La maggiorina - the tradtional method of vine training in Alto Piemonte.

Alto Piemonte

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The talk of Barolo in May – almost everyone we visited mentioned it – was Roberto Conterno’s purchase of Nervi, in Gattinara. Barolo is a small place and it’s hard to imagine finding a group of people who are more discreet and tactful than the locals, but one nonetheless gets the sensation that while they very much admire Roberto’s wines, they also think he’s a very shrewd person. It’s sensational news, and widely seen as a very positive development that will speed the ongoing renaissance of the region. We’ve told the story before about the sad post-WWII decline of the Alto Piemonte, but the fact is that wonderful wine was made there in the 1950 -1970s. The wines age very well indeed, and some bottles we’ve tried have certainly been on a par with their more famous cousins from the Langha. We have purchased quite an amazing collection of older Alto Piemonte wine from a cellar nearby; the grand names are present, and some lesser-known but also very good producers as well.

 

THE CANTINA SOCIALE WINES

A Cantina Sociale is a cooperative, and they played an important role in Alto Piemonte in sustaining vineyards and wine making during some very lean years (among other things, many small growers can't afford to set up as independent wineries, and the coops help keep them on their land by offering a ready market for the grapes they produce). This offer includes a large number of bottles from 2 different Cantina Sociale, and even though the wines are reasonably priced we took a bit of a gamble in buying them untasted. But the seller (an old and trusted friend / collector in Piedmont) said the wines were worth it, and he was right. We tasted the seven wines shown above and they were all in very good shape and - to my relief - well worth the gamble! After 4 hours in the decanter they filled-out very nicely. As a friend said, to drink a 50+ year-old wine for $38.99 is a pretty fair deal!  Jamie Wolff

 

A detail of the map of Gattinara, by Masnaghetti.                                                                                                  

 

A SPECIAL DINNER

We will have a chance to taste a fine line-up of Alto Piemonte wines on October 19th, with Walter Speller, Alto Piemonte expert and aficionado, and Italian wine critic for Jancis Robinson. Among other accomplishments, Walter worked with Masnaghetti on the map shown above; he has an intimate knowledge of the region, and is a born raconteur, so it will be fun. Details on the dinner are below.

 

NB: pick-up or delivery will be available starting next Tuesday, 9/18.

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Dinner at Maialino - Alto Piemonte Nebbiolo October 19th, 2018

If you've joined us in the past for dinner in the private room at Maialino, I'm sure you will agree that it's an ideal spot for a wine dinner - great food and service in convivial setting. We will taste (at least) 16 wines from 1958 -1990, made by Antoniolo, Brugo, Caldi, Cantalupo, Corradini, Dessilani, Fiore, Nervi, Travaglini, and Vallana; $250 per person, all-in.

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Nervi 1964 Spanna Stravecchio

There's a similar litheness and elegance to Nervi's 1964 Gattinara, but the development is more advanced with darker fruit and richer dark chocolate notes and flavors. The tannins have nicely resolved; a solid birth year wine or a vino da meditazione for Nebbiolo's ability to age. Jonas Mendoza

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Nervi, Luigi 1964 Gattinara

The color has faded to a soft ruby with rosy hues, but this vintage has aged quite gracefully. Aromatically, it's quite lifted with maraschino cherry fruit and porcini undertones. On the palate, it's a bit denser and structured with stewed cherry, and carob/dark chocolate flavors. Although it's reached maturity, the wine is still quite fresh and could hold on for another 10 years. A testament to Gattinara's oldest producer and the ageability of Nebbiolo in Alto Piemonte. Jonas Mendoza

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Nervi, Luigi 1965 Gattinara

Although 1965 was a far from acclaimed vintage in the Alto Piemonte, this Nervi wine is a testament that producer can overcome the shortcomings of nature. Quite developed, there's secondary and tertiary flavors of stewed black cherry, pipe tobacco, and beef bouillon cube. The fruit has firmly resolved, but there's still prominent acidity and structure in this more than fifty-year-old wine. Jonas Mendoza

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Vallana 1958 Spanna di Gattinara (handwritten vintage)

These bottles were originally purchased from the estate by a former employee. As was not uncommon, the bottles were vintage-dated by hand. They've been properly cellared, and we're confident that the dating is accurate, but the prices are much reduced as a consequence.

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Vallana 1961 Freisa (handwritten vintage)

These bottles were originally purchased from the estate by a former employee. As was not uncommon, the bottles were vintage-dated by hand. They've been properly cellared, and we're confident that the dating is accurate, but the prices are much reduced as a consequence.

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Vallana 1961 Freisa Castello di Montalbano (handwritten vintage)

These bottles were originally purchased from the estate by a former employee. As was not uncommon, the bottles were vintage-dated by hand. They've been properly cellared, and we're confident that the dating is accurate, but the prices are much reduced as a consequence.

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