The Unequalled Beauty of Piemonte
Located in the Roero district of southern Piemonte, Malvira` was founded by Giuseppe Damonte in the 1950s. Today sons Massimo and Roberto and their wives Federica and Patrizia run the business. Massimo manages the vineyards, and Roberto is the winemaker while Federica and Patrizia run Villa Tibaldi at the estate, one of the most charming luxury hotels in Piemonte. The family owns seven different cru vineyards and organically farms a total of 40 hectares, specializing in the wines of the area including Arneis and Nebbiolo. Italian wine guide “Gambero Rosso” describes the winery as “up among the most illustrious names in oenological Piedmont,” and again “brothers Massimo and Roberto Damonte have created an estate whose sole objective is to enhance quality and promote the advancement of the territory.” This year, “Gambero Rosso” gave its highest Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award to the Nebbiolo based 2007 Roero Trinita Riserva. Both the 2005 Roero Monbeltramo Riserva and the 2005 Roero Renesio Riserva received Tre Bicchieri awards in the past.
Located in Piemonte’s Barbaresco zone, “Bruno Rocca is one of the great names in the wines of Piedmont and indeed of Italy,” writes “Gambero Rosso.” “His restructured cellar is set in a fascinating landscape of unequalled beauty. His wines are hailed throughout the world, recognizable for their very personal style, made up of modernity, exuberance and impeccable structure. Though seductive in their youth, they harbor proven potential for longevity and stunning maturity.” In the late 1950s, Bruno’s father and mother, Francesco and Maria Adelaide, bough a section of a vineyard in the Rabaja` area and thus became small landowners instead of sharecroppers. For 30 years, their son Bruno has run the business, which now includes 15 hectares of vines in seven different vineyards, mostly centered around Barbaresco in the Rabaja` area. “Wine is the mirror and soul of the ground and the territory. If protected and defended, it will never let you down,” Bruno Rocca says. Just as he assisted his father, Bruno’s son Francesco works in the winery and the vineyards while daughter Luisa is involved with administrative and hospitality aspects of the business. The Barbaresco Maria Adelaide and the Barbaresco Rabaja` have both received the “Gambero Rosso” Tre Bicchieri award for multiple vintages.
Filippo Gallino is located in Piemonte in the town of Canale. Filippo, Maria, and their son Gianni and daughter Laura share the work in the vineyards and cellar of this small but prestigious winery and produce some of the finest Barbera in the Roero appellation. The Gallino family has been growing grapes and making wine in the district for many generations, and son Gianni is now vineyard manager and winemaker for the estate, which cultivates 20 hectares of vineyards planted with the white Arneis, and the reds Barbera, and Nebbiolo. Nearly every year since 1997, one of the family’s wines has received the prestigious Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award from the Gambero Rosso wine guide. “Gambero Rosso” says of the Gallino family, “Behind every great wine lies the skilled efforts of a tight-knit family team.”
Italian Wines of the Month
Malvira 2010 Roero Arneis
This is one of the most delicious white wines that we’ve sent in a long time, made from 100% Arneis grapes from the Renesio, Trinita, Saglietto, Bordoni, and Prarino vineyards. Native to the Roero zone, Arneis shows rich and perfumy characteristics of apple and pear as this wine demonstrates. Because the wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks without exposure to oak barrels, its flavors and aromas are pure Arneis. Serve chilled with appetizers, fish and shellfish, chicken, pasta with light sauces, and fresh cheeses.
Filippo Gallino 2009 Barbera d’Alba
The 2009 Barbera d’Alba has a fresh bouquet of black and red fruit with undertones of violets and herbs, all of which are typical of the grape and the reason that Barbera is much loved by the Piemontese. The wine is versatile and will complement a wide range of dishes, especially made in the rustic style that the Gallino family prefers for this grape variety. Serve at cool room temperature.
Malvirá 2004 San Guglielmo Langhe Rosso
A blend of 70% Barbera, 25% Nebbiolo, and 5% Bonarda, all from the San Guglielmo Vineyard, this Langhe Rosso was aged in French oak barrels for 24 months. On the nose, it shows aromas of blackberry, prunes, and tobacco, and on the palate the wine is powerful but with velvety tannin texture. The winery suggests that the wine be served at cool room temperature with lamb and other roasted meats and game.
Malvirá 2005 Renesio Roero Riserva
Recipient of the “Gambero Rosso” highest Tre Bicchieri award, the Roero Riserva is 100% Nebbiolo from the Renesio Vineyard. “Gambero Rosso” describes the wine as follows: “Three Glasses went to the Roero Renesio Riserva ’05 for its aromas of raspberries, dried flowers, tobacco and white truffles and a subtle, complex, austere palate that lingers with silky tannins and superb fruit.” The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 24 months. Serve at cool room temperature with lamb and other roasted meats and game.
Bruno Rocca 2007 Barbaresco, Coparossa
The 2007 Caparossa is a beautiful blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Nebbiolo, and 25% Barbera from Bruno Rocca vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation. The wine aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, 60% new and 40% two years old. The nose is full with black fruit, herbal overtones, and a final spicy note. Decant this wine to experience its full warmth and highly complex flavors and to further smooth its tannins. Bruno Rocca wines are made to age for decades, so tannins are more noticeable even after seven years in the bottle.
Bruno Rocca 2007 Barbaresco, Rabajá
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo and made from fruit grown at the Rubaja` vineyard in the Barbaresco appellation. The wine was aged for 12 months in medium toast French oak barrels, 80% of which were new and 20% two years old. The nose opens with scents of vanilla and hazelnut, followed by raspberry and cherry, which carries over to warm, mouth-filling taste with broad tannins. This is a sumptuously elegant wine with a long finish recalling the aromas that are revealed on the nose. Gambero Rosso describes the 2007 Rabaja as follows: “An intense Barbaresco Rabaja ’07 displays spicy oak but in an overall context that is crisp and clean, accompanied by alluring impressions of cocoa and liquorice. The palate is notable for its power and lushness, which dense tannins render just a tad austere.” Decant the Rabaja for an hour or two before serving at cool room temperature.
Italian Region of the Month
Almost 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 and the smaller Valle d’Aosta region to the north were part of the French-speaking principality of Savoy between the 11th and 18th Centuries and played a key role in the Risorgimento, the movement that united Italy under a Savoy king in 1859. Famous ski resorts and the wild Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso draw visitors to the majestic mountains in the north, while in the south, vine covered hills around Barolo and vast fields of grain and rice in the Po valley continue a rich agricultural tradition. Torino, the region’s capital, is a crowded industrial city and home to the Fiat car company, but it also offers splendid Baroque civic buildings, palazzi, and museums, one of which is world renowned for its Egyptian collection gathered during the Napoleonic Wars.
The ancient Liguri tribes who dominated the region probably first cultivated the wild vines of the Apennines, but they learned wine making from the Greeks about 600 BC. The Celtic Taurini, who gave their name to Torino, also grew vines in the region. Although the Romans planted vines, they didn’t favor the wines. Finally in the 19th Century, the wines of Piemonte gained distinction when the Savoy and others began to use French methods.
Piemonte has 57 DOC and DOCG zones, more than any other region. Most vineyards are located in two major areas, in the Langhe and Monferrato hills, which are connected to the Apennines in the southeast and in the foothills of the Alps to the north between Lake Maggiore and Valle d’Aosta. 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 some think that Barbaresco is its equal. The noble Nebbiolo vine produces both wines as well as Gattinara. Barbera and Dolcetto are popular full-flavored reds, while Freisa, Grignolino, and Brachetto are popular pale, fruity varieties often made as bubbly wines.
Whites are equally prominent, the first being Asti Spumante from Moscato d’Asti, the nation’s second DOCG in volume after Chianti and the world’s second sparkling wine after Champagne. Among still whites, Gavi from the Cortese grape has emerged as one of Italy’s most coveted wines, and Arneis is attracting increasing attention.