Finally got a start on my wine tour Wednesday. A couple of the locals decided to spend the afternoon visitng the local wineries so we filled up a couple of cars with the locals and my colleagues and headed out to the wineries. The Gattinara and Ghemme wine appellations (and towns) are about a half hour drive from home base so it was decided to start there. The wineries in this part of the country still observe siesta so we made our first appointment for 2:00. I suggested Cantine Vallana since I’ve had their wines in New York and in fact I had their wines last month when the New York distributor of the wines held their portfolio tasting at the Metropolitan Pavillion. The winery has been a family run operation for genertations and they use a low tech in making their wines.
After a drive along lake-side, mountain roads we arrived at our destination where we were promptly greeted by the matriarch of the Vallana family who handed us off to our host for the afternoon a member of the family and the winemaker, Francis Fogarty. (now that’s a fine Italian name). It seems that the maternal side of the family is Vallana and the paternal side are the Fogarty’s. Francis’s English was very good and took us on a tour of the facilites starting with the large concrete barrels where the wines ferment and then down to the old cellars. At the end of the tour we ended up in the tasting room which looked like a Bavarian hunting lodge and at where they stored bottles of their library wines. The oldest bottle in the collection had the vintage year of 1692! It was time to taste and Francis asked what should we start with. I felt that we should start with a lighter red so I suggested the 2011 Grignolino. It was light red, almost a rose with a barnyard and dried mushrooms on the nose, bright fruit and nice astringency on the finish. A nice starter wine.
Next up was the 2009 Spanna which is 90% Nebbiola with the rest of the blend the local grape Vespolina. Dark red to black with a slightly closed nose of violets, it was velvety, dry with juicy tannin and bitter almond on the finish.
The 2004 Bocca. which is the name of a local village, was dark red to black with floral, dark violets on the nose with chewy violet fruit and bitter almond notes and firm acidity on the finish.
The 2004 Gattinara was medium red to dark with a nose of sweet smoke and violets with silky fruit, firm acids and dusty tannin on the finish. It was a very nice tasting on one of the few sunny days of the week.
We spent more time at Vallana than we anticipate so we had time for one more stop and headed into the town of Ghemme where we stopped at the cantina of Lorenzo Zanetta. We were poured the 2005 Ghemme which is 90% Nebbiola and the balance Vespolina. It was black in color with a brown robe and a nose of black licorice and dark fruits, it was concentrated and tight with a meaty finish and firm tannins.