June 10: The first webinar organised by the Delhi Wine club during the current pandemic was providential since Alba and the featured winery Mauro Sebaste, both have a link with the history of our Club launched in May 2002 at a wine show when we had co-organised two wine dinners with wines from Fratelli Casetta in Vezza d’Alba. In this Part Subhash Arora focuses on the premier Mauro Sebaste winery with a Presentation by Mauro’s daughter Sylla Sebaste, export Manager Alessandro Petiti and their intern from India, Shraddha Dahiwal
One often hears about prejudices against women in the wine business in Italy till about 30 years ago in Italy, with a few exceptions: Mauro Sebaste in Alba, Piedmont is one of them. Sylla Dogliani, mother of the current owner Mauro Sebaste, started the business in 1960 in Barolo as Sylla Dogliani. She was joined by Mauro in 1979 when the company started bottling the wines under the label Sylla Dogliani.
They started building a new cellar in Barolo in 1980; this was the time when there was a big boom in Barolo wines. Unfortunately, Sylla died suddenly in 1985. Mauro changed the name to Sylla Sebaste in the memory of his mother, an expert on Langhe wines and known in the Langhe hills as the ‘First Lady’. However, due to financial exigencies, the company had to be sold off. Mauro started from scratch in 1991 with a new winery at the current location in Alba with his wife Maria Teresa and her parents.
The couple had their two daughters join them in 2018. Today the company manages 30 hA in 10 villages in Langhe and Roero, 20 hA of which have been rented. About 10,000 cases are produced annually, featuring 16 labels that include-besides variants of Barolo, Barbera (including the Nizza DOCG) and Dolcetto, the white varietals Roero Arneis, Gavi and Moscato. His daughter Sylla Sebaste, named after her grandmother conducted the webinar from the winery with their export manager Alessandro Petiti and the Indian intern Shraddha from Pune talking about the winery, history and their fine wines- with a special focus on their special unique terroir.
Grapes are hand harvested by using a vibrating machine. Dry ice is used to chill their temperature so the fine flavours are not lost. Destemming is done with a special machine to ensure no stems enter in the vinification process which is done under temperature control using Nitrogen under pressure to move the wine and for bottling it. Mauro’s passion is highlighted also by the use of low sulphites (50-60 mg), well under the limit prescribed for certification of organic wines. The winery is undergoing the process of organic certification. Every process is carried out strictly under Mauro’s nose.
Keeping the Barolo traditions, Mauro Sebaste uses big barrels of 15 Hl and tonneau (400-500 liters) for ageing the wines. Mauro believes that the wood should be as little invasive as possible to preserve the pure characteristics of the grape variety and terroirs. They use only soft-toasted French oak barrels with a small percentage of American oak for Nebbiolo grapes.
As Sylla and Alessandro Petiti explained at the webinar, the soil plays a significant role in their wines- especially for the Barolos and other reds –as an example Sylla said there was a vineyard site from which they produce 3 different Barolo labels even though the plantings were at a distance of 100 meters apart. Mauro had meticulously researched before buying the vineyards with suitable features of typicality, geographical location and apparently it shows in their wines.
I say ‘apparently’, because it was an online webinar with unfortunately no tasting of their wines at either end. One would have to visit their winery in Grinzane Cavour near La Morra and Diano d’Alba to taste the complete range.
The vineyards where the Mauro Sebaste wines are produced have been chosen for their excellent terroir (land features) and favourable exposure. They are located in Alba, Serralunga, Barolo, La Morra, Verduno, Vinchio, Diano d’Alba, Montelupo, Mango (pronounced Maan-go), Piobesi d’Alba and Vezza d'Alba where Cantina Fratelli Casetta about whom I wrote in the previous Article, is located.
The new winery in Grinzane Cavour
While visiting Barolo district you would come across another premier winery in Barolo called Sylla Sebaste with similar wines. This was the winery originally established by Mauro’s mother but had to be sold off in 1991. With the help of his wife, Maria Teresa, and his in-laws, Mauro set up the new winery which is about 11 kms from Alba, on the eastern periphery of the Barolo wine region.
A visit to the winery making excellent, elegant wines should be on your must-visit list on your next visit to Italy and especially Piedmont. Travel to Alba conveniently by train, bus or by car. Self- drive is always the best option.
Also Read : DWC: Alba is in the Air with Fratelli Casetta and Mauro Sebaste Wineries (Part 1)
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