Azienda Agricola Philine Isabelle

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Philine Isabelle didn't grow up in a winemaking family in Piedmont. Native to Germany, she studied politics at University, and like myself felt more fulfilled with her job in restaurants than she did in a classroom. While working in a Biergarten, Philine developed a relationship with a few local wineries and ultimately built her interest in wine. Since 2009, Philine has spent time in various vineyards and cellars focusing on biodynamic viticulture including Odinstal, Pranzegg, and Heinrich, as well as working as a consultant for master pruners Simonit & Sirch, who consult for wineries such as Leroy and Roederer.

Currently, Philine has settled in Preda, located in-between Cannubi and Vignane, in which she manages 1.2ha and buys grapes from an additional 1ha. The time she spent working in vineyards in Germany has influenced a lot of her decisions today. While working for Heinrich, which is over 100ha, Philine oversaw a technique known as ‘composting on field’. This focused on building humus, which takes over a year to begin (on 100ha of land).. While working as a pruning consultant Philine finally felt like all things viticulture to vinification made sense. She decided she wanted to try to start her own project and settled in Piedmont. "The food, the produce, the people, it brought me there." In 2019, she bought Dolcetto (from Massimo & Luigi Veglio in Diano d’Alba), and Barbera in Monforte, with Nebbiolo fruit (also from the Veglio brothers) from a parcel in the Castagni MGA in La Morra. Everything she produced in this vintage was vinified at Rinaldi. Philine was able to agree to the on going purchase of the same plots year on year from Massimo & Luigi, affording her a better relationship with both the fruit and the growers.

Viticulture and Vinification

Her idea of not having her own vines quickly changed as in 2020 a 2ha parcel in Preda became available. Having a close relationship with our friend Tom Myers, they decided to rent it together and cultivate each of their plots as they choose. The parcel is planted mostly to Nebbiolo, with several rows (0.3ha) of Chardonnay at the bottom of the slope. Philine is not yet certified biodynamic; however, once she has established her relationship with Preda, she plans to begin the process of certification. This doesn't mean she isn't working hard to get the vineyards to where they need to be,. She also notices a difference in the grapes each year. Though acknowledging both the pros and cons, she admires the consistency certification offers as well as believing that it serves as a strong, visible rejection of conventional, chemically intense agriculture. Philine is meticulously getting to know her vineyard with the goal of bringing bright, elegant and energetic fruit into the winery. Canopy management plays a big part in her vines, depending on the vintage and how much sun needs to be controlled. There is never any hedging rather rolling of the canopies. She does her own compost brewing, and BD treatments.

In the Winery, Philine's goal of bringing in bright and clean fruit is a direct representation of what her wines look like going into bottle. For now, her Nebbiolo is entirely de-stemmed. Philine does not think too much of the exaggerated carbonic-related aromas. These can often result from whole- cluster and therefore opts to negate this risk entirely. Fermentation is spontaneous with maceration lasting the duration of the fermentation (roughly 24 days for the Barolo and 19 for the Langhe Nebbiolo) until the cap begins to drop. Punch-downs occur during the final third of the fermentation, opting for gentle pump-overs twice a day during the initial stages of fermentation. Bottling is performed by gravity without filtration or fining, and finished with minimal sulfur and Ndtech, Amorim and Naturity corks.

She aspires to a pure, fresh and vivid profile. She hopes to craft wines that are finely woven, well-structured and intellectual.

Looking to the Future

The coming years have many developments as Philine hones her craft and her vision for the future! From the Preda vineyard, the Barolo and Chardonnay will be released for the last time with the 2023 vintage, the Chardonnay due to arrive to us in 2025 and the Barolo in 2027. Replacing the 1.2 hectares in Preda will be Philine's new acquisition of four plots, totaling 1.5 hectares. The greatest of the incoming vineyards is Barolo Le Coste di Monforte, where Philine has now acquired 0.35 hectares of South-east facing Nebbiolo vines from Fernando Principiano, whose farming methods were of similar organic focus. From the same previous owner, she also purchased 0.35 hectares of Dolcetto. It is important to note that her previous plots of Dolcetto, Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo, of owners Luigi and Massimo Veglio. will remain in production for Philine.

In between the villages of Roddi and Verduno, another hectare was purchased, where half of the land will be planted this Autumn, entirely to Nebbiolo. Philine was dedicated in her searches for vineyard land to finding a plot where she could create a full ecosystem, utilizing keyline design to maximize the use of the natural water resources, and also practice polyculture with mixed trees, shrubs, cover crops and livestock throughout the growing seasons. Of course, this necessitates a higher training system, most likely pergola, according to Philine.

Finally, in the Alta Langa, this past winter Philine planted the rootstock meant for white wine, most likely Chardonnay, inside a 0.3 hectare plot belonging to her friends who produce both sheep and goat cheeses. Much like the previous parcel, Philine plans for the livestock to graze throughout the vineyard, so the vines will be trained appropriately high. Both this and the Nebbiolo plot between Roddi & Verduno will be harvested for wine for the first time in 2027 & 2028.

She does not rest on her laurels; Philine continues her studies and remains endlessly curious, aiming to always craft even better wines by way of increasing the natural health of her vines, or as she calls it, "Exceptional plant 'fitness.'" So says Philine, "I care very deeply about the metabolistic vitality of the plants in order to reduce even further the use of pesticides but also to develop sublime aroma and depth of the fruit."

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