B.Wine Goes to Langhe

“The sun, the clouds, the vines, the villages, the rivers, the rhythm of the seasons, the colors, the people’s
hands. Everything is here, because here (in the Langhe) history has interlocked with myth, humanity’s
past with everyday life, until they merge and become one, vibrant and vital.”

Cesare Pavese

November 13, 2022 from Milan, B wine team opens the academic year with the first wine visit to Langhe

Langhe: a Territory Rich in History

The Langhe are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage area, located in Piedmont, comprised in the area from Cuneoan Asti, crossed to the north by the Tanaro River, which is the natural boundary between the soils of the great Piedmontese red wines Barolo and Barbaresco from those of the white Roero Arneis. The Langhe is an area characterized by forests, vineyards and hazel groves, as well as a scenic set of hills. This territory can be divided into three zones: “Bassa Langa,” “Alta Langa,” and “Langa Astigiana.” The name “Langhe,” comes from the Piedmontese word “langa,” which means precisely “hill.” The Lower Langa area is famous for wine production and truffle production. The Alta Langa area is famous for its hazelnut production. The most famous varieties of the best wines made in the Langhe are Barolo and Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto d’Alba, Dolcetto di Dogliani, Barbera d’Alba, and Pelaverga di Verduno. The two greatest Piedmontese wines Barolo and Barbaresco have a common denominator, Nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo: a Grape Variety, a Territory

Nebbiolo can be defined as a terroir grape variety by definition, which in its designated places produces great wines even if they are substantially very different from each other. These are always wines, strong and powerful, rich and complex, fine and elegant, that need to age for a long time to fully achieve those characteristics that make them superior, classy and celebrated. Nebbiolo can be grown throughout Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Valtellina, Franciacorta and Sardinia. A total of about 4,700 hectares grown with this grape variety in Italy. Plus another 627 scattered throughout the rest of the world, but this grape variety remains basically autochthonous since it is strongly linked to its areas of origin, Piedmont. Its name is said by some to derive from “fog,” precisely because its berries give the impression of being “foggy,” covered by the abundant bloom; according to others, however, it derives from the late ripening of the grapes, which drives the harvest when the first autumn fogs arise.

Barolo and Barbaresco, although both made from Nebbiolo can only be so called if they are grown in the defined production areas: Barolo in the communes of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba and part of the territories of La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Roddi, Verduno, Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Novello and Grinzane Cavour while Barbaresco in the communes of Treiso, Neive and part of the commune of Alba.

What differentiates the two wines is first of all the type of soil: the Barolo area has a specific geological conformation, with layers of limestone and tuff that are very mineral and give the wine structure, decision, longevity, richness and great harmony. In the Barbaresco area, on the other hand, the soils are characterized by marls and sands, from which wines originate that are always full and decisive, velvety, soft, pleasantly and elegantly tannic. Moreover, Barolo, in the basic version, must undergo an aging of 38 months, 18 of which in wood. As for the base Barbaresco the aging is less, 26 months, of which 9 in wood.

First Step at Cascina Fonda Winery

The first stopover of the tour began with a visit at Cascina Fonda winery in the commune of Neive, where the Barbero brothers, Massimo and Marco graciously hosted the B wine team. The grapes produced at this winery, explains the agro-technician Massimo, extend over twelve hectares of vineyards between the communes of Mango and Neive. The southeastern exposure allows for ripe and healthy grapes, thanks to better exposure to the sun’s rays. Allowing the winery to produce different types of wine including dolcetto, barbaresco, brachetto and Alta Langa. The Borbero brothers describe their work as characterized by three fundamental aspects: vocation for the land and grape growing since 1963, the year in which, their father, Secondino Barbero created the winery, taking advantage of his experience in the wine business. A bet, thanks to his sons Massimo and Marco who, since 1988, began to bottle the wine produced, and focused on moscato gapes, arriving, in 1991, to the total crushing of the grapes and finally passion, for that sweet flavor that moscato can give, and that is enhanced by the Barbero brothers in the Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante versions (since 1991). A “sweet passion” that allows Cascina Fonda to focus especially on Moscato, a wine that comes from the hills between Mango and Neive, the symbol of a land that knows how to give a unique product.

During the tasting accompanied by typical local products, three iconic wines of the winery’s producers were tasted, first the Driveri extra brut (<3g/l of sugar) classic method sparkling wine obtained from the moscato grape variety, unusual because this grape is mainly used for the production of the sweet wine Moscato d’Asti DOCG, but surprising and unexpected, it represents the excellence of moscato spumante extra brut that is born from the perfect balance of elements by combining passion, care and love for this grape variety.

The second wine tasted was Nebbiolo Langhe, the expression of the native grape variety completed by aging in oak barrels for 10 months and in bottles for another 6 months. Finally, accompanied by a typical Piedmontese hazelnut cake, the sweet sparkling wine Moscato Spumante VSQ “Tarsivo” invented in 2001 from the selection of moscato grapes from the old vineyard, is the sparkling version of the Vendemmia Tardiva. Its liveliness is an explosion of moscato grapes blended with the ancient flavors and crafts of the tradition.

Second Step at Montalbera Winery

The Montalbera winery was founded at the beginning of the 20th century in an area between the towns of Grana, Castagnole Monferrato and Montemagno, this winery extends for no less than 110 hectares planted with vines between Monferrato and Langhe, the vines cover six entire hills while in the valley floor there is room for the cultivation of the typical Piedmontese hazelnut going to make up what the winery calls “the amphitheater.” The vineyards vary in age from 7 to 30 years, the
training form is low guyot and every cultivation operation is carried out by hand.

The peculiarity of Montalbera lies in the link between the history of this winery and a grape variety: the Ruchè. In fact, about 60% of the Ruchè DOCG of the entire appellation is owned by Montalbera, while the other varieties planted are: Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino d’Asti, Monferrato Nebbiolo and Viognier. For generations, the Morando family has believed and invested in Piedmontese viticulture, dedicating itself with passion to the development of the native Ruchè grape. This native vine from Castagnole Monferrato is a wine with an unmistakable character; the pleasant floral hints of rose and violet, the fruity notes of apricot and the spiciness that emerges with evolution make it immediately recognizable in the glass. The history of this grape variety is still uncertain; one hypothesis is that it derives from “San Rocco,” a community of Monks, who are said to have introduced its cultivation in the area. Other theories want the name to come from the Piedmontese term “roche” , understood as a grape variety grown in the perched areas of Monferrato. The most accepted thesis, however, is that Ruchè derives from ancient vines of Haute-Savoie. What is certain is that in Monferrato this variety has found its chosen land of maximum qualitative expression.

The B wine tour begins in the barrique cellar where the wine rests in French oak barrels and tonneaux, but that’s not all, the winery continually experiments with different winemaking techniques, proof of which is the presence of terracotta amphorae from Impruneta of various sizes, used exclusively for the production of Grignolino DOC.

This was followed by a tasting in a room accompanied by the light of the sunset that served as a backdrop to the experience. The wines tasted: the CALYPSOS® – VIOGNIER Piedmont DOC Viognier. Made from 100% viognier grapes.

This was followed by GRIGNÈ® Grignolino d’Asti DOC, concluding with the typical Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG LACCENTO®.

Once the visit was over, the B Wine team returned to Milan, satisfied with the experience; after all, getting in close touch with winemaking realities and producers allows the wine to tell its typicality, of its territory of origin, becoming, as in the case of Nebbiolo and Ruchè, an incredible ambassador and a valid expedient for marketing and promotion strategies in such a way as to best portray the union between tradition and progress.

The B.wine Community is deeply grateful to the amazing wineries which welcomed us in their breathtaking territory. For those of you that were unable to attend the trip (or, more probably, are already missing the incredible wines we tried), no fear!

You can easily reach them on their websites!


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