• Alto Piemonte Comeback: Colombera & Garella

    Alto Piemonte Comeback: Colombera & Garella

    Before Barolo and Barbaresco earned their stronghold, there was a time when Alto Piemonte, just two hours northeast, was the more sought-after region for Nebbiolo. We have a handful of Alto Piemonte wines in our collection, but the name to know among its current revivalists is Cristiano Garella.

    Over the last decade, Garella has helped revive Alto Piemonte as a wine region, advising about 20 wineries. Colombera & Garella is his personal project in partnership with Giacomo and Carlo Colombera, who have grown grapes in Bramaterra since the early 90s. Together, they farm nine hectares using organic and low-intervention practices: Native fermentation in concrete tanks, minimal sulfur, and 24-month élevage in neutral barrels.

    Compared to Barolo and Barbaresco, Alto Piemonte has a cooler, rainier climate. The soils are significantly more acidic, with Bramaterra having reddish-brown sand from an ancient volcano. This terroir results in a more mineral-driven expression of Nebbiolo with fine tannins and nerving acidity, which make for more approachable and readily drinkable wines than their slower aging counterparts in Piedmont.

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    Posted by Sydney Love
  • Crown of Vittoria: Arianna Occhipinti

    Crown of Vittoria: Arianna Occhipinti

    Some producers define a region, and others transcend it. Young Arianna Occhipinti worked alongside her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti of COS, who put Vittoria on the world map. In 2004, she produced her first wine with just one hectare. Every day since then, it's been more or less a battle for allocations. Arianna's wines have a velvety texture and concentration, illustrating how intensity shouldn't be mutually exclusive with elegance.

    "SP68" is 70% Frappato and 30% Nero d'Avola. It's fermented and aged entirely in concrete, which preserves the notes of fresh red-blue fruit and mineral streak that's signature to Vittoria—2021 is the best vintage to date! And Il Frappato is comprised of 100% Frappato from various hillsides, as well as in parcels surrounding the estate. The Frappato is the first Sicilian wine I would pour for Pinot Noir lovers.

    Arianna studied enology in Milan and was disheartened to find that industrial winemaking took precedence over the natural vineyard. When she returned to Vittoria, she slowly began cultivating her land, growing vines, and more. The one hectare she started with has grown into 28, with organic farming strictly followed.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Hidden Gem in Radda: Caparsa Chianti

    Hidden Gem in Radda: Caparsa Chianti

    Toscana lovers are likely familiar with Radda because of Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte or Monteraponi (Two estates we’ve heavily cited here at KWM over the years). They have brought worldwide attention to this small village, and for good reason. But these days, true Chianti enthusiasts are turning to another name: Paolo Cianferoni of Caparsa. These 100% Sangiovese wines still fly under the radar, for now, but they’re quickly gaining notoriety, as you’ll see from Antonio Galloni’s recent reviews.

    Chianti from Radda is distinctly known for its elegance and finesse, and it’s no different in the case of Caparsa. Though traditional in every sense, Paolo’s natural-leaning tendencies and his devotion to preserving his estate’s sense of place—the flora and fauna, microorganisms, and soils, as Paolo says—truly shine through in bottle. These wines will transport you to Radda! They’re pure, vibrant, and have a quiet but fierce wildness too. The Rosso di Caparsa, which only sees cement, is high-toned and cherry fruit-forward, while the plush, neutral barrel-aged Mimma shows a fuller spectrum of red-black fruit, green olive, cedar, and blood.

    The Cianferoni family has been growing Sangiovese in Radda for as long as its more famous neighbors. Paolo’s father, formerly a professor at the University of Florence, purchased and planted vines at Caparsa in the 1960s. Still impacted by World War II, much of Tuscany lay abandoned, but the Cianferonis stuck to their inclination. Paolo, with his wife and children, took over in 1982 and introduced organic farming. From the same importer who has brought us our top-selling Italian discoveries in recent years, including Amorotti in Abruzzo and Paso Delle Tortore in Campania, Caparsa is our latest reference point for Radda.

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    Posted by Sydney Love
  • Alto Piemonte's One & Only: 2018 Ferrando Carema

    Alto Piemonte's One & Only: 2018 Ferrando Carema

    Ferrando was the first European wine that Neal Rosenthal began importing to the U.S. in 1980. The following is still relatively small, but those who line their cellars with Giacomo Conterno and Bartolo Mascarello know the secret of Alto Piemonte. While pricing is always below the top examples of Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco, Ferrando's Carema deserves equal attention.

    In the region of Canavese, these terraced vineyards sit at the foot of Monte Bianco. Here, Nebbiolo portrays an alpine inflection different from Barolo and Barbaresco but with the same track record of aging. Unlike their more famous southern neighbors, vines are trained high up on pergola to harness maximum sunlight. The Carema appellation is just 16 hectares of plantings, with Ferrando holding less than three.

    Rosenthal's words have always stuck with me. He once declared that if given only one wine to drink, it would be Ferrando's Carema. Bottles going back to the late 70s are renowned for their freshness, unparalleled clarity, and underlying power. Looking at images of this alpine appellation reminds me of how this wine can come from nowhere else on earth. It is Nebbiolo at its most singular and awe-inspiring.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Catching Fire: 2018 G.D. Vajra Barolo

    Catching Fire: 2018 G.D. Vajra Barolo

    G.D. Vajra has been on fire. In the case of Vajra's contemporaries, like Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Rinaldi, their wines are nearly impossible to source (That being said, a small portion of 2018 Rinaldi Baroli just landed). The Vajra wines stand at a perfect intersection between the two styles. Aldo Vaira has called the estate "the most modern of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the modernists."

    Bricco delle Viole is among the great insider wines of Barolo. Planted in 1949, the name refers to the abundance of violets (viole) that appear here each spring and the ridge (bricco) where the vineyard lies. The soil is composed of a Tortonian mix of limestone and clay. Because the porous and rocky soil here does not hold very much heat, harvest often takes place two weeks after other vineyards in Barolo.

    Aldo and Milena Vaira bottled their first vintage in 1978 from vineyards planted by Aldo's father in 1948. Vajra's vineyards sit at the highest elevation in the commune of Barolo. From the start, they were heavily influenced by their neighbors, Bartolo Mascarello and Beppe Rinaldi, down the hill.

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    Posted by Max Kogod