On more than one occasion, I’ve heard Angelo Gaja say that white wine is a category with immense potential for growth in Italy.
There are a handful of whites from Piedmont that have captivated the imagination and palates of Italian wine lovers: Gaja’s Gaia e Rey (I remember tasting 1994 with him at the winery a few years ago), Aldo Vajra’s Riesling (he likes to call it “a wife for Barolo”), Ettore Germano’s Riesling (such a focused, brilliant wine), and Walter Massa’s Timorasso (we all remember when this wine hit the U.S. scene and knocked everyone’s socks off) are some of the more memorable.
But they remain just a handful. Unlike Friuli, Campania, and Jesi/Matelica, where white wine is a long established category with myriad standouts and impressive expressions of longevity, Piedmont has yet to make its mark as one of the greater producers of vini a bacca bianca.
I was a little skeptical when my good buddy Nathan hooked me up with a bottle of 2004 Tre Uve by Roero producer Malvirà. I know the winery but, with spotty distribution, you don’t see much of its in wine in the U.S. today.
It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Arneis. According to WineSearcher (and what Nathan told me), 2005 is the current vintage available.
This wine had all the right stuff: freshness, acidity, clarity of fruit (stone and white fruit), and wonderful vibrancy. Ten years out from its harvest, it had depth and nuance and it danced on the palate. Great wine.
It aromatic breadth rivaled some of the great white blends that you see from Collio’s top wineries.
A truly original and exciting wine imho. Could Chardonnay blended with aromatic varieties be the future for Piedmont whites? If this is any indication of their potential, I think the winemaker at Malvirà is on to something great.
In other news…
I continue to receive tragic reports from northern Italy, where seemingly incessant rains have seriously threatened the vintage.
I hate to bear bad news but today I heard about a Lambrusco producer who has virtually lost his entire crop. And a friend from Friuli (Colli Orientali) wrote that some growers are fearful that they will not have any fruit to vinify.
In Tuscany, things are looking up. The vegetative cycle — which started extremely early — is now moving very slowly. The cool weather has helped to balance out the accelerated start (caused by a very mild winter).
If sunny days arrive, one producer told me today via Facetime, they could have a great vintage. It’s all a matter of how much sun they get between now and harvest. She’s in Chianti Classico where they expected to harvest as late as mid- to late-October.
That’s all the news that’s fit to post. Thanks for reading.