My Return to Collisioni
There I stood at JFK International Airport waiting to board my flight to Milan, part a long journey that would end in Alba for this year’s Collisioni Festival. My mood could best be described as apprehensive, as only two weeks prior I had fractured my elbow in a biking accident and was about to embark on what I knew would be a no-holds-barred foray into one of the most challenging (yet fulfilling) annual events that a wine professional could attend.
Don’t get me wrong; Collisioni is a blast, but it’s the kind of fun that you truly appreciate once it’s over, because it all happens so fast and with such a large amount of information all at once. Then there was the idea of using my camera with one hand, and the fact that I was only given approval from my doctor to start typing with my bad hand a few days beforehand. Yes, “apprehensive” is the word.
But you know what?
Now that it’s over, I wish I could do it all over again.
Why? Because Collisioni is without a doubt the most comprehensive tasting of Italian wines that you could imagine. It’s a full week of sit-down, focus tastings that start at 9:30 in the morning and go on to 6:00 at night, which are usually followed by a tasting and dinner with various producers in the evening. Not only are the majority of producers in attendance, but you are also surrounded by industry professionals who are just as passionate and immersed in Italian wine as you. Then, of course, there is Ian D’Agata and his team of Collisioni board members, who bring a lifetime of personal insights and knowledge to the table.
The week I spent at Collisioni included tasting more wine than the entire six months of the year that preceded it. But what’s even better are the priceless first-hand insights into regions, producers and new varieties. What I took from this year’s festival will fill these pages and Morrell’s catalog for months to come.
Today I’m focusing on one of the most eye-opening tastings of the entire event, one that was completely unexpected, yet left everyone in attendance in awe.
That tasting was Nascetta.
For the longest time you would only see Nascetta when Valter Fissore of Elvio Cogno, a huge proponent of the variety and owner of some of it’s best parcels in the Ravera vineyard of Novello, visited our region. However, at Collisioni 2017, the Nascetta tasting ended up being one of my favorites, and quite eye-opening as well. Little did I know that an organization of producers calling themselves “Indigenous in Langa” had decided to champion the variety and raise it out from obscurity.
The fact is that Nascetta was once considered one of the great aromatic varieties of the region. Going back to the late 1800s, it was grown to be made into a sweet wine that could be used alongside Moscato and Favorita. At the time, you would find Nascetta used as a wine for mass, and documents show that the town of Novello excelled at producing the best examples of the variety. Unfortunately, with time, the space in vineyards were given up to higher-producing and less fickle varieties, ones that would pay the bills. It was because of this that Nascetta nearly disappeared into the history books, and if not for a small amount of vines that continued to make wine for local consumption by tradition and passion-driven winemakers–it would have disappeared entirely.
That was until Valter Fissore, owner of some of the best parcels of the Ravera vineyard in Novello, decided to try to raise Nascetta from the ashes. That was over twenty years ago, and today we are only just starting to see the results of his labor. As of 2002, Nascetta was awarded its own DOC in Langhe, in 2010 its own appellation within Novello, and in 2015, Indigenous in Langa was created to further explore the possibilities of Nascetta throughout the surrounding villages.
As a region, I feel that Piedmont needs a white wine beyond Arneis to call its own: a wine that could deliver further depth, structure and the ability to mature. That’s exactly what Nascetta can provide. The wines are fantastic in their youth, displaying amazing energy and verve. They are pleasing to the palate, while also displaying the structure necessary to be placed in the cellar to develop, as I witnessed while tasting a 2012 from Poderi Cellario. I would say that Nascetta is in a prime position to gain traction very quickly with Sommeliers and lovers of the region’s wines.
Of course, the story of Nascetta is still quite young, and these producers are just starting to scratch the surface of what may be possible. For now, with only 27 hectares planted to the variety, it may be tough to find a large selection outside of Italy, but in my opinion it’s one of the most exciting new developments in Piedmont today.
On to the tasting notes
La Tribuleira Langhe Nascetta 2016 – The nose showed hints of raw almond with young mango, peach, apple and crushed stone. On the palate, I found a fresh and almost savory expression. It lacked the fruit concentration of other Nascetta, but made up for it with structure, pretty inner florals, a spritz of mineral-infused lime and salinity. The finish was long with saline-minerality and residual notes of lime. (92 points)
Elvio Cogno Langhe Nascetta Anas-Cetta 2015 – Here I found an intriguing and expressive display of spiced pear, almond, floral tones and minerals. On the palate, waxy textures gave way to notes of pear, saline-minerality and and hints of citrus. It lasted wonderfully long on the finish with saturating minerality. (92 points)
Reverdito Michele Langhe Nascetta 2016 – The nose showed wild herbs with notes of grapefruit and crushed stone. It was energetic on the palate with zesty acidity contrasting its silky textures with ripe stone fruits and saline-minerality. It finished long with citrus-tinged minerals and hints of wild herbs. (91 points)
Poderi Cellario Langhe Nascetta Se 2012 – The nose showed intensely rich and ripe peach, with spicy floral tones, mint and a hint of lime. On the palate, I found silky textures with saturating ripe stone fruits contrasted by stunning minerality and balanced acidity. It finished long with a coating of silky textures fading into dried apricot and minerals. (91 points)
Cantina del Nebbiolo Langhe Nascetta Riveverse 2016 – The nose showed pretty floral tones with ripe peach, kiwi, sweet spice and minerals. On the palate, I found soft, mid-weight, almost oily textures with ripe stone fruits and green apple acidity. It finished with a buzz of lively acidity and lingering minerality. (90 points)
Terre del Barolo Langhe Nascetta Arnaldo rivera 2016 – The nose showed green tropical tones, sweet herbs, a hint of menthol and crushed stone minerality. On the palate, I found silky textures with a wonderful mid-weight personality. Notes of ripe apple, young mango and mineral-infused lime resonated through the finish. Very pretty. (89 points)
Cantina Stroppiana Langhe Nascetta 2016 – The nose was floral and very pretty with hints of lime and young peach. On the palate, I found soft textures with pleasantly ripe stone fruits and inner floral tones. It finished on floral-infused peach and lingering hints of minerality. (89 points)
Ettore Germano di Germano Sergio Langhe Nascetta 2016 – The nose was rich with ripe peach, marine-minerality, wild herbs and spice. On the palate, I found silky textures offset by vibrant acidity with young peach and lemon citrus. It finished with medium length and hints of herbal-tinged citrus. (89 points)
Viberti Osvaldo Langhe Nascetta 2015 – The nose was smoky with hints of peach, dried flowers and spice. On the palate, I found soft textures with inner floral tones and tropical notes. It finished medium in length with a twang of saline-driven minerality. (89 points)
Ellena Giuseppe Langhe Nascetta 2014 – The nose was rich with peach and apple tones, followed by wild herbs, wet stone and hints of spice. On the palate, I found soft textures offset by leesy tactile sensation with mineral-infused green apple and spice. It’s an interesting style that shows the oxidative style of Nascetta. (89 points)
Rivetto Langhe Nascetta Borea 2014 – The nose showed rich peach, spices, yellow florals and hints of lime-infused minerality. On the palate, I found soft textures with wonderful balanced acidity, inner florals and yellow apple. It finished clean with lingering minerality and stone fruits. (88 points)
Diego Conterno Langhe Nascetta 2016 – The nose was pretty, showing lime-infused floral tones with hints of wet stone. It was fresh on the palate with ripe stone fruit and balanced acidity. It finished with good grip and a twang of citrus-driven acidity. (87 points)