I have always been an admirer of the wines of Beppe Colla. I had been to the winery before and was very happy to have the opportunity to visit it again when I visited Alba recently.
The Colla family’s connection with wine goes back to 1703, but the modern era begins when Beppe Colla purchased the Alfred Prunotto winery in 1956. Beppe owned the winery for 35 years and made it into one of the most renowned wineries in Piedmont.
Beppe’s younger brother Ernesto, called Tino, worked with him at Prunotto. Beppe was not feeling well when we visited, but Tino was able to show us around.
Tino is a gifted winemaker in his own right and worked very closely with his brother at Prunotto.
In 1994 Tino and his niece Federica (Beppe’s daughter) opened a new winery and so Poderi Colla was established.
As we were walking through the vineyards Tino said that the winery comprises three farms covering a total of 26 hectares of vineyards: Cascine Drago in Alba, Tenuta Roncaglia in Barbaresco and Dardi le Rose in Monforte.
He pointed out the different vineyards, explained the different microclimates of the area, and how important the work done in the vineyard is. He also spoke about the different types of soil.
Tino explained his wine philosophy. The key words are naturalness and originality, wines made without manipulation or invasive intervention. He feels the wines have a connection with the past and we must learn from the past, often using methods that his grandfather taught him. He pointed to the stainless steel tanks, which were all outside. No air conditioning for Tino.
Tino and the Truffle Hunter
At one point in the walk we stopped at a small house. The owner, a truffle hunter, heard his hunting dogs barking and came out to chat. Tino asked him to show us some of the truffles he had discovered. Some were very large and the aroma was wonderful. Most would be sold to nearby restaurants, he told us.
The walk was a true education.
Vintage Spumante Metodo Classico Extra Brut “Pietro Colla” made from Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Tino said this is in line with Piedmontese tradition dating back to the early 1900’s and with the traditions of his grandfather, Pietro, for whom the wine is named. It is fermented and matured in the bottle for about 2 years before dégorgement, ouillage with the same wine without the addition of liqueur d’expédition. The wine is bone dry, with a rich bouquet, complex and elegant at the same time. Tino said it is a wine that could be served throughout the meal.
Langhe DOC Riesling 100% Riesling from vines in Alba planted in 1987 with a Northwest exposure at 350 meters and in Barbaresco, planted in 2009 with a western exposure at 240 meters. There are about 4,000 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested between September 10th and 25th. The grapes are immediately soft crushed at 8/10 C for 24 hours. After racking, alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. The wine is left on the lees for a few months, before being naturally cooled in winter. The wine is bottled in the spring. It is a complex wine with full citrus flavors and aroma, hints of mountain flowers and fresh acidity. Tino said it is a wine that can age.
Barbera D’Alba DOC “Costa Bruna” 2013 100% Barbera. Vineyard planted in 1930 and 1995, about half of the vineyard contains the old vines. The new vines are a selection of the old vine’s understock. The grapes are hand picked and immediately destalked and crushed, maceration on the skins is for 10 to 12 days. Malolatic fermentation is completed before winter. Elevage in oak casks lasts about 12 months. This is an intense wine with hints of strawberry, cherry and spice and nice acidity.
Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC 100% Nebbiolo. The exposure is westerly and easterly and the vineyard is between 330 and 370 meters. The vines were planted in 1967, 1989 and 1999 and there are about 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is the 1st-10th October. Vinification is the same as above. Elevage is in Slavonian oak casks for about 12 months. This is a complex wine with hints of plum, red berries, dried roses and a touch of violet.
Barbaresco “Roncaglie” 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard is at 244 and 280 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The vines were planted in 1970,1980,1995 and 2010 and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are handed picked from October 5th to 15th The grapes are destalked and crushed and maceration is for 12 to 15 days, then malolactic fermentation is completed before winter. In the spring the wine is put into oak casks for 12 to 14 months. This is a classic Barbaresco with hints of blackberry, violet and spice and a touch of rose petal.
Barolo “Bussia Dardi Le Rose” DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is vinified like the Barbaresco but is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.
Campo Romano Langhe Pinot Noir. Tino said the vines were planted in 1977 from vines imported from Burgundy. In the field when the ground was being ploughed they found remains of a Roman settlement, hence the name. The exposure is westerly, at 330 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is September 10 to 20th and the hand picked grapes are immediately destalked crushed. Maceration is for 8 to 10 days followed by malolactic fermentation completed before winter. The wine rests in oak casks for 12 months. This is a balanced and elegant wine with hints of red fruit and floral notes.
Bricco del Drago made from 85% Dolcetto and 15% Nebbiolo. Tino said the wine was first produced in 1969 when Dott. Degiacomi, former proprietor of Cascine Drago, which produced an unusual Dolcetto requiring barrel aging, decided to combine it with a small portion of Nebbiolo, naming it after the estate. Vines were planted in 1970,1989 and 2,000 and there are about 5,000 plants per hectare. Dolcetto is harvested from September 20th to the 30th and the Nebbiolo from October 1st to 10. The varieties are vinified separately and maturation takes place at different times. The wines are assembled and then undergo élevage in oak. Maceration is for 5 to 8 days for Dolcetto and 10 to 12 days for the Nebbiolo. Aging for 12 to 18 months depending on the vintage. We tasted a number of wines going back to 1995, a wine that was showing no signs of age. I was very impressed with all of the vintages we tasted.