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Schiavenza is located in Serralunga d'Alba in the heart of Piedmont's Langhe district, celebrated for its great Barolo vineyards. The estate was founded in 1956 by the brothers Vittorio and Ugo Alessandria; the estate and surrounding area were formerly part of the Opera Pia Barolo (a castle that is kind of like the Hospices du Beaune: part educational institution and part hospital) whose vineyards were traditionally worked by sharecroppers. Today, the estate is run by the second generation Alessandria sisters, Enrica and Maura, and their husbands Luciano Pira and Walter Anselma. Their holdings include approximately 8 hectares in Serralunga with a small plot in Monforte d’Alba, and include the heralded crus Prapò, Cerretta, and Broglio.
The local dialect for sharecropper is schiavenza, which should give one a clue as to the style here; in the vineyard, they do not use pesticides or herbicides. Harvest is manual and is conducted according to the phases of the moon. In the cellar, they use only naturally occurring yeasts, and ferment the wines in cement cisterns. In terms of aging, this is no modern barrique-aged Barolo estate: the wines here are aged in the traditional large Slovenian barrels called botti. The quality here is shockingly good. Schiavenza's wines are elegant, pure expressions of Nebbiolo that would embarrass many a more famous address. This is a direct import and we have negotiated with the estate to bring our customers the lowest possible prices; we are thrilled to be able to re-introduce these great wines to the market at prices that are lower than ever.
For more information, please consult this excellent blog post.