Hills, vineyards, rows of vines, bunches of grapes … wine! Just the view confirms the impression that everything in Monferrato leads to wine, pride of place on the table, red, white, sweet, sparkling and passito. It is ever-present for important moments, to underline friendships, to settle disputes. And in the province of Alessandria there is wine to suit all tastes, and always of the highest quality. And at the end of a special meal, or when you want to meditate on life in general, it is a good idea to try one of our special grappas, still made according to the old traditions. Just one simple reminder ‘though – don’t overdo it if you are driving!
Whilst principally known for the quality of its red wines, the Alessandria district has two whites which have found success and appreciation on dining tables all around the world:Gavi DOCG and Timorasso DOC.
Gavi is made from the Cortese grape, which is grown on slopes that are sheltered by the Apennines, in the parishes of Gavi, Novi Ligure and Serravalle Scrivia. This is a white wine that can be enjoyed still or sparkling, it has a delicate straw colour with a fresh, harmonious palate, which reaches its zenith in the sparkling form. Info: www.consorziogavi.com
Timorasso is made from the grape that is indigenous to the Apennine valleys of the Curone, Grue, Ossona and Borbera rivers all of which enjoy long periods of sunshine. Grown in tiny quantities and kept alive by just a few producers, Timorasso started its re-birth in the late 80s thanks to those same producers who have managed to secure international recognition for this fine white wine.
It is a well-structured wine, people say that it is "a white wine that is more like a red wine." Info: www.collitortonesi.com
Other white wines for those who like their wine 'fresh' include the Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato and the Colli Tortona Cortese. For further info: Regione Piemonte
IL Barbera or LA Barbera? This is the grammatical dilemma that has always accompanied this great wine from Piedmont. There are those who want their red wine masculine, and potent, then there are those who prefer their reds a little more feminine, a little wilful, with a touch of the mother back in the farmhouse, crushing the soft bunches of grapes with her feet. Il or la Barbera, take your pick; together with Dolcetto, these are the two great red wines that characterise this land, inextricably linked to the hills on which the vines are cultivated, be they the hills of Tortona, Monferrato, Piedmont and the denominations of Barbera del Monferrato, Dolcetto d'Acqui and Dolcetto di Ovada. The other important red wine, often mistaken for a rosé, is Grignolino, which is to be found in the Casale Monferrato area, where the soil is perfect for its cultivation. Other red wines from the province of Alessandria are Albarossa, Croatina, Gabiano and Rubino di Cantavenna.
Aromatic and Passito wines
Brachetto d'Acqui and Moscato d'Asti, the first with its ruby red colour, the second with its golden straw colour and beautiful white bubbles that frisk around the rim of the glass, are a reminder of the colours of Christmas; their sweet and aromatic taste is the perfect match for desserts and fruit, both fresh and dry, creating an impressive mix for a happy and carefree moment to spend with relations and frends.
In its sparkling form, from Asti, using the same Moscato grape this is a wine that has worldwide renown as a dessert wine or as the match for more exotic, spicy foods and is able to hold its own when compared with other sparkling wines, either from abroad or from italy itself.
The district's passito wines are also enjoying considerable success, being made from Brachetto, Moscato and Malvasia grapes. The best bunches picked are put to one side and allowed to dry on open-air grids until November, enjoying the last of the year's sunshine and the first fogs of the Monferrato autumn. They are then pressed and allowed to ferment with some of the skins - a technique that had almost been lost but which was brought back from the brink of extinction so that now there is a specific local DOC "Strevi".
According to the old farming tradition of "thrown nothing away" of what the land produces, the pomace from which the Piedmontese wines have been extracted are used to distil the "branda", term used by the old Piedmontese to refer to grappa. The distilleries in the area of Alessandria and Monferrato are many, and they are often born around a small source, used to cool the alcoholic vapours and because here grappa is produced using the "Piedmontese style discontinuous method", with steam, the slowest, to guarantee the best quality and the most faithful preservation of the original aromas of the grapes. And, to further safeguard tradition, the majority of the distilleries are managed by families that hand down the tradition from father to son; some are already at the sixth generation of distillers.
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