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2019 #Piemonte | Torraccia del Piantavigna winery, Ghemme

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

One of the producers I visited during my Piemonte wine trip was Torraccia del Piantavigna, located in Ghemme. Interestingly, this is a unique winery in the area, who is allowed to produce both DOCGs Ghemme and Gattinara in the same time.

By law Gattinara DOCG is to be produced and bottled in Gattinara area, Ghemme DOCG is to be crafted and bottled in Ghemme area. But as historically Torraccia del Piantavigna was one of the first wineries build in Ghemme but having vineyards in Gattinara as well, even before Gattinara became DOCG with it's laws, this winery was producing #Gattinara wines already. Therefore local Consorzio made an exclusion for this estate, letting them produce both DOCG wines at one winery located in #Ghemme.

Actually the name of the company is Casa Francoli, business led by Francoli family and originally it's a grappa producer, who moved to the area many years ago from Lombardia and, besides grappa which was produced from Nebbiolio skins very well, they decided to produce wines too, as the zone started to become more famous in terms of wine production of #Nebbiolo grape. Thus Torraccia del Piantavigna in particular is the name especially for wines produced by Francoli family.

I liked an idea to put fermentation tanks outside of the winery, like you save space inside and simply don't care if it's hot or cold outside, as all stainless steel tanks anyway have temperature control, so when you ferment your wines you should not think about the air temperature.

The tanks are of different sizes and shapes. I usually like the UFO shaped ones, don't know why...

...maybe because they look like aliens, shiny strangers who landed in our Universe just for a short time and after fermentation process will be finished they will fly away at any moment. Insane thoughts, but who knows...

This is an unusual fermentation "tank", as explained it's a brand-new technology recently bought by estate. This tank is used for rose #wine fermenting, because of it's special structure, where wine is circulating up&down, and constant temperature control it's great for delicate wines' production, like rose.

The diversity of ageing vats and casks in the cellar proves that wine production nowadays is not at all simple like it was 50-60 years ago, when winemakers were strictly following the rules of ageing #Nebbiolo in botti as they were sure it's the only right method. At our times making wine is much more complex process and winemakers now has more techniques and tools to produce really outstanding wines.

Botti made of oak contain 2500-3500 l

The unique #cellar where you can find casks with Ghemme DOCG and Gattinara DOCG wines being aged nearby.

The oldest oak casks in the cellar.

These particular vats looked weird, with such shape... "What is that?" was my logical question.

As explained, these are cement vessels, very old ones, were found by the family in the cellars when the winery was bought, so these were some original super old vats used for fermentation... and still are being in use. Really, why not? Well, if something is very old but still works good, why don't let it continue to work.

A glass bulb on top of the vat is actually being used in all wineries to measure a level of #wine inside a vessel. To let wine ageing well with proper micro-oxidation flow through oak surface (oak is used especially for that because it has micro pores, which let oxygen come through in a super slow manner during years) so a vat has to be always full till it's top, literally. As with #ageing wine is being evaporating a little (up to 8% per year, depending on the size and particular wood characteristics), therefore a level of wine inside any wooden cask is to be topped up regularly.

Basically modern cement vats are covered inside with epoxy resin or ultra modern kind of glass, which provides a layer making inside an inert area (free of oxygen) and let conduct a reductive ageing process. Therefore modern cement tanks don't need to be topped up with wine, but these particular very old cement vessels has no epoxy resin layer inside, so they actually conduct an oxidative ageing process (same as wooden casks) that's why they need to be topped up regularly as well.

Showroom and tasting room of Casa Francoli look authentic and welcoming.

When proposed to choose different types of wine for tasting, I used an opportunity to taste Torraccia's rose, which is called Barlàn. As explained Barlàn is the comical and traditional figure of the Carnival of the village of Ghemme, which was the inspiration for this great rose. Loved the story behind, and the wine too.

Barlàn Colline Novaresi DOC

Grapes: Nebbiolo 100%

Vintage: 2018

Alcohol: 12.5%

Vinification: in stainless steel

Nose: flowers, strawberry, pink grapefruit

Palate: young, fresh, citrus and fruitforward

Fresh and crispy rose made of Nebbiolo grapes, light bodied and easy drinking. Fruity and flowery aromas make it a perfect summer wine, served chill.

As said above, Torraccia del Piantavigna is the only one winery produces both Ghemme DOCG and Gattinara DOCG. Apparently I used this great chance to do a direct comparative tasting at the #winery. Actually, when you put them side by side, a difference in terriors becomes super obvious, both are great everyone for itself, hard to compare each other.

Ghemme DOCG

Grapes: Nebbiolo 90%, Vespolina 10%

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol: 13.5%

Vinification: in stainless steel

Ageing: 3 years in big botti of French oak, min 6 months in bottle

Nose: strawberry, red cherry, violet, almond

Palate: medium body with soft tannins, balsamic hints at the end

Delicate #wine full of red fruits, flower aromas with gentle almond touch. Strong tannins of Nebbiolo are round and soft here, with a bit of Vespolina grapes, which makes it also spicier and adding slightly vibrating character, which also feels as 2013 was a very difficult vintage in the area with cold temperatures and freezes in the beginning and mid of the season, but September and October had plenty sunshine and dry days, gave grapes finally enough time to mature.

Gattinara DOCG

Grapes: Nebbiolo 100%

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 14%

Vinification: in stainless steel

Ageing: 3 years in big botti of French oak, min 6 months in bottle

Nose: cranberry, dried raspberry, citrus flowers and hints of spices

Palate: fresh, persistent with strong but round tannins and long finish

Very good wine for any occasion, full of red fruits and dried flowers. Complex and enjoyable, lovely Nebbiolo with round tannins, drinkable now but also can be kept for another 10-15 years, if you're willing to wait for so long (I don't).

In the showroon you can buy almost every type of beverage containing alcohol.

Grappa, for those who likes it hot.

By the way, if you ever tried a glamourous Roberto Cavalli vodka (me never), now you know it's being produced at Casa Francoli in Ghemme.

Many thanks to super nice Valerio Francoli for managing my visit, highly appreciate it, I'll be glad to come back.

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