Massimo Pastura is a friend that I met through Facebook. I am always interested in his postings since he is the owner of Cassina La Ghersa in Piedmont. Recently Massimo contacted me and said that he was going to be in NYC and could we meet for lunch. He asked if he could bring some of his wine for me to taste. Since I knew of his winery, but had never tasted the wine, I was looking forward to our meeting.
Over lunch Massimo said that the winery is family owned and managed and he is the fourth generation. The winery is located in the hills between Nizza Monferrato and Moasca. His winery uses only the traditional grape varieties the area and they are very proud of the different styles of Barbera that they produce. Massimo made it clear that they do sustainable farming– no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used.
Gavi “Il Poggio” 2011 made from 100% Cortese. The grapes are estate grown. The vineyard is between the towns of Gavi and Novi Liqure. The training of the vines is vertical trellis and simple guyot and grass is grown between the rows. There are 4,500 vines/hectares and the soil is calcareous, limestone with a lot of stones. The vines are over 60 years old and they face southwest at 350 meters. Grapes are hand harvested in September. The grapes are crushed and soft-pressed after 12 hours of cryomaceration (holding the crushed grapes and the skins at extremely low temperatures before fermentation.) Static decanting of the must takes place for 12 hours before starting the fermentation with special selected yeasts inoculated in the must. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for a period of 10/12 days depending on the vintage. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Weekly vigorous stirring of the wine takes place in order to keep the lees in suspension and assure an adequate balance. After 2 months in bottle the wine is released. The wine has aromas and flavors of peach, tropical fruit, a touch of lime, nice minerality and good acidity. $20
Colli Tortonesi Timorasso DOC Bianco “Sivoy” (meaning slide or slipping) 2010. The soil of the Siovy hill is clay and very hard and the rain water slips down very fast into the valley. The wine is mostly Timorosso with a little Cortese. Massimo said that the Timorosso grape is only produced in the Colli Tortonesi and there are only 52 hectares of vines. Timorasso is a very old indigenous variety which was almost completely ignored during the 1960’s and 1970’s but has made a comeback. Massimo made it clear that wines made from this grape get better with time and can age up to 10 years or more. The average age of the vines is 15 years. The training system is vertical trellis and simple guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the vineyard faces southwest. The harvest takes place in September. The grapes are crushed and soft pressed with a horizontal membrane press after 36/48 hours cryomaceration. Static decanting of the must tales place for 14/16 hours before the alcoholic fermentation (in stainless steel tanks for 15/20 days) starts using special select yeast inoculated in the must. The wine is on the lees in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and 8/10 months in bottle before release. $20
Barbera d’Asti “Piagè” DOCG 2010 100% Barbera. In the Middle Ages Piagè was the place where the toll was collected. Grapes come from local estate grown selected vineyards. There are 5,000 wines per hectares and the average age of the vines is 10/15 years and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is mainly clayey limestone with rocks. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, skin contact is about 12 days and there is frequent pumping. Malolactic fermentation takes place and heating if necessary by means of inoculation of malolactic bacteria to facilitate the start of the fermentation. The wine is then left to settle in cement tanks for a few months. Massimo said that this was his every day Barbera. The wine was very easy to drink with nice aromas amd flavors of red berries, a hint of cherry and current and good acidity. This is a red wine that can go with a number of different foods.$14
Barbera D’Asti DOCG Superiore Nizza “Vignassa” 1999 100% Barbera. Massimo said that the Vignassa vineyard was the first one planted by his grandfather after the vineyards were destroyed by phyloxera. The vines were grafted onto American rootstock “St George” aka “Rupestris du Lot” which is resistant to phyloxera. Over the years the St George rootstock became more and more deformed so everyone started to call the vineyard Vignassa- ugly-vines. He said that when they dig up one of the old vines the roots go down as much as five feet. The average age of the vines is 90 years. Before the fermentation begins the “salasso” (Italian for siagneè) where the juice is blended off the must after limited contact with the skin. Massimo said this gives a higher content of extract, which makes the wine suitable for longer aging. Fermentation takes place in French oak barrels of 52HL. The must is left in contact with the skin for 18/20 days. The dèlestage aspirates all of the must, which determines the fall of the cap on the bottom of the tank.The wine is aged in new French oak barriques: fine grain and medium toast for 24 months. The barrels are seasoned for 3 years before they are used. This is a big wine that is almost 15 years old and showing no sign of age. $75
Colli Tortonesi 2011 Croatina DOC 100% Croatina. Massimo said that he just started making wine from this grape a few years ago. Massimo said the grape was also known as Bonarda and Uva Rara. The vineyard is Tenuta Mongualdone in Sarezzano and the average age of the vines is 10 years. The soil is dark clay. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, with selected yeast, for 8-10 days with pumping over, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is not filtered but lightly fined. The wine is aged in two, three and four yeas old French barriques. Only 2,000 cases are produced. $20. The distributor is T. Edward Wine, NYC