The pop winery in Cannubi, art or provocation?
Read for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
The story is recent but able to tickle the curiosity of all those who love Barolo.
Sandra Vezza, a lively Piedmont lady is head of Italgelatine, a leading industrial group in the production of jelly and more recently of Gufram in the design world. Life has not treated her too well, she was widowed when 29, with a small child, but she was able to react and face life with courage and resourcefulness. She was a teetotaller when 6 years ago she bought a winery on the most famous hill in Barolo, Cannubi. To build her Astemia Pentita winery she asked a friend for some help, the architect, Gianni Arnaudo, also from Piemonte and with an International fame.Arnaudo hates anything that is banal or worse still foreseeable. So he designs for Sandra an underground winery with two wine boxes on top where the offices and tasting rooms will be. When I say boxes I do mean parallelepipeds which resemble enormous wooden wine boxes.
«I could have chosen to create the usual false rustic style with old bricks, or the rural neo-classical style used for outlets and maybe no one would have said anything. This project might surprise but it respects the environment, using only natural materials>> says Arnaudo. Very true but it is a jarred vision, with the name l’Astemia Pentita in enormous blocked letters and three wine glasses resembling the Gambero Rosso logo, as if to wish for future successes. If Professor Gianni Arnaudo created this winery to make a point in a dispute with a system where ”sometimes the marketing and the label prevail over the wine” unfortunately the result here seems quite the opposite to what he wanted to gain, because his project has made Sandra Vezza’s winery famous even before its first Barolo was ready. So in this case it is the container and not the wine to have prevailed.
Other than these ethical aspects this winery also opens up other questions regarding modern intervention in important urban or rural scenarios such as the Langhe, recently chosen as a world heritage site by Unesco. Arnaudo says that it was the experts from Unesco who recognized the compatibility of his pop project in a Barolo viticulture context. But the doubts remain. Maria Teresa Mascarello has expressed her disapproval in La Stampa << if this is the Langa of the future, help is needed>>.
I share with Arnaudo, the choice of modern solutions, with respect to a false old style. I find the Antinori wineries in Chianti Classico to be exceptional, the vaults in titanium by Frank Gehry for Marques de Riscal and the white sail by Christian de Portzamparc for Cheval Blanc too …. as I appreciate Arnaudo’s free creativity and his being transgressive. However my perplexities regarding the Astemia Pentita winery remain, maybe because it resembles a gigantic advertisement, maybe because in my opinion the vineyards ought to be the sole protagonists of wine territories with mankind’s infrastructures to follow the harmony of the land and the farming system, maybe because I’m a pure Tuscan and I like harmonies and not contrasts…..