Thursday, September 5, 2013

Look for Alto Piemonte Wines

The Alto Piemonte region is very well respected amongst the wine-obsessed, but not as well known among the average wine drinker. OK, you may have heard of (and had) Gattinara and Ghemme, but on the whole, these Nebbiolo-based wines can really be special under the hand of the right producer.

These are some really fabulous picks currently on the shelves. If you like and drink Barolo and Barbaresco you are sure to enjoy these wines.

2011 Luigi Ferrando Canavese Rosso La Torrazza $21.99
Produced predominantly from Nebbiolo with roughly 30% Barbera, this tastes-better-than-it-costs red is vinified in stainless steel and bottled 12 to 15 months after harvest. Full of wild berries (notably strawberry and raspberry), spice and a touch of warm earthiness. The tannins are delicate and fine which enables this wine to be consumed with pleasure in its youth. Maybe the best vintage of this wine in the last 10 years.

2008 Az. Ag. Bianchi Ghemme $29.99
The Bianchi Cantina was created in 1785 by Giuseppi Bianchi. This wine comes from several vineyards owned by the Bianche family in Ghemme. Of the pure nebbiolo wines made here at the estate this is the roundest most fruity though it carries about the same body weight as the two Gattinara wines. The wine spends about 18 months in large oak (50hl !!!) barrels.  Clay and higher acid soils.

2010 Massimo Clerico Spanna Coste della Sesia $35.99
The steep hillside vineyards planted to soils of glacial moraine produce a rigorous wine in Clerico’s hands that is aged gently and long in mid-size barrels. Further, the fascinating, and sometimes difficult, Vespolina grape plays a minor but intriguing role in the Alto Piemonte, providing brightness and spice to the mix. Clerico’s domaine is only slightly larger than two hectares so production is severely limited. The Spanna (local name for Nebbiolo) is from the Costa della Sesia appellation.

2006 Monsecco Gattinara $45.99
Monsecco is the creation of the Zanetta family, a clan with deep roots in the Alto Piemonte and its world of wine.  The objective of the Zanettas is to produce the finest versions of each of the appellations they present to the public as Monsecco. That includes for us their powerful Gattinara, the elegant Nebbiolo known as “Pratogrande” from the Novarese hills. Deep, rich and solid tannic structure.

2006 Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso Dei Pomi $45.99
Visiting the Rovellotti family in the heart of the town of Ghemme is a moment of deep immersion in the history of this area marked by its position just beneath the massive form of Monte Rosa, one of the highest Alpine peaks. Ghemme has been a crossroads for both trade and war and the ancient brick buildings in the center of town hold a trove of tales as well as much of the wine produced by the Rovellotti family whose cellars are within the walls of the old fortress. The Ghemme “Chioso dei Pomi” arrive with the advantage of having already experienced considerable barrel and bottle aging.

2008 Le Piane Boca $71.99
(96 Points: Wine Advocate) The 2008 Le Piane is more than a worthy follow-up to the gorgeous 2007. In this vintage, the wine is much more classic in style. The sweetest of black cherries, grilled herbs, menthol, spices and licorice all meld together in this beautiful, delineated, totally vibrant wine. The balance of focus and power is simply stunning. This is a dazzling effort from a small estate that seems to be ratcheting up quality with each passing vintage. One of the attributes of Nebbiolo-based wines from northern Piedmont is that they are often easy to drink when young, yet also age effortlessly for years, sometimes decades. That certainly appears to be the case here. This is magnificent effort.


  1. This is awesome! I've been helping a friend look for a wine shop in Upper West Side. Do you have any suggestions?

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