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Piero Rossi Cairo’s Journey: From Lawyer to Visionary Winemaker

Piero Rossi Cairo’s Journey: From Lawyer to Visionary Winemaker

Piero Rossi Cairo manages the family Tenuta Cucco winery. His journey from corporate lawyer to winemaker is unconventional. Initially a mergers and acquisitions attorney, Cairo’s transition highlights the rarity of such moves, marked by challenges like divergent skill sets, significant career investments, financial considerations, and the perceived prestige of the legal profession.

In 2015, upon his father’s request, Cairo assumed control of Tenuta Cucco, incorporating it into the La Raia agricultural company. La Raia, spanning 180 hectares in Novi Ligure, with 48 dedicated to vines and certified biodynamic since 2007, reflects Cairo’s passion for biodynamic agriculture and biodiversity preservation, influenced by his sister. The estate includes a park of art installations, a boutique hotel, and a gourmet restaurant, extending beyond traditional vineyard boundaries.

Previous Ownership

The history of Tenuta Cucco underwent a transformative phase in 1966 when the Stroppiana family took over. In 2015, the Rossi Cairo family, renowned for their organic and biodynamic farm La Raia, acquired the estate and focused on turning La Raia into a wine-producing brand.

The challenges included rebranding from bulk sales to bottled wine and showcasing the slow but steady progress of the commercial and farming aspects. La Raia’s vines, some over seventy years old, grow in clay-limestone soil, imparting the distinctive mineral character to the Cortese grapes. Biodynamic farming, initiated in 2002, allowed the recovery of terroir peculiarities, with Rossi Cairo employing green manure, horn manure, cave sulfur, and copper in precise measures, and employing light tractors for vineyard work.

La Raia’s commitment extends to biodiversity, evident in the production of three organic honeys. Piero Rossi Cairo’s role in steering Tenuta Cucco towards sustainable practices reflects not only environmental responsibility but also a commitment to crafting authentic Barolo wines that express the region’s terroir.

La Raia, under Piero Rossi Cairo’s directions, embodies biodynamic principles, treating the vineyard as a self-sustaining ecosystem. This approach has resulted in exceptional Gavi DOCG wines, reflecting a visionary harmonization of tradition and nature.

La Raia’s unique approach involves DNA testing of grape skins for optimal yeast strain selection, creating wines that express the terroir. Situated in Gavi, the property, certified biodynamic by Demeter, not only serves as a winery but also houses a Steiner school and art foundation.

The Tenuta Cucco organization produces three types of Gavi D.O.C.G. and two red varieties of Barbera D.O.C. (Nebbiolo and Barolo Nebbiolo), certified organic since 2018. The family’s visionary commitment to organic and biodynamic principles has left an indelible mark on the winemaking world, setting a compelling example that exceptional wines can be crafted while preserving the environment for future generations.

My Personal Opinion

1.       Barolo DOCG. Cerrati 2019

This is a wine that exudes distinction and elegance. With its carefully crafted blend of Nebbiolo grapes from the renowned Cerrati vineyard, this vintage embodies the essence of the Barolo appellation.

In the glass, the wine displays an intense ruby-red color with orange hues, a prelude to the complex bouquet that awaits. Aromas of roses, fresh herbs, and ripe red fruits, such as cherry and raspberry, intertwine with subtle notes of violet, rose petals, and a touch of earthiness, capturing the essence of the terroir.

On the palate, the Barolo Cerrati 2019 reveals a harmonious balance of flavors. The rich, velvety texture is complemented by well-integrated tannins, providing structure and age-worthiness. Layers of dark fruit, hints of licorice, balsamic notes, orange zest, and a subtle minerality unfold, culminating in a long and lingering finish that leaves a lasting impression. The tannins are elegant and well-integrated.

This vintage is a testament to the meticulous vineyard management and winemaking expertise at Tenuta Cucco. The wine has been carefully aged in oak barrels, contributing to its complexity and adding a refined touch of spice and oak nuances.

This wine is perfect for special occasions or enjoyed during moments of reflection. Its timeless character and expressive nature make it a standout representation of the Barolo terroir.

2.       La Raia Gavi DOCG. Vigna Madonnina 2020

The Madonnina vineyard is located within La Raia’s estate. The calcareous, clayish, and marly soil is particularly suitable for Cortese vine farming. The vineyards are free of fertilizer and chemical products. The soil is planted with green manure (broad beans, peas, and clover) which, once trimmed, transforms into fertilizer and humus.

A captivating expression of the Gavi appellation this wine reflects the unique terroir and meticulous winemaking at La Raia. Gavi is renowned for producing high-quality white wines, primarily crafted from the Cortese grape.

In the glass, the wine exhibits a pale straw-yellow color with greenish reflections, showcasing its freshness and youthful vibrancy. The nose is immediately greeted by an aromatic bouquet that combines floral and fruity elements. Delicate notes of white flowers, such as acacia and jasmine, mingle with citrus aromas like lemon and green apple, creating an enticing and refreshing olfactory experience.

On the palate, it offers a crisp and lively mouthfeel. The bright acidity imparts a zesty character, enhancing the wine’s overall freshness. The flavors mirror the aromatic profile, with a focus on citrus fruits, green pear, and a subtle hint of almond. The minerality is noteworthy, adding a distinct layer of complexity and contributing to the wine’s elegant structure.

This cuvée is a testament to La Raia’s commitment to organic and biodynamic practices. The vineyard, certified by Demeter, emphasizes sustainability and harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. The 2020 vintage, showcases the winemaker’s dedication to preserving the authenticity of the Gavi terroir.

The Gavi seamlessly combines tradition, terroir, and modern winemaking expertise. It can be enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif or paired with a range of dishes, including seafood, light salads, or white meat poultry.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

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