About This Wine
If you love the Nebbiolo grape, you will be enamored with Gattinara. Gattinara, the wine from the village of the same name, is regarded as the crown jewel of wines from alto Piemonte and was first declared a DOC back in 1967. Alto Piemonte, in the foothills of the Alps and Monte Rosa, north east of Torino, made its name long before Barolo and Barbaresco and was once home to 40,000 hectares of vines. In the 20th century, due to a combination of phylloxera, wars and rural hardship, people abandoned the farms and vineyards in search of a better life and work in the cities. Today there are less than 1000 hectares and under 100 in Gattinara.
Mauro Franchino has devoted his life to Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo, and, now in his late 60’s, Mauro has harvested more than 50 vintages! His three hectares of vineyards, planted in 1967, are on the banks of Sesia river on rocky granite soils that are rich in iron, potassium and manganese. The wine is fermented in concrete vats and aged in botti for three years. Whilst Gattinara might produce the richest wines from these northern zones, it is a wine that is more about grace and energy than sheer power, yet is just as perfumed and complex as those from the Langhe. With just 3000 bottles produced, our allocation remains tiny. If you love Nebbiolo, this is a must buy wine.
Wines of Piedmont
In the North-Western corner of Italy, with a backdrop of the visually stunning Alps, Piedmont is a great place to visit for wine tourism. It is also home to some of the most sought-after wines in the country.
Nebbiolo is the region’s most prestigious grape variety, a red variety not seen much in Australia. Wines made from this grape are powerful with remarkably high levels of tannins but a balancing acidity. The Piedmont region offers the grapes with a reliable autumn fog that provides a cooling effect which is particularly beneficial to the growth of Nebbiolo. This pre-harvest fog (“nebbia” in Italian) is actually where the grape’s name comes from. The fog is vital in that it prolongs the time spent on the vine and allows the grapes to achieve full ripeness.
The most famous examples of Nebbiolo come from the appellations (subregions) of Barolo and Barbaresco, known for their ability to age well, firm tannins and distinct smell of tar and roses. Barolo is a big tannic expression of Nebbiolo, while Barbaresco only about 15km away makes a more elegant style. Barolo wines are generally the more expensive of the two and are known to cellar for decades.
By volume however, Barbera is the most planted red grape in Piedmont. This grape makes a juicy, low tannin but high acidity easy-going red. Perhaps somewhat like a lighter style Shiraz.
While there are quite a few white varieties planted in the region, the most notable is Moscato d’Asti, made in a sparkling style in the Asti subregion.