Look to the future, roots in history – Coppo Winery on <em>Villegiardini</em> - Coppo

As one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Italy, Cantine Coppo is celebrating an important anniversary, crowned by new projects and initiatives to enhance a significant heritage linked to the art of winemaking and the culture of good drinking.

It was 2014 when the Underground Cathedrals of Cantine Coppo, one of the four inCanelli (Asti), were declared a UnescoWorldHeritage Site. This year, therefore, marks the tenth anniversary of the achievement of a recognition that highlights the uniqueness and absolute value of an extraordinary work: a network of tunnels for the refinement and ageing of wines that extends under the hill of Canelli for an extension of over 5 thousand square metres and a depth that, at its lowest point, reaches 40 metres.

Built starting in the 18th century as small storage cellars, and gradually enlarged during the 19th and 20th centuries up to modern renovations, the Underground Cathedrals are so called because of their extraordinary beauty. A place of great charm and historical-cultural relevance, and which still today, after more than a century, represent the very heart of the production process of wines of great quality and elegance, which have determined the label’s success in theworld: Barbera, Metodo Classico sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Moscato d’Asti as well as various DOCGs of the Piedmontese tradition, from Gavi to Barolo, which Coppo, by virtue of its historicity, has the right to make wine outside the production area.

“The Underground Cathedrals”, explains Giuditta Soldadino, the owner, “are not just a museum and, although they are wonderful works of vernacular architecture, they are not only relevant for their beauty. They are still a living, fundamental place in our winemaking process. In fact, it is here that we refine, in cask and bottle, all our wines; an ancient process, identical to what was carried out at the end of the 19th century, which can last up to 10 years.” By virtue of the special microclimatic characteristics, determined by the insulating power of the calcareous tufa in which it was dug, this set of tunnels, underground passages and long corridors is a ‘perfect machine’ for ageing wine, which does not require any artificial intervention, but exploits the laws of natural physics to create wines with unique organoleptic characteristics. “The main characteristic of this location is that it maintains a constant temperature of 14 degrees all year round. The wood of the barrels is a living material and, under these conditions, does not dry out but always remains soft and with a porosity that guarantees perfect oxygenation of the maturin gwine, a determining factor for the quality of the most extraordinary products”.

This respect for tradition and history goes hand in hand with an innovative, future-oriented vision, desired by the new owners, who took over the winery from the Coppo family in 2021. “One of the core themes of our philosophy is sustainability, in the vineyard and in the cellar,” Giuditta Soldadino emphasises. “The vineyards, which extend over 85 hectares between the above Monferrato Astigiano and the Langhe, are all certified by the Sistema di Qualità Nazionale Produzione Integrata (SQNPI), which attests to our commitment to the utmost respect for the vineyard, the soil and the surrounding environment.” Good grape cultivation is indeed at the centre of Cantine Coppo’s attention. “I always repeat: wine is made in the vineyard. That is why, in cooperation with our agronomists, we give the utmost attention to the quality of the grapes. If the grape is healthy, if it has been cared for in the ideal way, through natural fertilisation techniques such as green manure and without the addition of chemicals, most of the work is done, also considering the contribution of the Cathedrals in which we then complete the process. It is therefore essential to guarantee the vine the right nutrients, which will then determine the quality of the grapes and hence the wine”. Earlier this year, a new 4.0 technology bottling plant was also implemented, which guarantees drastic savings in energy and water consumption. In addition to this, Cantine Coppo is increasingly opening up to a series of initiatives that aim to tell the story of the labels that have made it famous throughout the world through ‘immersive’ experiences of hospitality, tasting and knowledge of the wine culture of this Piedmont area known for its landscape and production of excellent wines, a destination for international tourism of an outstanding level.

Thanks to the extensive renovation and extension works started in 2022, as well as a major investment in management, including the appointment of a new CEO, Rossano Savoia, the Underground Cathedrals can now finally be visited in their entirety, even by visitors with disabilities. In addition to barrels and bottles, it is also possible to admire glimpses of the various geological stratifications that have taken place over the millennia in order to better appreciate the complexity of the subsoil and the peculiarities of the various micro-areas. In addition, various visit and tasting experiences (Nizza Tour, ClassicTour, PremiumTour andPrivateTour) are available by appointment, presenting the history and production of the winery, with in-depth information on grape varieties, vineyard management and traditional winemaking methods. To expand this offer, a 17th century building in the historic centre of Canelli is currently being renovated to house the new wine shop and five hospitality flats. Initiatives that meet the new needs of wine enthusiasts, who today also wish to learn about all the particular oenological, historical and cultural aspects of the wine they love, through storytelling but also through the experience of the vineyard and cellar. Projects that demonstrate a look that, aware and proud of the value of the tradition of 130 years of history, today opens up to the future with new ideas that aim to intercept the tastes and expectations of the most demanding and passionate customers.