"Nature is a temple but it lives by contrasts. You must respect, observe, understand, study it. But you have to fight to get something out of it. Nature is a dialectical discourse." - Pete Weimer.
When you close your eyes and imagine a winemaker from Piedmont, you'd be forgiven for not immediately picturing Peter Weimer. Affectionately known as Pete, this former software executive with German roots gave up corporate life in Switzerland and purchased Cascina Ebreo in 1991 with Romy Gygax, his partner in wine and life. Pete may not have had formal training as a winemaker but he is a certified wine geek - he started collecting wine when he was 16 years old and devoured wine books the way other children read comics. Not deterred by neglected vineyards that needed replanting and cellars that needed building, Pete and Romy fully embraced their new life in Italy and in 1996 Cascina Ebreo bottled their first wines. Today, Cascina Ebreo is available at acclaimed restaurants and fine wine shops.
I recently had the pleasure of sharing some Cascina Ebreo wines with Pete while he was visiting New York City and I was immediately drawn to his unfiltered and down-to-earth manner. Another example of the winemaker's personality mirroring his creations, Cascina Ebreo wines are not filtered, only use natural yeasts, minimal sulfites, and organic fertilizers in the vineyard. But don't dare call Pete a natural winemaker, he prefers the term "unplugged wine" because he feels that there are no rules at all in natural wine and he finds that problematic.
You can't have a discussion about wines from Piedmont and not talk about Barolo. Made from 100% Nebbiolo, Barolo is known as "The King of Wines" and boasts DOCG status, Italy's highest level of classification for wine. Cascina Ebreo's Torbido! is a 100% Nebbiolo wine but this high-end vino is not classified as a DOCG, not for lack of quality but because Pete produces the wine in his own rebellious way instead of adhering to the official rules. Only produced in extraordinary years, Torbido! is a complex and expressive wine produced from late harvested grapes and aged for thirty months in Austrian oak barrels. Rich but not aggressive, Torbibo! boasts well integrated tannins, impressive structure, and vibrant energy. You'll have to wait about a year try Torbido! in the US. Of course, you can book a flight to Italy - that's always a good idea!
Until Torbido! arrives, give Cascina Ebreo Rosso ($29) a swirl. A blend of the classic Piemontese grapes Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo, it is a fresh and fruit-forward red wine with enough structure to age but perfectly pleasant to sip while it is young. Cascina Ebreo also produces a richly textured and evocative Sauvignon Blanc, Sinché ($42), crafted from Loire Valley and Friuli clones. Made with passion and creativity, the wines of Cascina Ebreo are a very special and unique expression of Piedmont.