Matteo Asheri is a bear of a man with great energy, integrity and humour. Since April 2018, he has been president of the Consorzio for Barolo and Barbaresco (that is a responsibility for a total of 512 wineries, 10 DOCs, 65 million bottles!)
His family have built a remarkable business and home in this old courtyard near the railway station in Bra. There is now a small, stylish hotel above the rebuilt winery, the vaulted buildings that flank the road have been beautifully restored and now house ‘Murivecchi’ an Osteria (restaurant) run by his sister and brother in law, I suspect the only parts that haven’t changed are the family’s own homes.
There is a distinct style to Matteo’s wines, they have a purity and rarely make unreasonable demands on your time (or wallet). The dolcetto is never forced, barbera touched and nebbiolo untouched by barrique, whites are fresh and experiments are reserved for experimental wines. Over the years that we have bought Matteo’s wine we have seen things just get better in a straightforward, understandable way. It is easy to understand why his son is worried that there will be nothing left to achieve if he joins the business.
It is perhaps worth going into a little more detail with regard to the nebbiolo wines. It ‘wasn’t cricket’ a few years ago to make Barolo that was ready to drink and some saw it as some sort of modern trickery, in truth it is down to vineyard management and the way that the wine is made.
Matteo’s Barolo do not rely on barrique to soften and sweeten the fruit, they are reflections of the vineyards and vintage, the winemaker is there to assist rather than enforce any particular style. This is important, and when the Barolo wines changed from being a selection, to single vineyard wines from ‘Pisapola’ and ‘Sorano’, Matteo instantly had the silky, fine characteristics from Verduno and La Morra (Pisapola) and the energy and weight of Serralunga (Sorano).
These wines have now been joined by ‘Ascheri’, a newly recognised cru, conveniently sharing the family’s name and ‘Coste e Bricco’. The ‘Ascheri’ finds unusual depth and structure from the Pisapola vineyard, the ‘Coste e Bricco’ has a rare elegance from Sorano. Definitely twins, blonde and brunette.