With a gradual but irresistible ascent, Michele Chiarlo, a trained oenologist and the descendant of five generations of vineyard cultivators, is now the head of a firm known all over the world, producer of a million bottles of wine, of excellent quality. The beginnings in 1956 were modest: a small cellar at Calamandrana in the province of Asti which sold Moscato and Barbera. The cellar was called “Duca d’Asti”. “Wine”, at the time, “was a low-level product”, observes Chiarlo with some irony, “and I tried, with the name, to give it a bit of nobility”. Two years later, however, the small firm was able to age the ample and generous Barbera of the zone. It was a 1958 Barbera, in fact, which lasted as long as a Bordeaux, which enabled him to make a name for himself in the USA many years later, surprising everyone at a tasting. In order to guarantee high level grapes, Chiarlo began to purchase vineyards. He produces the full range of Piedmontese wines, and in order to ferment and age them in their various production zones he has set up three different cellars: one at Calamandrana, his headquarters, another at Gavi, and a third in the Barolo appellation. Chiarlo began in Barolo in 1982, first purchasing grapes, then leasing vineyards, and finally acquiring them. In 1989 he became the proprietor of 15 acres at La Morra, in the Cerequio cru, and a year later he purchased 3.5 acres in the historic cru of Cannubi in the township of Barolo. The plot was too steep for tractors and he had already re-modulated the terrain in a novel way for the Langhe area, but without changing the profile of the hill, planting each vine row on a small terrace which followed the curves of the slope. “In this way the vines do not shade one another”, he explains, “and the grapes ripen perfectly. But when I confronted the task, I was not at all sure that the vineyard would become mine”. Barolo has been joined, at the top of his line, by an important Barbera, La Court. In the cru which supplies the grapes, Chiarlo has created a park for works of art to give even more importance and allure to the territory. But his greatest satisfaction is the fact his work will be continued by his sons: Stefano, who studied oenology, is responsible for the vineyards and cellar together with winemaker Gianni Meleni, while Alberto, with marketing studies in his curriculum vitae, is in charge of the commercial aspects of the firm. With them, the sixth generation is on the job.