At the end of the 19th century, Alto Piemonte was the largest wine growing region in Italy. Its revered Nebbiolo sprawled over 50,000 hectares, but after phylloxera and then World War II dwindled to just 2,000. Today, production is increasing as the wines are receiving more attention. Of all the small communes in this alpine region 70 miles north of Barbaresco, no estate has drawn in my fascination and adoration more than La Prevostura.

Only 20 hectares are planted in their commune of Lessona, and with small yields in 2013 this shimmeringly pure vintage was one I knew I had to go deep on. Building off the beautiful 2011, the 2013 La Prevostura Lessona captures everything that stirs the senses about Alto Piemonte. If the Queen of Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, shows a more graceful side of the tannic grape then Lessona takes things even further down that path. Here, Nebbiolo is high-toned, red-fruited, with incredible energy, delicacy, and lace.This is where lovers of Chambolle and Volnay need to turn when they venture to Piedmont.

Since 2001 the young Bellini brothers have farmed their Lessona vineyard, but 100 years ago this same parcel was one of the very most celebrated in entire the region. They have worked tirelessly to get the land back to its gold standard, waiting until 2009 to commercially bottle.

While gravel and high iron content make up the darker, sturdier profile of the better known Gattinara commune, Lessona is home to old marine sand, clay, and silt soils.This combo endows wines with incredible lift, grace, and perfume. The inherent tannin in Nebbiolo still provides tremendous structure, but overall Lessona reflects the variety at its most transparent and agile.

Customarily a small amount of Vespolina is incorporated to the blend, but in 2013 the pristine fruit and minuscule yields meant this would be comprised of 100% Nebbiolo. Tasting with winemaker Cristiano Garella in La Jolla during his visit was an incredible study in terroir, as he poured bottlings from various estates and communes he produces wine from. When all was said and done the Lessona was the wine that shined the brightest, offering the most intricate characteristics and finely-woven structure that just floored me.

Quantities in 2013 were way down in Lessona, and with less than 20 hectares planted in the entire region I knew I had to secure as much of its top wine as possible.

2013 La Prevostura Lessona
$45 per bottle.