Azienda Agricola LaLu

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Lara Rocchetti is the "La" to Luisa Sala's "Lu", a dynamic young duo in Piedmont who have their sights set on producing top Barolo. Following harvests in their native region with Trediberri, they gained valuable experience from Burgundy luminaries Cecile Tremblay and Dominique Lafon, developing keen insight to crafting their legendary finesse, not to mention parcel selection and viticulture. With the 2019 harvest, LaLu was born with a small harvest of Barolo from the Monforte d'Alba cru Le Coste. Given their passion and pedigree, as the duo grows with their vines so too will the already-impressive quality!

Lara and Luisa have burst onto the scene at a seemingly young age, having already compiled a wildly impressive C.V., though it took a circuitous route. A chance meeting at the University of Gastronomic Science in Pollenzo created a fast friendship, and as their joint studies introduced the young duo to the world of biodiversity, the proverbial seed was planted within their minds. Through visits to producers to learn about the benefits of biodiversity in a gastronomic sense, the vinous side of the equation tugged at their curiosity.

Through their studies and Luisa's work in a wine shop, Lara and Luisa were able to taste a great deal of wine and soon began to experiment with ideas as to what methods inside the winery and vineyards would lead to the creation of the greatest final product. Their joint thesis centered around creating a carbon-neutral winery, but it was all still theoretical - they needed to get their hands dirty.

As city girls from Torino rather than heiresses to a Piedmontese winery, the early opportunities for graduates of a program that didn't focus on oenology mostly included more commercialized wineries than the women had idealized, resulting in harvests in South Africa and Argentina. Certainly the opportunity to gain valuable repetitions in the winery and moving grapes and juice around, but not the final picture. Following a return to Italy, after some 200 resumes were sent out, Lara and Luisa begged the Oberto family of Trediberri in La Morra for an internship; this presented an welcome chance to grow within their home region of Piedmont and learn from a young but already successful small and vineyard-focused winery. Trediberri tends enviable plots in the Langhe, including La Morra and Rocche dell'Annunziata, two legendary vineyards that showed the young, aspiring winemakers the potential of strong farming within special vineyards; this only served to whet their collective palate for a chance of their own.

In 2014, through their work with Trediberri the opportunity to acquire their first plot of vines within La Morra - it was all of half a hectare in the La Morra cru of Roncaglie but Lara and Luisa scraped together the funds to acquire it, thus beginning their first joint vigneron venture at the age of 24.

What followed was not complacency in their new purchase, but a need to source more inspiration and education; this presented itself in the form of harvests with legendary Burgundian winemakers Dominique Lafon (2017) and Cecile Tremblay (2018) . Both winemakers are known to craft wines of extraordinary finesse but also focusing strongly on impeccable viticulture, certainly Lafon presented a different challenge from Tremblay: Cecile follows her own lead, spending countless hours carefully measuring taste, texture and structures of both grapes and juice to ensure absolute perfection; Dominique has honed his methods through decades of experience and was one of the early champions of biodynamics in Burgundy, a much larger, but still superlative domaine. Both experiences shaped and honed the views of Lara and Luisa, and in 2019 the first vintage of LaLu was born.

Viticulture & Vinification

Today LaLu organically farms 5 hectares of Nebbiolo and Barbera from choice sites within Monforte and La Morra. Such inspiring experiences with their varied mentors left them compelled to treat both their vineyards and their fruit with exceptional care, to the point that there are no pumps, no punch-downs, and all juice is moved through the winery by gravity flow. As they largely tend to the notoriously tough, tannic and acidic Nebbiolo grape, a soft touch can work wonders to allow a finished Nebbiolo wine to be approachable at a relatively young age. With an eye to finer tannins and more elegance, the grapes are now entirely de-stemmed - they did experiment with partial whole-cluster, but prefer the more delicate structure of forgoing the clusters - and there will be no punch-downs. With an emphasis on delicacy of handling the grapes, as many whole berries are retained as possible; this allows for semi-carbonic maceration, with the eventual effect of a brilliant lift to the wine and its aromatics as well.

With time within their small cantina that they acquired in 2019, team LaLu allows for spontaneous fermentations and will do "pumpovers", sans the pump of course - juice is methodically removed and poured by hand over the top of the grapes - twice per day, just to wet the cap. Macerations vary from 2 weeks to 30 days, and for the Barolo, the cap will be submerged for 30 days, preserving the natural fruit character. Very little press juice is added, generally only in lighter years such as 2022 & 2023, and even then only the most delicate, first-press juice. Again with an emphasis on delicacy, the aging is shorter; after vinification where all plots are fermented separately, the wines will be blended just 7-8 months after harvest (excepting the Barolo) and one year after harvest are bottled. The wines will age in bottle another 5 months before leaving the winery. For the Barolo, which by law must be aged in oak, the duo feels Nebbiolo does not favor small barrels, and the wine will ferment and age in at least 15 hL conical oak casks.

The early returns have been beautiful, from the Barbera to the Langhe Nebbiolo: the Lalu wines are extraordinarily approachable, delicious and bright. With the release of the 2020 vintage, the Barolo comes into the fold; Lara asserts that the wines would be ready to drink earlier than laws permit, as they are not the brutish, burly, structured Barolo but wines of finesse and finer tannins. Joining their friends and compatriots Philine Isabelle and Tom Meyers, LaLu provides another beautiful side of Piedmont to our collection of talented producers!

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