During my December tour of Monferrato in northeast Italy, winemaker and proprietor Augusto Olearo gave a small group of us a complete tour of the Castello di Razzano winery and museum. Augusto’s grandfather Ernesto Olearo began growing grapes and making wine during the early twentieth century in the Casarello area. In the 1940s his son Giuseppe Eugenio Olearo began to increase production and purchase adjacent vineyards, culminating in his purchase of the Castello di Razzano in 1968 along with its vineyards. Augusto Olearo came onto the scene in the 1980s, innovating and bringing new technologies into the wine cellar. In the new millennium, along with sons Federico and Riccardo, Augusto began a program to renovate the castle and adjacent properties with the aim of creating a world class resort destination for tourists, with hotel rooms, a winery, a tasting room, beautiful gardens and grounds, and a wine museum. The estate also produces its own olive oil.
We first got a complete tour of the wine museum, which, to my mind, seemed to extend forever. Exhibits proudly show every conceivable type of wine bottle, Augusto’s private collection of hundreds of corkscrews and bottle openers, casks and barrels of every configuration including, interestingly, scores of small casks one used for transporting wine to festivals and outdoor events. The museum includes a number of nooks in which wine currently reposes. Wine presses of all sizes compete with bottling equipment for attention. If it has to do with wine, Augusto Olearo has it in there.
The property itself is lovely, with a large Italian garden within the castle’s enclosed courtyard. Rooms are large and comfortable. Augusto took us through nearly every room and suite. The ample Superior Suites run 200 Euros a night, the Quadruple Suites 240 a night, the Duplex Suites, 130 a night, the Double Rooms 115 a night. Many of these lovely rooms have timbered ceilings, and you are not roughing it: included is Wi-Fi, climate control, satellite TV, mini-bar, and coffeemaker. An extensive breakfast buffet is included.
Barbera is clearly the winery’s main focus. Among reds, Razzano produces four different Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG wines: Valentino Caligaris, Eugenea, Beneficio, and Campasso, a Barbera d’Asti DOCG, a Barbera del Monferrato DOC Frizzante (with 10% Freisa), a Monferrato DOC Rosso (out of Merlot), a blend of Croatina and Merlot called “Pian dei Tigli,” a
Grignolino DOC del Monferrato Casalese, a Dolcetto, and a
Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG. Among lighter colors, Razzano produces a Chardonnay (Costa al Sole), a Pinot Noir rosé (Rosè Bellaria) and an Arneis/Chardonnay blend. For afters, there are two grappas made from Barbera, a grappa from Moscato, a gently bubbly Moscato d’Asti, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc Passito wine from dried grapes, and an aromatic Barbera with herbs. It was not my good fortune to taste any of these wines, but the museum and the property instilled in me a sense that I deserve to be indulged.
Castello di Razzano website.
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James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Old wine press at the Razzano museum
The museum is filled with antique wine equipment like this bottling machinery
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