Episode 381 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently and features Cristiano Garella, a partner in the Alto Piemonte’s Colombera & Garella winery, as well as a consultant for many other wineries in that region of Italy.
Cristiano Garella is a powerhouse in the Alto Piemonte today, as a partner in one up-and-coming producer there and a consultant to many, many others, he is working in almost every sub-region of the zone. But his drive and intensity don’t stem from seeking the success that he is finding now, but rather from a sense of sadness and loss at what he has seen around him. Because Cristiano knows that the Alto Piemonte was once a thriving and well-respected area of the wine world, the origin of many great wines. But what he has seen in the area are decay, poverty, and overgrown forests that have taken over where esteemed vineyards used to be. As a product of the place himself – Cristiano was born in the Alto Piemonte’s Boca zone – and having traveled all over the world in his dogged pursuit of wine learning, Cristiano feels a sense of wounded pride about the situation back home. But if the wine of the Alto Piemonte was once the drink of heroes and legend (did you ever see those old Vallana labels?), Cristiano has decided that some heroic effort should be expended on its behalf today. It is as if he would personally strap the Alto Piemonte appellations to his back and carry them higher if he could. Or maybe he has done that, judging by what is happening now on the ground. But like a true striver, Cristiano doesn’t brag. The information presented in this interview clearly comes from someone who is searching for more.
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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine.