In 2000, Susanna Galandrino went back to her Piemonte Barbera roots- vineyards owned by her grandparents. She and her family cultivate ten hectares of vineyards and produce award-winning wines at La Gironda in Monferrato Astigiano.
Officially called La Gironda Azienda Agricola, the winery lies in the Nizza DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in Piemonte Monferrato. Nizza was formerly known as Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza and is the heart of Barbera. It sits in the Asti territory between Asti, Allessandria and Acqui Terme, east of the well-known town Alba.
Knowing this hilly area was producing very special Barbera with a slightly different character, Nizza producers persisted; 2014 marked the creation of the DOCG. Susanna believes the recognition is well deserved: she knows the grapes her family’s Barbera vineyards produce in Nizza are exceptional.
La Gironda’s Barbera line up includes two Barbera d’Asti DOCG wines, La Lippa and La Gena, and Le Nicchie from the NIZZA DOCG.
The family makes other wines too:
- Soul, a 100% Nebbiolo bottled under the Monferrato DOC
- Chiesavecchia, a Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Cabernet blend also under Monferrato
- L’Aquilone, 100% Sauvignon Blanc under the regional Piemonte DOC
- Moscato d’Asti DOC
- Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG
- Galandrino Brut Spumante (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, classic method, very small production)
All this Barbera talk is not what that led me to La Gironda. The Brachetto d’Acqui, a frizzante (slightly sparkling) style was the impetus! But I’ve saved that for an upcoming article.
Discovering Susanna Galandrino
Frequent readers of my blog know I’m part of a few wine writing groups. April is when the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group ( #ItalianFWT ) dig into Brachetto d’Acqui. I researched producers to order wine from with a few caveats- smaller, female owner/producer if possible, and sustainable agriculture and wine production. That’s how I found Galandrino.
Over the course of two months we had back and forth exchanges about her wine, being a female in the wine world, and staying safe during Covid-19. Not only is she generous and giving, she has a bubbly personality you just want to hug.
A May Piedmont trip I scheduled included a “hug and taste her wines” visit however we all know, no one is traveling these days. Let’s all put “stamp out Covid-19” positive vibes into the universe, kind of like planting stuffed cow horns as part of the biodynamic process. We don’t know why it works but it does. Fingers crossed!
Smaller, Female Owner/Producer
Susanna (I feel like I’ve known her for years!) is a member of Le Donne del Vino, a non-profit association promoting the culture of wine, and the role of women in winemaking and in Italian society. Although she participates with the very active Piemonte group, I was curious to know if she experienced difficulties being in a male dominant environment.
Prior to making wine, Galandrino worked in her father’s industrial equipment company. It was there she experienced male dominance versus the agricultural environment where everyone seems to be equal, especially as more and more women become involved.
“I think women have always had an important role in agricultural but they never appeared. Now it’s different: we put our “face” on our wines while in the past women always worked a lot- above all in the vineyard and at home- but only men held the stage.” Susanna Galandrino
Sustainable Agriculture and Wine Production
Neither chemical herbicides nor synthetic products are used on the Galandrino land. I asked about this and received the following answer:
“We work in a sustainable way. It’s the fact that we live and we work – so we spent all our life – in the middle of our vineyards. Just a few steps and we are in the vineyard!
This is the first reason why we never used something that could be dangerous for us and for our children. They have always crossed our vineyards to join my parents who lived in a house not so far from us since they started to walk alone!
From the beginning of our cellar and cultivation of the vineyard, we worked with special care. We always cultivated according to “lotta integrata” (sustainable cultivation). We became both EMAS and ISO14001certified in 2004. In this period it was not a trend, but it was our proud choice.Two years ago we decided to make the final step and become “organic”.
As a side note, ISO 14001 certification requires no chemical herbicides, no synthetic products, reduced consumption of environmental resources, manual management of all vineyard activities, minimal intervention in the vineyard and cellar, use of light bottles, and ecological corks.
Since virtually meeting Galandrino I also met Vinho Selections, her Bordeaux, France based importer. With euros in hand, I expected to pay for the wine but Galandrino wouldn’t have it. Note all thoughts and opinions about the sample bottle received are my own.
Tasting La Gironda Barbera d’Asti
A fresh and juicy expression of Barbera, grapes for this wine grow on hills with sandy-marl soils.
After crushing, the must (skins, seeds, stems, juice) ferments in stainless steel vats about seven days, is racked off, then put back in vats where it rests until bottling.
This dry wine is paler ruby in the glass with exuberant fruit aromas (strawberry, raspberry, cherry) and cinnamon spice. Round with a supple texture and sweet tannins, the same fruit is abundant on the palate with bright, fresh length. The body is on the lighter side of medium, with bright yet balanced acidity. This is good quality wine for every day drinking.
Mark and I sipped La Lippa over two nights, pairing it with broccoli and mushroom risotto then homemade pizza. This is definitely a fabulous, week night Barbera with enough character to keep you entertained all night.
Galandrino on her favorite wine to drink:
“Barbera for sure! It is generous, fruity, soft and warm, Barbera is really a “women in red” that hugs you at every taste. Moreover, Barbera is a wine that is good to drink young and fresh (try cold in summer time also with fish!). But it’s a great and important wine in the best selection to drink aged too (Nizza DOCG).
My son Paolo turned 18 recently. We opened some bottles of our Nizza DOCG Le Nicchie 2001- it was really great! It made me so proud!”
Where to find this wine:
Stay tuned for the La Gironda Brachetto d’Asti with #ItalianFWT host Cindy Rynning!