All wines stored at 55° and 70% humidity
Alto Piemonte Takes Back Nebbiolo
Before Piedmont’s Barolo and Barbaresco earned their stronghold in Northwestern Italy, there was a time when Alto Piemonte, just two hours northeast, was the more widely planted and sought-after region for Nebbiolo. We have a handful of Alto Piemonte wines in our collection, but the first and foremost name to know among the current revivalists is Cristiano Garella.
In the last decade, Cristiano has strived to revive Alto Piemonte as a wine region, highlighting its distinctive varieties and terroir. He's an adviser to roughly 20 wineries across the region, but Colombera & Garella is his own project (hence the namesake)—the first half refers to father-son duo Giacomo and Carlo Colombera, Cristiano’s long-time friends who have grown grapes in Bramaterra since the early 1990s.
Together, they farm nine hectares using organic and low-intervention practices in the vineyard and cellar (native yeast, fermentation in concrete tanks, minimal sulfur, and 24-month élevage in neutral barrels, etc.). These are currently the only wines in our Alto Piemonte collection from the appellations of Bramaterra and Lessona.
Nebbiolo is still the noble grape here, but it’s blended with small amounts of native varieties like Vespolina and Croatina that add another dimension to the wines. Alto Piemonte has a cool, rainy climate. More specifically, the soils in Bramaterra and Lessona are acidic and respectively comprised of reddish-brown sand from an ancient volcano and yellow sand from the sea. The result is a more mineral-driven expression of Nebbiolo, with finer tannins and nerving acidity—all of which makes them more approachable and readily drinkable than their slower aging counterparts.
These wines are still distinctly the Nebbiolo we know and love but reveal another facet of the variety and, as a result, another layer of admiration, especially given their more-affordable price tag.
“The 2016 Bramaterra Cascina Cottignano is bold, ample and super-expressive, although it is going to need at least a few years in bottle to be at its best. Even today, though, the wine's depth and overall resonance are both apparent. Dark red cherry, plum, spice, rose petal and earthy notes all flesh out in this potent, exotically rich Bramaterra. The 2016 is flat-out gorgeous, that's pretty much all there is to it.”
—Antonio Galloni of Vinous