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Rare and Thrilling Wines from Piedmont Italy

Vigne Marina Coppi “Marine” (Colli Tortonesi Favorita, 2011) white
~$35/bottle

Vigne Marina Coppi “Sant’ Andrea” (Colli Tortonesi Barbera, 2012) red
~$25/bottle SOLD OUT

With its many overlapping appellations spread across the largest region of the Italian mainland, it takes a bit of work to wrap one’s brain around the wines of Piedmont. But what makes Piedmont so complicated also makes it exciting. While most wine drinkers have heard of Barolo and Barberesco there are another three dozen Piedmont wine zones that rarely see foreign markets. Colli Tortonesi is one of them.

Colli Tortonesi lies in the easternmost part of Piedmont on the hills surrounding the town of Tortona in the province of Alessandria, extending from Monferrato to Oltrepò Pavese. Production has been dominated by fizzy white wine made from Cortese grapes but more recently passionate winemakers like Francesco Bellocchio of Vigne Marina Coppi are driving both consumers and media to recognize the potential of Colli Tortonesi to produce wines of distinction.

It was a little over a decade ago that Francesco purchased an 11 acre vineyard in the small village of Castellania. The tiny plot once belonged to his grandfather, Fausto Coppi, a legendary cyclist who died before Francesco was born. With such small vineyards, Francesco and his wife, Anna, are able to have total control of the land and the winemaking process. And they do it all themselves, producing a mere 1600 cases per year of top-class Colli Tortonesi wine using organic and biodynamic techniques.

The white Cuvée “Marine” comes from a two acre plot in the “Gabetto” vineyard. The grape variety is Favorita, a relative of the Mediterranean grape Vermentino. In order to increase the sugar and aromatic concentration, harvesting takes place around ten days after the grape has reached its maximum ripeness, when the grapes are slightly over-ripe (late-harvesting). But “Marine” is hardly a sweet wine. It’s a big, chewy, highly aromatic white wine with a bracing acidity perfect for pairing with a multitude of foods. If you’re already thinking Thanksgiving this wine would make an ideal addition to the feast. 40 bottles available.

The red Cuvée “Sant’ Andrea” is a blend of 90% Barbera, 10% Croatina from a 2.5 acre plot. Grapes are picked at peak maturity and the wine is fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel. This is about as pure and juicy as Barbera gets. Like a bucket of summer berries in a sun-drenched meadow. It’s a wine that makes you want to throw a party if only to drink it with friends. 20 bottles available.

A Vigne Marina Coppi Masterpiece

Vigne Marina Coppi “Fausto” (Colli Tortonesi Timorasso, 2011) white
~$50/bottle

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. 17 bottles available.

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Posted on 2015.10.21 in Italy, Piedmont, Saturday Sips

 

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