There have been Castaldi’s in the Alto Piemonte town of Briona, close to Novara, since the 1700s. Originally their surname would have been ‘Castellano’ as they served in the 12th century Castello di Briona – located above the cantina – once part of the Lombard kingdom, now owned by the Marchese di Solaroli. The family estate was founded by ‘nonno’ Pierino (nato 1922), who came from nearby Cavaglio d’Agogna. In those early days, it was a classic farm, tending vines to sell to the cooperative, along with livestock & of course the rice fields for which Novara is also famous.
All change in 1996 when Francesca Castaldi took the plunge & bought the shares of her five siblings before producing her inaugural vintage: 2001. Ten years later, in 2011, she & her son Marco, built a new cantina, ushering in a new era. Tonneaux gave way to Grenier 20HL botti grandi in 2014 & from 2015 the small family property has been converting to organic (although they haven’t used herbicides since 2009). A clearly talented family, Francesca’s daughter Lucia is also a top winemaker!
Marco was born in 1991, graduated in agraria at Novara, worked in London for three years (2011-2014) & has worked harvests in Australia (Mornington Pensinsula) & more locally in Soave. He is responsible for the cantina, & has been supported by a local consultant Maurizio Forgia since 2011.
Briona is the gateway to the river Sesia valley. The 6.5ha of vines are located on a 250 metre asl plateau of acidic soils comprising clay, glacial morainic stones, volcanic dust & alluvial matter. The family has circa 4ha of Nebbiolo, Colline Novaresi, 1ha of Erbaluce, 1ha of Vespolina, plus some Uva Rara & Barbera.
Their flagship wine is Fara DOC, a blend of 70% Nebbiolo & 30% Vespolina, vinified for circa 20-30 days on the skins (pumping over), & then aged for two years in Grenier 20HL botti grandi, new in 2014; production is limited to 2,500bt/anno. Total sulphur levels are at c. 50mg/litro, with acidities at 6.20.
The family continue to invest in the estate, buying new stainless steel & botti grandi.
Rosé, Colline Novaresi
Erbaluce, Colline Novaresi
Uva Rara, Colline Novaresi
Vespolina, Colline Novaresi