Vigne Marina Coppi “Fausto” (Colli Tortonesi 2011, Piedmont)
~$50/bottle — Only 6,600 bottles produced.
Colli Tortonesi is a stone’s throw from the well-known region of Gavi in the easternmost part of Piedmont that links up with the Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardy. Production has been dominated by fizzy white wine made from Cortese grapes but there is a movement at hand to bring Timorasso, a grape that was only retrieved from obscurity in the past 15 years and has the most character of all Piedmont’s native white varieties, the recognition it deserves.
Francesco Bellocchio is at the forefront of that movement. His winery, Vigne Marina Coppi, was established in 2003 after the purchase of an 11 acre vineyard in the hamlet of Castellania that was once owned by his grandfather, a legendary cyclist who from 1940-1953 won the Giro d’Italia five times, the Tour de France twice, and the World Championship.
Bellocchio’s Timorasso grapes grow in the rich limestone soils of the single vineyards Gabetto and Montagnina that are situated mid-slope with an incline of almost 35 degrees. It’s an ideal micro-climate, with cooling breezes from the Adriatic Sea yet protected from the cold northerly winds. Hand-harvested in the early morning to preserve freshness, the grapes are gently pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for eight months with manual batonnage (stirring on the lees to enrich body and bouquet).
The result is “Fausto,” a full-bodied white wine named in honor of his grandfather. Its multi-layered aromatics include crushed stone and dried flowers. A sip fills the mouth with more layers of sappy white fruit and brine and a long, fresh finish. It’s clearly a wine that will develop in the cellar for at least another three to five years if not longer.