Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Diary 52: a celebration tasting

And finally, it’s been a busy time! In September, my 400-page book, The Wines of Piemonte, was published … And here is what I tasted, no drank, with my local tasting group to celebrate the happy day.

The tasting reflects the book: Barolo and Barbaresco of course, but so much more! Great grape varieties, a huge range of styles, many denominations: so much to discover!

Celebration full line up
Celebration full line up

Wines 1 and 2 were a study in austerity vs. richness

1. Incanto, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG Spumante, Brut Nature, Cantine Crosio, 2011, 13%

100% Erbaluce, traditional method, 80 months on lees

Clear lemon, very savoury with marked toast notes, fine mousse, long, savoury, confit lemon and yeasty, classy, slightly bitter on the finish in a very Italian way; 17 (all scores out of 20)

2. Alta Langa DOCG Riserva, Extra Brut, Coppo, 2013, 12.5%

80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay. Fermented in barriques, full MLF, aged for 9 months in barriques and 60 months on the lees

Creamy, great fruit integrated with light oak and brioche notes, rich, very persuasive, refreshing acidity, very long 17+


The two great (and I mean great) and underrated white varieties of southern Piemonte

3. Pasinot, Le Strette, Langhe DOC Nascetta del comune di Novello, 2018, 13.5%

100% Nascetta. 4-5 days criomaceration, fermentation in stainless steel, aged on lees 12 months with bâtonnage once a month

Honeyed, orange skin, lively acidity, real depth, clearly has the depth of flavour and fruit-acidity balance to age further in the bottle, 17

4. Derthona, Colli Tortonesi DOC, Vigneti Massa, 2006, 13.5% – my second last bottle of a case …

100% Timorasso; lovely nut and aged notes, intense fresh and dried lemon and apricot fruit, light grippiness, long, 16++


Wines 5 and 6 were a Dolcetto that ages well (10 years!) and a rare high-quality Croatina

5. San Fereolo, Dogliani DOCG Superiore, San Fereolo, 2013, 14%

100% Dolcetto; 40-70 year old vines in Dogliani grown at 400-500 m., 35-45 hL/ha. Fermentation temperature up to 33ºC, 20 days on the skins, aged in oak vats of 7-40 hL

Deep colour but with a garnet edge. Menthol, raspberry, dried plum, full-bodied, firm high tannins now rounded, long lightly drying finish, 16.5

6. Bricco della Cappelletta, Cisterna d’Asti DOC Superiore, Carlin de Paolo, 2017, 15%

100% Croatina, 20–30-year-old vines; 56 hL/ha; aged in 25 hL cask for 18 months

Impenetrable purple-tinted ruby. Compote of blueberry, damson and prune, white pepper. The fruit carries the high tannins, very full-bodied and mildly oxidative and smoky in style, 16++

A pair of Langhe icons of the same vintage with a marked difference in style (more traditional vs. more fruit-expressive modern)

7. Albesani MGA, Vigna Santo Stefano, Barbaresco DOCG, Bruno Giacosa, 2011, 14.5%

100% Nebbiolo, 15-35 years vines; 15 days maceration time; 18 months in barrel

Garnet; lovely mildly oxidative notes, tea, stewed fruit; sinuous, beautiful traditional style, lightly poky tannins, not quite in its stride yet 17+

8. Sperss, Langhe DOC Nebbiolo, Gaja, 2011, 14%

Sperss is Piedmontese for ‘nostalgia’. Fruit fromMarenca-Rivette MGA in Serralunga d’Alba, Barolo. The blend is 94% Nebbiolo and 6% Barbera. Aged for 12 months in barriques followed by 12 months in large oak casks

Fruity, vanilla oak, powerful, expressive, red-fruited, still tannic, long, 17++

Two Monferrato classics: Ruchè and Barbera

9. Opera Prima, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato, Ferraris Agricola, 2016, 16%

100% Ruchè; 20-year-old vines in the prime Bricco della Gioia vineyard; 28 hL/ha (!); 20-25 days in rotofermenter and then post-fermentation maceration on the skins for 20-25 days with submerged cap. Aged for 24 months in French oak tonneaux.

Jasmine, rose, bath salts, violets, ripe red fruit; warming alcohol, tannic undertow, a huge mouthful, long, 17.5

10. Pomorosso, Nizza DOCG, Coppo, 2017, 16%

100% Barbera, the best fruit from a number of vineyards; 15 days maceration on the skins; 14 months in barriques, 100% new

Deep ruby; dense dark plum fruit, pepper, super concentrated, effortlessly absorbs all that oak, long, near sweet finish, 17.5

Two reds tasted blind for comparison: Freisa (near Nebbiolo relative) vs. Alto Piemonte Nebbiolo

11. Coste dei Fre, Langhe DOC Freisa, Azienda Agricola 499, 2015, 14%

15 days on the skins; aged half in Austrian oak cask and half in stainless steel

Deep ruby, sleek red fruit, mildly tannic finish, remarkably elegant, really gorgeous for its vinosity, red fruit, balance of fruit and tannins, 16.5+

12. Colline Novaresi DOC Spanna, Vallana, 13%

Fruit grown in Boca, wine aged for 12 months in old 500 litre tonneaux

pale garnet; complex and layered nose (violet, cranberry, red plum), very firm final tannins, refined, potential to age, 17

Wine bottle capsule art

Bonus bottle bought by one of the tasters

13. Barbaresco DOCG, Punset, 1992, 13.5%

pale garnet, medium intensity leather, balsamic and nut tertiary aromas with ripe red fruit, moderate tannins, 16.5

Thanks for getting this far in this post!

PS The book is print-on-demand in the US via and available from the publisher, The Classic Wine Library, or Amazon in Europe.

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