Last December 4, in the historic headquarters of Enrico Serafino in Canale, the "Enrico Serafino experimental project for obtaining the registration of the Pinot Meunier variety in the regional viticultural catalog of Piedmont" was officially presented in the presence of the regional councilor Marco Protopapa and the Umberto I State Higher Education Institute of Alba represented by the school director Antonella Germini.

< Says Nico Conta, president of Enrico Serafino - Also in light of the development of the Alta Langa docg denomination, reserved exclusively for the classic method, it seems important to us to give our region a further opportunity for development .>>

This is a long-term project, strongly supported by Kyle Krause, owner of Enrico Serafino, who has always been involved in the local community. In fact, the investment will be entirely supported by the company which will also take charge of all the activities, from the design of the experimental vineyard to the final result which will then be available to all Piedmontese winemakers.

In this process Enrico Serafino involved the Piedmont Region , holder of the competences regarding the viticultural catalogue, and the Umberto I State Higher Education Institute of Alba , as a certified research body for the conduct of experimental microvinifications.

During the meeting, moved by the desire to give, together with the officials present, concrete help, the Regional Councilor Marco Protopapa underlined how Enrico Serafino had the courage to dare by declaring: < >>.

The project fits well with the philosophy of the Oenological Institute and the school director Antonella Germini declares herself proud of her mission: << to emancipate winemakers from that centuries-old empiricism which is the enemy of all progress >> of which one of the most evident expressions is applied research activity.

In his technical speech, Dr. Cellino explained the bureaucratic process for registering a new grape variety in the regional viticultural catalogue. This consists of the collection of experimental data for at least three agricultural campaigns, followed by validation also through the regional wine table. At the end of this first phase, registration "under observation" can take place which begins the planting of vineyards on a larger scale, however, always subject to scientific-experimental evaluation.

The experimentation

Dr. Malerba described the first steps of the process by saying that during 2023 two sites were identified, one in Alba at 150 m above sea level with exposure to the east, and one in Cerretto Langhe at 520 m above sea level with exposure to the west, both already planted with Pinot Noir. The first, located in the vineyards of the Enological Institute, is part of the experimental plantings of the early 90s for the Alta Langa project; the second is owned by Enrico Serafino and is registered in the Alta Langa DOCG.

In June 2023, buds of Pinot Meunier , Entav 865 clone, were grafted from a French nursery specialized in Champagne selections.

Professor Emaneule Fenocchio explains that starting from spring 2024 the two theses will be subject to checks and comparisons from the point of view of: phenologies, agronomic characteristics of fertility and weight of the bunches, production per vine and ripening of the grapes.

The respective experimental microvinifications will take place in the following three harvests. The latter will be carried out by the Umberto I Institute for the evaluation of the oenological characteristics. The data collected will then be submitted, presumably at the beginning of 2027, to the Regional Viticultural Table for validation and for the first official registration as a vine under observation and subsequently for the definitive one.

Pinot Meunier

This vine is the subject of much attention in the Champagne area, also due to its positive reaction to climate change in terms of the quality of the grapes. In this denomination the surface area has now reached Chardonnay with approximately 10,600 ha . In Italy it is not very present (approximately 50 ha) as it is only authorized in the Province of Trento and Lombardy. In other regions it is prohibited, as the technical-scientific process to verify agronomic and oenological behavior in the territories has never been carried out.

Its most evident phenotypic characteristic is the extreme presence of white hairs on the tips and leaves that appear dusted with flour, hence the name Miller 's Pinot.

The phenologies do not differ much from the parent Pinot Noir but the slight delay in budding and the abundant hair make it more resistant to spring frosts which are one of the effects of climate change.

From an organoleptic point of view, as the oenologist Paolo Giacosa explains, Meunier is characterized by a very rich aromatic framework in shades of citrus fruits and in particular bergamot and sometimes red fruits. A very interesting aspect is given by the material thickness of its wines which give the cuvées an intriguing consistency made of substance and juiciness.

Enrico Serafino: a look towards the future

The winery, producing the classic method since 1878 , has always had a pioneering and innovative spirit, as demonstrated by its participation in the experimental Alta Langa project back in 1994 . Today, after years of success of the DOCG, the time has come to renew this philosophy of approach which eschews simplification , which has always been the greatest enemy of excellence.

Enrico Serafino has made the spirit of the search for complexity its own by constantly applying it throughout its history: not only has it promoted many innovations ranging from the first Pas Dosé of the denomination, the Zero 2004, up to the first Extremely Aged cuvée, the Zero 140 vintage 2005, but has turned its gaze to continuous improvement with an overall vision rather than focusing on a single element. Hence the choice to operate on over 50 parcels in 41 vineyards in 16 different municipalities . The distance between the parcels is 58 km in the East-West direction and 28 km in the North-South direction with an altitude difference of 400 metres . This variability allows us to obtain grapes that are different from each other but always complementary for the definition and exaltation of our nine Classic Method cuvées, exclusively Alta Langa docg, currently available on the market.

It is precisely from this search for complexity that the Pinot Meunier project began.

<< At the end of the experimentation we will be able to understand if the characteristics of this variety, which seem ideal to combine with those of the Alta Langa Pinot Noir, will confirm this attitude. – Concludes Nico Conta, President of the winery. - Now it's a matter of implementing it to verify in the field.>>