The unknown Cisterna D’Asti DOC

Cristina Fracchia

Raise your hand if you know it! The Cisterna d’Asti doc, in fact, has remained in the shadows ‘till now despite of the attentions it deserves. The doc area covers 13 municipalities among the districts of Cuneo and Asti (Antignano, Cantarana, Cisterna d’Asti, Ferrere, San Damiano d’Asti, San Martino Alfieri, Canale, Castellinaldo, Govone, Montà, Monteu Roero, Santo Stefano Roero e Vezza d’Alba) and it’s only 3,5 hectares wide, producing 24000 bottles a year.


This small denomination has just celebrated two decades of life by organizing an afternoon of talking and tasting in the beautiful castle of Cisterna, built in the XII century and later remodelled in the XVII century.

This wine is made by croatina grape, 80% minimum, but almost all of the 14 producers use this vine only. During the afternoon event Alessandro Olivetti, the president of the Bottega del Vino di Cisterna d’Asti, and Vincenzo Gerbi, a professor of the University of Torino in the Faculty of Agronomy and one of the fathers of this denomination, gave some indication about the characteristics of the grape.


“It is a difficult vine, it is patchy in the production and quality, it is sensitive to downy mildew”. Uhmm…I thought, this variety has the right elements to be at least likeable to me. “It has the same anthocyanins of barbera and the tannins of nebbiolo, and, at the same age it is more intriguing on the nose than Nebbiolo”. Oh, no! This is too much…what an insolence! How could it be better than my beloved Nebbiolo? Therefore I rushed pounding to taste the different Cisterna d’Asti doc and Superiore. It is needless to say (those who know me already imagine) that my attention turned to the Superiore version. Among these, some I found significant, like Carlin de Paolo 2010, nice texture and balance, and like 2007 Dragone Vaudano Gaggìe, complex and harmonious although very powerful. Among the Cisterna d'Asti basic version I found interesting the 2010 Ca' di Tulin (owned by Olivetti).



Twenty days after  that tasting at the castle, I went back to Cisterna where I wisited the Bottega del Vino to taste some more of these wines and I confirmed the impressions about the Cisterna d'Asti doc I had tried before. I also discovered and appreciated some others, like the basic version of 2010 Giuseppe Fassino, very fruity, and also the 2009 Dragone Vaudano Gaggìe, more robust and spicy of red pepper, as well as the 2008 Superiore Tenuta La Pergola, gritty with balsamic incense. But among all what I preferred was the 2010 Superiore Santa Lucrezia, produced by Fratelli Povero (an organic winery), a still young but elegant wine with blackberry and caramel on the nose, which reminded me the style of a beautiful 40s diva, like Frances Dee, or to talk nowadays, Natalie Portman: a refined woman, with fine features, subtle structure and, at first glance, a reserved character, who shines in all her beauty at a second look.

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