Before I forget, Happy National Wine Week to my co-patriots… I know for most of us wine bloggers, every week is wine week!
In part three of this series on the great reds of northwestern Italy’s Piedmont region, I would like to tell you about a variety I had for the very first time a few weeks ago at a tasting. Not only did I love it, but it stood out more than the Barolos or Barbarescos in the room, to me anyway. It made quite an impression, and so let’s talk about Gattinara. Making such a discovery is exciting, so I hope you share that enthusiasm with me and try one.
Gattinara is a DOCG wine from the region, also made from Nebbiolo. Originally a DOC, it was upgraded in 1990. It is from the commune of the same name, in northern Vercelli province. One principle difference in this wine is that up to 10% of it can be a blend of Bonarda di Gattinara and up to 4% Vespolina.
From the 2007 vintage, it has been aged at least 3 years (1 in oak), yet still has a dark ruby color at this age. However as you know the variety lends itself nicely to aging, and they do make a Riserva which is more orange to garnet in color like Barolo. That is because it has been aged longer — at least 4 years, with 2 in oak. I have seen vintages of this online as old as 2001. And there is definitely some rim variation on this one leaning towards that color.
Gattinara used to be known as the best place in the region for Nebbiolo. While it may no longer be in the spotlight, the quality is still there. And you will still pay $30 plus for a good bottle. This region has more volcanic soil than Ghemme or Langhe, so the result is lighter and softer. This bottle has a fascinating shape, perhaps designed to be held more easily. It is quite a conversation piece for a wine tasting.
On the nose is a complex yet also somewhat austere aroma of earth and roses (I am reminded a little of Bordeaux), but with strong cherry and spice notes. Alcohol is at 13.5%. On the palate there is some complexity as well, with a balance of floral, earth, acidity and cherry spice. I get medium body and medium plus tannins so this is a good wine to match with local special meats and cheeses. So I paired it with broiled Italian sausage and the fatty sausage cut right through the tannin as expected. Before that, I had some freshly sliced parmesan to whet my appetite. How do you say delicious in Italian?
This is the most known producer of the variety and they produce many wines across many price ranges. Most of these are more affordable than Barolo and Barbaresco but some are in the higher price ranges. This one was about $30. Visit their site here for a broader view of their range.
Starting this weekend I will be doing my first LIVE blogging series as I visit more wineries in my favorite local up-and-coming wine region, the glorious North Fork of Long Island. I have covered many fine wines and great wineries from this region on my blog, and this weekend I’m going back for my third visit. I thought it would be interesting to blog-on-the-spot from several local wineries. Maybe I can even get a few questions in with a local winemaker…maybe…