The Arlunno family traces its roots in the village of Ghemme back to the early 6th century and has been growing grapes in and around the area for at least two centuries. In 1969, when appellation status was bestowed upon Ghemme, Carlo Arlunno set out replanting the family vineyards based on quality and subsequently building a new winery. In 1977, Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo was born as a full-fledged winery. In 1981, Alberto Arlunno took the helm of the family enterprise after studying agriculture and enology and that year, he released the 1974 Ghemme, the first estate-bottled wine, and the following year he released the 1979 Collis Breclemae, his first single-vineyard bottling. He is now joined by his daughter, Benedetta in carrying on the family tradition.
Located in the area known as Alto Piemonte, Ghemme lies to the east of Gattinara in the foothills beneath the imposing alpine range dominated by the Monte Rosa peak on one side and overlooking the expansive Padana plain to the south. These hills were created through millions of years of geological tension and movement that resulted in a blessed triangle of villages where wine-growing has been the focus since pre-roman times and where the Nebbiolo grape, Spanna in the local Piemontese dialect, has flourished since before records were being kept. Cantalupo comprises 35 hectares in Ghemme and is the flagship winery of the appellation.
The terroir of Ghemme represents a colossal mixed bag of minerals including granite pebbles and rocks, crushed gravel, various types of schist, crushed Fenera dolomite boulders, sandstone and loam, to name just a few… The massive collision between Africa and Europe that began about 60 million years ago resulted in a geological profile that is as rich and complex as any other in the world. Cantalupo’s vines are planted at an elevation between 250-250 meters, considered the “sweet spot” for Nebbiolo in Piedmont where the balance is perfect between rich topsoil, resulting from ancient erosion, and stone and mineral content.
Nebbiolo makes up 80% of the varietals planted on the estate. Others include Vespolina and Uva Rara (Bonarda Novarese), local indigenous reds and Greco di Ghemme, Arneis and Chardonnay, which go into white wine production. Virtually all vineyard work is performed by hand where the goal is to facilitate harmony between micro-climate, soils and vine, resulting in perfect balance for ripening through low impact farming. At harvest, grapes are hand-sorted and de-stemmed to facilitate ideal transparency of terroir in the glass. The Ghemme DOCG requires a minimum of three years of aging before release.
There are four distinct bottlings of Ghemme from Cantalupo. There is a straight Ghemme or village bottling plus three single-vineyard bottlings: Ghemme “Collis Breclemae”, Ghemme “Collis Carellae” and Ghemme “Signore di Bayard” that are made from old vines in the best sections of each of those named vineyards. The Cantalupo red wine lineup is rounded out with a botti-aged bottling of Nebbiolo called Agamium and the Villa Horta, a lovely bottling of Vespolina named after the village where the grapes are grown.