Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Discovery from Piemonte

Giuseppino Anfossi, proprietor, Az. Agr. Ghiomo (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Recently I attended a wine dinner at Pelago Ristorante in my hometown of Chicago, which was organized by the importer of Ghiomo, a small estate in the Roero district of PIemonte. Present at the dinner was Giuseppino Anfossi, owner of the estate, along with his winemaker, Sergio Molino. 

The Roero district is located across the Tanaro River from the Barbaresco and Barolo zones. Soils are younger and produce red wines with lighter tannins than those famous offerings, meaning that Nebbiolo from the Roero is more approachable upon release. That being the case, Barbera is often planted here as is the white variety Arneis, which has become the most recognized wine of the area. 

There were two examples of the Ghiomo Arneis poured this evening: the "Fussot" and the "Imprimis", both from the excellent 2009 vintage. Both display very nice varietal character with pine and pear aromas, with the latter offering a bit more richness on the palate. Both wines are quite elegant and nicely styled for food and are also very reasonably priced, the former at $18 and the latter at $23 (US retail).

Next was my favorite wine, the 2006 Barbera d'Alba "Lavai", that offered excellent varetal purity and lovely balance. This wine was aged in large barrels, so the wood notes were quite subtle, which was a nice touch for my tastes. Too many examples of Barbera these days are excuses for the winemaker to ratchet up the oak, as if the producer is trying to make a "serious" wine out of Barbera, in other words, make a more heavy duty wine instead of crafting an elegant, tasty wine. This bottling also has lovely freshness and will offer pleasure for another 3-5 years; at $17, this is a real find. Complimenti to enologist Sergio Molino for his minimal approach to the winemaking here at Ghiomo.

Sergio Molino, winemaker, Ghiomo (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Two bottlings of Nebbiolo followed: the 2006 Nebbiolo d'Alba "Vigna Granda" and the 2006 Nebbiolo d'Alba "Sansteu". Both wines are understated and quite approachable now with the latter offering a bit more punch in the finish. Look for both of these wines to drink well for the next 5-7 years. Again the purpose of these wines are to pair with food - these are not Barolo or Barbaresco meant for a decade of cellaring. Pair these with veal or pork or even braised rabbit.

The final wine of this evening was the beautifully crafted 2007 Barbera d'Alba "Ruit-Hora", sourced from the vines that receive the most sun. There is 5% Nebbiolo and this wine is a more modern style offering, aged in barriques. This is ripe and full, yet the oak is very subtle and again, the Barbera varietal flavors shine. This was a lovely way to finish the dinner especially with the creative pairing of a morel cherry in pastry as offered by Chef Mauro Mafrici.

I decided to write about this producer, as I not only loved the wines as well as the pricing, but also the honesty of this estate. Ghiomo is one of hundreds of producers in Italy that make wine without a lot of headlines - it's doubtful you'll find their name listed in books that profile the best estates of Piemonte, but then again, a lot of those lists revolve around famous names that make excellent wines to be sure, but also ones that have a lot of marketing power.

Ghiomo on the other hand, is all about making wine that captures varietal character and reflects a sense of place. Anfossi and Molino are interested first and foremost in making the best wine they can from their local vineyards. That's the beauty of Italian wine and it's one more reason to keep on with the journey - you never know when you're going to discover the next producer such as Ghiomo!

My thanks to importer Paolo Cerruti for his help and support regarding this dinner.


  1. Hi Tom,

    how are you? Very nice dinner at Pelago, and very nice spot in your blog. I'm very happy for both and, reading your article, I think you harvest the right spirit of Piemonte's hills. Thanks a lot and see you soon. Sergio Molino

  2. Sergio:

    Grazie, Sergio!

    Ci vediamo a presto!


  3. 2006 Barbera d'Alba Lavai. i have not had the pleasure yet of trying this particular wine. i havn't seen it around my area of southern california just yet

  4. Brenda:

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I don't know if there is a distributor in California for this producer. I'll try and find out.