On his very first visit to the Piedmont region in late November 1985, Dieter Heuskel was fascinated by its blend of nature, wines, and vineyards. Ever since, he has returned several times a year, and in 2002 he decided to embark on a winemaking adventure in Northern Piedmont. Coming from the world of German finance, Dieter teamed up with Peter Dipoli, a vintner; wine merchant; reviewer; and writer in Alto Adige, to invest in the great potential of the Alto Piemonte.
Who better to have as their winemaker than Cristiano Garella. Born in Northern Piedmont, Cristiano has spent his life as an passionate vigneron on a mission to restore the glory of the wines from Alto Piemonte. After WWII, the vineyards shrank from 120,000 acres to about 5,000 acres today (as of 2017). At only 32 (as of 2017), his resume is impressive: seven-year run as CEO of Tenute Sella. Today he is the winemaker for several small wineries like Le Pianelle.
Le Pianelle is the name of the vineyard that started this estate in Alto Piemonte. Dieter Heuskel and Peter Dipoli bought this abandoned vineyard in December 2004. Over the years, they were able to acquire more parcels and today own nearly 10 acres. Le Pianelle's vineyards are located in the towns of Brusnengo and Roasio, stretching from the rice fields of the Po Valley to a range of hills of 500–650 to 1,800 meters above sea level, which finally reach the peak of Monte Rosa at 4,634 meters above sea level. They grow Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Croatina of which they make two wines: a rosato, Al Posto dei Fiori, and a red Bramaterra. Their cellar is in an old house in the historic center of Brusnengo.
"This is another terrific set [2018 vintage] of new releases from Le Pianelle, an estate that has been on a roll of late. Readers will note the addition of a new wine, the Bramaterra Robino. Although Alto Piemonte has been a net beneficiary of climate change so far, today's conditions require a different approach. Winemaker Cristiano Garella told me he was inspired to start experimenting with whole clusters because of the intense heat of 2017. In 2018, he vinified Robino, a relatively cool southeast portion of the estate, with 100% stems for a new Bramaterra and also used a good amount of whole clusters for the existing Bramaterra bottling. The results speak for themselves. Both wines saw 30+ days on the skins and were aged in cask, with no fining or filtration prior to bottling. Le Pianelle is a compelling example of the new Alto Piemonte. A decade ago, the estate did not really exist. Today it produces world-class wines."
"Le Pianelle is one of the great recent success stories in Alto Piemonte. Dieter Heuskel, formerly the Chairman of the Boston Consulting Group’s Germany practice, and Alto Adige producer Peter DiPoli bought the abandoned property in Brusnengo in 2004 and slowly brought it back to life. They then hired the talented Cristiano Garella to make the wines. Le Pianelle’s flagship Bramaterra has been terrific since I first started tasting it years ago. The 2016 is one of the finest editions yet. I won’t be surprised if it is even more compelling in another few years’ time."
""Dieter Heuskel made frequent trips to Alto Piemonte from his native Germany when he was the Chairman of Boston Consulting Group’s Germany practice. Those weekend trips turned into a second career at Le Pianelle, which he co-founded with highly respected Alto Adige producer Peter DiPoli. The talented Cristiano Garella makes the wines. Cristiano Garella has emerged as the voice of the younger generation in Alto Piemonte and is, along with Roberto Conterno, the region’s greatest ambassador. Readers who have not checked out Le Pianelle owe it to themselves to do so. These are some of the most compelling reds in all of Italy."
"In just a few years, Le Pianelle has become one of the hottest estates in Alto Piemont, if not all of Italy. Proprietors Peter Dipoli and Dieter Heuskel continue to do important work. The 2013 Bramaterra is their best wine yet."
I'll Drink to That!: Episode 381: Cristiano Garella
Wine Spectator: A Youthful Obsession