Entrance to the Wine Forum, Torino
Photo ©Tom Hyland
I just returned from a weekend in Torino attending the Wine Forum fair. This show focused on the lesser-known wines of Piemonte, so while it was possible to taste examples of Barolo and Barbaresco, wines such as Erbaluce, Gavi, Carena and Barbera were the featured attractions.
I’d like to mention just a few of the wines I thought were most special. Most Americans aren’t familiar with the Erbaluce grape, but when grown in the Caluso area about twenty miles northeast of Torino, it shines. The grape has naturally high acidity along with lovely aromatics, so it is produced not only as a richly flavored dry white wine, but also in a sparkling version. A few estates also make a passito version, which is lush and moderately sweet; some versions have a lovely crème caramel character to them. The best producers of Erbaluce di Caluso include Orsolani, La Campore and Cieck.
I also tasted some notable versions of Gavi, which is probably Piemonte’s most famous white. Produced from the Cortese grape from vineyards in the region’s southern province of Alessandria, Gavi is also made in several styles. These include the typical stainless steel-aged version as well as oak aged and there are even a few producers that make a sparkling Gavi. I attended an excellent seminar on Saturday that profiled the different approaches vintners take with this wine; especially noteworthy were the late-harvested bottling (finished dry) from La Toledana, the barrique-aged “Monterotondo” bottling from Villa Sparina and the dry sparkling offering from La Giustiniana.
Other whites that impressed me this past weekend were the 2008 Favorita from Pietro Olivero (Antica Cascina di Conti Roero), the 2008 Arneis from Casetta and the 2008 Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato and the “Riva Granda” (barrique-aged Chardonnay) from Cerrutti.
I also want to mention the notable examples of Timorasso from Franco Martinetti. This indigenous variety is grown in the Colli Tortonesi area northeast of the Gavi zone, almost on the border with the Lombardia region. I sampled two versions of Timorasso from Martinetti: the 2007 Biancofranco, a stainless-steel aged along with the 2008 “Martin” bottling aged in barriques. The former is quite rich with juicy acidity and delicious pineapple fruit, while the latter is excellent, displaying vanilla custard aromas to go with its tropical fruit; the wine has admirable length and complexity and is a standout Piemontese white.
Various labels of Moscato d'Asti
Photo ©Tom Hyland
I tasted a few examples of Asti Spumante, thanks to my friend Rita Barbero of the Asti Consorzio; two of my favorites were the Cocchi and the “La Selvatica” bottling from Romano Dogliotti. As for Moscato d’Asti, the irresistible lightly sparkling wine with the gorgeous peach and apricot flavors that is as light as a feather on your palate, my preferences included the "La Caudrina" from Romano Dogliotti, the “Oroluce” from Paolo Pizzarin (both from 2008) and the 2009 bottling from Massimo Rivetti – a beautiful bottling that is one of the most delicious I taste ever year!
I’ll comment on some of the best red wines I tasted at this event in my next post.