Private Collection: Alto Piemonte

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For anyone not already familiar with the wines of the Alto Piemonte: these are Nebbiolo (locally called Spanna), or Nebbiolo-based. Alto Piemonte is a wine zone about an hour west and a bit north of Milano, and includes the towns of Boca, Bramaterra, Fara, Gattinara, Ghemme, Lessona, and Sizzano. The wines tend to be brighter and more taut than Barolo and Barbaresco, but they age remarkably well, maintaining balance and intensity over the decades. Some are blends, with approved local grapes added to give more color, or to offer a softer fruit character. For instance, Gattinara can include up to 10% of Bonarda; Ghemme up to 40% of Vespolina, and / or 20% Uva Rara, and so on. Nowadays information about blends is readily available, but the make-up of the wines on offer here has been lost over the years, if indeed it was ever shared by a more reticent generation. The wines offer tremendous value; where else can you drink a properly stored wine of 50 years of age, for $50-$80, and reasonably expect a terrific experience? Jamie Wolff

PS - to get the best from these wines you should treat them as you would Barolo or Barbaresco. Please stand them up well in advance to allow the sediment to settle, and decant them 6-8 hours before serving. Details are here.

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