Antonio ‘Nino’ Perino is a prominent local authority in Dolceaqua, a small town on the Ligurian foothills bordering the French Riviera. A pure garage wine where each of its 6,000 bottles produced annually are cult for authentic wine lovers. He established the Testalonga winery in 1961. His method is simple ; intervening as little as possible is the only accepted philosophy. “My dad Augusto taught me how to make wine, I only added the early decanting, because the wines are not filtered but we want them to be clean”. His niece Erica joined the winery in 2014, setting aside a degree in Japanese and a job in a trading company in Monaco. She is now the muscles and the heart in the cellar of her uncle.
The Perrino family cultivates old vines and olive trees on small terraces at 400 m altitude in the areas of Casiglian and Arcagna, the best vineyard of the DOC Rossesse di Dolceaqua. Less than 1 ha in size (!) rooted in a soil of clay, sand and limestone. The oldest vines are over 100 years, most are around 40 to 50 years old, and the oldest trees over 1000 years old. It is truly a magical place, heady with herbs and with views all the way to Corsica on a clear day.
Antonio makes the same wine today as he was making in 1961. He has no fashion and trends to follow. “If you arrive in the cellar with good grapes, it is difficult to make a bad wine”. His hole-in-the-wall cellar is hidden in the alleys of the old town, facing the Doria castle and the old Romanesque bridge which inspired Monet’s paintings. Seven 500-liter barrels, a small vertical press, a table, a row of old bottles and no machinery, because here everything is done by hand. Or with the feet, like pressing; “There is also a practical reason; in this way the stalk does not break and when we draw it off it acts as a filter so the wine comes out clean”. The juice is then left for aging 1 year in the old barrels.
The Perrino’s have no intention in growing the estate. Their answer is simple: “Why should we change the whole method. And we have no intention of doing so”
True authentic wines which taste as if they were from another age.