Emilia-Romagna is one of the wonderful Italian regions that are well-known for some things and less so for others. Emilia is considered the gastronomic capital of Italy by many but its wines have been less evident on the international scene with the exception of Lambrusco. I think that is very short-sighted as Emilia has many wonderful wines to offer. Today, I am going to write about the ones from one area – the Colli Piacentini – which I had the occasion to taste again recently during the Vinitaly International trade show.
During the seminar we tasted wines from the Consorzio di Tutela Vini DOC Colli Piacentini along with Tony DiDio and Roberto Miravalle. The Consorzio has been promoting these wines since 1987 although the area got its D.O.C. designation in 1967.
Colli Piacentini whites can be made from indigenous varieties such as Malvasia and Ortrugo, as well as international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon, among others. Reds tend to be made from Barbera, Bonarda (Croatina), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Nero.
In addition to Colli Piacentini DOC, you might find Gutturnio DOC – a blend of Barbera and Bonarda, or Ortrugo DOC from the grape of the same name. Ortrugo can be still or sparkling. Other production areas are the Monterosso Val d’Arda, Trebbianino Val Trebbia and Valnure.
Piacenza as an area is very old and was settled by the Romans in 218 B.C. It has been the scene of many take over battles right through World War II when the partisans were fighting the Nazis near the city. It has also always been well-known for its wines.
Despite the snow that was coming down all day on February 3, the wines showed the sunny side of Emilia and the cheery folks from that region. We tasted a number of wines , some sparkling, some whites and some reds and a passito. On the whole, I found the wines to have a good with an excellent price/quality ratio. There was too much oak in evidence on some of them and a judicious amount on others. The grape varieties were a mix, Malvasia, Bonarda (Croatina) and Barbera.
1. Azienda Agricola Montesissa is a fifth generation winery. They make a number of wines, among them an Ortrugo D.O.C. Selezione Rio Magreto 2012 This sparkler was delicious, fruity and floral. Ortrugo is apparently a difficult grape to harvest and one of Italy’s oldest.
2. Azienda Agricola M.E.G. Fugazza/Castello di Luzzano
is run by Giovannella. The property has 100 Hectares of which 70 are under vine. The vineyards are at 180-270 meters above sea level. We tried the “Tasto di Seta” Colli Piacentini Malvasia D.O.C. 2012, a very interesting wine with long lasting and persistent aromas of jasmine and peach. It also had a lot of minerality and sapidity. I thought it would be beautiful with lobster.
3. Azienda Agricola Baraccone, “Colombaia” DOC Gutturnio Superiore 2011 was a blend of Bonarda (Croatina) and Barbera. The winery has 7.5 hectares and is very attentive to their work in the vineyards and treat the vines as little as possible. This wine is made from 70% Barbera and 30% Bonarda. Deep ruby red in color, it was very fruity with earthy notes and considerable tannic structure.
4. Azienda Agricola Podere Casale Gutturnio D.O.C. Riserva 2003 was a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Bonarda. The winery has 15 hectares in the clay and calcareous soils. The wine is aged in oak barrels and refined for a period in the bottle. It was deep ruby red in color with aromas and flavors of spice, vanilla, cedar and tobacco. Ideal with a roast or game meats, the wine sometimes presents a slight amount of sediment that they consider an “indication of traditional vinification and fermentation techniques.”
5. Torre Fornello Gutturnio DOC 2006, a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Boanrda was a big juicy wine with ripe tannins. It had aromas of fruit, almond and savory notes. This winery had its first harvest in 1992 and has 60 hectares under vine. Enrico Sgorbati is the head of this winery and is very passionate about his lands.
6. Campana, “Uve Sole” Malvasia Passito 2009,
was a real treat as I am a fan of Passiti in general. It had rich aromas of dried nuts and honey and was an exquisite example of a passito.The winery was founded in 1971 and used to just bottle wine but then began to produce its own wines. Although they are quite large, producing over 800.000 bottles a year, it is still a family concern run by Dante and Patrizio Campana.
If you come across a bottle of Colli Piacentini, definitely try it out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by these wines and happy with the price tag as well. If you are in Italy, it should be a stop on your next itinerary.