Alto Piemonte 2

Alto Piemonte: Revival of a Roman favourite (Part 2)

Collectorbits continues its journey in Nothern Italy, starting with the town of Lessona and ending in Carema.

Stop 6: Proprieta Sperino

Close to the town of Lessona in Northern Italy, one can find the Proprietà Sperino winery which is owned by Paolo de March, regarded as one of the best winemakers in Tuscany. Having inherited the vineyard from his grandfather, Paolo de Marchi and his wife and son began work on restoring the estate in 1999 and by 2006, the first vintage was released. 

Covering 8 hectares with plots in the Belvedere, Ormeggio, Castagnola, Rava, Covà and Madonna degli Angeli vineyards; which all focus on the Nebbiolo grape variety. Paolo de Marchi also owns Isole e Olena which is renowned for its Chianti Classico.

These 8 vineyards have golden sandy soils which Paolo de Marchi manages using methods passed down from generation to generation to ensure organic wine free of herbicides or chemical fertilizers. 

The winery of Proprietà Sperino boasts four wines. The Lessona DOC red is Nebbiolo at its core and the Uvaggio Coste della Sesia DOC adds some Vespolina and Croatina. The Rosa del Rosa is a Nebbiolo-dominant rosé with a touch of Vespolina and Grappa di Lessona, and is known as one of Italy’s finest dry rosés. Interesting fact: It is distilled using a bain-marie method! This traditional approach is also adopted in the winemaking process with the vinification and fermentation taking place largely in tanks with the wine then being aged in both, the barrel and the bottle.

Via Orolungo, 34, 13853 Lessona, Italy

Stop 7: Tenuta Sella

Back in 1436, at a vineyard located in northern Piedmont, a beautiful wine was being produced – the vigneto dello Zoppo. In 1671, Lessona by Comino Sella bought the vineyards and currently produces an average of 75,000 bottles a year. There is over 23 hectares of four appellations: Lessona DOC, Bramaterra DOC, Coste della Sesia DOC and Piemonte DOC (which is the regional appellation). The vineyard is still run by Marco Rizzetti, a member of the Sella family, and an expert in winemaking with experience in agronomy, Paolo Benassi. 

Located at the base of the Alps of Biella, the mountains form a shield against the weather fronts of the Atlantic. With frequent rain, the soils vary from sandy to aerated and water-permeable, they are rich in iron and microelements and thus perfect for creating wines with balanced minerality. 

Nebbiolo of the “Spanna” biotype is the main grape variety of the Lessona and Bramaterra. Included in the blend are Croatina and Vespolina (Bramaterra) and Vespolina (Lessona).

The Sella family have combined old family traditions with modern technology to create their unique and smooth wine. They use a cellar which is partly underground with high tech equipment, and the grapes are handpicked and vinified separately. Although this means that harvesting takes longer than a month, the charm of each vineyard is clearly enhanced, which you can taste with every sip. 

Via 4 Novembre 130, 13853 Lessona, Italy

Stop 8: Massimo Clerico

The origins of  Massimo Clerico go back hundreds of years, despite documents only showing records from 1740. As the third largest landholder in the appellation within the Lessona zone, Clerico azienda encompasses 2.5 hectares of vineyards. The Lessona appellation was first created in 1976 with Sandrino Clerico (Massimo’s father), at the helm of the Clerico estate. 

One can find four separate parcels in the vineyards. The “Vigna Leria” sits on a precipitous slope close to the family home and the cellars where Nebbiolo, Croatina and Vespolina grow in abundance. The oldest grape exclusively used for the Nebbiola, is the “Vigna Gaja”, which is at the heart of every Lessona bottle. The third parcel is the Vigneto del Putin,” which was planted to Nebbiolo in 1984 and is also used for Lessona with the rest becoming the Spanna Costa della Sesia. And last but not least,  the “Vigneto del Gorena”, also part of the Nebbiolo, is the newest vineyard with the youngest vines having been planted in 2008. Once it has reached maturity, the grapes will also help to produce additional Spanna at the estate. The winemaking process starts from when the grapes are destemmed with a lengthy fermentation. The Lessona are then aged in wood and barrels for three or more years before release, with the Costa della Sesia and the Spanna both aged for at least one year in barrel before bottling.

Via Cappa Dario, 17A, 13853 Lessona, Italy

Stop: 9 Ferrando

Giuseppe Ferrando founded the vineyard, Ferrando Vini, in 1890 after moving to Ivrea from Acqui. Ferrando had the desire to introduce the wines of Piedmont into the region of Valle d’Aosta. The vineyard was passed down to his son, Luigi, who grew the business to what it is known today. Now the vineyards include a range of Canavese wines: Erbaluce di Caluso, Caluso Passito, Spumante metodo classico, Canavese rosso, Canavese bianco, and Solativo Vendemmia Tardiva (late harvest). What is worthy to note is that the wines are well priced and suitable for all types of special occasions. 

In addition to Ferrando’s flagship wine, the Erbaluce di Caluso wine is also produced from the indigenous white grape Erbaluce, which is vinified in still, sparkling, and sweet versions. The variety of light and refined to rich and sweet make Ferrando a master in winemaking. The Erbaluce stands out amongst Italian grapes and the still and sparkling wines will leave a bright and delicate note on your palate, with floral and citrus aromas.

Via Torino, 599A – 10015 Ivrea Torino, Italy

Stop 10: Produttori di Carema

The Cantina dei Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema” (Carema’s Nebbiolo Producer’s Wine Cellar), the last stop on the route, was founded in 1960 by 10 resident winemakers with a cooperative association of more than 100 members. The Carema wine is created exclusively in the district which currently encompasses 13,000 hectares. Since 1967, it has been listed in the “Albo DOC” (the Italian register for DOC wines). 

Although not as complex as Ferrando wines, the Produttori di Carema still produces a lovely wine – and it comes with a fair price tag too. Made with 100% Nebbiolo grapes, Carema wines come with two appellations: “Carema” and “Carema Riserva.” 

Via Nazionale 32 – 10010 Carema, Italy