Slow Wine 2016 has been on a global tour to promote the 20 “Slow Wines of Italy” regions. Slow Wine’s guide details how wine producers in these regions follow growing techniques that are bio-dynamic and organic, and that avoid the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides.
Before heading back to Europe after its U.S. tour, Slow Wine 2016 held a grand walk-around tasting at the Highline Ballroom on February 3 in Manhattan. I was able to visit a number of tables representing wineries in Italy’s Piedmont region, whose capital is Turin. The wines I tasted were exceptional for their quality, their viticulture, and their drinkability. Three wineries were my favorites, and I was able to have conversations with owners about the wineries, their mission, and their product.
The Fiorenzo Nada winery is in Treiso, Piedmont. A father-and-son collaboration between Bruno Nada and his son Danilo Nada, it has been identified by the Slow Wine 2016 editors as a “virtuous winery, not only for its sustainable viticulture and the great quality of its wines, but also for the human sensibility and open-mindedness” of the winegrowers/owners. Danilo told me that it is a small winery (21 acres, 45,000 bottles) that was started by his grandfather (now 92), and has remained under production via his father’s supervision and his own.
The Fiorenzo Nada wines I tasted are “virtuous” without the use of chemical weed killers or fertilizers. Organic certification is in process. The first was Barbaresco Manzola 2011, comprised of 100% Nebbiolo grapes which provide the rich, dark, ruby color. There were tasting notes of fruit, blossoms and spices. The finish lingered and the tannins were noted but not aggressive or overwhelming. This would be a great wine with sharp cheeses and pasta, meat-sauce dishes, stews, roasts, and grilled meats.
The second wine was the Langhe Rosso Seifile 2011, comprised of 80% Barbera and 20% Nebbiolo grapes. This had a different feel on the palate, the juicy fruit of the vintage Barbera coupled with tannins that gave the wine structure and depth with a memorable finish. This wine was very drinkable and could easily go with meats, mushroom dishes, and pastas. You can ask for it via importer Premium Brands, Inc.
Carussin winery, too, is small (70 hectares, 80,000 bottles), located in San Marzano Oliveto, Piedmont. Luca Garbergoglio Ferro, son of Bruna and Luigi Ferro, told me the winery was brought into modernization by his grandfather, who expanded the acreage and began to direct the vineyards toward organic techniques. Luca’s grandfather gradually solidified his mission beginning with that single vineyard of 45-year-old vines, farmed organically for four decades and biodynamically for over a decade. Today the winery’s 14 hectares are certified organic.
The names chosen for the Carussin wines I tasted reflect veneration for the land, the yields, and maintaining sustainability even down to the energy source, solar power. After years of organic farming, the environs have been replenished and are teeming with life. The name of the wonderful Barbera D’Asti Lia Vi 2014 – Lia Vi means “little nests” in the Piedmontese dialect – refers to the burgeoning growth of the area’s fertile fauna, whose symbiosis with the flora helps the vineyard thrive. The wine is fresh and sweet, rich on the palate with a pleasant nose and fruity finish, produced with native yeast fermentation, no filtering, and sulfur at bottling as the only addition. The Barbera D’Asti Asinol 2014 (the name refers to donkeys, which are members of the clan of farm animals), a younger wine, is lighter, with a robust nose, zest on the palate, and cherry notes on the finish. Both are drinkable with a variety of foods, and both are made from 100% Barbera grapes. You can find these wines at The Vine Collective.
Cà ed Balos winery (62 hectares, 15,000 bottles) is in Castiglione Tinella, Piedmont, heart of the production of Moscato d’Asti. Original owners began the first production of this wine, whose aromatic harvesting and tasting were occasions for celebrations and dances held in the courtyard of the farmhouse. Owner Renata Bonacina told me that the family winery is a dream come true. To honor the ancient tradition of the dancing and the old homestead name, which was “House of the Naughty,” all of the labels of the wines feature dancing red men, Cà ed Balos, referring to the ancient celebrations at the “house of the naughty boy.” As in other producers in the Slow Wine Guide 2016, Cà ed Balos emphasizes sustainability while primarily aiming to achieve superior, quality wines.
I tried their Dolcetto D’Alba Giare 2013, a red wine with rich hints of plum and black cherry on the palate and an aromatic floral nose with a touch of almonds. The 100% Dolcetto blue-black grapes give it a rich, purple-red color. The finish was long and satisfying with little acid. This is an extremely drinkable wine. It would go great with pastas with meat sauces, pizzas, and cheese and salumi appetizers. The Moscato D’Asti 2015 is 100% Moscato grapes and it is absolutely delicious as a dessert wine. It is refreshing, clear, and clean on the palate with a fruity sweetness that is not cloying but carries a lasting pleasant finish. This Moscato D’Asti would complement various desserts like dry pastry, pound cake, biscotti, or pandoro (pan d’oro) or golden bread. These wines may be ordered online if you contact Renata Bonacina at via its website
This was the first time I sampled wines from the Piedmont, an area of Italy where my paternal ancestors are from but which I have not yet visited. I was glad to be inspired by these great wines to get a flavor of the region. The hospitality and kindness of Danilo, Renata, and Luca have inspired me to visit and if I am able to, I would enjoy stopping in to these wineries, seeing my new acquaintances, and asking them to take me on tours of their wineries with a follow-up tasting at their cantinas. If they continue with their viticultural sustainability and mission to make quality wines, their upcoming vintages will reflect the quality that I tasted at Slow Wine 2016. Theirs are lovely wines.