For all intents and purposes, it is basically Fall. Actually Halloween as my wife started decorating in August. But with temperatures dropping and rain falling, I want a white wine with some meat on its bones. Tired of the same old Chardonnay? Then you have come to the right post.
Let us fly to the crown of Italy, 30 minutes from Switzerland, where the valley of Valtellina slices open a couple Alps.
Although plantings push to 12,000 feet above sea level, this microclimate sets a steep, cliff-edged stage for vines. The southern exposure works like a solar panel. The river moderates temperature. Thus cool climate grapes like Nebbiolo reign. And Nino Negri has worked the land since the 15th century.
But it gets boring hanging your hat on one grape. So they tinkered with a white blend and called it Ca’ brione.
In September they pick Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc: new comers to this land of tradition. To temper their acidity the grapes dry in crates. Meanwhile, in October, red grapes Incrocio Mazione and Nebbiolo get picked and pressed for the clear juice (like Champagne’s Blanc de Noir). All four ferment with white grape skins in the mix.
Half new and used French barrels temper it for eight months.
Nino Negri, Ca’Brione, Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT, Valtellina, Italy 2015 $30
The APPEARANCE looks amazing. It is clear, with mild straw color and bright gold highlights.
Delicate AROMAS of linen and beeswax surround ripe white peach, marzipan, flint, and lemon rind.
The dry PALATE tingles with ample acidity, warm medium alcohol, and a medium body that feels viscous, plump in texture up front tightening into twangy steel.
Intense complex FLAVORS jump with gold raisin, ripe pear, wax, and tart pineapple juice that carry for days.
The nose is subtle and alluringly deceptive, the palate is rich, assertive and a bit wild, and persistent. Ca’brione is an outstanding white (5 of 5). Awesome stuff for $30. It makes me want fall foods: nutty risotto, mushroom dishes, cream sauces, anything earthy, a bit rich but not overbearing.