Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Italy's other Grapes

Posted by JonDerry, Jul 8, 2016.

Planning to do some exploring into Italy's other wine varietals, those without the fanfare or popularity of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, etc.

First up is a Ruche with a few years bottle age by Montalbera, apparently a lighter wine that was traditionally brought out for special occassions...figure this should make for a nice apertif, and/or summer sipper with lighter foods. Have this on tap for tomorrow.

1 2 next

Replies

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 8, 2016.

So basically anything outside Toscana and Piemonte is fair game?

Alto Piemonte is still Piemonte and still nebbiolo--even if it's called Spanna or something else. Gattinara/Ghemme/Carema/Lesona (all except the last I've posted on here) are just higher-altitude versions of the wine being made in Barolo and Barbaresco, and in several cases aren't even more rustic. We're talking nowhere near the distance between parts of Napa and Sonoma, so pretty close, too. One parallel might be the distinction between the Cote d'Or and Maconnaise?

So many other regions, districts and varietals across Italy. Alto Piemonte  vs. Barolo seems almost to be splitting hairs in that context. Let's look at Sicily and Sardina, Campania and Umbria, Alto Adige and Veneto (which seems nearly as mainstream as Toscana), etc. and etc.

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 8, 2016.

Yes, you sure know how to hit the low hanging fruit! 

I suppose we could do another thread for Alto Piemonte and keep this for lesser appreciated Italian varietals, or those outside what is mentioned above. The thought to include alto piemonte is that they are relative rare birds on here and for most american wino's, though not for you, and also while geographically close to Barolo/Barbaresco, blending is allowed, so most are not mono varietal nebbiolo.

Also finding Nebbiolo changes drastically even over a few Km's. Fox, hope you have a back up plan!

 

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 8, 2016.

The idea of a separate thread for the Alto Piemonte is a good one. Would be nice to get into back stories and info about winemaking, and TN comparisons, etc., instead of just a photo of a bottle and that's it. Ideas and info that teaches are all good, too, not just a pretty picture and a buzz!  ;-)

0
2376
Reply by GregT, Jul 8, 2016.

Or just go Piedmont and Alto Adige, or just North Italy - there are lots of grapes in the region. Teroldego, Lagrein, Freisa, Vernatsch/Schiava, and Brachetto in addition to the Ruché. All those can be real nice grapes too. Freisa and Schiava are often floral and candied on the nose, Brachetto is like strawberries, and Lagrein and Teroldego are serious, dark grapes.

Oh, and Bonarda and Charbono - often mislabeled as each other.

I would imagine that Ruché is the least common in the US. Back in the 90s there was a wine store near home that always carried it and it thought it was pretty common but it was only there because the lady who worked there was married to a guy who imported it. I guess nobody else was buying.

North Italy is an interesting area because much of its history was made by Germanic peoples - Burgundians, Franks, Lombards, etc., who were quite distinct from the Mediterranean people to the south.

Good exploration JD.

730
27
Reply by duncan 906, Jul 9, 2016.

I have had a ruche wine from that producer and reviewed it for this website. I recall that I enjoyed it

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 10, 2016.

So the Ruche went over pretty well. Served to some friends my wife and I had over. Loved the nose, and though I was disappointed at first it opened with some air, and became a nice and enjoyable.

Throws a refreshing fragrance of fresh crannberry. Light to medium bodied on the palate, with a pleasant attack, showing more cranberry, and dark plum fruit. Flattens out on the mid palate and toward the back, though some acidic structure peaks out, there is not much for tannin. Went pretty well with sushi/ soy sauce, but it wasn't until coming back to the wine an hour later that I was enjoying it. The fruit put on some weight and sweetness, and it became a nice drink with medium complexity.

The ArPePe Valtellina Rosso at first showed better than the Ruche, showing some nice lacy tannins that went better with the food I was having at the time (chicken wings, mashed potatoes), but I found the wine to be lacking some fruit, and the acidity wasn't on the high side either. It was the result of a difficult vintage, no doubt. I'm not sure if Valtellina experienced the rainfall that Barolo received in 2012, but I'm sure the region could have done with a little more sun.

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 10, 2016.

"Went pretty well with sushi/ soy sauce, but it wasn't until coming back to the wine an hour later that I was enjoying it."

No wine goes well in that context, so that combined with the further breathing of the wine meant a more pleasant experience later.

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 10, 2016.

Ruche apparently goes well with soy sauce, had to try for myself.

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 10, 2016.

According to whom? Well no matter how muddle-palated, at least someone saying it goes well with soy sauce is a better recommendation than them telling you it *tastes* like soy sauce. Have run across some of those over the years, unfortunately...

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 11, 2016.

Ian D'Agata, one of the leading authorities on Italian wine. He calls Ruche an aromatic red, like Gewurtztraminer of reds of sorts, either love it or hate it, ages better than most people think, and if you like dishes with soy, soy and Ruche are best friends.

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2016.

Well I eat a lot more dishes with soy than Ian, whether Japanese, Chinese, Korean or other Asian, and I'd be happy to run him through the paces then see what he has to say. Problem with people in his position is they have to come up with an angle or two every now and again. I'm not as big a fan of Gewurtz with curries as many, either, for what that's worth.

Best friends? Come on, now. We also need to be talking specifics. Across the board with soy sauce? Absolutely not. But there could be dishes of certain ingredients that employ only a dash of soy sauce where it might work, even if grudgingly.

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 12, 2016.

Could have very well gotten a little carried away with the best friends comment, it was in an audio interview, and it would definitely help to be more specific. In my case it was a tuna/avocado roll.

I'll have to see what comes next here. Have yet to try Pelaverga or Fiano.

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2016.

Interestingly enough, was an offer from our friend Ian Cauble that falls right within this thread's discussion:

 

 

Massimo Clerico, Nebbiolo, Lessona DOC Piedmont, Italy 2008

If there is one lesson that is common amongst all the great red wines of the world, it is that nothing can substitute for optimal bottle age. You can decant a young wine to soften it up, and there is certainly no shame in enjoying a bright and fresh young Beaujolais—but nothing can awaken one’s soul like a complex and layered red whose tannins and hard edges have been melted away by time. When you encounter a wine in this truly sublime state of maturity, you recognize it immediately. Your palate comes alive, every dish tastes more delicious, and perhaps even your friends who usually don’t like Burgundy or Italian wine will abruptly change their tune. Today’s bottle is such a wine, and we have reserved all that remains on the West Coast.

Please note: This wine is en route from the importer and will not be shipping until late next week. 

While the alpine hamlet of Lessona is renowned amongst collectors for the quality and near-infinite cellar potential of its best Nebbiolo-based reds, its reputation is also severely limited by its own microscopic size. This is one of the smallest wine producing villages in Italy—so small in fact that Massimo Clerico owns a mere two hectares of vines in the village, making him the third largest landholder in the appellation! So needless to say, most wine enthusiasts—even lovers of Barolo and Barbaresco—have never enjoyed a single bottle of Lessona. Off the top of my head, I can name only three Lessona producers whose wines are imported into the US. The Clerico family produces less than 500 cases of wine each year, and less than half of that total production is labeled as Lessona. This is an extraordinarily rare wine. 
 
Massimo Clerico’s ancestors have farmed grapes in Lessona since the 1700s and are regarded as founding fathers of local wine culture. And when the Italian government awarded this village DOC status in 1976, Massimo’s father Sandrino was one of the first three growers to label his Nebbiolo under the Lessona DOC appellation. Nebbiolo reigns supreme as Lessona’s dominant variety just like Barolo or Barbaresco, but this village’s sandy soils sit another two hours further Northeast into the foothills of the Swiss-Italian alps. So, in this terroir, Nebbiolo assumes a strikingly different character—tannins are tighter and more finely grained, fruit is fresher and brighter, and the wines require significant patience before they become drinkable. Today’s bottle, for instance, is in peak form and delicious but it will continue evolving for easily another decade!
 
Massimo Clerico produced today’s wine exclusively from his own grapes. There is no purchased fruit or contracted vineyards. Everything is done in house—literally—at this tiny family estate. Massimo’s home and surrounding vineyards are situated at approximately 1,000 feet above sea level. The soil here is composed of ancient marine sands over chalky, acidic subsoil and three small vineyards that encircle the family home come together to produce today’s wine. First, Leria is a parcel situated directly in front of the family home and cellar door. Next, the Gaja vineyard is planted to 45 year-old Nebbiolo, and serves as the backbone and majority fruit source for this wine. Finally, the Putin vineyard was planted 1984, and only the best nebbiolo fruit from these vines are put into today’s bottling.  
 
Like everything else at the small Clerico family property, harvest is done the old fashioned way; hand-picked grapes are typically harvested during the second half of October. Massimo’s underground cellar dates back to 1740 and it is stocked with equipment from decades past. After harvest, grape clusters are destemmed before a beginning a several weeks-long fermentation. Following fermentation, Massimo’s Lessona ages in medium and large neutral oak barrels for at least three years before bottling. By law, Lessona only needs to spend a year in barrel, but Massimo ages his wines much longer—three to five years is not unusual. For instance, other current Lessona releases in the market are from the 2012 or 2013 vintage while Massimo’s current release is 2009! Fortunately, we are offering the last bottles of the exceptional 2008 vintage. For every noble Nebbiolo growing appellation in the northwestern corner of Italy—Barolo, Barbaresco, and here in Lessona—2008 is a late blooming but consistently outstanding vintage that produces wines with outstanding cellar potential.
 
The 2008 Massimo Clerico Lessona shows a deep red center with orange tones circling the rim. On the nose, this wine is a mosaic of dark plum, black cherries, dried cherries,  mountain flowers, dried roses, white pepper, black truffles and fine oiled leather. Decant the wine for one hour and serve in large Burgundy stems. For a memorable evening with friends prepare this Slow Roasted Oxtail Stew recipe and two bottles of this timeless and stunning wine.




 
Country Italy
Region Piedmont
Sub-Region Lessona DOC
Varietal Nebbiolo
Production 250 cases
Alcohol 14%
Oak Large Neutral French
Soil Ancient Marine Sand
Farming Organic
$48

Buy 3 and we‘ll include shipping.*

Buy This Wine

“This is one of those special days when we have captured an extremely rare older bottle in its absolute peak of maturity. ”

 

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 12, 2016.

Well it's Nebbiolo so not exactly. Noticed the offer as well, and thought it slight hyperbole to call a Nebbiolo in bottle for a few years "optimal bottle age"

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 12, 2016.

With you on that about the optimal age hyperbole. But until we get that Alto Piemonte thread going I figured this was the place to post the offer, since it's part (and the least known) of the Gattinara/Ghemme/Carema/Lessona team...

20
3575
Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 12, 2016.

Pelaverga:  Burlotto makes one.  It wasn't my favorite.  Becoming more common over here as the wine geek bro-hood grows. 

Fiano:  Super common white around my house. 

Ruche:  I had a few of those in Barolo, mostly remember Francesco Rinaldi's version.  Again, not my favorite. 

Even one of the "lighter" or earlier maturing nebbiolos is young at 7+ years, but I'm not convinced that you have to wait terribly long to drink them anymore.  Optimal?  probably not, but maybe not that far off these days for Alto Piemonte. But wine hyperbole for sure, not said for the purposes of accuracy.

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 13, 2016.

It really is a sign of the times when a cooler, classic vintage like 2008 is drinkable so early. Just saw a Somm post about a 2008 Scavino Bric de Fiasc as drinking great recently...I wasn't planning on touching any 08's for a while. Have some Burlotto Monvigliero, Monprivato (which I know needs age), and will have to see what else.

20
3575
Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 13, 2016.

I don't know, in 2014 the 2010 Burlotto Monvig already was great, but it might have shut down.  And the '06 Ca d'Morrissio, the Monprivato Riserva effectively, was also pretty damn great.  Sure, it'll continue to improve, and '08 is a harder vintage than '06 (but not probably harder than '10), and maybe I just don't find young Barolo's "faults" so troubling.  But, yeah, I'm not busting mine out right now, either.  On the other hand, you might dip into some of those '11s before too long.  I think they will age, but I also think they were almost immediately accessible.  I may follow my own advice this weekend and open a Gallina Barbaresco from Ugo Lequio.

20
3257
Reply by dmcker, Jul 13, 2016.

That's the thing about classic Barolos, JD, they are open for awhile--THEN they shut down, sometimes for quite awhile.

Sorry if I seem to always be playing the naysayer, but just because 'a somm' posts whatever about whatever wine doesn't make it so.  There are somms then there are somms then there are somms. Not as many know a lot about many types of wines as you might hope. Staying skeptical has served me well, until I know what the somm or somms truly know.

75
2044
Reply by JonDerry, Jul 13, 2016.

It's good to get as many perspectives as possible until, as you say, you know who you are dealing with.

But then again, I'm learning we can't put blanket statements on Barolo, and that the region is split between two macro areas/soils. On the west, the tortonian soils usually have the early appeal Barolo's from La Morra and much of Barolo proper (various part of Cannubi, etc.), and on the east is where the tougher, tannic Barolos live on Helvetian soils (Serralunga, Monforte), with Castiglione Falletto somewhere inbetween the two, though technically, and mostly Helvetian.

 

1 2 next



Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
1413489dvogler
7 posts
89564 Snooth User: GregT
89564GregT
4 posts
125836 Snooth User: dmcker
125836dmcker
3 posts




Snooth Media Network