Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Elvio Cogno – a family winery in good health

IMG_4664 This estate was created in 1990 when Elvio Cogno decided to set up in his own name, having previously been part of an important partnership.  It is now run by Walter Fissore and his wife Nadia  (Elvio’s daughter) who showed us around this beautiful farm house (cascina) which serves as winery and home. It has great views of the town of Novello and of the surrounding countryside on all sides.  It is very unusual in that they have an undivided piece of land around the winery of 11 hectares. 

We were treated – and I mean treated – to a very generous tasting of the entire range, including a very rare white made with a local variety. 

Langhe Bianco Anas-Cetta 2009, just bottled but not yet labelled.  The grape variety, Nascetta, is yet another interesting Italian grape variety on the verge of being lost.  Here is it make a semi-aromatic white wine of real personality, stirred on the lees for 6 months, with a good structure, with both fruit and floral notes, quite exotic but would also be good with food.  Can age.  Let’s hope we hear more of Nascetta in the future.

Dolcetto Vigna Mandorlo 2008: Nadia recounts how demanding this grape is in the vineyard and the winery.  Despite always  being overshadowed by the demanding Nebbiolo and even Barbera, it has delicate thin-skinned bunches which get burned on hot sites, go mouldy if it rains and drop their grapes at the slightest provocation. In the winery it needs lots of aeration.  This example shows it at its best: lovely fruity nose, highly drinkable, not a wine of great substance but delicious.  


Space is at a premium in the fermentation room so the Cogno have installed these unusual but very practical square vessels. 

Barbera d’Alba 2007: matured in the pretty neutral large botti, which preserves the wonderful fruit of Barbera while smoothing out some of the rough edges of very young wine.  Great depth of flavour of cherries and cherry stones.  Very good indeed. 

Montegrilli 2007 Langhe DOC: a slightly unusual blend of 50% Barbera and 50% Nebbiolo which are actually harvested and vinified together.  This calls for clever judgement as there can be a couple of weeks between the optimum moments for the two grape varieties, though I suppose it also has the advantage of spreading out the periods when the business of crushing grapes and making wine is at its most demanding. A successful marriage of the fruitiness of Barbera and the potential elegance of Nebbiolo.

Barbaresco 2006: the Cogno rent some vineyards in nearby Barbaresco (Neive) to produce 3,000 bottles of this very elegant Nebbiolo. 

Barolo Cascina Nuova 2005:   the first of a series of their Barolo, very perfumed, elegant, and with a good grip. Good value too at €26.  It’s interesting to see that, as everywhere else, with good practice in the vineyard Barolo has crept up to 14? of alcohol.   The ‘green pruning’ whereby you reduce the number of bunches a vine is carrying means that the remaining bunches ripen fully and give the possibility of elegant and substantial wines, such as this. 


While we taste, Nadia answers my question, saying that the Piemontese word for the little stone or brick huts you seen in the vineyards is ‘ciabot’ (pron. cha-bot), a sort of glorified garden hut for tools, shelter and perhaps even a little bed for that siesta.   There must be an Italian word for them but it’s the local word which everyone uses. 

Barolo Ravera 2005, 14.5%: Ravera is the name of the vineyard and this is the first of three cru wines, ie from single vineyards.  This has an amazing nose of mint, balsamic and floral notes, with high acidity and tannin, made to last and to develop, but perfectly drinkable now.  2005 was one of a series of good years here, as long as you were lucky and missed the hail.  Delicious and long. 

IMG_4662-1 Barolo Vigna Elena 2004: This fun label – drawn by daughter Elena when she was three – is evidence that the next generation may major in graphic design rather than wine.  But the wine is exceptional, made separately only in the best years and from a vineyard planted with Nebbiolo Rosé, a type of the classic grape.  It’s a semi-riserva, being released after five years, three of which are in large botti. It has a beautiful nose, elegant, supple and long, pulled along by a proper streak of acidity, the tannins less noticeable. Excellent; got 5* in a Decanter tasting. And finally:

Barolo Bricco Pernice 2005: another very good Barolo, but one that needs time on account of its more obvious tannins.  Has great potential. 

Thanks to Nadia and Walter (who was just off to the meeting of the consortium, to which Sig. Ratti had just been elected as president – see later post).  These excellent wines are currently looking for a UK importer. 

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