Barbacarlo, Carema, Mot Zifflon

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Today’s offer includes many wines from the Veronelli cellar, with some additions from a private collection in Piedmont; please click here to read more about Veronelli (including some explanation about the condition of the labels).

Three wines, more or (mostly) less known. I first learned of Lino Maga and Barbacarlo about 9 years ago, and I’m not sure I’d ever heard of Möt Zifflon until we received these bottles from Veronelli in 2019.

The Brigatti family is the sole producer of Mot Zifflon - a single-vineyard in the town of Suno (which is in the eastern part of the Colline Novaresi DOC – east of Ghemme); true to local tradition the wine is made from about 85% Nebbiolo, plus Vespolina, and Uva Rara.

The Brigantti cantina. The botte look old enough to have aged the 1967. (photo not credited)                           

The old vintages are in line with the best of their neighbors in Alto Piemonte – Luigi Veronelli was Brigatti's customer, so that tells us something. I am looking forward to being able to taste their current production - someday soon, I hope.

Terraces at Carema. The trellises are only about 4 feet off of the ground.                                                                

Because of the dedicated work of Ferrando's US importer, Rosenthal, (to say nothing of the high quality of the wines) Carema is, by a long shot, the most familiar of these wines. This is despite the fact that Carema is a tiny place that for the last 40 years has only supported Ferrando, and a very good Coop winery that has taken all of the rest of local production. If you happen to pass by (on your way to or from the Mont Blanc tunnel, perhaps) Carema is really worth a stop, if only to see the fascinating terraced vineyards, which will make you immediately understand how challenging it is to farm there. I believe that Ferrando’s first vintage was 1957, and the 1959 in this offer is a true rarity – judging by some glorious old bottles of Ferrando that I have tasted, it should be a real treat.

 

Maga, with customary smoke (photo by Oskar Kostacki) 

Last, but definitely not least: the perennially fascinating and compelling wines of Lino Maga. We have written extensively about Maga – you can read more here from late 2019, including our friend Luca’s immortal line: “Lino Maga is the Bartolo Mascarello of Oltrepo Pavese”. As in Alto Piemonte, the Oltrepo was once a vinous powerhouse, supplying local and especially urban consumers in nearby Milano with large volumes when wine was a much more important daily beverage than water. The region now seems very sleepy, and while I would be very happy to taste good wine from the Oltrepo, I haven’t tried anything that’s even remotely as interesting as the Maga wines.

From our earlier article: “Made from roughly equal parts Croatina, Uva Rara, and Ughetta (aka Vespolina), the wines are clean and very distinctive. Dark and savory with very complex aromatics of rhubarb, plums, violets, and tea, they are structured and tannic, and there can be a bit of spritz on the palate which gives lift. Chemicals have never been used in the vines; fermentation is spontaneous, in large old botti; aside from a couple of rackings no other processes are done — the bottled wine has sediment. After tasting at Maga, I could see Luca’s point in drawing a parallel between Maga and Bartolo Mascarello; aside from being of the same generation and sharing the same philosophy of wine, Luca’s view was based on the quality of their wine: both winemakers reject flashy effects, both are determined to sustain the tradition and practices of their families and of their regions; both obtain authentic wines of the highest possible quality.” Jamie Wolff

The Veronelli cellar was great for storing wine, not so good for storing paper...                                                        

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Maga, Lino 1974 Pavia Rosso IGT Montebuono

The classic local blend  of Croatina, Uva Rara, and Ughetta- as for Barbacarlo - but with the addition of Barbera. I love Montebuono!

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Maga, Lino (Veronelli Collection) 1987 Pavia Rosso IGT Montebuono (handwritten vintage)

The classic local blend  of Croatina, Uva Rara, and Ughetta- as for Barbacarlo - but with the addition of Barbera. I love Montebuono!

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