The origins of the Nada family can be traced back hundreds of years in the Piemonte region of Italy. Starting in 1800, Francesco Nada began selling some of the grapes that he grew in his vineyards. It wasn’t until 1919 that his grandson, Carlo Nada, decided to make his own wine from the select parcels of grapes in the Treiso commune of Barbaresco.
Carlo’s grandson, Giancarlo, learned the timeless craft of winemaking while growing up, watching his grandfather produce the hand-crafted wines that are now synonymous with elegance and power.
Giancarlo eventually assumed the primary duties of the winery and ushered the estate into the new century. His daughter, Anna Lisa, has since taken the reigns and continued the tradition set forth by her ancestors hundreds of years ago.
During a recent tasting in NYC, I chatted it up with Giancarlo about the operations and legacies of the Ada Nada estate.
DA: Nebbiolo is one of Italy’s most important grape varieties. It is exclusive to the Piemonte region located in northwestern Italy. Why does this grape only grow in this part of the world?
GN: Nebbiolo is a difficult grape to grow because the growing season is very long. Of all the different kinds of grapes we grow, Nebbiolo is the first grape to bud in the spring, and the last grape that we pick in the fall. It can only grow in our climate, which is generally a cooler climate growing area. The wines are either perfect or undrinkable; there is very little room for error.
DA: Nebbiolo is the grape that is used to produce wines in some of Italy’s most important winegrowing areas, such as Barolo, Barbaresco, and Gattinara. How does the soil compare in these different parts of the Piemonte?
GN: The Tanaro River is very important for winemaking in our region. In Barbaresco, we have a very diverse soil composition including clay, chalk, and many calcareous deposits from marine life that is brought down from the mountains by the river. In Barolo, the soil is more of a darker and damper clay, which makes the grapes ripen more slowly, so we typically pick our Nebbiolo grapes in Barbaresco one week earlier than most producers pick their grapes in Barolo.
DA: Your wines are unfiltered for the most part. Why do you practice this method and is it difficult to control?
GN: We feel that the wine is an expression of the land, and we try to minimally interfere as much as possible. All of our wines are aged in large barrels, and since there is no filtration before bottling, the liquid inside the bottles is still very active. We only bottle our wines during the waning lunar cycle, when the gravitational pull of the moon is less severe.
DA: Why do you only bottle during the waning cycle?
GN: Sometimes bottles that are filled during the waxing cycle eventually pop because the particles in the wine react to the lunar pull.
DA: You specialize in three different Barbaresco wines: Valeirano, Cichin, and Elisa. Are there specific nuances between the three vineyards?
GN: Since we choose to let the grapes speak for themselves, each year generally produces very different wines so it’s hard to generalize each vineyard. It’s important that…”la terrena parla” (the terrain speaks)
Elisa is the highest-elevation vineyard and typically produces wines light in body with bright cherry and cranberry fruits with soft oak tannins. The Valeirano and Cichin vineyards are at lower elevations, and produce wines with slightly more aggressive tannins and firmer acidity levels. Whatever your fancy, the Barbaresco wines of Ada Nada are a good introduction to the wines from this limited and majestic growing area of Italy.