Today, July 7th, was the birthday of someone I was close to. He passed away 10 years ago and would have been 91 today. His name was Sergio and he really started me out on my Italian wine journey. When he died he was 80 and ill but nonetheless, you always want the people you love to stay with you forever. Even if you can’t see them, you want to know that they are walking on this earth and are reachable. I miss him greatly. I’ll never forget his introduction to Italian wine. He couldn’t believe I didn’t know about the wines from Carema for example. He had worked for Olivetti in Ivrea, a stone’s throw from Carema. Carema is located in Piedmont, close to the border with Valle d’Aosta where they make wonderful Nebbiolo. At the time, I had no idea. He couldn’t wait for me to try it. Nebbiolo in Carema is more akin to the Nebbiolo you find in the Valtellina rather than in Barolo or Barbaresco. The wines it produces are more acidic and less fully ripe both because of altitude, the vineyards in Carema tend to be at 300- 700 meters above sea level and soils. The viticulture in Carema, as in Valtellina in Lombardy, is known as heroic viticulture because the slopes are so steep and hard to work.
The wines tend to be made from 85% – 100% Nebbiolo with up to 15other red varieties that are indigenous to Piedmont and come in two appellations – Carema DOC and Carema Riserva. DOC. Carema has aging requirements of two years with 12 months in oak while the Riserva must age for three years, of which 12 months in oak. Wines have been made in the area for centuries, even Pope Paul III is said to have found it to his liking as did the Dukes of Savoy.The region is called the Canavese and is between the Po River to the South and the Valle d’Aosta to the north. The area was settled by the Salassi, a celtic-Ligurian tribe but then was been fought over for centuries by manydifferent peoples, it also was home to the Romans at one point in its history as well as the Longobards, the Franks, the Savoy, the French and the Spanish.A glacier that was here in ancient times retreated and left a circle of morainic hills with different layers of rocks and minerals. The soils are similar to those of the nearby mountains of Monte Rose, Monte Bianco and Gran Paradiso. The Nebbiolo clones thatare used in Carema tend to be Picutener and Pugnet. The vines aretrained on pergolas that are traditional to the area. The system is calledtopie in the local dialect whereby stone pillars hold up the trellising system amid low dry stone walls. The system helps to retain heat for the vines which they let loose at night.Two well-known producers that are available in the US include Produttori di Carema and Ferrando Vini.
Wherever you are Sergio and I like to think you are drinking winesomewhere above me in your wool cap, I hope they serve wines from Carema. Ti penserò sempre.