Silvia Cigliuti

Silvia Cigliuti

Fratelli Cigliuti (Barbaresco) (Winemaker & Family Owner)

“If you want to produce great wine, you need to know how to treat the plants and the soil. If a vine dies, what do you do?”

Silvia Cigliuti is a no nonsense person who conveys tons of warmth. The morning we arrived, she gave us a quick wave and then returned to join the two women easily moving cases to a truck in the driveway; the women were her mother, Dina, and her older sister, Claudia.

As young children, Silvia and her sister helped their father, Renato, put on labels, and then as they got older, worked in the vineyard and assisted in the cellar for three months during the summer. When Silvia was 15 years old, she began helping her father in the cellar, mostly with racking wines. Apparently Renato was surprised that his two daughters were interested in returning to the land, but his two daughters were not.

Silvia enrolled in the Scuola Enologica di Alba at the age of 14 and went into its viticulture program ostensibly because she could not stand being around girls who gossiped; the truth of the matter was that she loved the plants and the soil. She graduated in 2000 and immediately came to work at Fratelli Cigliuti, the estate of her parents. Her older sister, Claudia, who had studied languages, also works full-time at the family estate. As Silvia explained, “it is normal to stay here. We are the next generation.”

Silvia and her sister work together very well and now manage the estate, with Renato and Dina supervising. “We have some specific rules (e.g., Claudia handles marketing and sales) but we both work in the cellar and vineyards.” Silvia noted that unlike other wineries in the region, “Cigliuti does not have a consultant, as my father is so experienced.”

For the Cigliuti family, 90% of the winemaking process happens in the vineyard, which is farmed using organic practices. Their belief is that only in this way can the final product capture the characteristics of a vintage and the identity of a terroir. Manipulation in the cellar is kept to a bare minimum; indigenous rather than commercial yeasts are used, and grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures. The wines are aged in Slovenian and French oak barrels and casks.

Some 7.5 hectares are farmed by the family, 6 in Serraboella and 1.5 in Bricco di Neive, from which about 35,000 bottles are produced annually.

Family is very important to Silvia. She and her sister are both married, and they each have two children. Their two families, as well as their parents, all live in separate houses on the family estate. The day we were visiting, we stayed longer than we had planned, and Silvia let us know that she was pressed for time. The reason was that the families all have lunch together, and noon was approaching. This tradition well reflects the family closeness and compatibility characterizing Fratelli Cigliuti.

Advice. Silvia believes that passion comes first and love of the vineyards. “You have to start first in the vineyards.” School and education are important, as is experience and working in the vineyards and cellar.

The Wines. Cigliuti is a well-known and highly-respected producer of Barbaresco and Barbera wines. Before touring their impressive cellars, we had the opportunity to taste both the wonderful Campass Barbera d'Alba 2016 and Serraboella Barbaresco 2015, both of which we later purchased and are now safe and sound in our cellar.

The Campass Barbera d'Alba 2016, made exclusively from Barbera grapes, has a very dark and bright color with distinct aromas of ripe wild berries, black cherry, and prune. It garnered a score of 91 in the 2019 Essential Guide to Italian Wine and 94 points from Vinous Antonio Galloni.

The estate’s Serraboella Barbaresco has a reputable history dating back to Silvia’s father, whom we met briefly. He is a youthful 81-year-old farmer and winemaker who dared to begin green harvesting, a practice utilized by very few producers at the time. Knowing that he had to choose between quality and quantity, he went for quality. The highly unusual and much criticized viticultural decision he made in 1964 has helped establish the Cigliuti vineyards as among the most important Barbaresco areas in the Nieve area. According to Antonio Galloni of Vinous, “If there is an estate in Barbaresco that deserves more attention, it is without question Cigliuti.” The Cigliuti Barbaresco 2010, for example, earned a score of 95 points from Wine Spectator, the 2012 vintage of it a score of 94, and the Cigliuti Barbaresco 2009, a score of 93 points.