December 2013
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Journey Beyond Barolo

Wine has been made in Piedmont for centuries, but it was the French influence while the region was part of the House of Savoy that most shaped what’s happening there today. During the 18th century, French enologist Louis Oudart helped the marchioness of Barolo develop a wine after the style of Bordeaux from the native Nebbiolo grape. Powerful, aromatic, and age-worthy, Barolo wine became favored by the nobility and dubbed the “King of Wines.” Since that time, Barolo wines and, more recently, those from Barbaresco and the Langhe, have stayed in the spotlight for their ability to show sheer power and nuance. Yet with Piedmont’s dense concentration of wine-producing zones (52 DOCs—more than any other Italian region), there’s no reason to stay on the beaten path. Discoveries—and deliciousness—abound when you branch out beyond the famous DOCs.

DacapoMajoliRucheS.gifDa Capo Winery is located in Agliano Terme, among the hills of Monferrato, just north of the Langhe. Winemaker Paolo Dania’s approach is eclectic: he makes classic examples of DOCs, as well as blends of native and international varietals. Da Capo’s Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is reason in and of itself to explore more obscure appellations. Made with the (likely) native Ruché grape, it’s only been recognized as a DOCG since 2010, and the zone covers only 100 acres, making it one of the smallest production varietals in the country. The 2012 vintage is nothing short of captivating. Lively and exotic aromatics are layered on a round, silky palate with soft tannins. Rose marks a strong note, with mint, gardenia, juicy cranberry, and lychee in the mix. The lovely ruby color and playful perfumes make it just plain fun to drink. View All Da Capo Wines In Stock

For wine drinkers looking for the same aromatic complexity they expect from Barolo, but housed in a more delicate framework, the Sesia River in the far north of the region is an excellent place to begin. With a cooler, damper climate than its neighbors to the south, the finicky Nebbiolo grape takes even longer to ripen here, so it picks up plenty of acidity along the way. The resulting wines have lower alcohol and a generally lighter body, but maintain that characteristically intriguing Nebbioloness, with layers of earth and tar and spice bound by firm tannins. Gritty soils of glacial moraine and Alpine breezes add to the complexity, while native grapes like Croatina and Bonarda often creep into blends to add a level of interest.


Lessona is the northernmost wine-producing comune in the Piedmont region, and one of the smallest. It makes up a small swatch in the Vercelli Hills at the Sesia River basin, 70 miles northeast of Turin (view map). Here, Nebbiolo goes by the name Spanna, and can be blended (up to 25 percent) with Bonarda, Vespolina, or Croatina to still earn the DOC. The DOC was created in 1976, but the area has a long history of wine growing. In the 19th century, it was covered with 40,000 hectares of vines. It takes a hardy grower to succeed with Nebbiolo in this climate, and now the vines are much more scarce, and are nearly overwhelmed by woods.

Terroir Champagne - A Growing Norm

Champagne houses emphasize their house style and maintain this house style and quality through the art of blending multiple sites, multiple vintages and multiple grapes. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen the grower Champagne movement shake up the Champagne world and prove to the consumers that the wine from the region can be a unique expression of place and people. Farming practices, vineyard terroir, grape and vintage are emphasized to show that the wine is much more than just for celebrations. Eric Asimov quotes Davy Dosnon from Dosnon & Lepage for New York Times, “But it’s also a wine of terroir, of place and should be thought of that way as well.”

This trend has made its way to the big Champagne houses with many now producing terroir Champagne. “We used to mix parcels from the same village; now we vinify each village’s parcels separately,” says Duval-Leroy chef de cave Sandrine Logette-Jardin. “We think more in terms of parcels than villages now. It’s a trend in Champagne.” (Champagne Unveiled, 2013)

In addition to more site specific labels appearing on the shelves, more and more wines are produced with minimal to no dosage. Many feel that low dosage allows the unique terroir of each wine to take center stage.

Holiday Sparklers Meet their Match

Kiralyudvar Winery 2009 Pezsgo, Henye, Tokaj
paired with Baked Brie en Croute with Apple Compote
When was the last time you saw a sparkling Hungarian Tokaji Furmint? With only a 200-case production, this is truly a special wine. Harvested from Kiralyudar’s biodynamic vineyard, you’ll pick up notes of orange blossoms and apples on the nose with yeasty honey on the palate and a dry finish. It’ll complement creamy brie divinely, and will no doubt be the belle of the ball.

Champ Divin 2011 ‘Champ D’Etoiles’ Cremant du Jura
paired with Bacon-Wrapped Dates
This brioche-hued blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shimmies with lithe tropical fruit and a bright hazelnut note. It’s seen zero dosage, but veers toward the delicate rather than the aggressive. The grapes are hand harvested and grown in solid clay and limestone on a certified organic and biodynamic estate in South Revermont of the Jura region. The slight nuttiness creates a refreshing counternote to the bacon-wrapped dates, which, really, no party should ever be without.

Reginato 2008 ‘Celestina’ Rosé of Malbec Metodo Tradicional
paired with Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops
Though Malbec is maybe the unlikeliest choice for a sparkling wine, this limited-production Argentinian sipper manages a yin-yang balance of richness from the grape, while providing lift from the methode champenoise. The Reginato family personally oversees every aspect of production, and patriarch Pepe learned from his father, who made wine for over 50 years. It shows berry flavors, with toasty, yeasty notes and a crisp finish. Its tannic structure makes this a great pairing for meaty appetizers, such as grilled herb baby lamb chops

Bernard Vallette NV ‘Née Bulleuse’ Brut Methode Traditionelle
paired with Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Canape with Wasabi Cream
Gamay brings the fun to this lively sparkling wine with a touch of residual sugar. It’s bright and easy, with berry notes balanced by earthy undertones—everything you want to find in a Beaujolais, but invigorated by creamy bubbles.This wine is certified organic and biodynamic, and was allowed to ferment from natural yeasts, so there’s a bit of soul to this party animal. With just a hint of sweetness, it’ll balance beautifully with the spice from a wasabi-infused salmon dish.

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