Posted by: tomciocco | September 8, 2013


I don’t know with absolute certainty, but I’d have to say that Italy’s northwestern region of Piedmont is likely the region that has the greatest number of native grapes, and and apart from the famous names, many of them are quite to very obscure, and farmed by very few producers in very small quantities. The most unfortunate part is that many of these obscure varieties offer unique aroma and flavor profiles, and are well worth preserving in terms of quality. Often, these almost-lost gems have some (semi-) fatal flaw such as very late ripening, susceptibility to disease or low yields that have led growers to tear them up and plant more reliable and lucrative varieties. Precisely what led to Nascetta’s near demise is not clear, but even after its revival that began in the early 1980s, there are still only a handful of producers that bottle Nascetta wines and the total volume is vanishingly low (the plot from which this wine is sourced is only 3/4 of an acre!).

The name Nascetta was simply invented for the once unidentified and unnamed variety by a 19th century oenologist who believed (erroneously) that Nascetta was related to a Sardinian variety called Nasco. The latest DNA testing done on Nascetta however strongly indicates that it is a distant relative of the Piedmontese variety Favorita which is a known relative of Liguria’s Vermentino. That said, Nascetta presents a far bigger drink than either of its kin with deeper color, more weight, and greater intensity.

The vineyard that produces this wine was planted only in 2004, but from the intensity that comes through in the glass, you’d never guess that vines were only 9 years old, but there are extenuating factors in play here…The plot is situated at over 1,800 feet above sea level, it faces southeast and the soil is a mix of stony chalk and limestone. These several factors conspire to produce good both ripeness as well as steely complexity in the fruit which directly, traits which are directly transferred into the finished wine. Most of Piedmont’s other white grape varieties produce light, fragrant and pretty wines, but Nascetta gives this already world-class region the opportunity to make sophisticated, full-framed whites that I believe could eventually rival many top-flight white Burgundies.

I matched this wine with a first course of crostini smeared with a creamed compound of Gorgonzola dolce and Mascarpone cheeses topped with white grapes and walnut meats. The main course was a Piedmontese classic: Pork (tender)loin with a cream, rosemary and hazelnut sauce, with a side of braised Brussels sprouts.














Ettore Germano Langhe Nascetta 2011

Moderately deep green-tinged copper/golden color. Fairly dramatic and fresh aromas of apricot, grilled pineapple, yellow cherry jam golden raisins,toasted white spices, coconut milk, tea, vanilla bean, and lilac powder.  The palate is full, powerful, and fairly rich but well-structured with a fairly “nervous” acidity and an intense dry, chalky and bitterish minerality that beautifully frames complex flavors of grilled lemon, stewed apples, pink grapefruit nectar, cinnamon and dried sage. Very warm and subtly earthy candied citron finish. 


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