Giuseppe Contratto founded his winery in 1867, when he began vinifying moscato from Monferrato, producing one of the first Italian sparkling wines refermented in the bottle. During this same time the Contratto family began building its historic cellars, that would finally be finished in the beginning of the 20th century.
Around 1910 Contratto began to export their wines. Contratto had great success in foreign markets and the winery became synonymous with prestige and quality in the world of sparkling wines, so much so that the winery became the official wine supplier for the Vatican, the Belgian royal house, and in 1913 the royal family Savoy.
In 1919 Contratto produced its first vintage Italian sparkling, an innovative choice on the part of the Piedmontese sparkling house which aimed to highlight the characteristics of a single vintage.
In 1920 Contratto began to produce vermouths and liqueurs. The processing techniques and recipes have remained almost unchanged, these original recipes transport you back to the 1920s.
The Contratto family remained at the helm of the company until 1993 when the Bocchino family, who owned a distillery of the same name, took the reigns of Contratto. The Bocchino family set forth the work of restoring the Wine Cathedral, the internal courtyard, and tasting room.
Giorgio Rivetti, a huge fan of Champagne, began collaborating with the Bocchino family, and immediately realized the great potential of the historic sparkling house. Shortly after, in 2011, the Rivetti family decide to take an important step and purchased the winery. The philosophy and the passion that made La Spinetta famous are immediately reflected in this new project.
A fundamental decision was immediately taken: the acquisition of several hectares of land, some under vine, close to the little town of Bossolaso. Situated in the highest part of the Langhe, the Bossolasco zone lends itself perfectly to the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grapes which are used in the production of the Alta Langa DOCG. This marks the official entry of Contratto in the Consortium of Alta Lange and Contratto becomes the reference point for the entire denomination.
The Rivetti family philosophy is to look to the future without ever losing sight of where you’ve been. To properly represent and pay tribute to Contratto, a winery that has written the history of Italian sparkling wine, the family decided in 2007 to use as their labels the famous advertising by Cappiello. Cappiello, one of the fathers of modern Italian poster design, had created a Contratto publicity campaign that ran from 1922 to 1925.
In 2014, an important recognition was awarded to the Contratto winery: the historic Wine Cathedral was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The splendid Cathedral (cellars) was entirely excavated by hand. The cellars extend about 5,000 square meters and have a maximum depth of around 38 meters. The cellar is made up of marl sediment rich in calcareous tuff which helps maintain a constant temperature of 13 degrees C.
These cellars are an evocative place, rich in history and set the scene for the long bottle aging of Contratto’s metodo classico sparkling wines. It is the perfect place to age a stock of a million and half bottles.
A glass of Alta Langa tells the story of the great potential of the Piedmontese hills. In terms of Metodo Classico, Contratto’s objective is to showcase the fundamental role the vineyards play. “Good wine is made in the vineyard,” of this the Rivetti family is convinced. Dedication is paid each day in the vineyard in order to bring exceptional grapes to the cellar.
We believe that great sucess begins in the vineyard. It is the result of treating the vineyards with extreme dedication, attention and respect. The vineyards existed before we started producing wine and will continue to after we are long gone. We must take good care of them. We so value taking care of the vineyards that we practice exlusively organic farming.
We are very attached to our roots and history. Older vineyards provide deeper character, exceptional complexity, and better transport the terroir to the wine
We believe in maintaing low yields in the vineyards. During the summer; generally between July and August, we remove some of the unripe (green) grapes. This practice, “green harvest”, is performed with the aim of reducing production and ensuring that those grapes left will be more concentrated and better reflect the identity of the vineyard. Our yields never exceed more than 30 hectoliters of wine per hectare.
Today’s farmer must be able to adapt to working with climate change. The changes in climate pushed the Rivetti brothers to trust in their senses and experiences to determine the beginning of the harvest; years of experience allow us to produce wines with unique identity and great balance.
Particular attention is dedicated to vineyard management, the first step is to protect the soil, be sure it is fertile, and reduce its exposure to high temperatures and erosion.