Author: Solène Folatre
Friday, 8:00 am… My 49 classmates from the International Food and Beverage Management programme at ESCP and I jump onto the waiting bus. Today is Langhe Day! Our first day away from Turin, dedicated to visiting food and beverage companies, and more specifically, vineyards! We leave the icy city, all very excited, bundled up in warm coats and jackets, for the colourful hills of the Langhe in the Piedmont region.
Our first stop: The Rivetto vineyard, where we discover an almost lost Piedmontese gem, the Nascetta. After criss-crossing the surrounding hills and the magnificent landscape, it is time to get off the bus. We feel the fresh air and hear the gravel crunching under our feet while the sun rises and slowly warms the atmosphere. From the hill of Linaro, where the winery is located, we admire the landscape revealing autumn colours. A good omen!
We are warmly welcomed by Enrico Rivetto who guides us to the vineyards and starts the visit. Enrico Rivetto started this adventure 13 years ago and has slowly expanded the estate that has reached a size of 35 hectares of land, 15 of which are dedicated to wine and the remaining 20 are dedicated to hazelnuts. During the year he grows different types of grapes: Barolo, Nebbiolo and the mysterious Nascetta.
But beyond the figures, practical details, and techniques, his story uncovers a strong and committed philosophy. In fact, his winery is organic and biodynamic, which contrasts with the many monocultures found in the Langhe hills. Instead of seeing agriculture as a battlefield, Enrico Rivetto sees it as a matter of understanding, exchange, and symbiosis. This is a truly holistic approach. Nature in essence leads to harmony and his work is to preserve the diversity and vital richness of the earth.
How: Enrico Rivetto has created biodynamic corridors between the rows in the vineyards and the estate is covered with many species of trees, plants and flowers to support biodiversity. They use the plants to filter water with a pond of clear water from wells and rainfall. Compost is also produced with the help of a lovely couple of donkeys, which made some of my classmates more than happy. The grass we can see between the vines is a testament to the quality, health and richness of the soil generated by all this hard work. As a Frenchwoman used to the more conventional vineyards of Bordeaux or Burgundy, it is fascinating to discover a different way of thinking to achieve the same goal of excellence.
After exploring the estate, Enrico invites me and my fellow ESCP students to discover the winery and its fermenting tanks. They use different fermentation vessels for different wines; wooden barrels, stainless steel tanks, concrete containers and, terracotta jugs, a technique I had never seen before. Each method of fermentation is chosen according to how tannic, sweet, or acidic a wine they are creating. Just like the earth, it’s all about balance and harmony.
Now it’s time for the most exciting part of the visit, the tasting! We enter the tasting room, and we are immediately enchanted by the tasteful, modern yet very warm atmosphere. We start the tasting with the Nascetta white wine. Enrico Rivetto explains to us that Nascetta is a noble grape variety from the Novello hills in Piedmont that almost disappeared after the Second World War. The cultivation of this difficult and delicate grape survived thanks to the know-how of a handful of producers, and he has kept the tradition alive. This fascinating variety has remained almost hidden for many years and has just returned to the spotlight, showing as much finesse, ageing potential and quality as other Piedmontese varieties like Nebbiolo.
After this intriguing introduction, Enrico opens the first bottle of Nascetta. The serious business begins! We watch attentively as the wine is poured into the elegant glasses. The first thing that catches our eye is its bright colour, tinged with gold. I could smell very pleasant aromas of fresh fruit and citrus, perhaps even butter? First sip. The wine reveals a fresh, delicate, but very aromatic body. As a white wine lover, I must admit that I am delighted. I am far from being an expert in wine tasting, but a sommelier once told me that the magic happens when you unconsciously bring the glass to your mouth again and again. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters, he said. In this case, it’s a success!
After several more bottles of other amazing wines, it is sadly time for my IFBM classmates and me to leave the Rivetto winery. Today, when I think back on that visit, I remember the words of the Dean at the opening ceremony of ESCP. “Everything starts with a choice” he said. What if that was the best lesson I could have learned from that day? After all, Rivetto represents, as well as a wonderful wine, an unconventional way of thinking and an inspiring way of doing. Like Enrico, it is our choice to stay true to ourselves, to do something different, and to create something we believe in.
We definitely had a sensational time at Rivetto and it is just the beginning of our food and beverage adventure. Indeed, company experiences are a crucial part of ESCP’s Master in international Food & Beverage Management. One thing is for sure, we can’t wait for the next chapter!
If you want to visit the winery or learn more about Rivetto:
Azienda Agricola Rivetto dal 1902
Via Roddino, 17 – 12050 Serralunga d’Alba (CN)