Gianpiero Rocca, from local wine e-shop Vine&Cork, on the ultimate Italian wine experience
What is a great wine? At this question most wine connoisseurs would reply with the academic statement, “a perfect balance of tannins, complexity and depth of flavours”. Yes sure, but what makes it special? The most poetic and heartfelt answer was instead given to us by one of our friend and winemaker: “a great wine is a unique emotion”.
The best wines bring something extra. A sense of occasion. A feeling that something wonderful is happening that cannot be quantified. Wine has brought this joy to people for some 6000 years and in Italy, wine is a birthright, an expectation – as important to a daily routine as the requisite eight glasses of water, and making wine is so utterly natural that it almost seems instinctive.
Great wines are certainly at home in the Langhe (in Piedmont), one of Italy’s most exciting regions when it comes to all things vinous. Appointed UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, this is a land filled with places of memories, imagination and literature, where every village has a castle or tower and every historic centre is distinguished by an overlapping of many styles. The landscape is a geometrical succession of vineyards, the ideal setting for nature and men to create one of the most intriguing forms of art: wine!
Langhe’s most famous grape variety, Nebbiolo, is not grown in any meaningful way anywhere else in the world. It just doesn’t really work. Nebbiolo is the key grape variety for Barbaresco and one of Italy’s most prestigious nectars, Barolo, wine of kings, king of wines. Its name derives from the Italian for fog, “nebbia”, abundant here in autumn when grapes are harvested. Nebbiolo wines are usually a pale, bricky colour, with a “tar and roses” aroma and a deep, leathery character that pairs amazingly with food.
Barbera and Dolcetto are two other key red grapes grown here, with the best coming from around Alba. Barbera has a distinctive cherry character, a soft, fresh wine, with good balance. Dolcetto makes fruit-driven wines with subtle spice.
Langhe also makes several white and dessert wines, like the famous Roero Arneis, a fresh, aromatic white wine with a nutty, pear-like character. It is a grape difficult to grow (in the local dialect it means “little rascal”), but those who have made the effort have been rewarded with a complex and unique white wine.
At Vine&Cork we believe in telling the great story enclosed in a small bottle, and we pride ourselves on personally selecting small, independent wine producers that make the best artisan Italian wines. Italian by heart, but British by geography, we want to expand the culture of wine, sharing our knowledge and love of wine and the tradition and passion from our winemakers. Vine&Cork offers wine lovers the chance to engage with Italian wine on a deeper level, introducing new appellations, regions and explaining their history. Our mission is to bring unique emotions into wine lovers’ homes, the ultimate Italian wine experience. Why? Because life is too short to drink bad wine!