Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Journey to Historic Bersano in the Monferrato of Piedmont, Italy

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

ENIZZA MONFERRATO (ASTI), ITALY—“If you want to drink well, get yourself a vineyard.” Those were the words of Arturo Bersano when he took up the family business of making wine in the 1950’s. Founded by his uncle, Guiseppe Bersano in 1907, the history of Bersano winery is rooted in the early years of the last last century in the Nizza Monferrato Piedmont, in the heart of Barbera d’Asti district, at the dawn of the Industrial Age.
 The territory and vineyards reflect the soul of the grape. Beauty and enchantment surround the estate. Tradition and passion are its bellwethers. One can see tangible evidence of the tradition in the ancient farmer’s tools, including the first farmer’s carts used in the Barbaresco and its first railway locomotive engine and winemaking equipment and  documents dating to the time of Napoleon and beyond. Passion is evident in the marvelous collection of old wine labels, bottles and 19th century Menus, vineyard maps, poster art, publicity materials, paintings and engravings that are on display at the Bersano Museum. Among the masterpieces of the museum is the “Pomona Book,” which is the first complete collection of Italian grape varieties written by Giorgio Gallesio in 1817. It is recognized as the first database of Italian wine.

Erika Abate is the Export Manager for Bersano and its chief ambassador. “Our vineyards are in a land strongly linked to the production of quality wines that are unique and with a strong personality.” Acclaimed winemaker Roberto Morosinotto is the man at the helm of a team of talented winemakers and agronomists whose abilities exemplify the best of human effort to produce bright, approachable classic wines done in the traditional style.

 Gavi di Gavi. The name of the appellation is almost poetic in its sound. So it is also in its execution. The grape varietal is Cortese, unique to the region. Gavi is both the name of the DOC as well as the name of the town. It is considered one of the premiere grapes and wine growing areas of the region. “Good wine starts with good care of the land.  That is the philosophy of Casa Vinicola  Bersano,” according to Abate.
1. GAVI del Comune di Gavi –This is a classic white wine made from the Cortese grape, one of the most important of the dry white wines produced in this area. The wine is rich, with a bright yellow straw color and a fragrant bouquet with hints of pineapple and white peaches and a touch of apricot on the palate. This wine has a long, fruity flavor that fills the mouth and leaves a persistent aftertaste. The wine is produced by cold maceration in stainless steel tanks.  Cortese is considered the most important white grape in the region and this wine is one of its most outstanding expression. Great with shellfish and firm white fish, it is also versatile as an aperitif and with salads and hors d’oeuvres. It’s perfect for a summer lunch or dinner al fresco. Besides its outstanding flavor, one of it’s most laudable attributes is that it sells for only $12-$15 a bottle!
2. “CREMOSINA” Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Barbera . The bouquet is quite lovely and dominated by oak, Some say it is a perfect example of the “Rose” bouquet so typical of the area. It is very herbal. The primary characteristic of the grape is that it has very good maturation potential. According to winemaker Morosinotto, the vineyards lie between Langhe and Monferrato areas. “The winery creates original crus (blends) from selected grapes,” Morosinotto explained. “Our experience and our passion drive the winery toward the creation of these great wines,” he said confidently, as he proudly poured the wines. “We exalt the personality of the grapes with our passtion.”
3. RUCHE’ Di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG San Pietro. The grape variety is Ruche’, a Ruby-red gem with a brilliant violet hue. The wine is very intesnse with a fruity and aromatic bouquet. The flavorful with a pleasant and harmonious velvety flavor. It’s dry but very approachable. Excellent as an aperitif, it’s great with a light meal of appetizers, white meat and a classic local dish known as “bagna cauda.”(More on that later.)
4. Barbera D’Asti DOCG Costalunga-Costalunga (means ‘the long coast’) estate bottled classic Barbera aged in oak 8 mos. This is a special cuvee. The goal, according to winemaker Robrerto Morosinoptto, is "to be 100% independent and buy grapes only from special partnerships." Thus, the quality of the wine is preserved. 230  
5. BARBERA D’ASTI DOCG SUPERIORE “NIZZA” GENERALA- This is the maximum expression of Barbera. Nizza was created in 2000. 
6. "Our first Barolo," sys Export Manager Erika Abate-Nirvasco Barolo. It is made from the native Nebbiolo varietal. The wine is vinified in stainless steel, the aged 36 mos in large oak casks and then in the bottle. The wine has intense ruby red color with a fascinating bouquet and hints of spice and ripe fruit followed by licorice or anise aromatic notes.
7. Barolo Reserva 2005-"The wine is not produced in all vintages so this is a very special wine in very limited quantities," says winemaker Morosinotto. Once again, this is a wine from the  "long coast." The wine has a food friendly profile making it a perfect accompaniment with local   truffles and mushrooms. Its also great with any type of pasta and our local favorite, bana cauda (hot stew). "It's made with a combination of anchovies, Olive oil and garlic," Morosinotto explained. "You then dip some local vegetables into this ragu (stew). Then you smell for two days after you cook and eat it! This is a typical Sunday lunch or in supper the winter, when its served boiling." 

8. Langhe Bianco 2011---Well known in Liguria, it is the second indigenous white varietal in laguria. Historically produced in Barolo, the current name is just a fantasy name on the bottle now." Morosinotto explained. 
9. Manzone Rosserto Langhe Bianco 2010 -A speciality of the Manzani estate the rosso bianco grape is a varietal of the langhe region. "It was saved from extinction in 1880 and kept in one of the family’s old vineyards,." Abate explained. " Giovanni grafted the vines and has been making the wine with this varietal for 30 years. This wine is intriguing, structured and perfect for aging, which is unusual for a white wine. Only tiny parcels of this wine and the next one are produced. This is a rare tasting opportunity." 
10. Rivetto Langhe Nascetta 2010  “Matire’”
11. VERDUNO BASADONE 2011 estate bottled by Castello di Verduno  This is a light apperitif wine, perfect with quiche. It's very elegant. 
11a. Andaluccia-late harvest Gavi.
12. Valter Bosticardo  Gambadipernice…Tenuta dei Fiori Vino da Tavola Rosso bottled by Tenuta dei Fiori by Valter Bosticardo   HYPERLINK "" (talking wine)Calosso-Italia.

13. Prunent Vino Rosse from Cantine Garrone.  Intense perfume and fragrance dominate the nose. It is very persistent with a deep ruby color.
                                               Hills and vineyards in the Monferrato
                           Trying my hand at winemaking "Old World" style. Move over Lucy!
                                                Bersano Export Manager Erika Abate
                       The original Land Grant for Bersano, signed by Napoleon Bonaparte, himself!
                                         Arturio Versano, The Founder of Bersano Vineyards
            Erika Abate with winemaker Roberto Morosionotto at a private press tasting led by wine expert                        and author Paul Balke (top right)

                          The first locomotive engine to transport grapes and wine from the vineyards

14. The last wine is UCELINE Cascinacastlet….Monferrato Vendemmia 2011. Only one hectare was produced making this wine extremely rare. It’s a very tannic wine that represents the culimation of the winemaking tradition of the family generations, whose pictures are represented on the label. It is very tannic and extremely dry. This is not a commercial wine by any means. It is the most interesting grape in the entire tasting session. It’s extremely chewy with a pronounced varietal “edge”. It is a rustic Barollo designed for the connoisseur. The variety is the Uvalino grape. This is a very old grape and they are the only ones who produce it. It was made first in 1990 and there is only one hectare produced. I am one of the fortunate few in the world to taste it!
15. Bersano Monteolivo Moscato d’Asti (the mount of olives) 2011. Acacia with notes of pear and lemon. It has an intense character, aroma and freshness with a light effervescence. It is perfect with a wide range of light foods from fish to desserts. There are creamy undertones and a light toast and fresh fruit on the palate. Almond cookies are great with this wine that is called “happy juice” by its creators! Pastas and fresh fruit are also on the short list for this bright, crisp beauty. 
16. Brachetto Passito from the tiny village. It is an exceptional sweet red wine. The passito brachetto is a very rare wine made with rare grapes. It is bottled by Forteto della Luja, Loazzolo, Italia. This concludes our tour of historic Barsano.

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