Allegrini 2018

Wine history and culture has redeemed the agricultural world of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato

WineNews: from Fenoglio to Pavese, and “Art 900” to the Nizza DOCG vineyards, the ever more solid reality of Piedmont and Italian wine

Wine culture is deeply rooted in the community, and in popular and agricultural history. It is made up of the hard work of generations - strong hands and arms that have worked the land. But also ancient traditions and magical rites, small villages and hills of vineyards that bear names of times gone by, farmhouses and castles. All of this is narrated in some of the most exquisite pages of Italian literature, from Cesare Pavese to Giuseppe Fenoglio, who, even during the Resistance, in a game of cross-references of place names and moods, told the beauty of their common land of origin. This is the essence of one of the most important and beautiful wine territories in the world, Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, where wine has redeemed the agricultural world in the same way that these territories have been elevated to the rank of literature. Their values ​​have become universal in works such as, “The business of living” and “The moon and the bonfires” by Cesare Pavese, born in S. Stefano Belbo who “invented” the charm of the Langhe, and also “Johnny the Partisan” and “La Malora”, by Fenoglio, the writer who created an absolutely original language to narrate the events of Alba and the Alta Langa.
Laurana Lajolo, who is the daughter of the writer, journalist and politician, Davide Lajolo, originally from Vinchio, partisan commander, nom de guerre Ulysses, and first biographer of Pavese and Fenoglio, has handed all of this information down. Her father also curated the "common house" of "Art'900" in Monferrato, at Palazzo Crova, in Nizza Monferrato the eighteenth century work created by the architect, Robilant, the collection of 100 of her father’s works of art including paintings and sculptures depicting partisans, farmers and landscapes of artist-friends, such as Guttuso, Ligabue, Manzù and Carrà, and of the Nizza Producers Association.
WineNews’ journey starts from here and ideally continues amidst the Monferrato vineyards, to return on an historic date - July 1st, the first day that in 2016 Nizza DOCG went on the market. The wine was produced in 18 municipalities of Monferrato Astigiano
(Agliano Terme, Belveglio, Bruno, Calamandrana, Castel Boglione, Castelnuovo Belbo, Castelnuovo Calcea, Castel Rocchero, Cortiglione, Incisa Scapaccino, Moasca, Mombaruzzo, Mombercelli, Nizza Monferrato, Rocchetta Palafea, San Marzano Oliveto, Vaglio Serra and Vinchio ), in the center of “The wine landscapes of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato” Unesco Heritage. Its name does not come from the city (Nizza Monferrato), but from Rio Nizza, which crosses the hills of the territory. It is produced exclusively from Barbera grapes, and the yields in the vineyard are very low, to guarantee the highest quality: 70 quintals of grapes per hectare for Nizza and Nizza Riserva and 63 quintals per hectare for Nizza Vigna and Nizza Vigna Riserva.
The new vintages, which will go on the market after 18 months of aging (6 months in wood, which become 30 months and about 12 in wood for the “Riserva” type), are presented on July 1st, an unusual date for a preview, but, as we mentioned, a historic moment. July 1, 2016, marked the day the first bottles of Nizza DOCG went on the market, at the height of a project that began in 2000, when the sub-area of ​​the largest denomination of Barbera d’Asti was acknowledged. In 2002, the Nizza Producers Association (which today counts 75 local producers) was founded, having the aim of promoting and enhancing the Nizza appellation, and obviously obtaining recognition of the appellation in its own right. In 2008, Barbera d’Asti became DOCG, thus including the Nizza sub-area, which in 2014 finally became a separate appellation, having the possibility of adding “Riserva” and “Vigna” mention to the appellation. In 2018, Nizza DOCG began the fundamental process of defining the "vineyards of Nizza”. Through the work of the wine cartographer, Alessandro Masnaghetti, the entire area of ​​Nizza was mapped, identifying those specific land parcels that one day, will be put on labels as UGA (Additional Geographical Unit) or MGA (Additional Geographical Mention).
The Wines of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, with its Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Nizza DOCG, and many more, is the top wine district (and number 5 at the National level), according to Intesa San Paolo’s “Annual Report on the Economy and Finance of Industrial Districts 2021”. But, we must add to the numbers - which for Nizza DOCG see +13% increase in sales in 2021, growing from 620.00 to 704.000 bottles (but aiming for a million), thanks to the intense presence on the markets, where half of the production is sent, and the USA, Scandinavia and Switzerland lead, at an average shelf price of 20 euros - first of all, the undisputed quality of the wines, as well as the importance of the top vineyard landscape in Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The perfect pairing culinary-wise is with the Slow Food Presidium, such as the Cardo Gobbo di Nizza Monferrato and the PGI Fassone beef of Piedmont. There are many more, though, like the agreements Maurilio Garola, starred chef of “La Ciau del Tornavento” has signed. In Treiso, an institution in the Langhe and beyond, there is an immense winery containing 60.000 wines, whose wine list is among the top world wide, according to “ Wine Spectator ”. In the meantime, Nizza has already reached important quality heights in just a few years, like that of world critics, at the top of the “Top 100” of the American magazine, “Wine Enthusiast”, in 2018. As Lajolo wrote, though, “if one has his feet firmly on the ground; that is, if he knows the ground on which he is standing, he will understand how he has spent the years, like those on which the top of the hill was formed. From the top you already have a horizon, and knowing how to look calmly, in silence, what is ahead of you and what is behind, you get an idea. It is then possible, keeping your feet firmly on the ground of the hill, to also look to the future”.

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