The Wine: Gattinara Riserva DOCG 2011
Marco Petterino Gattinara Riserva DOCG is a red wine made from 100% Nebbiolo (locally called Spanna) grown organically around the village of Gattinara, in Piedmont. This is a beautiful high-altitude Nebbiolo, nice red fruit, earth, tertiary aromas of tobacco and ash; great structure with firm tannins and complexity. It's definitely ready to drink at eleven years of age, but it will age gracefully for a few more years!
The Producer: Marco Petterino
Marco Petterino is a tiny, and very much under-the-radar producer of the DOCG of Gattinara. With a mere 2½ hectares of vineyards in total, spread out among several parcels, his production is about 1300 cs per year. Petterino’s holdings are exceptional for the appellation with vineyards in three of the top cru’s in Gattinara – Permolone, Castelle and Guardie which are all are southwest-facing. (Source: Polaner)
The Region: Piedmont
Piedmont (or Piemonte in Italian), described by many wine lovers as the “Burgundy of Italy”, is without a doubt one of the most revered wine-producing regions in the world.
Piedmont, which literally means “at the foot of the mountain”, is located in the northwestern part of Italy. It borders with France (west), Valle d’Aosta (north-west), Lombardy (east), Liguria (south). The capital of Piedmont is Turin, its biggest city, and main industrial center.
In this very similar to Veneto, Piedmont's wine landscape is defined by the presence of several indigenous grape varietals, which give a wide array of incredibly unique wines. Piedmont’s traditional winemaking has one main characteristic: grape varietals, native or non-native, are almost never blended.
The association with Burgundy comes from three essential facts:
1 – Great focus on the quality of production over quantity: wineries in Piedmont tend to be very small, mostly family-owned, and are integrated with the environment.
2 – Terroir-driven approach to viticulture and winemaking: vineyards are carefully subdivided in cru (zonazione in Italian), which give unique wines with a specific character.
3 – Nebbiolo, one of the most famous red grape varietals in the world, is vinified following a similar approach to Pinot Noir in Burgundy – for example, it’s never blended.
The Red Wines of Piedmont
Nebbiolo is for Piedmont what Pinot Noir is for Burgundy. There are several Nebbiolo-based DOCGs - Barolo, Barbaresco, Ghemme, Gattinara - and it's safe to say that Nebbiolo is the most representative red grape varietal of Piedmont.
Other notable red grapes are Barbera, in all its incarnations - Barbera d'Asti, Barbera d'Alba, Barbera del Monferrato - Dolcetto - Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba, Dolcetto di Ovada, Dolcetto di Dogliani - and Brachetto d'Aqui.
Less common but very interesting, especially after being rediscovered by a handful of excellent producers, varietals such as Pelaverga, Freisa, and Grignolino, have found a new place in Piedmont's winemaking landscape.
The White Wines of Piedmont
Piedmont is very often, and mistakenly so, identified as a land of red wine – most notably Barolo and Barbaresco. However, among Piedmont’s most exciting wines, there are several whites. Erbaluce di Caluso, Gavi, Arneis are all native grape varietals vinified superbly into exciting white wines.
Moscato d’Asti is another one of Piedmont’s mainstays, famous in its Asti Spumante iteration, the ubiquitous sweet, white, sparkling wine.