Posted by: tomciocco | October 26, 2010


Man, I love wines like this. An ultra-traditional product, with the mark of both a wise and expert hand in the cellar, and the clear flavors of the land from which it comes, a perfect stylistic balance of elegance and rusticity, and all at a very fair price. Ding, ding!

This fine bottle is made by none other than the venerable Vallana winery in Maggiora in the Novara hills of Piedmont, a bit south of the southernmost tip of Lago Maggiore. Vallana is one of the first Piedmontese wineries, decades ago, to export truly high quality wine to the U.S., and likely the world, and their Gattinaras can continue to develop positively for 30 years or more. 

The appellation we’re considering here in 2010 however is Colline Novaresi (Novara Hills) and as the label below shows, a Spanna as well, which is just the local name for Nebbiolo here in the high-altitude vineyards 100 miles northeast of Barolo. And indeed it is these higher altitudes, the more northerly latitude, and the natural acidity of the soils, that make for cutting, sassy, and aromatic wines that have great aging potential.  Well-aged Nebbiolo wines from this area are the most bewitchingly ethereal of them all.

I served this very evocative and thought-provoking wine with pennoni (large, smooth penne) with a mixed mushroom and tomato sauce (forgot to take the pic.), and then turkey scalloppine with a Marsala, thyme, and rosemary sauce, and roasted fennel on the side.

Vallana Spanna Colline Novaresi 2007

Ever so slightly browned rosey garnet color. The nose is an elegant but earthy cocksure pastiche of blackberry, cardamom, toasted fennel seed, leather, strawberry jam, and mixed dried flowers, with high-toned wood smoke notes underlying. The palate embodies a delightfully silky-textured austerity with juicy flavors of crushed juniper berries, black cherry, tea, hibiscus water, and roasted walnuts. The wine closes with a seriously long-evolving and classy aromatic spice and dried fruit finish.


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