Beppe Caviola is one of Italy’s greatest winemakers and consults widely throughout the Peninsula. Wine guide Gambero Rosso describes Beppe Caviola’s winemaking as “deftly highlighting vine typicality here and area peculiarity there, while never falling back on over-clever, self-depicting interventions. He follows the same approach for his own wines, produced in Dogliani in a gorgeous 18th Century villa.” Beppe Caviola and partner Maurizio Anselmo founded the Ca’Viola estate in 1991 and dedicate themselves to superior expressions of Piedmont’s three classic red wines, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Ca’Viola consists of 17 acres of vineyards in Montelupo Albese, cultivated with Dolcetto and Barbera, as well as, five acres in Novello, utilized exclusively for Nebbiolo. The vineyards are managed by Anselmo with the assistance of agronomist Gian Piero Romana. Ca’Viola wines have been recipients of many Tre Bicchieri awards from Gambero Rosso as well as high scores from other publications and critics.
The Pecchenino family has worked in viticulture for over four generations and made the leap from small wine production to a winery of international recognition under the brothers Orlando and Attilio Pecchenino. Today, Pecchenino consists of 54 acres in Dogliani and an additional seven acres in Monforte. Focused on the production of high-quality Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Pecchenino’s vines are painstakingly cared for by hand and farmed without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. According to Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso, “The vineyards employ rigorously environmentally friendly methods, but the brothers prefer to think of this as common sense.” Pecchenino has won multiple Tre Bicchieri awards from Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso, especially for the Dogliani Siri d’Jermu, Dogliani Bricco Botti and the Barolo le Coste.
The Araldica cooperative of growers, whose winery is located in Castelvero, was originally formed in the 1940s and today has 300 members, who are small vineyard owners, producing the native grapes of the region, such as Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Cortese, Arneis, and Moscato as well as the less common Brachetto and Freisa along with international Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. The vineyards are located in the major Piemontese growing areas of the Langhe, Monferrato, Roero, and in Gavi appellations. Claudio Manera serves as Managing Director and enologist. The cooperative’s major labels are Araldica, Alasia, Castelvero, Poderi Alasia, La Battistina and Il Cascinone.
Italian Wines of the Month
Araldica 2013 Gavi La Luciana
One of the most important white wines of Piedmont, Gavi is made from Cortese grapes, which for this wine were harvested from the La Luciana vineyard in the Upper Monferrato. At just 12% alcohol, the wine is fresh and fruity with citrus and green apple aromas and flavors. Serve chilled with appetizers, first courses, and braised white fish.
Araldica 2011 Barbera d’Asti Albera
Barbera was once known as “the people’s wine.” But the varietal has come up in the world over for the past dozen years with careful vineyard management, premium treatment in the winery and aging in oak barrels. The result is a wine with deep color, rich berry flavors, a high level of natural acidity, and very soft tannins. Serve at cool room temperature.
Ca’Viola 2011 Barbera d’Alba Brichet
Meaning “top of a small hill” in the Piedmontese dialect, Brichet is the actual name of the zone where this Barbera was cultivated. The wine is a ripe 14%, which tames the natural acidity of the Barbera grape. Aged for 12 months in oak casks, expect intense red and blue berry aromas and flavors, subtle acidity, and soft tannins. Serve at cool room temperature
Pecchenino 2012 Dolcetto Siri d’Jermu
This beautifully textured and balanced wine is 100% Dolcetto, which I have sometimes considered a cultivated taste. But not this wine. It’s an immediate “wow.” The grapes were harvested from a single 12-acre vineyard at the northern edge of Dogliani, carefully hand selected, and then fermented using only natural yeasts, enhancing the strong personality of the final wine. Antonio Galloni at Vinous Media gave the wine 92 points.
Pecchenino 2013 Maestro Langhe
A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Sauvignon, this white wine was aged on its lees in French oak barrels for nine months, so it’s medium bodied and richer on the palate. Serve chilled.
Ca’Viola 2008 Barolo Sottocastello
This may be a powerful, fruit-driven wine with intensely ripe berry and spice flavor, but in the hands of masterful winemaker Beppe Caviola, it also has the structure that acid and tannins impart. Aged for 24 months in large casks, the Sottocastello earned the highest Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso and 93 points from Antonio Galloni at Vinous Media among other high scores.
Pecchenino 2010 Barolo San Giuseppe
This is a gorgeous wine, exceptionally balanced with fruit flavors, acid, and amazing tannin texture. Antonio Galloni gave the wine 95 points and describes it as follows: “Savory herbs, dried rose petals, tobacco, wild flowers, mint, spices and dark red stone fruits lift from the glass as Pecchenino 2010 Barolo San Giuseppe shows off its beguiling personality.” Like the Sottocastello above, the San Giuseppe was aged in oak casks, allowing the tannins to round out without masking the remarkable Nebbiolo fruit bouquet. The grapes were harvested from two small vineyards, totaling just over three acres in the San Giuseppe area of Monforte d’Alba. Decant and serve at cool room temperature.
Italian Region of the Month
Half of Piemonte, which means “foot of the mountain,” lies in the great arc of the Alps and the Apennines, from which the Po River flows east through its broad valley to the Adriatic. Bordering Switzerland and France, Piemonte was part of the French-speaking principality of Savoy between the 11th and 18th Centuries. The ancient Liguri tribes first cultivated the wild vines of the Apennines and later learned wine making from the Greeks about 600 BC. In the 19th Century, the wines of Piemonte gained distinction when the Savoy and others began to use French methods. Piemonte has 58 DOC and DOCG zones, more than any other region. In the Langhe hills above the town of Alba are the vineyards of Barolo, one of Italy’s most prestigious wines, “the king of wines and the wine of kings,” although Barbaresco may be its equal, both wines made from the noble Nebbiolo vine. Barbera and Dolcetto are popular reds. Whites are equally prominent. Asti Spumante from Moscato d’Asti is the nation’s second DOCG in volume after Chianti. Among still whites, Gavi from the Cortese grape is highly regarded along with Arneis.