Alto Monferrato’s Hidden Treasure(s) – Cantine Valpane, Part I

At this point, I’ve visited many hundred wineries/estates. I generally meet with the winegrower and/or agronomist; often, one man (or woman) is both. In the instant case, that many is Pietro Arditi, a self-taught winegrower that has a kind, pleasant and inspiring humility; he’s also got a great sense of humor. Pietro’s in charge of hospitality, too, it seems. It’s just him and two locals that help him, on occasion, in the vineyards, and that’s it. 10Ha under vines, it’s a lot of hats to wear.  And yet, Pietro’s smile is as wide as the valley in front of us.

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Our meeting, at his cellar/home/farm was entirely in Italian. It was also leavened with Pietro’s quick wit, his big smiles and an honesty that I too frequently encounter. Needless to say, I came away with not only a great respect for the man, but a sense of what is possible – in this (winegrowing) region – but also in life. I wanted, several times, to hug the man; to tell him, in the few short minutes I’d known him, I was his #1 fan. He’s that kind of guy.

I asked Pietro, how does a guy growing wine outside of the more well-known zones (his wines get del Monferatto appellation, not the more coveted DOC or DOCG), become imported by Kermit Lynch? Pietro’s response, reached out to KL; it started with a Bandol wine that Pietro liked years and years ago, and he was told who imported them in the USA. Lots of mail was exchanged, a few years passed, and KL was on board. Pietro’s that kind of guy, and his wines are obviously to KL’s taste. Says a lot, I think.

In addition to the 10Ha of vines, there’s another 20Ha of land to keep up. Plus, there’s a HUGE house from the 1700s (a small village, really, it was built to house many families and to be completely self-sustaining in those purely agrarian times – e.g. a huge cistern that can hold thousands and thousands of gallons of water, a wood burning oven to cook enough bread to feed an army, etc.  I’d say that at one time, it would be reasonable to assume at least 50 people lived here. Really, I’ve read about these places, or maybe some film production team has built something similar, but this place was the real deal. It’s a museum on steroids.

But today, it’s just Pietro and his dog, Balou (sic).

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