Slight, good-humored and self-effacing, Elio Altare has become a patriarchal figure to generations of Barolo producers. Known for taking a chainsaw to his father’s old casks in a fit of desperation, Elio Altare is one of the architects of what is often referred to as the “modern” school in Barolo, a movement created by a group of young growers (known as the Barolo Boys) in the 1980s who wanted to shake up Piedmont’s sleepy establishment and bring Piedmont to the table with other legendary wine regions. Although Altare has crafted remarkable wines for decades, his most enduring legacy may prove to be inspiring the numerous young growers who were emboldened to start estate bottling their production rather than selling fruit based on Altare’s success.
Elio stood firm then and still does today. Insistently he decided to change direction and to give a different interpretation to the family’s wine, favoring elegance, finesse, and balance, following a strict regime in the vineyards, adopting new vinification and aging techniques in the cellar. The 10-hecatre estate is still managed by the family under Elio’ s supervision; his daughter Silvia is now the owner of the winery and runs the entirety of the property. Altare wines are made of their ‘classic’ Barolo (a blend of La Morra, Barolo, Serralunga and Castiglione), Barolo Arborina, Barolo Cannubi, Barolo Unoperuno (fruit sourced from the Arborina vineyard), Barolo Cerretta (from Serralunga), Langhe Larigi (old vine Barbera), Langhe Giàrborina, Langhe La Villa (barbera and nebbiolo), and their classic Dolcetto and Barbera bottlings.
Today at 50 years of age Elio is a sharp as ever and always looking for new things to learn. Aside from his winery in Cinque Terre, Campogrande, his newest project pertains to the restoration of an abandoned alpine village in Castelmagno, between Piedmont and the French Alps. Elio clearly shows that his talents not only pertain to wine but also cheese-making and gardening.