Ferrando's Carema is where Alto Piemonte tugs at my hearstrings the very most. While pricing is always below top examples of Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco, it is still a wine you can argue deserves special attention and occasions. 

Today, I'm happy to offer the new release of the 2015 Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca & Nera, along with the value kingpin 2017 Canavese Rosso Torrazza for $25 per bottle.

For me, there is no single estate that defines Alto Piemonte like Ferrando Carema.In the region of Canavese, sitting at the foot of Monte Bianco, these terraced vineyards of Carema are planted to Nebbiolo. Here the variety is portrayed with an alpine inflection different from Barolo and Barbaresco, but with a track record of aging that's completely on par.

Ferrando's vines sit in a south-facing amphitheater of slate soils overlooking the Dora Baltea river that runs through the Valle d'Aosta into northewestern Piedmont. Unlike their more famous southern neighbors, vines here are trained high up on pergola, or"Tupin", to harness maximum sunlight. The entirety of the Carema appellation reaches only 16 hectares of plantings, with Ferrando controlling just 2.5.

Ferrando's Etichetta Bianca is comprised of 100% Nebbiolo and is produced each year with aging taking place in large and small barrels, bottling is after 30-36 months aging. Nebbiolo here is more translucent in color than we find further south, but still displaying the variety's inherent tar and roses note, with a brisk alpine streak throughout. The sensation of minerality here is more pronounced because of the alpine elements, but certainly the slate soils conjure that unmistakable finely-crushed rock quality that comes through vividly in regions like the Mosel.

The Etichetta Nera is only produced in vintages deemed exceptional, sourced primarily from two special parcels, the Silanc and Siei vineyards. Aging is for at least 3 years before bottling, with elévage taking place exclusively in barrique, of which a portion is new. The Black Label is regarded by many as the most age-worthy of all the wines from Alto Piemonte. 

I work with a wide range of importers, but Neal Rosenthal's selections sit in rare company at the top of the list. Neal is famous for his work with producers like Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, Paolo Bea, and Cappellano but his words on Ferrando have always stuck with me, once declaring that if he was given only one wine to drink, it would be Carema. Bottles going back to the late 70's are renowned for their freshness and unparalleled clarity that belie the underlying power.

When Neal began to import European wines to the US in 1980, Ferrando was his very first. At that time Carema was unknown here, and although the following in still relatively small vs. that of Barolo, those who line their cellars with Conterno and Mascarello all know the secret of Alto Piemonte.

Ferrando's Carema bottlings always represent a special occasion for me when opened. They are ethereal, and at the same time deep and saturating on the palate. Looking throughout the images of this alpine appellation I'm reminded this wine can come from nowhere else on earth. It is Nebbiolo is its most singularly delicate and awe-inspiring.