The Wine: Il Baffone Frizzante NV
Poderi Cellario Il Baffone Bianco Frizzante NV is a sparkling natural wine made from a blend of Nascetta and Moscato Giallo farmed sustainably in Carru`, Piedmont. The must was left in contact with the skins during the primary fermentation for about 5 days (in stainless steel) before being bottled with conserved passito must to induce secondary fermentation. Poedri Cellario makes a small amount of late harvest wine and uses these dried grapes to kick start the bottle fermentation. Il Baffone is bottled with no added sulfites and it's undisgorged. Serving temperature: 45 F.
The Producer: Poderi Cellario
Fausto and Cinzia Cellario are 3rd generation winemakers in the village of Carru` on the western outskirts of the Langhe. The family believes in only working with local, indigenous Piemontese grape varieties and fiercely defends local winemaking traditions both in the vineyard work and the cellar practices.
The Cellario vineyard holdings cover some 30 ha between 5 different vineyard sites covering the southern Langhe. With holdings in Novello and Monforte, the Dogliani plot is arguably the family’s most prestigious land and I would consider them Dolcetto specialists.
Vineyard work is organic (soon to be certified) and all the fermentation take place with indigenous yeasts. Sulfur is only added in tiny quantities at bottling if necessary (a practice not common with a winery in this mid-size range).
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 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:
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.