About the Winery
Nervi is the oldest officially-recognized winery in the Gattinara DOCG. It was founded by Luigi Nervi in 1906 and includes 24 hectares of Nebbiolo vines in the Casacce, Garavoglie, Molsino and Valferana vineyards. The Molsino vineyard is one of Piedmont´s finest South facing amphitheaters. The Valferana vineyard can be traced back to 1242 as Valferane in Gattinara´s municipal deeds.
Nestled in the foothills of Monterosa – Europe´s second highest mountain – the estate is protected from northerly winds, ensuring sufficient precipitation and a steady yet warming breeze through the vines. With plenty of volcanic gravel and high clay content in the soil, Nervi´s vineyards are unique in an Italian oenology. More than 100 years of experience making Gattinara wine at Nervi has taught them that only through long-term aging do we manage to transform Gattinara´s high level of tannins and acidity into a well-balanced wine. As a result, in the cellars of Nervi they typically exceed the formal DOCG aging requirements by a year or two before releasing their wines to market. The Gattinara DOCG minimum aging requirement is three years of which two in wood. The Gattinara DOCG Riserva and single-vineyard minimum aging requirement is four years of which three in wood. Hence Luigi Nervi´s motto: Nectar in tempore, meaning that patient aging in Nervi’s cellars will transform our Nebbiolo grapes into the prized elixir that made Roman gods immortal.[Read about Thomas Jefferson’s first Gattinara and the 3rd president’s Nebbiolo obsession.]
True to the area’s tradition, Nervi prunes and harvests by hand and make fine red wine using large oak casks for both fermentation and aging. Our chief oenologist Enrico Fileppo ensures adherence to tradition. After four years apprenticeship in Nervi´s historic cellars, he joined as junior winemaker in 1984 and has stayed on ever since. In 2009, seeing that this historic gem was in need of some attention to restore it to peak performance after years of steady decline, Norwegian couple Erling and Katherine Astrup made the bold decision to purchase the estate. They started investing in infrastructure while carefully maintaining the old cellar, the traditional large Slavonian-oak barrels and the prime vineyards. At this point, aware of their need to get the word out about Nervi to the international community, they contacted their friend Roberto Conterno of Giacomo Conterno in Barolo, who without hesitation referred them to Gianluca Telloli of the Valle d’Aosta, formerly winemaker at Caves de Morgex. Gianluca visited the estate, quickly perceived the value of the vineyards and was equally impressed by the cellar, their longtime winemaker and the remarkable quality of the wines. His favorite story of that day recalls when Enrico Fileppo emerged from the back of the cellar with a mason jar containing the winery’s precious mother yeast culture, propagated since the 1950s from well before Enrico’s time and still today the secret to Nervi’s unique yet consistent style. From that moment on, Gianluca knew it was his destiny to help the Astrup family to communicate to the world the jewel that they had in their hands.
In honor of Nervi and Gattinara’s great legacy, the winery has produced a Methode Champenoise Rosé Spumante from Nebbiolo called the “Jefferson Cuvée”, which features his signature on its label an inspired by documents found on the property written by the 2nd President of the United States himself chronicling his visit to the region and his great appreciation for its wines.
Personal statement from owner Erling Astrup:
“I tasted my first Nervi Molsino while studying in Milan in 1995. It was served to me by Massimo Bocciolone, whose father had recently (1992) acquired the Nervi vinery and vineyards from the Nervi family. They had run it for three generations since Luigi Nervi founded it in 1906. I was well versed in Italian wine and considered Nebbiolo to be Italy’s most noble variety. Yet, I had never tasted a Nebbiolo like the Nervi Molsino before. Discrete, subtle and austere at the outset, it revealed itself to be rich in minerals, complex and elegant. It had a story to tell those prepared to listen – carefully. I soon discovered that it was due to Gattinara´s unique terroir. At the foot of Monterosa – Europe’s second highest at 4634 meters asl – the vineyards saw extreme swings in temperature between day and night, which enhance aromatics, featured abundant volcanic gravel, providing minerality, and boasted clay levels on par with Serralunga in Barolo, which gave elegance and longevity. Some years later I founded a wine import company in Norway specialized in Italian wines and tasted my way through Italy, from Trapani to Alto Adige, Lecce to Morgex, but I never found a wine as subtle and yet complex as the Nervi Molsino.
In 2009 the Bocciolone family had to sell Nervi. Kathrine, my wife, and I had never thought of buying a winery but hearing there was a chance that this beautiful, historic winery with its 800-year-old vineyards might end up being sold to a consortium that would just split it up, Kathrine and I decided to save Nervi. We had been drinking the wine for 14 years and not only loved it but thought it had significant international potential. We struggled with lawyers and bureaucrats for 16 months before finally acquiring full ownership in April 2011. We are 100% aligned with our oenologist Enrico Fileppo, who has worked on-site since 1982, and viticulturist Ettore Bornate, who has worked in our vineyards since 1973. Together, we take pride in maintaining the style Nervi Gattinara has had for more than a century, making our wine a stable point of reference in a world marked by fads and frequent changes. Hence we prune and harvest by hand, ferment in tini and age in large botte.”