Original Italian text: Alessandra Chiappero. English translations: Laura Torta.
They know a lot about the history of Italy and of the House of Savoy and they cook really tasty Piedmontese recipes.
Trond Malmer and Roald Noto are the owners of Cascina Desderi in Asti (Frazione Quarto) where a nice porch and a large pool overlook a stretch of vineyards that fade away towards the Maritime Alps.
The name Desderi means desire.
This couple had the great ambition of changing life and turning passions into a job: wine, hospitality and good food.
Norwegians by birth, Trond and Roald lived from a young age and for a long time in Florida.
Passionate about travel, art and gastronomy, after the 2001 global crisis they started looking for new sources of inspiration.
Portugal was the first stop in the Mediterranean, then Spain.
Far from a certain mass tourism that seeks the thrill of cheap alcohol, Trond and Roald have gained awareness of their aesthetic and cultured approach to wine universe, going further in their search.
Even if they worked in the field of tourism, they both used to tie the image of Italy to the usual four destinations, like most foreigners:
"We started our search from Rome and then we moved by train to Siena, Florence, Pisa, Bologna and Genoa. Italy seemed beautiful, of course.
But we still hadn't found ‘our place’ till then.
As we proceeded over Genoa towards Piedmont we started feeling a different energy.
Station after station, we began to wonder at the charm of the hills of a region unknown to us."
Piedmont: where in Tuscany is that?
Trond jokingly says.
This is the question that Trond and Roald were asked by their friends when they told them that they were moving to Asti to make wine.
But it wasn't hard to convince them that Piedmont is one of the most beautiful regions in Northern Italy.
Artfully made wine
A slender figure on the elegant labels enhances the bottles of Cascina Desderi.
Why choose the Art Deco statue ‘Starfish Dancer’ instead of an image of the farm or of the vineyard?
Wine is not only a sensorial experience, but also artistic. It is an encounter with timeless beauty.
How to stand out among the classic labels of Piedmontese wines?
The image of Isadora Duncan, dancer, timeless icon of charm and muse who inspired the statue sculpted by the famous Art Deco sculptor Dimitri Chiparus, was the best one to express their idea of sublime that had matured by then.
For Trond and Roald, who had ‘dug up’ the precious statue at an auction in California a few years earlier, that was the perfect image.
Cascina Desderi covers an area of three hectares cultivated with Barbera, Freisa, Grignolino and Moscato varieties of wine grape.
It produces 21 000 bottles of Barbera and 4 000 more of other varieties per year. The 99% is for export, mainly to the Scandinavian countries.
12 000 bottles per year are sold to 'Olivia's food emporium', a Northern European chain created following the Italian model.
"Here, in the area surrounding Asti, the Desderi wine is beginning to be appreciated, but we are in no hurry to convince anyone.
Our business is not limited to wine production, we also organize wine tastings at our farmhouse for Scandinavian tour operators and, in low season, we continue to organize tours outside Piedmont and also abroad, guiding visitors in the discovery of wines."
Trond and Roald's guests return to Cascina Desderi because they know exactly what they get: the welcome of a family home, art, beauty and ancient flavours.
And yes - we joke while we say goodbye to this nice couple of 'hospites' of the sublime - one day will come when some foreign tourists, asking for information on Tuscany, will be answered:
“Tuscany? Where in Piedmont is that?”