VIDEO: Interview with Michele Marsiaj, founder of Amistà.

Behind every great winery, there is a story.

Behind every great terroir, there is a legacy.

In the video below, produced by Allurèsque films, Amistà’s U.S. ambassador and editor of the winery’s blog, Jeremy Parzen, interviews Amistà’s owner and founder, Michele Marsiaj.

Michele, a Turin-based entrepreneur, had been making wine in Gavi, Piedmont for a decade when he decided to purchase a historic farm in Nizza Monferrato, the spiritual homeland of the Barbera grape variety.

His son Jacopo was studying at the nearby Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences when learned that there was an opportunity to acquire one of the Nizza DOCG’s most storied farms, the Colombaro estate in the heart of the appellation.

The property had been in the hands of the same family for generations, Michele explains. And although it was not organic certified, it had been farmed using strict organic practices for many years. This was a key element, notes Michele, because of his steadfast belief in organic farming as the way of the future.

The farm lies along the Bricco del Nizza, a narrow strip of land that runs west from the village of Nizza Monferrato, renowned for its limestone and clay-rich soils. The so-called “terre bianche” (or “white soils,” made of limestone) and the “terre rosse” (“red soils,” made of clay), are ideal for the production of long-lived red wines.

The other thing that makes these legacy vineyards so important is their “historic memory”: The average age of the vines is roughly 60 years old and some of the plants are as old as 90 years. These “old vines” are some of the appellation’s most coveted and they produce some of its most nuanced and complex wines.

In 2019, Michele asked one of Italy’s most famous enologists, Luca D’Attoma, to become the winemaker at Amistà. Renowned for his work in Tuscany, including a handful of 100-point wines made from Bordeaux varieties, Luca had never made a wine in Piedmont before. But after touring the vineyards and tasting some of the wines that had been produced there, he gladly accepted the challenge.

Luca immediately launched the organic certification of the vineyards (the farm will be certified next year). He also began the biodynamic conversion (certification forthcoming).

But perhaps most importantly, he started aging the wines in large-format oak casks instead of small French barriques. Historically, Nizza DOCG has been made using new, high-toned oak to give it tannin and oaky character. Luca is breaking with this tradition by eliminating the oaky component and obtaining color and tannin through extended maceration.

Michele tells the story of why he decided to invest in this exciting new appellation (created in 2014). And he explains how he convinced one of the world’s most famous winemakers to join him in his quest to produce the greatest Nizza DOCG ever made.

Buona visione! Enjoy the film!