Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Diary of a Sommelier /Student - Alta Piemonte in 90 Minutes or Less


I'm a sommelier, but I still consider myself a student.  In fact, at the end of my oral exam, right after I heard the good news that I passed, my examiner, Vincenzo Ricciardi said - Karen...study...
So I do, every chance I get I try new wines...wines new to me.  Vinitaly in Verona was no exception.  I had 90 minutes of free time.  Time just for me, so I headed towards the Piemonte Pavillion.
Piemonte -Piedmont - the Mecca for any Italian wine lover, and a must for an AIS sommelier to have an idea of what was going on in this northern part of Italy. It took me about 5 minutes to get from the Campania Pavillion to Piemonte, located practically at the opposite side of the Fair.
When I entered, I was overwhelmed...where do I go, which wines should I taste?  I pulled out my celll phone..Pico, help...I explained my situation, and asked advice of Pico (aka Michele), my architect friend, restauranteer and mega wine enthusiast...
Tranquilla, he replied...head for Alta Piemonte.
Not sure which cantina to hit, I decided to pay a visit to the Consorzio Tutela Nebbioli Alto Piemonte...a stand with wines from various wineries from that area. It was there where I introduced myself to AIS sommelier Massimo Baglione,  of the Vercelli and Valsesia delegation...in fact he was in charge of the sommeliers in Valsesia...
Massimo Baglione
He would also be my guide for the next 90 minutes or so..
First...I needed to understand where I was...the territory.  We would be hopping back and forth from both sides of the Sesia River. Tasting wines from terrain terrain that was full of diversity...soil filled with marine sediments and volcanic terrain. Soil that was compact and brittle in some places to those that were loose, full of gravel in others. Terrain that was high in acidity...so what would that show me in a glass?



Baglione handed me a map and our tour began with Coste della Sesia DOC...two glasses at a time, one from each side of the river, pointing out changes in terrain which would relate to subtle differences in color and to the palate.  Here Nebbiolo is king, but other grapes allowed for this DOC include Uva Rara, Vespolina, Croatina, and Barbera...

A quick glance of my 90 minute tour...hold on tight...


On the Novarese side of the river, Colline Novaresi D.O.C. Vigna MötZiflon 2007 from Az. Agricola Francesco Brigatti.  A blend of Nebbiolo, Uva Rara, and Vespolina.


A quick hop to the other side...to Gattinara county for 100% Nebbiolo with Paride Iaretti's Coste della Sesia Nebbiolo Velut Luna 2009.  




Staying on the west side of the river, we moved to Lessona to try Coste della Sesia Rosso Ca’ du Leria 2008 by Massimo Clerico.  Another blend, Nebbiolo, Croatina,Vespolina, and Uva Rara.  By this time, I was getting used to being up North, so to speak.  My nose and palate was used to heavier reds from Campania...the Aglianicos, Taurasis.  Here, though, lighter fruit aromas, not less intense though. Flavorful.

And just when I was getting used to the blends, Baglione went back to a 100 % Nebbiolo with Vignetti Valle Roncati's Colline Novaresi DOC Vigna di Sotto.



Then the 2008 offering from Centovigno of their Castellegno 2008.  Legno...wood. And here I noticed an interesting black pepper smell that I hadn't noticed before.

Bramatera DOC...

Blends of .Nebbiolo, Croatina, Bonarda and Vespolina in Bramaterra DOC 2006 La Ronda di Lodovico Barboni...



Let's move on...only 90 minutes.

Lessona DOC...Guidelines call for at least 85 % Nebbiolo.  Other grapes which can be used are Vespolina and Uva Rara.  Ages at least 22 months, at least 12 of those months in wood...


Tenuta Sella's combintion of Nebbiolo and Vespolina for their Lessona 2007 DOC.  Intense color, Nice palate thanks to the high acidity in the soil, and the salty sea deposits.   I read the notes on this wine, it ages 24 months in Slavonian oak.  May explain the spicy peppery notes that I was noticing...

Once again, Massimo Clerico, but this time with Lessona DOC 2005...


A quick taste of Boca DOC...

Conti's -Il Rosso delle Donne Boca 2006...

Ready for Ghemme DOCG.?

Bring it on...

Tiziano Mazzoni's Ghemme DOCG 2008...100% Nebbiolo straight from the right side of the river.  Interesting kick at the end...

38 months in the barrel for this Nebbiolo/Vespolina baby...Torraccia del Piantavigna's Ghemme 2007...
the 2007 from Vigna Ronco Maso

Ca' Nova's 2005
Rovellotti's 2005 and
finishing off in Ghemme with an excellent esempio of the territory, of this wine...  Az. Agrocola Mirù's 2004...


Baglione asked me how it was going...what did I think of Alta Piemonte...so far so good, but I'm a Campania girl...I wanted something a little more... a little more...no lo so...

Time for Gattinara DOCG,  allora..


Bring it on...
Now I was entering into a territory, a DOCG a little more familiar..the regulations call for 90% Nebbiolo, at least 24 months in wood. .. It was here, in Gattinara, where I began to appreciate these northern reds...the aromas, flavors.  It was here where Piemonte came alive for me.  The grande vini ...years and years of potential ahead.  Where Nebbiolo became my grape...at least for the remainder of my 90 minutes in Piemonte...


Azienda Agricola Antoniolo Gattinara DOCG 2007...

Azienda Vitivinicola Travaglini Gattinara DOCG 2007


Anzivino Gattinara DOCG 2006...
Az. Agricola Caligaris Luca Gattinara DOCG 2006...


My phone started to ring...broke the rhythm of my degustazione...so I ignored it...
My time that I had alloed myself was almost up...Baglione continued to pour...

Az. Agricola Patriarca Franco with their 2007
a riserva from Travagliani...2006...intense fruit...is it almost time to go?
Well, not before trying Mauro Franchino's 2005...
and then...Paride Iarettis' Gattinara DOCG Riserva 2004...amazing aromas and all...

A text message reminded me it was time to go...90 minutes in Alta Piemonte was over.

My thoughts?...Very different from the reds that I'm used to.  The southern Italian wines...full of intense mature red fruits...Deep dark red ruby coloring.  However, I spent 90 minutes exploring, tasting, discovering a region that was unfamiliar to me, but one that I'm glad I could add to my diary...

Thanks, Pico...


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