Twelve years ago I was invited to the “Barbera Meeting 2010” held in Asti. This event was open to journalists and bloggers and included visits to producers as well as a number of tastings.
On the final day, we went to Nizza Monferrato, then a sub zone of Barbera d Asti, and tasted 25 wines. A journalist questioned the prevalence of barriques and the resulting oak toasted flavors found in most of the wines. Two of the producers at the tasting verbally attacked him for his criticism of the wines. Yet the vast majority of journalists, if not all of them, agreed that most of the wines they had tasted were too oaky and did not like the direction most of the producers were taking.
Today the wine is called Nizza DOCG.
Last month, the Consorizio Barbera D’Asti del Monferrato organized a seminar and luncheon to “Discover Nizza DOCG” at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in New York City. I looked forward to tasting the wines side by side and seeing which direction the producers were taking.
There were ten wine to taste and representatives from the wineries were present.
The moderator was Gregory Dal Piaz. I have known Gregory for a number of years and was very pleased that he was the moderator.
This is a summary what was said at the Seminar.
La Barbera is the second most planted grape in Italy. It is grown in other parts of Italy but the Piedmontese think of it as their grape. It produces a wine with good acidity that goes well with food.
Nizza DOCG was originally a sub zone of Barbera d’Asti DOCG and became a separate DOCG in 2014 when it was given the appellation Nizza DOCG. The use of the geographical name Nizza instead of the grape variety brings together the tradition, culture and unique terroir. Beginning with the 2016 vintage, the DOCG appears on the label. I believe that this is a unique area for Barbera and I am happy they have their own DOCG.
All the wines must be made from 100% Barbera. The zone in located in the southeast part of Piedmont. There are 18 communes in the Nizza Area (Asti) where the wines can be produced.
Minimum alcohol is 13% and 13.5% for the Riserva.
Minimum of 18 months aging with at least 12 months in barrel and for the Riserva 30 months including at least 12 months in barrel.
The production zone is centered around the town of Nizza Monferrato. The Barbera grapes here occupy the best exposed slopes that face from southeast to west. The soils are calcareous, of medium depth with sandy clay marls and stratified sandstone.
The Nizza DOCG Wines
Titon, Nizza, 2019 l’armangia (Canelli) The soil is calcareous clay and the training system is simple guyot. Fermentation is for 8 /10 days at 25.5 degrees C. Délestage fermentation takes place 3 times a day. 50% of the wine is aged in large French oak barrels, and 50% in 300 liter barrels. The wine remains 6 months in the bottle before release. The wine has hints of strawberries, violets, red stone fruit, a touch of smoke and a note of almonds.
Cremosina, Nizza 2019 Bersano (Nizza Monferrato) the soil is calcareous and clay and the training system is guyot. Vinification is in stainless steel barrels. The wine is aged in for 12 months in 56 hl oak casks then 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, a touch of spice and note of chocolate and an intense fruity finish.
Tre Roveri, Nizza 2019 Pico Maccario (Mombaruzzo) The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. The grapes are harvested at the best maturation level. There is a soft crushing of the grapes, destalking and maceration is for 15 to 20 days. The wine is aged for 16 months in French tonneau barrels and then in bottle for one year. The wine has hints of red fruit, balsamic notes and a long lasting finish.
La Giulia, Nizza 2019 Cascina Lana (Nizza Monferrato). The soil is sandy with clay and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place at the end of September. The grapes are destemmed and then pressed. Fermentation with selected yeasts and skin contact at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in French oak tonneaux for 16 months and in bottle for one year. This is a full-bodied rounded wine with hints of red fruit, cherry jam, a touch of licorice and a note of tobacco.
Favà, Nizza 2019 Tenuta Garetto (Agliano Terme) The soil is clay. Maceration is in stainless steel and concrete tanks for about 10 days. The wine is aged for about 10 months in 25 & 50 hl wood casks. The wine has hints of fresh ripe red fruit, floral notes and a touch of wood.
Pontiselli, Nizza 2018 Coppo (Agliano Terme). The soil is lime marl with a silty-clay texture. The healthiest and ripest grapes are selected in the vineyard and hand picked into 40 pound picking baskets. The wine is aged in barriques for 14/18 months and one year in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blackberry and blackcurrants and vanilla in the finish and aftertaste. From a single vineyard.
Vigna Dacapo, Nizza Riserva 2018 Dacapo-Cà ed Balos (Agliano Terme). The soil is marlstone, calcareous and clay and the training system is simple guyot with the Simon & Sirch pruning method for the well being of the vine. Fermentation is in a big non-toasted vats of French Allier. The wine remains in big barrels for 24 months and then in bottle for 10 months. The wine has hints of cherries, plum and licorice and a touch of cinnamon. Organic certification in 2019.
La Court, Nizza Riserva 2018 Michele Chiarlo (Nizza Canelli) The soil is calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine. Malolactic fermentation takes place for 15 days in 55hl oak vats with the skins. There is a soft shower system of wetting the cap at an initial temperature of 30 degrees C, then decreed to 27C. The wine is aged for 30 months with 50% in cask and 50% in large barrels and then 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum, violets with a note of chocolate and a touch of spice. I have been drinking the wines of Michele Chiarlo for a number of years and have always been impressed by them.
Costamiòle Nizza Riserva 2018 Prunotto (Alba-vineyard location Agliano Terme) The soil is marl, known as Toét in local dialect. When the grapes arrive in the cellar they are destemmed and crushed. Maceration lasts for 12 days at a maximum temperature of 30 degrees C. After fermentation the wine is transferred into stainless steel tanks where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 12 months and then in bottle for another 12 months before release. The wine has hints of cherries, plums and vanilla.
Nizza Riserva 2018 Tenuta Olim Bauda (Incisa Scapaccino) The grapes are harvested by hand between the first and second week of October and crushed in the evening of the same day they are harvested. Then they are placed in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. After alcoholic fermentation the wine is put into 25hl French oak barrels where it remains for 30 months, followed by aging in bottle. This is a full and balanced wine with hints of red fruit and cherry.
I have followed the progress of these wines over the years and am very happy that the direction they are now taking has changed from some of the measures they wanted to introduce at the “Barbera Meeting 2010”. Of the ten wines tasted only two were what I would call made in a more modern style but still drinkable.
As usual IL Gattopardo prepared an excellent buffet lunch to follow the tasting
The event was organized by Mariana Nedic, Executive Director of I.E.E.M. (International Event and Exhibition Management). I have been to a number of events and a press trip organized by this organization and they always do an excellent job.