Wine of the Week: Valferana, Gattinara D.O.C.G. 2005

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This week’s wine of the week is from Piedmont, from the winery Nervi. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Enrico Fileppo, the oenologist from the winery who has worked there since 1984, last year at a dinner during VinoVip 2013 in Cortina. I had never had the pleasure of tasting this exquisite wine previously and it was such a treat that I highly recommend it to everyone.

Nervi, founded by Luigi Nervi in 1906, is one of the older wineries in the area if not the oldest. They have 24 hectares (59.3 acres) of Nebbiolo vines, spread among different vineyard sites. The Valferana vineyard dates all the way back to 1242 according to local documents. The vineyards are protected from Northernly winds by the nearby mountains which also ensure cool breezes for the vines. The soil is a combination of volcanic and clay soils. They have a high pH and the combination favors the absorption of minerals (manganese, iron and zinc).

In order to qualify for the designation Gattinara D.O.C.G., the minimum aging requirement is three years of which two in wood. The Gattinara D.O.C.G. Riserva and single vineyard minimum aging requirement is four years of which three in wood. Gattinara is certainly less well known than some of its counterparts in Piedmont but it is definitely a wine to put on your list. The wine must be made from 90%-100% Nebbiolo which they call Spanna locally. A very elegant wine in my opinion, it was recognized as a D.O.C.G. in 1990.

Nervi

In order to make the Valferana Gattinara D.O.C.G. wine, Nervi used about 10% whole grapes and fermentation lasted at least 22 days in concrete vats. The oak fermentation vats, which are from the 1960s, have no temperature control beyond their thick oak staves. They use ambient yeasts and the wine spends at least 40 months in oak barrels. Nervi uses only large oak casks for aging, ranging in capacity from 750 to 8,000 liters. Nervi´s casks are all made in Slavonian oak with the exception of six 3,200 litre casks made in oak from the Black Forest in South Western Germany.

The wine was gorgeous and balanced according to my notes with freshness and minerality as well as the wonderful violet and floral notes typical of Nebbiolo. It also had hints of blueberries, eucalyptus and earth. I loved this wine and couldn’t get enough of it that night but there were many of us at the table and of course I had to share…

I found the wine on wine-searcher.com for $45.

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