Alto Piemonte rediscovered, by Walter Speller on

Wine journalist Walter Speller’s article on Jencis Robinson on Alto Piemonte, and his specific thought on Cristiano Garella, along with Colombera & Garella Bramaterra ‘Cascina Cottignano’ 2013, Mauro Franchino Gattinara 2012 and Paride Iaretti Gattinara ‘Pietro’ 2012 tasting notes.

“Few wine regions in Italy attract as much attention as Etna but, as I pointed out in my wildly oversubscribed masterclass at last week’s London Wine Fair, it is about to be joined by another, less obvious one. It may lack the active, sizzling volcano that appeals to the imagination of so many wine lovers, but it has something else the wine world is increasingly after: Nebbiolo. The rising popularity of this grape, especially in its Barolo and Barbaresco form, is now changing the fortunes of Alto Piemonte’.


Without wanting to downplay the importance of iconic Alto Piemonte estates such as Antoniolo, Travaglini, Vallana (with literally strings of historic vintages in their cellars) and Nervi (woken from its hibernation in 2011 by investment banker Erling Astrup), the face of the new generation is Cristiano Garella. The jolt of energy he brought to many of the tiny denominations cannot be overestimated, with his style of consultancy being to give basic advice often free of charge and without any wish to take direct control. This allowed a group of young producers to take over patches of vineyards from their parents and grandparents while looking to make high-quality wines without enormous investment.


Colombera & Garella, Cascina Cottignano 2013 Bramaterra
80% Nebbiolo, 10% Croatina, 10% Vespolina.
Just mid ruby. Softly perfumed and a little stubborn on the nose with minerally hints. lithe and with plenty of fine red fruit. Super-elegant, fine and with tannic bite on the finish. (WS) 12.5%
Drink 2017-2026′

Mauro Franchino 2012 Gattinara
100% Nebbiolo. Mid-deep ruby. Quite a firm, dark-fruit nose with hints of fruit cake. Full, fruit-driven palate and with bags of fine, grainy tannins. Seems a little oxidised and there is a tiny leathery note which might become a problem in the future, but right now this is genuine, a little rustic and honest. Two samples tasted. (WS) 13.5%
Drink 2017-2022

Paride Iaretti, Pietro 2012 Gattinara
100% Nebbiolo. Maturing and only mid ruby with orange tinges. Herbal and a little closed and balsamic. Lithe Maraschino palate with savoury notes and a layer of chewy tannins. Really opens up on the finish. Hints of dried fruit betray a hot summer, but there is plenty of depth on the finish. (WS) 13.5%
Drink 2017-2024”

Read the whole article here.