Posted by: jmbwineblog | September 15, 2010

Forza Piemonte Parte 4 (The Final Push!)

So it was into our final day, with plenty to reflect on over the coming weeks… but first of all we had another three visits to take part in. You might not be able to say that we had left the best until last, but these three producers far from disappointed!

Crissante Alessandria

A small producer in La Morra with large plots in the famous Roggeri and Capalot vineyards. In fact the path from the Winery leads into Roggeri itself, where we got a first hand glance of the damage that had severely affected by hail the days previous to our visit. It will certainly affect the outcome of the vintage… they will not be able to green harvest (and thus if the weather is not good, then many of the grapes will be under-ripe). The vines that this winery owns are very old and you can see it in the style and depth of flavour. They have slowly been changing which types of oak they use, and they are using fewer and fewer barriques for their Barolos, although Tonneau is used and this can only be a change for the better in order to maintain freshness and soften tannins.

Michele (son of Crissante and winemaker) loves his wines...

The winery is modern clean, but housed inside the old buildings, very picturesque, blending the old with the new, although the wines remain in a traiditional style that requires some serious ageing.

Some Hail Damage in the Roggeri Vineyard

50% of potential yields were obliterated by the hail, you can see the size of some of the stones, and the stunted bunches… let us hope that the weather has been favourable to the winemakers this summer!

Rose di Nebbiolo; [technically a Vino da Tavola one can not state the vintage, as there are no IGTs in Piemonte, but from lot numbers one can work out the vintage. We tried the 2009, with 1,000 bottles produced, serve chilled], roses, plum, strawberry, minerals, crisp, fresh, quite deep, rosebush, raspberry, herbs, rosemary, very good, simple but expressive. ****+

2007 Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Ruge”; [from the Monferrato vineyard with vines of 80 years of age], spice, chocolate, coffee, cocoa, mocha, plum, wood, coconut, herbs, rosemary, zippy, balanced, elegant, concentrated but lively, earth, minerals, clay, rock, velvety, nice. ****(*+)

Rus; [again a Vino da Tavola IV on the label donates the vintage (2004), 75% Nebbiolo, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon], cassis, earth, farmyard, full, round, tar, roses, tobacco, structured, tannic, concentrated, poised, meaty, nicely rounded acidity, spice, mineral, green mint, interesting. **(**++)

2005 Barolo “Capalot”; [80% tonneau, and 20% (for a very short period) is aged in barrique], earthy, funky, meaty, sous bois, tar, minerals, herbs, rosemary, mint, roses, bramble, truffle, mushroom, poised, deep, powerful, spicy, tar, clay, rock. Grainy tannins, mocha, rosebush, coffee, plum, forest fruits. A long term wine that needs a lot of time, but with excellent potential. Finely structured. **(****+)

Grappa di Barolo “Capalot e Roggeri”; [barrel aged], fresh, sea air, rope, grapey, powerful, tannic, woodsy. Very nice, elegant, tar and roses, a grappa that I can actually drink. *****

Tasting the Rose

Certainly made in a traditional style, these wines are ageworthy and need time to settle down and get into their stride, but there is no questioning the high quality, depth and complexity from the old vines in these wines. Not a up and coming producer by any means, but certainly ‘under the radar’… but only just.

Next it was back on the bus and a drop of wine, from an old friend from Day 3!

2005 Roero, Filippo Gallino; deeper, meatier, truffle, earth, minerals, rock, forest floor, sous bois, mushroom, tar, but  fresh and lively, plum, earth, cherry, currants, herbs, rosemary, menthol, rock, brick, sandstone, soft, elegant tannins, sprightly, nice caressing acidity, clearly these wines age well, spice, chilli, plum finish. Still needs time but in a much more approachable state than the 07… rounding out nicely in bottle. ****(**+)

Then up into the hills we went, through Barbaresco and onto a ridge which donates the border between the village of Barbaresco and Treiso, to visit a very young and talented winemaker (not that his father and grandfather weren’t talented either)…

Nada Giuseppe

Based in Treiso (one of four villages where Barbaresco can legally be produced), this winery is although under-the-radar, very much a historic winery this a long history when compared to many in Piemonte. They have bottled their own wines for over a hundred years, and even bought their main vineyard plots from the grandfather of Angelo Gaja (the change in title deeds is framed on their wall). The vineyard is called ‘Casot’ and their vines sit right next to those of Angelo’s in this vineyard (which is the bedrock of the blend for the Gaja Barbaresco). Clearly some pretty special terroir. Enrico is the current winemaker leaving his parents to relax a little bit (?) and he has only recently taken over after finishing his vinious studies. The winery is very clean and modern in the basement cut into the hill underneath their house, but the wine-making style is very much a more traditional style using older wood, and usually of a much larger style… in fact I don’t think there is any old wood as far as I recall, leading to the wines gaining a haunting perfume that I so love from Piemontese wines, and based on an utterly shut down and backward MAgnum of the 96 Reserva that I tried on my return to London, these wines certainly age for just as long as those of their illustrious neighbours.

Big wooden vats, and tonneau...

Enrico discussing Production

2009 Armonia; Langhe Bianco; [2,000 bottles, the grapes are bought in for this… all the Arneis comes from Fabrizio Battaglino and a producer in Diano d’Alba, 50% Arneis, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Favorita], floral, pebble stones, white flowers, elderflower, slate, gooseberry, minerals, strong backbone, lemon, lime, citrus, camomile, zippy, nutty undertones, grass, creamy, bread, with a floral, citrus, camomile, citrus finish. ****(*+)

Rosae; [Vino Da Tavola from 100% Nebbiolo, the grapes are from 2008, and the juice gets 12 hrs of maceration on the skins, pips and stems in order to gain some tannin and colour], roses, strawberry, tar, plum, cherry, very high acid, astringent a touch of tannin, Enrico mentions it will be better in 2 or 3 years, crisp, fresh, lifted, easy but with depth, bramble, and forest floor. Impressive wine. ****(*+)

2008 Dolcetto d’Alba “Casot”; hugely perfumed, floral, violets, damsons, plums, herbs, minty, eucalyptus, dense but delicate, coffee, earth, elegant, lovely perfume (verging on Burgundian and exciting), concentration, balance, really good stuff, earthy, interesting and elegant. The best Dolcetto tasted on the whole trip! *****+

2007 Barbera d’Alba Superiore; [4-5000 bottles, spending 12 months in mainly old Tonneau, ageable for 6-10 years], more closed, spicy nose, plum, chocolate, posied, concentrated, cocoa, mocha, balanced, mineral, earth, rock, eucalyptus, long, herbs, pepper, green pepper, violets. Very good. ****(**)

2008 Langhe Nebbiolo; [spending 5 to 6 months in Tonneau], perfumed, meaty, spicy, roses, bramble, zippy, rosebush, truffle, earth, brick, sandstone, soil, mineral, strawberry, elegant, feminine. Roses, decaying leaf, eucalyptus, herbs, rosemary, nice structure, a touch of spice and green pepper, rosebush. ****(**+)

2005 Barbaresco Riserva “Casot”; tar, roses, strawberry, plum, perfumed, mineral, fresh, feminine, earth, truffle, mushroom undertones, raspberry, cherry, mineral, soapstone, sandstone, earth, elegance, herbs, rosemary, eucalyptus, long finish, delicate and expressive, plum, cherry, lovely. ****(***+?)

2006 Barbaresco “Casot”; [this spends 1 year in tonneau with a slight toast, and 1 year in botte], meaty, ferrel, herbs, roses, rosebush, deep, poised, tar, cherry, zippy, fresh, feminine, concentrated, poised, slight spice, chilli, green pepper, perfume, musk, sandstone, minerals, iron ore, rust, fresh, rose and eucalyptus finish. Very good, elegant and perfumed. *****(**+?)

2006 Barolo “Ravera”; [these are recently purchased vines from the Barolo producer where Enrico makes the wines (as such the wine is made at that producer by Enrico “on behalf of Nada Giuseppe”…Italian wine laws, eh!?!?!, it spends 2 years in 5-10 year old Tonneau, and then 1 year in botte or bottle depending on how the wine is developing], poised, regal, tar, roses, earth, coffee, minerals, plum, strawberry, rock, slate, marble, bramble, structure and power, concentrated, roses, tar, mushroom, truffles, good long finish, but not as perfumed as the Barbarescos. ****(***+?)

A Good Friend

Enrico is clearly a talented winemaker with a lot going for him, the wines are beguiling, perfumed and complex. He certainly understands how to coax the best out of his terroir. These are wines that will age for a serious amount of time as well his 1996 Barbaresco Riserva “Casot” is so dense and backward that I can’t see it hitting its window for at least another 5-10 years, and has the complexity and structure to age for another 20 years after that. And with his Barolo now in production as well, you can clearly see the differences between the two Big Bs but they are just as good as each other… the difference is your individual palate. Stunning wines from a wonderfully talented young winemaker.

It was back on the bus on the way to our next and final destination but we couldn’t go on without a drink… :-p 😀

2008 Barbera d’Alba; Filippo Gallino; fresh, plum, light, zippy, fresh, mineral, strawberry, complex but playful and effervescent, just as good as the first time round. ****(*+)

Onwards and upwards, quite literally to the highest winery in our trip, where we were to have lunch as well.

Cascina Piancanelli

An old winery in the heart of sweet wine making country in Loazzolo d’Asti, the wine maker Silvio and his wife make some wonderful Moscato, Brachetto and their piece de resistance the physically smallest DOCG in the whole of Italy with only a handful of producers… more on that later.

The Vines

The Ancient Barrel Room

2009 Piemonte Chardonnay;straw, butter, lemon, lime, citrus, creamy, spritzy, wet stone, pebbles, fresh, crisp, grass, mineral, clay, wet clay, soapstone, refreshing, easy, delicate, greenness, apple, nice and pleasant. ***(*+)

2008 Barbera d’Asti; [no oak is used on this], cocoa, plum, chocolate, currants, poised, fresh, easy, lacks a touch of concentration, clean minerally, herbs, eucalyptus, a touch of structure, violets, roses, bramble, fairly complex, but more easy going. ****+

2008 Barbera d’Asti “Somnium”; [2008 was the first vintage where Barbera d’Asti is a DOCG, and this spends 6-8 months in barrique], rich, round, vanilla, spice, coffee, chocolate, bigger, more serious but still fresh and mineral, mocha, eucalyptus, herbs, raspberries, plum, fresh, clean, nice structure, slight hints of tropical fruit, mango? Sandstone, rock, good. ***(**+?)

2008 Millenium; [a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera, this spends 8-10 months in barrique], wood, subdued nose, herbs, minerals, currants, cassis, structured, power but rocky, full bodied and concentrated, plum, poised, structured, quite nice. **(***+)

2009 Moscato d’Asti; lifted, fresh, herbal, mineral, citrus, lime, lemon, fresh lemonade, structured, deep, linear, long limey finish, poised with concentration. Very nice. ****(*+)

2009 Piemonte Brachetta “Sensazioni Rosa”; deep, jammy, plum, raspberry, herbs, spice, poised, linear but with structure, a strong backbone of acid, deep, mineral, wet stone, pebbles. Very good. ****(*+)

2001 Loazzolo, “Bricchi MEJ”; [made from Moscato with a very strict selection, the grapes are dried for 40 days in the sun, and the ferment takes place for at least 3 years, with very gentle pressing… roughly a quarter turn every day], golden yellow colour, hair, wet fur, funky, honeyed, citrus nose, complex, nutty, marmalade, almonds, poised, concentrated, rich, funky, fun, fascinating, minerals, rock, marmalade, complex, concentrated, straw wine meets Sauternes. *******

The Loazzolo Press

The dry wines are of a similar style to many, but it is the sweet wines where this winery comes to the fore. The wines have bright acidity and depth that aren’t prevalent in other Moscato’s and Brachettas. The Loazzolo was a wonderful fascinating wine, and it is also available in Magnums (yum!)

It was off to the airport next… the moral of the story is that you should fly BA! OK, I’m bending the truth but our Lufthansa flight was 90 minutes late, and they left our bags in Milan (we did get them back).

In Conclusion

Clearly we visited a handful of top producers (or those with a history), next year we will visit some more, but being my favourite area for winemaking, one can certainly see that there are plenty of exciting winemakers in the region. You get a sense of terroir… to a similar extent that you find in Burgundy, one could say that Piemonte is the Burgundy of Italy (or maybe that Burgundy is the Piemonte of France 😉 ), and there are big differences in styles and ethos when producing the wines. Like Burgundy, and with many new talented winemakers popping up here and there, it could take a lifetime to understand this area, and we only visited a portion of Langhe. What about the rest of Piemonte. Within Langhe, there are plenty of stylistic differences between the three main red DOCGs as well… Barolo (the King) with its power and structure, Barbaresco (the Queen) with its perfume and elegance and Roero (the Rascal/Jack) with its lively acidity and vitality.

Of course, there are big differences from within each DOCG, but you can certainly see these differences in the general structure of the wines, and you can also find very good value wines from the Up and Coming Producers, and this is exciting, because the quality is certainly there to be seen.

A great trip, with lots of great wines, a real eye-opener which simply made me fall in love with these wines even more than I loved them before!

Until next time…



  1. Great read! I want you to follow up on this topic!?!


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