Podere Pradarolo—Alberto and Claudia Caretti
Serravalle, Ceno Valley, Parma
Alberto Caretti was already a renowned cheese technician and one of the foremost producers of Culatello when he purchased podere pradarolo in the Parma Hills 70s. The intention was initially to make salumi and cheeses there with his father. However, with time, his passion for fermentation segued into winemaking and today wine is the primary production of the old estate. However, the old skills remain alive, and tell the story of a project which at root an excavation of the historical meaning of this valley. Alberto’s culatelli hang ageing in the same cellar as their library wines and; in the morning, homemade yoghurt, which Alberto makes closer to labneh, is eaten with bitter orange jams and quince juice from the garden. Ancient wheat varieties like Senatore Cappelli grow next to the vines, and a 50 year old mother continues to feed vinegar production in the winery. Understood together, it is easy to see how Podere Pradarolo is a statement for a way of life.
The Podere is an outpost in an area where there are no other winemakers. However, Alberto is keen to point to the valley’s ideal aspect for winemaking and a lapsed tradition that dates back to the 600s. The farm sits in a deep natural bowl and remains cool (and cold even) on otherwise hot days. The wind from the sea is forced to rise over the cooling Monte Castello, and its alpine temperament can be felt from the highest points in the vineyard. Soil is sub-alkaline clay with 12% active limestone.
Alberto works exclusively with local grapes: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Barbera, Croatina, and Termerina. He uses wild yeasts, adds no sulphur and makes a range of red, white, methodo classico and passito wines, plus an extraordinary grappa. His process is characterised by extended macerations, although the best way to approach his white and red wines is to think of them in reverse: he makes his reds like white wines, reaching towards a lightness, acidity and verve even with his Barolo; and his whites like reds: full bodied, with extended (read: 9 month) macerations that give a vegetal, savoury depth and deep amber colour. He uses a mix of concrete, wood and stainless steel tanks in the cellar. His grappa, from Malvasia di Candia Aromatica macerated at length is distilled by master distillers Vittoria Capovilla with no additions.