The EARLY 1800s
The first Italian classic method sparkling wine was created in Piedmont. Way back at the beginning of the 19th century, the counts of Sambuy, influenced by their geographic and cultural proximity to France and its wines, began cultivating a few French grape varieties – primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – in Piedmont, to make sparkling wines similar to Champagne.
After completing his studies in oenology, Carlo Gancia set out for Reims, intending to learn the secrets to the production of Champagne. Upon returning home, he and his brother Edoardo launched a small-scale production of the first Italian Spumante, using the “champenoise” processing techniques.
Convinced that the Piedmontese terroir was perfect for growing grapes for the production of Spumante, Gancia began to work and experiment, cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay mainly around Canelli, paving the way for numerous other local producers.
The production of Spumante developed from the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the historical producers of the time, who flanked their exports of vermouth with the Piedmontese Metodo Classico and have continued to produce it ever since.
28 FEBRUARY 1990
The Piedmontese Spumante producers Cinzano, Contratto, Fontanafredda, Gancia, Martini&Rossi, Riccadonna and Vini Banfi undertook a shared commitment to cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for the production of Spumante wines in Piedmont.
5 MARCH 1990
The “Spumante Metodo Classico in Piemonte Project” was officialised, with the presentation of the proposal to the Piedmontese Regional Councillor for Agriculture, Emilio Lombardi. The representatives and managers of the Experimental Institute for Viticulture, Antonio Calò and Lorenzo Corino, were also present.
The need to make the “Spumante Project” independent from the DOC Piemonte emerged during a Regional Council meeting. The “Spumante Project” was to concern only a limited area of the provinces of Asti, Cuneo and Alessandria, for the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for the production of classic method Spumante, while the Doc Piemonte was to regard wines made with Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, cultivated in a larger area of the three provinces and produced using both the Martinotti and Classic methods.
The experimental vineyards became a reality: 21 estates were involved during the first year, covering a total area of approximately 20 hectares, with the planting of 80 thousand vine rootings (85% Pinot Noir, with 10 different clones, and 15% Chardonnay, with three clones).
21 MAY 1992
The “Spumante Project” was officially presented to the Industrial Union in Turin, in the presence of journalists, producers and the authorities.
4 JUNE 1993
The “Spumante Project” was transformed into “Tradizione Spumante”: the association was drawn up by the Notary Public Fabrizio Donotti in Alba and signed by Pier Filippo Cugnasco (Cinzano), Alberto Contratto (Giuseppe Contratto), Alessandro Abbruzzese (Fontanafredda), Vittorio Vallarino Gancia (Gancia), Giorgio Giusiana (Martini & Rossi), Ezio Cantù (Riccadonna) and Giuseppina Viglierchio (Vini Banfi).
The Chairpersons of “Tradizione Spumante” were: Alberto Contratto, Giuseppina Viglierchio, Vittorio Vallarino Gancia, Ginafranco Caci and Lino Moncada, Giovanni Minetti, Giorgio Giusiana, Ottavio Riccadonna and Giulio Bava.
Meanwhile, a second vine planting session began, with the creation of a further 20 hectares of vineyards, which subsequently increased to 48 and eventually became 57 hectares.
The fruit of the first 20 hectares of experimental production was vinified.
Work began on the drafting of a series of production regulations. The name chosen, based on territorial and toponomastic research, was “Alta Langa”.
“Tradizione Spumante” changed its name to “Case Storiche Piemontesi”. Shortly after, Giulio Cocchi and Barbero 1891 (Enrico Serafino) joined the group, taking the place of Contratto and Cinzano.
10 MAY 1999
The first toast with Alta Langa Spumante at the premises of the Comunità Montana, in Bossolasco: the procedure for acknowledgement of the Alta Langa appellation had already been launched, and this was the official debut of the new Piedmontese classic method sparkling wine.
15 JUNE 2001
The Alta Langa Consortium was set up in Asti: the consortium had 48 members, 41 winegrowers plus the first seven Spumante producers: Barbero 1891 (Enrico Serafino), Bersano & Riccadonna, Giulio Cocchi, Fontanafredda, Gancia, Martini & Rossi and Vigne Regali.
20 NOVEMBER 2001
The Regional Winegrowing Committee approved the application for the DOC: the application was forwarded to the National Committee for the Defence of the Origin of Wines.
23 NOVEMBER 2002
The Italian Official Gazette published Decree 31.10.2002 of the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies, acknowledging the Alta Langa appellation: the wines of the Alta Langa project, which had been released as Piemonte DOC until that time, finally had their DOC.
Publication in collaboration with Piedmont Region of the of the book “Alta Langa Metodo Classico – Storia di un progetto piemontese”, written by Giancarlo Montaldo (Studio Montaldo), who was also responsible for all the historical research and data processing activities.
Alta Langa became a DOCG wine, with acknowledgement backdated to the 2008 vintage.
It took place at the Grinzane Cavour Castle the 1st edition of “La Prima dell’Alta Langa” (The premiere of the Alta Langa): the event where all the Alta Langa Consortium producers present the new Alta Langa vintages.