk/clayElevation: 350-400m
Grapes:  Barbera (65%) and roughly equal amounts Freisa, Dolcetto, and Grignolino.
Method of fermentation: spontaneous wild yeast fermentation for three weeks in stainless steel, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Vines planted between 1960-1981. Less than 30mg/l free sulfur.

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Carussin “Asinoi” Barbera d’Asti DOC

Organic: Certified
Soil type: chalk/clay
Elevation: 350-400m
Grapes: Barbera
Method of fermentation: native yeast fermentation in fiberglass and stainless steel
Bottles made: 40,000

The name of this wine, Asinoi, is a combination of ‘Asino’ (‘donkey’) and ‘noi’ (‘us’), a reference to Bruna Ferro’s second vocation raising donkeys. This is 100% Barbera d’Asti from vines sourced from four different family-owned plots. Vines were planted in 1978, 1982, and 1985. Farmed biodynamically, the four plots are harvested and co-fermented in fiberglass tanks. Malolactic fermentation and brief aging occur in stainless steel tank. Low to no sulfur added.

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Carussin “Asinoi” Barbera d’Asti DOC Bag-in-Box 3L

Organic: Certified
Soil type: chalk/clay
Elevation: 350-400m
Grapes: Barbera
Method of fermentation: native yeast fermentation in fiberglass and stainless steel 
Bottles made: 40,000

The name of this wine, Asinoi, is a combination of ‘Asino’ (‘donkey’) and ‘noi’ (‘us’), a reference to Bruna Ferro’s second vocation raising donkeys. This is 100% Barbera d’Asti from vines sourced from four different family-owned plots. Vines were planted in 1978, 1982, and 1985. Farmed biodynamically, the four plots are harvested and co-fermented in fiberglass tanks. Malolactic fermentation and brief aging occur in stainless steel tank. Low to no sulfur added.

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Carussin “Lia Vi”Barbera d’Asti DOCG

Organic: Certified
Soil type: chalk/clay
Elevation: 350-400m
Grapes: Barbera
Method of fermentation: Native yeast fermentation
Bottles made: 16,000

Certified organic, from a single vineyard of 45-year-old vines that has been farmed organically for four decades and biodynamically for over a decade. Native yeast fermentation, unfined and unfiltered, sulfur at bottling is the only addition to this wine. Lia Vi means “little nests” in Piedmontese dialect. It’s the front yard of Luca, Matteo, Bruna and Luigi’s house/winery in San Marzano Oliveto. After years of organically farming this field, it has become notably alive, full of birds and bugs and worms and small critters: hence the name Lia Vi, to recognize it’s healthy diversity of residents.

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“Clan!Destino” Beer 

Hops: European Czech/German Saaz Hallertau grown near Bamberg
Method of fermentation: bottle-conditioned on lees
Bottles made: 600 per batch (750ml)

Luca from Carussin winery in Piemonte brews this bottle conditioned golden ale. European hops, very small batch, initially made to serve at the small pub attached to the wine cellar. To me it’s Belgian-leaning with a more prominent hop profile, like if Dupont and Dogfish Head made a golden ale.

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Sisto Nebbiolo

Certified organic with biodynamic practices
Soil type: Calcarous marl
Elevation: 350-400m
Method of fermentation: Indigenous yeast fermentation After one month of skin contact (the cap is kept submerged)  the wine was racked, and kept in the same tank until bottling in Sept 2013. No Fining. No Filtering. No added Sulfites. No enological additives at all! 

This wine is named after the farmer who worked this plot of Nebbiolo in the commune of Barolo for most of a lifetime. It is not exposed to wood (even cork) at any stage in the production process. 




At the request of his grandmother Matteo Garberoglio emerged, dreadlocked and outfitted in anarchist/roadie attire from the bowels of the building. Matteo had no idea why I’d arrived, but he breezed past this detail and eagerly offered a tour of the winery. I presented the chance for a break from routine labor. I knew we had corresponded, but a lot of his family are working around this small estate in San Marzano Oliveto in the Italian Piedmont… maybe I’d written to his mother Bruna? Ultimately, it didn’t matter.  Moments later brother Luca arrived, self-consciously dressed in somewhat preppie clothes: he felt it necessary to explain he was returning from having his photo taken. He also had no idea why I was there, but with an earnestly friendly demeanor Luca took over from Matteo, who returned to running the bottling line.

Luca proceeded to show me around the labyrinthine facility. The place is huge! At places comically so. Luca conceded this point. “Our equipment is too big! But it is what we have, so we use it.” Mostly empty tanks tower overhead. Giant tools lay idle. It is an understatement to say that in the future, Casussin have the capacity to ramp up production.

The estate was founded in 1927, with four hectares located on hills between Nizza Monferrato and Canelli. Luca’s grandfather started the modern history of Carussin, expanding acreage, moving the estate in the direction of organic viticulture. Today their 14 hectares are certified organic and integrate many biodynamic practices into their farming.

We had a fine time inspecting the tasting room and bar where the beer Luca brews is served alongside local cheeses and charcuterie to an audience of friends and neighbors. Luca is a huge fan of Dogfish Head, and even once made a pilgrimage to Delaware to visit the brewery. We sampled some tasty salamis and creamy cheeses with a line-up of Carussin’s current releases. Standouts among their wines included the Lia Vi Barbera d’Asti, a red made from 35-year-old vines planted by Luca’s grandfather, in the terra rossa soils in front of the cellar. Lia Vi is picked a little later, and seems more elegant than your normal Barbera. All parts knit together well. The name Lia Vi refers to a little bird that lives in the vineyards and makes nests by knotting together pieces of vine.

Of the 42 wineries in the area of San Marzano Oliveto only two are organic. Quality wineries like Carussin are struggling to do things in the right way. Estates that make honest wine with a good spirit: these properties deserve our support. Their wines are characters, in the best possible way. The Ferro family seem irrepressibly positive, a quality that radiates from their wines and really can’t be a bad thing.