Close to the Roagna family house in Barbaresco, Paje feels like the home vineyard; the Roagna vines run down from top of the slope, nestled in the apex of an open oval. As on all of their land, the plants between the rows of grapes are never cut. Luca says that the hand-work in the vines helps to keep the growth down; the plants compete for water and so force the vines to grow deeper roots. Many growers will tell you that too much growth in the rows promotes excess humidity and risk of mildew, but the Roagnas feel this isn’t an issue because their vines have always co-existed with the other plants and are generally in great health. The vines themselves are also never trimmed, the theory (which is somewhat widespread) being that the plant should be permitted to continue to grow naturally, instead of being forced to put more energy into ripening fruit. Paje 2011 is stellar, a wine to make converts of lovers of Burgundy, Chambolle to the Barolo Pira’s Gevrey, delicate, with very fine-grained tannin, a bit reserved, and very elegant. Jamie Wolff
PS The image is of Luca in Paje at the edge of his plot; behind him you can see the neighbor's neatly herbicided rows.
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