A leading Lady of Barolo: a chat with Isabella Oddero of Poderi e Cantine Oddero

Blog

Venturing into the Langhe, we find the majestic wines of Barolo. Certain estates define the history of these wines, and Poderi e Cantine Oddero is one of them. Amy Ezrin – established Italian wine consultant and partner of national importer the Piedmont Guy – interviewed Isabella Oddero, the seventh generation of Poderi e Cantine Oddero, exploring exciting aspects of the winery’s history and production: you can listen to the full interview in episode 756 of the Italian Wine Podcast “Clubhouse Ambassador’s Corner” series.

Who is Isabella Oddero?

Isabella Oddero is a female force in the Piemontese wine scene. She is the seventh generation of this historic Langhe wine estate, Poderi e Cantine Oddero. Her grandfather Giacomo Oddero is a pivotal part of Langhe’s wine history. Today, the winery rests in the hands of three incredible ladies: Giacomo’s daughters Mariacristina and Mariavittoria, along with Isabella – his granddaughter – the newest generation with eyes set on the future.

Where is Poderi e Cantine Oddero?

Poderi e Cantine Oddero is one of the most historic cellars in the Langhe. They have steadfastly upheld traditional production methods over nearly 200 years. They make wine from some of the greatest crus in Barolo, Barbaresco, and the Monferrato.

Grapes to Know

This winery is renowned for its Barolo wines, made with the famous Nebbiolo grape. However, Poderi e Cantine Oddero also produces other excellent wines from Piedmont’s indigenous grapes, such as Dolcetto, Barbera, and Moscato D’Asti. 

Why Amy Picked Isabella Oddero

Isabella is the next generation of Oddero, helping to define the future of the estate. Her grandfather Giacomo is a living piece of history. Giacomo’s daughter Mariacristina has been incredibly successful at upholding a commitment to making some of the best wines in the Langhe. Today, she shares this mantle with her son Pietro and niece Isabella. Isabella brings a fresh perspective to the new generation of top producers in the Langhe and is an essential example of potent female leadership.

5 Things About This Producer

#1

AE: I often see a little bit of confusion on the level of wine lists. There are two Oddero estates: you are Poderi Oddero and then there is Luigi Oddero, who is your grandfather’s uncle who created another estate. You guys are the OG Oddero. Tell us about the vineyards you cultivate: which are they, how long have you been farming them, and describe their qualities.

IO: We are very lucky because we have the opportunity to work today with very important vineyards and different characteristics in the soil especially. We are owners of 35 hectares of vineyards and about 19 are planted with Nebbiolo grapes, giving life to Barolo wine. So, Barolo for my family is not only the most prestigious wine for our family but also the heart of our production.

#2

AE: I heard a fun anecdote that your grandfather was happier in the orchards with the fruits than the vines. And, now today you are more focused on the vines. Is this story true? 

IO: Yes. He worked together with his brother Luigi. Luigi was the guy in charge of vine cultivation and wine production. My grandfather was more the mind behind all the decisions. But, he had this passion for fruit trees. We used to have more fruit trees then than we have today. So, he was in charge of this. They were a good team working side by side.

#3

AE: I’d love to dig into some of these crus. You really do work in some of the most important vineyards in all of Barolo by far. The fact that you cultivate and bottle each one of them individually is pretty remarkable for any estate to do. So, I think the story about how you bought them. We talked about Rocche di Castiglione, one of your first. Let’s think about the vineyards as you bought them and talk a little bit about what you bring out of these vineyards. What are the characteristics these vineyards give you?

OD: Our property is extremely fragmented. We own many tiny parcels, very diversified, in many different villages. In La Morra, we have several different vineyards. I can mention Bricco Chiesa and Capalot – they are two very important vineyards, some of the most historical for us. The fruits and the grapes are blended together to produce our Barolo Classico, so the blend of Barolo is like in the past. We also own a very tiny parcel – 0.4 hectares – in Brunate. Brunate is the most prestigious, most historical vineyard in La Morra village. And, we produce Brunate as a single vineyard which we started in 2004 with the cru Brunate production, though the vineyard was bought in the 70s. Back then, we blended all the fruits because my grandfather was much more oriented towards the Barolo Classico, the blends. Only recently we began producing single vineyards. Brunate is a beautiful vineyard, a vertical cru. Our parcel is right at the top – it’s the highest vineyard we own. 

#4

AE: Not too long ago you ventured up to Ast, to make a Barbera D’Asti that’s now become a Nizza DOCG. Can you give us a quick description of this fun evolution at the estate?

OD: This was the very last acquisition by my grandfather at the beginning of the 1990s. He always had a true passion for Barbera. This is why we have in some of the most important positions in Barolo, very important crus, we have some rows planted with Barbera. While everybody produces Nebbiolo single vineyards, we also produce a little Barbera because this really was my grandfather’s true love and passion. So, when he was offered to buy a small vineyard in Vinchio D’Asti, in the Barbera D’Asti area which is now the Nizza DOCG, he didn’t think twice and immediately bought the vineyard. 

It’s quite strange because generally, producers from Asti go all the way to Barolo to produce Nebbiolo. Instead, we travel from La Morra all the way to Vinchio to produce Barbera. This vineyard has a special terroir for Barbera. The new project of Nizza we immediately took part in it. This is an area with huge potential. There is a great relationship between price and quality. They are also working well to establish new laws and limits to improve the quality of the area. We will see for sure in the future beautiful results.

#5

AE: You’ve been certified organic for a while. Let’s dig into how you work in the vineyards. 

OD: I have to say we really improved a lot of improvements in our agronomic. And, they are all thanks to the view of my aunt Cristina. She is responsible for our production. Her first vintage was in 1996. She was working with my grandfather and his uncle Luigi. Then in 2004, she became officially in charge [of production]. She had some difficulty with family which is quite normal with the generational shift. Though she finally was in charge and able to make her own choices.

She introduced organic cultivation and we did it gradually. It started with some vineyards in La Morra, the ones that are the closest ones to our winery because we wanted to be serious so we wanted to be certified and obey the organic discipline. And of course to be able to have good quality. It is not so easy to be organic in Piemonte. It has a different microclimate than other regions. We learned through experience and are very happy with our results. The whole property is now organically farmed, since 2007. We also have a lot of interest in biodynamic philosophy, although we can’t declare ourselves as biodynamic. We do share common points with the philosophy, particularly concerning the care of the soil.

Poderi e Cantine Oddero Wines to Know

Oddero Barolo DOCG – Brunate 
Oddero Barolo DOCG – Bussia Vigna Mondoca
Barolo DOCG Rocche di Castiglione 
Oddero Barbaresco DOCG Gallina
Oddero Barbera d’Asti DOCG Superiore Nizza

July 6, 2023
5StarWines & Wine Without Walls Trophy Award Ceremony & Masterclass – Live from Vinitaly 2024

5StarWines & Wine Without Walls Trophy Award Ceremony & Masterclass – Live from Vinitaly 2024

Best Wines to Drink Now – Spring 2024 – Live from Vinitaly 2024

Best Wines to Drink Now – Spring 2024 – Live from Vinitaly 2024

Classification of Italy’s Grand Cru wines: the evolution of international auctions – Live from Vinitaly 2024

Classification of Italy’s Grand Cru wines: the evolution of international auctions – Live from Vinitaly 2024