The inspiration for La Ciornia comes from my time spent working in Barbaresco in 2002 and 2003. The local varieties (the well-known Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, and the more obscure Freisa, Grignolino and Pelaverga) encompass the extremes of red winemaking (in terms of site expression, colour, tannin, aromatics, acidity, using oxygen constructively) so you need to think creatively and have a steady nerve to get results.
Also, being an important culinary centre, most often the focus is on how the wines will function in context with food – rather than aiming for maximum ripeness/fruitiness/extraction. When I first came to Denmark and tasted the 2007 shiraz from this vineyard in barrel, I immediately had the desire to get hold of that fruit and see what I could do with it, aiming for a slightly divergent style – a shiraz that my Piemontes’ friends would love to drink – relatively strict and unadorned, expressing the vineyard character.
So, the name Ciornia (meaning ‘dark’ or ‘black’ in Russian) carries the 19th Century Romantic sense of being drawn by a fatalistic necessity to act decisively… ideally people will sing the song ‘Oci Ciornia’ when they are drinking it.
From ‘Oci Ciornia’ (Dark Eyes) by Hrebinka:
Oh, not for nothing are you darker than the deep!
I see mourning for my soul in you,
I see a triumphant flame in you: A poor heart immolated in it.
Perhaps more significantly, in the local dialect, ciornia is a term for an attractive woman. A very attractive woman. It’s also a pretty bad pun on Cxrnas, that hotbed of potent shiraz-making on the Rhxne.