Chiesa Carlo Roero Monfrigo DOCG 2013
Winegrower: Daniele Chiesa
Region: Roero (Piedmont), Italy
Shipping: September 2018
Piedmont is one of Italy’s two greatest wine regions, and when we think of Piedmont we usually focus on Nebbiolo from Barolo and Barbaresco. But there is a lot more to Piedmont – welcome to Roero. Though dwarfed by its more famous neighbours, this region is one to know and shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a small DOCG of rolling, hilly vineyards that extends for 25 km on the banks of the Tanaro River opposite the town of Alba, and it can offer bold, fragrant and well-priced Nebbiolos like today’s offer. That said, most Roero Nebbiolos are over-ripe and over-extracted. Overall I mostly avoid Roero Nebbiolos, with the exception of Val del Prete who’s wines we offer and are excellent; so I was surprised to discover the wines from Chiesa Carlo. Today’s offer is for their Roero Monfrigo 2013. This is a finessed expression of Nebbiolo and represents real value. If you’re not into oaky and jammy wines this is one of the finest I’ve tasted from the region and compares favourably with the best from Barolo and Barbaresco. With perfumed aromatics of rose, raspberry and spice, it’s intense and mouth filling on the palate. Along with velvety tannins and long finish, this is an elegant wine that plays well with a wide range of food. This wine could be cellared wine well into the next decade but it’s drinking great now. Our price, a wallet friendly $37 – places it miles ahead of the competition!
Chiesa Carlo is located in Roero in the heavily forested southern Piedmont province of Cuneo. The region’s stunningly beautiful landscape is hilly and gives it a more compact and intimate feeling than the nearby Langhe that is now mostly covered in vineyards. Its soils are sedimentary, predominantly well-drained marl-sandstone with varying percentages of limestone and clay. The climate is Mediterranean with alpine influences. Heat during the growing season is moderated by frequent fog. Roero sees less than 75 cm of rain annually which, combined with the sloping vineyards and porous soil, results in small grapes with concentrated flavours. The region has the potential to produce elegant Nebbiolo wines that mature earlier than Barolo or Barbaresco. Roero achieved DOCG status in 2006.
The Chiesa family is what one would call ‘established.’ Daniel, David and Renato say jokingly that they are practically newcomers to Roero, but their family have owned their vineyards and farm for well over 350 years. They can assert with authority that only copper and sulphur have ever been used on their vines, which occupy hillside vineyards covering 9 hectares. Their work in the cellar is straightforward and traditional. Their wines stand out for their lack of intervention and manipulation, which shows through in their purity and focus. The Chiesa family is also unique in that theirs is a thriving multigenerational farm engaged in polyculture where everything seems to be in perfect harmony. Production of all red and white wines is just over 4,000 cases and these are mainly sold to local shops and restaurants. Only about 10% is exported, mostly to Germany, Switzerland and United States.
Our Chiesa Carlo Roero Monfrigo DOCG 2013 was grown in clay and sandy soils in a vineyard near Santo Stefano Roero. The vines were planted in 1979 on a 35˚ slope at an elevation 300 meters. The organically grown grapes were handpicked and placed into small crates to avoid premature crushing. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel vats with natural yeasts for four months with 20 days of skin contact. The wine was then aged in old large oak barrels for 2 years before being bottled unfiltered with only a small dose of sulphur added. Ruby red with garnet hues, the nose is warm with baking spice, rose, raspberries and savoury aromas. The pallet is warm and enveloping, with velvety tannins, softer than is typical for Barolo and Barbaresco, and the aftertaste is broad, reminiscent of red berries, cherries and liquorice. This wine is elegant and has a long, satisfying finish, and pairs beautifully with roasted red meats and game, and mature cheeses. Production is a mere 375 cases. My recommendation: serve at 17˚ -18˚ in Bordeaux stems with these really tasty short ribs. Cin Cin!