The summer is flying by. I went to a Piemonte winemaker tasting in June, showcasing 4 producers, sponsored by the IEEM USA at Francesca’s On Chestnut. It was held in the clandestine wine room, Disotto Enoteca in the basement. I have been meaning to put a post up since then.
Recently, I have finished and taken the test for the Italian Wine Specialist pin given by the North American Sommelier Association. Fingers crossed that I passed. Last week, I took a Burgundy/Bourgogne half day seminar on AOCs Mercurey and Savigny-lès-Beaune sponsored by the NA Sommelier Association and SOPEXA. It was during the Bourgogne seminar that I thought of Piemonte. Diego Meraviglia, our teacher for the IWS, drew many parallels between Piemonte and Bourgogne during class, calling Piemonte “The Burgundy of Italy“. In particular, he focused on the vineyard sites and terroir of Piemonte rather than estates and brands as in Tuscany. It was one of those “aha” moments as Viktoria Todozrovska, our instructor for the Bourgogne class reviewed the terminology and basics of crus, lieu-dits and terroir that it just sunk in that the differentiating factors of the wines of Piemonte and in particular, Barolo is about the crus, the locations and the soil.
As much as there are the iconic producers of Barolo, like Mascarello, Paolo Scavino, Pio Cesare, Prunotto and Vietti in Piemonte, there are many producers that are making quality wines but are just not known in the states and their wines aren’t at the price points of the top tier. Piemonte‘s reputation and demand for its wine continues to grow worldwide. The news on Vietti’s sale ( here are 2 views on the sale from Craig Perman and Tom Hyland), is one more indicator of the growth and reshuffling going on in the region. Like Bourgogne, there are many layers of quality producers throughout the region like the four wine makers who were highlighted at this tasting and who at the time were looking for distributors: Marco Bonfante Srl, Rosoretto Srl, Salvano Srl and and Vite Colte.
Wine Folly published a great mini-guide of Piemonte but lets just look at map of the entire DOC region.
The purple is the Langhe where the superstar Barolos are produced but Piemonte ,also, includes the Astigiano (Asti), greater Monferrato, and Northern Piemonte (Alto Piemonte) producing lovely wines themselves. Piemonte has the most DOCGS (17) of any region in Italy because of the diversity of soils and terroir.
Marco Bonfante Srl winery is located in Nizza Monferrato which is east of Alba and the Langhe. It is known for the Nizza DOCG wine made from the Barbera grape. The business was born from Marco and Micaela’s, brother and sister, passion for wine, continuing the tradition of the Bonfante family which has been producing wine in Piemonte for 8 generations. Micaela looks after the administrative side while Marco, with his diploma from the Oenology and Viticulture School of Alba, is in charge of production and marketing. “For us, Piemonte is a land of great wine, with a centuries old wine and gastronomic tradition. The micro-climate and the characteristics of the soils, which change considerably from one area to another, give us the chance to find the best “terroir” conditions, both for the native vines and for international ones”.
Marco poured some tasty wines: Roero Arneis Perste 2015 (100% Arneis) apricots and lime, Langhe Nebbiolo Imma 2013 named after his daughter I believe, and Albarone 2012, Piemonte Albarossa DOC (100% Albarossa a local grape 15% alcohol) this one tasted of dark fruits plum, cherry, and herbs. He makes it similarly to an Amarone hence the familiar sound of the name. In Monferrato they have the Stella farm, while the other vineyards are to be found in different areas, all in highly prized positions. The total area given over to vines, adding together the various farming estates in Barolo, Nizza Monferrato, Gavi and Castellinaldo Roero, covers more than 20 hectares.
Rosoretto Srl: The Rosoretto winery is located in Castiglione Falletto, one of the 5 major communes within the Barolo region of the Langhe. The commune has helvetian soil, which is older chalky, heavier and less fertile soil containing some sandstone and limestone. The commune is known for producing wines of full body, good balance and aromas. The grapes for Rosoretto barolos are sourced from the Parussi cru.
The name “Rosoretto” derives from the rose garden that was originally planted on the site. To this day, roses continue to ornament the authentically-restored Cantina. David Arcuri the wine maker was pouring the wines. They were outstanding, with classic notes of tar and roses, black fruit and licorice. From what I could tell web-searching, his wines are popular in Switzerland and Germany but he is still looking for distribution in the U.S.
Salvano Srl: The winery is located in Diano d’Alba which is known as a DOCG area for Dolcetto. Sylvano’s history dates back to the 1930’s, when Angelo Salvano began producing wines in his farmhouse (then called Grillo). The reputation of his wines grew and after WWII, Saverio Salvano enlarges the winery and moved to Valle Talloria, where the name “Salvano” became synonymous with quality wine. In 1982, Salvano grew again in yet another phase when Luciana Agnello and Piero Sobrero decided to realize their big dream to keep the traditions, tastes and smells of the Langhe alive. In 1998, the family added another generation to the business, when Luciana and Piero’s son Massimo Sobrero joined the company, as sales manager, followed by his brother, Alessio Sobrero as account manager in 2005. These two young men, along with their parents, are continuing the tradition of quality for which Salvano is known.
It was fun to taste the “Fosco” Diana d’Alba 2013, dolcetto, particularly, after studying the DOCG. The wine was crisp and full of red fruit. The Barolo was really good, cherry, blackberry, cedar.
Vite Colte: Vite Colte includes 180 vine growers, who cultivate 300 hectares, most sustainably grown. From what I gathered it is a cooperative that focuses on sustainable wine making. They were pouring a Essenze Barolo Riserva 2004, Essenze Barolo del Comune di Barolo DOCG 2011 and a Paesi Tuoi Barolo DOCG 2011. Every winegrower dedicates a part of his property to the Vite Colte project with constant dialogues with the technical agronomist. Behind each Vite Colte’s wine there is a face, a story and a family. They have a vast heritage of vineyards, the best motivated vine growers of the group, with their families; modern enological systems, the technology which is needed to preserve and enhance the quality of the grapes, a first-class technical group.
As I began this post, Piemonte like Bourgogne has an incredible depth and diversity of wines, soils and terroirs. If anything the top Barolo producers are more accessible price wise still than the top wines of Bourgogne. But because of the diversity of terroir, the family-owned wineries, there are many wines like these 4 producers that are really good quality and beautiful that are not as well known but should be. I have traveled to the beautiful Langhe once and hope to go again and to other areas of Piemonte. It is such a lush, green, region full of diversity and history, hills, mountains, grapevines everywhere , medieval towns and really, really good wine!!