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Alto Piemonte Re-Invigorated Re-Discovered

280 Million years ago, long before vines were part of the landscape, a prehistoric collision of continents coupled with the massive implosion of a supervolcano bestowed Alto Piemonte (Upper Piedmonte) with some of the most unique soils and geomorphology in the world.

The force of the volcanic collapse created a caldera and exposed the “plumbing” of the volcano to the surface, making vineyards in places like Ghemme and Boca ideal sites for geological study, and earning the region a designation as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

There is a rich and complex tradition of winemaking in Alto Piemonte, which in its heyday enjoyed a popularity that far surpassed the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. After facing ruin from phylloxera (an aggressive vine pest), destructive weather and a subsequent land grab by the textile and automobile industries in the early 20th century, only 2% of the vineyards remained of what once was a flourishing wine region.

 

ABOUT WINE OF ALTO PIEMONTE:

Designations: 

Gattinara, Ghemme, Bramaterra, Lessona, Boca, Fara, Sizzano, Colline Novaresi, Coste delle Sesia

 

Primary grape varieties 

Aalthough Nebbiolo (Spanna) is the most well-known, Alto Piemonte has a tradition of producing blends. In fact, there are over 30 unknown grape varieties that can be found in Boca alone.

  • Nebbiolo – locally known as Spanna
  • Vespolina – imparts colour, floral aromatics, has great ageing potential
  • Uva Rara – a.k.a. Bonarda, used for softening tannins and imparting aromatics

 

What to expect

It’s important to separate Alto Piemonte from the Langhe. Wines of Ghemme, Gattinara and Boca are not “bargain” Barolo and display a unique set of characteristics. Top producers release their wines after a number of years of ageing in bottle which is both a testament to the longevity of Alto Piemotese wines, and a benefit to wine drinkers who appreciate the complexities of nebbiolo that develop over time.

 

BENCHMARK PRODUCERS

 

Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo 

Ghemme’s leading estate is run by the Arlunno family which traces their winemaking roots back to the 1800s. Today, Alberto Arlunno manages thirty-four hectares of vineyards, and produces several distinct bottlings of the appellation.

Colline Novaresi DOC ‘Agamium’ 2011 – 100% Nebbiolo, a blend from four vineyards, aged for 12 months in large oak before bottling

Ghemme DOCG ‘Anno Primo’ 2009 – 100% Nebbiolo, a blend from four vineyards, aged for 24 months before bottling

Ghemme DOCG ‘Collis Breclemae’ 2007 – 100% Nebbiolo, single vineyards, aged for 36 months before bottling

 

Vallana 

Siblings Francis and Marina Fogarty operate this small winery in Maggiora, with vineyards in Boca and Gattinara. They farm organically and sustainably on winding terraces which reach elevations up to 600 metres above sea level. Francis uses cement tanks and only wild yeasts for fermentation. Vallana’s historic wine library houses vintages of Spanna going back to the 1930s.

Spanna Colline Novaresi DOC 2013 – 100% Nebbiolo (Spanna), ages 6 months in large oak

Boca DOC 2011 – 70% Nebbiolo, 30% Vespolina, ages 24 months in large oak casks

Gattinara DOCG 2007 – 100% Nebbiolo, ages 24 months is large oak casks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Us

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