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Cantina D'Arcy

The Inquisitive Outsider: Burgundy Meets Barolo

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” Thomas Huxley

By the time Myers arrived in Macedon in 2015 to work the winter pruning season at Place of Changing Winds, he had already amassed a curriculum vitae that included Comte Armand, Benjamin Leroux, Alain Graillot, Giuseppe Rinaldi, Domaine du Pelican, Marquis d’Angerville and Dr. Loosen. The list goes on. Introduced to Rob by Olivier Lamy (Rob had asked Olivier if he knew any great pruners who understood Poussard principles), Myers was already well down the rabbit hole of the connection between vineyard practice and wine quality when we first met him in 2015. 

A New Zealander by birth (don’t hold it against him!) and an intrepid traveller, Myers cut his teeth working in restaurants and wine distribution in New Zealand and the UK before finding his way to North Canterbury, a place then forging its reputation as the South Island’s ‘Little Burgundy’. Fuelled by the thirsty minds behind Pyramid Valley and Bell Hill—his time with Mike Weersing remains a formative inspiration—Myers was soon back in Europe soaking up every piece of experience he could find. Picked up by Benjamin Leroux at Comte Armand, he immediately fell in with the cream of Burgundy’s young avant-garde producers, including Olivier Lamy, Charles Lachaux and Thomas Pico. 

Between 2016 and 2019, Tom began alternating his time between Burgundy, Australia and Piemonte, working two, sometimes three, vintages a year, while also searching for a piece of land (in Piemonte) to start his own project. This was easier said than done in a region traditionally cautious of outsiders. But with trademark tenacity, the language of a vigneron and an introduction thanks to the Rinaldi family, he was finally able to find a small parcel to lease in Barolo’s Preda Cru, nestled between the famous sites of Cannubi and Vignane

Preda sits at the end of the Bussia Valley, facing east. Myers’ single hectare of vines contain a large portion of old vines, rooted in the sandy Sant’Agata marls prominent in this canton of Barolo. Covered by a thin layer of silt, the structure of these soils reminds Myers more of the lighter terroir of Ravera than, say, the profound clay-rich Crus of Brunate  The resulting wines, he says, lean towards the aromatic and lacy side of Nebbiolo. “More on fruit and flowers rather than fruit, tannin and spice.” 

Myers’ winegrowing philosophy is a distillation of experience gleaned over 10 years of working with some of the world’s great growers. He admits it will take time and effort to bring the best out of his soils and vines, but he has wasted no time adapting everything he has learnt to fit his ‘place’. Crucially, he has complete autonomy over the viticulture and, with an eye on enhancing his vines’ strength and natural balance, he has applied Guyot Poussard pruning and the practice of tressage—avoiding trimming by tweaving together the shoot tips to increase photosynthesis, promote greater root growth and aid ripening amongst many other details. In short, his approach is deliberate and respectful, with every decision geared towards promoting vine vitality, soil health and wine quality.  

It was always going to be fascinating to see what finesse-loving Myers brought to the production of recalcitrant, tannin-rich Nebbiolo. “My favourite wines have always offered both finesse and hedonistic pleasure,” he told us. “I want to achieve that with Nebbiolo as well. Nebbiolo is a brilliant grape aromatically but at times it can be hard work to drink. I want my wines to make people smile as well as think.” 

Natural ferments, measured time on skins, cautious extraction and aging in large oak form the foundation. At the same time, Myers’ work with whole bunches—seldom encountered in high percentages in Piemonte—and aging on the lees without racking, which he feels contributes to finessed, detailed tannins and brighter aromatic expression. It adds up to some of the most perfumed, textural and seductive young Nebbiolo to pass our lips. While some in the media still pick over the dying embers of the traditionalist versus modernist debate, Myers couldn’t care less. “If you are going to call me anything, call me an evolutionist.” He starts with a glass of wine and a question: “How do I get to the best, most noble expression of this vineyard. How do I make something super delicious? Complex without being complicated” 

Named after Tom’s maternal grandmother, Cantina D’Arcy made its first small suite of wines from the 2020 harvest. The feathery, violet-scented Dolcetto is crafted from six rows in Preda, married to purchased fruit from Diano d’Alba. There’s a gorgeous, lacy and sweetly perfumed Langhe Nebbiolo from mature vines in Barbarescos Ronchi Cru, and the estate’s first Barolo Preda will be released in 2024.

At this stage, Tom concedes that there’s a long way to go. This may be the case, but the wines are already outstanding.

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Country

Italy

Primary Region

Piemonte

People

Winemaker: Tom Myers

Availability

National

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