Contratto was founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto. The winery is known as the oldest producer of sparkling wine in Italy. In fact, the 'Metodo Classico' 1919 Contratto Extra Brut was the first vintage sparkling wine ever made in Italy.
In 150 years of winemaking, Contratto went from producing Moscato and red wine to Spumante Metodo Classico, as well as Vermouth, tonic and syrups. The historic cathedral cellars are a real treasure, and among the finest of their kind. They recently became UNESCO Heritage Site. These huge underground cellars, covering more than 5,000 square meters, were built into the heart of the hill that protects the small town of Canelli, excavated from tuff limestone to a depth of 32 meters. The cellars maintain a constant annual temperature of 12 to 13 C degrees and sufficient natural humidity, an ideal environment for bottle fermentation and the slow bottle maturation of 'metodo clasico' sparkling wines.
For many generations the winery remained in the hands of the Contratto family. In 1993, it was sold to Carlo Bocchino, owner of Canelli's grappa distillery. In juni 2011 Bocchino already resold Contratto to the Rivettis, the family behind the winery 'La Spinetta'.
The vinification is done according to classic method standards. After the initial alcoholic fermentation the base wines are vinified separately, then are aged for 8 months in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Second fermentation takes place in bottle for four weeks and is further enhanced with bottle aging on yeast in underground cellars for a minimum of 36 months. The entire production is being hand riddled and then disgorged by machine. Contratto ages the wine another 6 months after degorgement, before its market release.
We visited the winery in March 2015. The cellars are truly magnificent, no wonder the UNESCO boys and girls are so fond of this place! Plus, you will have a good idea of how sparkling wine is made. After having visited the cellars, we tasted four 2010 sparkling wines: The entry-level Extra Brut 'Millesimato', the wine 'For England' Pas Dosé, the 'For England' Rosé Brut and the 'Blanc de Blancs' Brut. Our coup de coeur was the For England Pas Dosé. We are really looking forward to see what 'La Spinatta' will do with the sparkling wines in the near future.