In 1993, Tino Colla and niece Federica decided to combine forces, creating a new wine venture in the glorious tradition of the Alba and Langhe territory. The Collas’ loyalty to the roots of classic Piedmontese viniculture sprang from a family heritage going back generations. Tino and Federica thus founded Poderi Colla. This is made up of three distinct properties: Cascine Drago in Alba, heart of the Langhe; Tenuta Roncaglia, which takes its name from the historic Barbaresco cru; and Tenuta Dardi Le Rose, forming part of the renowned Barolo Bussia cru in Monforte. Three outstanding locations for three great categories: a near-complete spectrum of Alba winemaking. Beppe Colla, Federica’s father and Tino’s brother, supplies a fundamental contribution with his constant support and collaboration. He brings with him the unique, impassioned oenological experience of fifty years at the highest levels of Alba’s star reds.
2000 is the year to beat and the along with 1998 are the vintages of the decade. These years from the top producers Giacosa, Gaja, Clerico, Voerzio, Conterno sell for hundreds of $$$ at auction.
Having 3 five star vintage years in a row certainly helped catapult the region into the international spotlight ('96, '97, '98) and as these vintages approach drinking age its high time for another golden era.
The best vintages in this millenia are 2001 and 2004, however, all years in between have produced high quality wines in certain vineyards but excellence across the board has not been achieved.
The wines of the Piedmont need no introduction, the famous quadruplets of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Dolcetto fly the flag for the region's reds and in the white corner Piedmont fields Asti, the world's most popular sweet sparkling wine.
Barolo is traditionally Italy's most celebrated wine, but in recent years this title is being challenged due to the remarkable improvement of Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany. Barolo is made from the famous Nebbiolo grape and is grown in the Langhe, southeast of Alba. The wine can vary from a very deep ruby red to a more light brick red depending on producer and vintage.
Barbaresco is another of Italy's most famous red wines also made from the Nebbiolo grape. The wine is not as powerful as the Barolo but can be much more elegant and refined. The Barbaresco does not mature as long in the barrel as the Barolo and it's bouquet is naturally stronger. The Barbaresco is a very consistent wine in terms of quality, you're less likely to find a terrible Barbaresco.
Barbera counts for over half of the red wine drunk in the region of Piedmont. The grape is very effected by its duration in oak casks and can produce wines that are fruity and acidic or balanced and complex. This is a wine that can swing wildly from superb to awful even within a single vintage. Not an expensive wine, it can be great fun trying to find that perfect Barbera.
Dolcetto is the secret wine of the locals, which invariably means it's excellent and a little overlooked. The Piedmontese drink Dolcetto with many different kinds of food types and even as a dessert wine. This is an uncomplicated, fruity little wine that is enjoyable and inexpensive.
Nebbiolo is considered Italy's most noble vine and produces wines of exceptional quality. Unique wines, such as Nebbiolo d'Alba, are brilliant expressions of the grape and can be low in price for such quality. Another famous wine from Nebbiolo is Gattinara, with Gattinara Riserva becoming one of the prized wines of the region.
Asti Spumante is the Marmite of white sparkling wines. It's either the wine everybody loves to hate or simplistic perfection, as always, it depends on your personal taste. Wine connoisseurs have long derided this wine preferring the less aggressive, and less bubbly, Moscato d'Asti.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Cabernet Franc are used in the region, Piedmont is famous for the Nebbiolo grape variety. This grape is synonymous with the region and the wines from Piedmont are the best expression of the grape anywhere in the world.
This section gives mention to only the most consistently good producers and those that bring something different to the region.
Elio Altare is a famously passionate wine maker who has produced some of the most powerful Barolo's of the last years. The wines from this vineyard are dripping with style and his wines have great cherry and tobacco notes yet the wines are always balanced and fresh. Altare produces solid Barolo's, Barbaresco's, Dolcetto's and Barbera's every year almost without exception.
Azelia wines are a great topic of conversation in the region, a vineyard that will experiment, it produces some of the highest quality Barolo's on the market. The brilliant Luigi Scavino has also added a good Dolcetto d'Alba and Bricco dell'Oriolo to the range at Azelia. The consistency of excellence can go slightly awry at times and this is the reason for the chatter, alternating between award winning to average, you must be knowledgeable when buying Azelia wines.
Enzo Boglietti hit the ground running in Piedmont, very passionate, very skilled he is perhaps the region's most talented rising star. For this reason it's very tempting to purchase some of his fantastic Barolo's, being minty and very fruity (raspberry, blackberry, cassis) with a long finish, this is a Barolo you will remember and keep.
Comm G.B. Burlotto always gets a mention. The vineyard is not the biggest producer but is famous due to the quality and the wonderful history behind this vineyard, which has been operating since 1850. Burlotto supplied Barolo to the House of Savoia and produces a floral Barolo that is consistently excellent and is famous for its strong finish.
Ceretto is one of the Piedmont's top estates managed by the famous brother Bruno & Marcello (Ceretto). This vineyard produces a lot of wine and a lot of different varieties, all are famous and of very high standing in the region. The vineyard is most famous for its 4 different Barolo's, the Barolo Bricco Rocche, Barolo Rocche Prapo, Barolo Asili Bernadot and the Barolo Bricco Roche Brunate. The vineyard also produces other wines as well as a notable Riesling.
Domenico Clerico produces a modern Barolo and is the top estate in Monforte. These Barolo's are often high in alcohol, but balanced with notes of spices, bitter chocolate and dark cherries. These are very respected wines that have brilliant ageing potential so it's best to keep them for at least 10 years.
Aldo Conterno takes the opposite approach to Dominico Clerico and produces Barolo in the traditional ways. They produce a wine that is closed at first but is one of the best aged Barolo's on the market. These are the classic earthy Barolo's of the past. The Barolo Bussia is the top wine at the vineyard.
Gaja are the best Barbaresco producers in the region and his wines are outstanding. This vineyard sets the benchmark for all other Barberesco wines and still produces many other great wines (the vineyard grows nebbiolo, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay grapes). A very professional, forward looking outfit, Gaja are here for the long term.
Bruno Giacosa is the King of the Piedmont with only Gaja running a close second. These two vineyards are the pride of the region but it is Giacosa's Barolos that are the most talked about wines internationally. Giacosa produces many different wines, although the vineyard is famous for the pricey Barolos and Barberescos, Giacosa also produces cheaper wines that are a simpler expression of the Nebbiolo from the vineyard including Barbera and Dolcetto wines
Mascarello Bartolo is a long time king of the Barolo's. Could be argued as the best Barolo producer around today. The wines are always in the running for the regions top marks and are consistently excellent. These are very aromatic wines both floral and spicy and all spend time in great Slavonian oak. Expect to pay for the quality of these wines.
Poderi Colla is one of the largest producers in Piedmont and all their wines are solidly reliable, benefiting greatly from their terroir the wines have a mineral depth that are pleasing to the taste. Poderi Colla produce a plethora of wines most noteworthy are the Bricco del Drago, Barolo Bussia Dardi le Rosa and Barberesco Roncaglia, all of which are sold on the Cellar Door.
Travaglini Giancarlo is a huge and very important Piedmont producer whose wines often receive the top marks from experts. These are complex wines where every attention to detail has been made so that the wines of the vineyard always reach their potential, even in poor vintage years. The most famous wine is the "Gattinara Riserva", never a wine more evolved from it's terroir than this one.
Roberto Voerzio - a small estate whose main focus is quality not quantity. All the wines of this vineyard are excellent and a wide range of different Barolo's are produced in limited numbers. These are exclusive wines that will fetch high prices at auction and are great to keep. Compact structurally, they are close to the perfect Barolo's.
Notes on the Piedmont
It is surprising that the Piedmont only ranks as the seventh highest producing region of Italy when you consider all the famous wines from the region but on closer inspection its always been clear that the emphasis in the Piedmont is on quality, and many producers are keen to maintain the old wine making traditions of the past. As Nebbiolo is the "noble grape" of Italy significant crop thinning takes place and some producers will not release certain wines if the vintage is not up to standard. The region is extremely proud of it's long wine making history and enjoys a "friendly" rivalry with Tuscany for the reputation of the best wine making region in the country.
The wines of Piedmont are very distinctive but can be deemed less accessable than the powerhouses from Tuscany. The Barolo and Barberesco are considered elitist wines always loved by connosoirs and the serious wine drinkers of Italy, this reputation is enjoyed by some producers who can price some bottles over $150 on release but concerns others who worry that the wines of the Piedmont are not being promoted to the new generation of wine enthusiasts. Time will tell (a superb triple vintage for the coming decade will help), if the wines of the Piedmont will push their way into the international consciousness with the same success Tuscany has recently enjoyed.
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