April 2017 Selection

Piedmont and Tuscany: real tradition is white!

April 2017 Selection

Orsolani Erbaluce di Caluso La Rustìa 2015 (2 bottles)
Vigneti Massa Derthona 2015 (2 bottles)
La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2012 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £76.49
Club Discount Price: £65.82
You save: £10.67 (13.95%)

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About this selection...

Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. Barolo and Brunello. Not to forget Barbera, Dolcetto, Barbaresco and Chianti... but how important is white wine in Piedmont and Tuscany? Minimal, you might say, given the reputation of the amazing reds that have made these regions famous the world over. But actually, the great Piedmontese and Tuscan winemaking tradition has never neglected the extraordinary native white grapes, which are vestiges of an incredible heritage that, especially in recent years, forward-thinking producers with a close connection to the area's history have begun to take advantage of.

Italian wine lovers are of course aware that Barolo and Brunello are clearly the leading products from Piedmont and Tuscany, but actually, they are only part of recent wine history, from the last century and a half. Whereas the thousands of years tradition of wine in these regions tells the story of incredible mineral whites like Timorasso and blends of Sangiovese and Trebbiano that are used to produce the historical Chianti.

Getting to know Tuscan whites means embarking on a journey through the history of the most historical region of Italy, recalling the traditional vinification techniques from Michelangelo's times and reconstructing the ancient governments of the most suitable varieties of this area. The distinctive Trebbiano and the seductive Malvasia del Chianti and the Vinsanti, the Vermentino, the commanding Vernaccia di San Gimignano, one of the most mineral and enduring whites in Italy.

Piedmont's history is no different. Here, where the Cortese and Arneis provided connoisseurs with modern wines of extraordinary versatility, the noble tradition of theErbaluce, the jewel from Caluso, persists, which is also known for its passita version, and Timorasso, another example of minerality and character, able to withstand decades of refinement.

Brilliant whites from Piedmont and Tuscany: the history of Italian wine is all within your glass!

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Orsolani Erbaluce di Caluso La Rustìa 2015 (2 bottles)

White. Orsolani Erbaluce di Caluso, Italy Erbaluce

Bottle: £8.12 club members / £9.30 non-members


"Alba lux", the light of dawn. This is what the ancients called the vine variety now known as Erbaluce, of Greek origin, but confined to the district of Piedmont of Caluso, in the Canavese area, near Turin. Erbaluce is the native white pearl of upper Piedmont, an exceptionally versatile grape that the Orsolani family has brought to the fore with this Rustìa and the Sulè 'passito', winning a long line of national and International awards. What is the secret of Erbaluce? First of all the terroir: typically gentle Piedmont hills, with excellent exposure, subject to surprisingly regular mild climate throughout the year, but particularly rich in moraine and sandy soils, which imbibe the fruit with a fine and subtle texture, taut and elegant.

But that's not all, of course, because at Orsolani, Erbaluce also means the manual selection of grapes in the vineyard: the riper, better-exposed grapes, of course, the "roasted in the sun" ones, the "rustìe" (roasted chestnuts). And then the aging process which makes La Rustìa a unique wine in its genre: aging is strictly on the lees for six long months in steel containers that funnel Orsolani's 120 years' into a bouquet of extraordinary and resolute complexity.

The luminous, yet gentle, straw-yellow colour of La Rustìa is deceiving though. Behind this thin disguise there is an unexpected olfactory richness. The herbal and vegetable notes, featuring especially in young wines, along with sage and other herbs, give way to fruity fragrances, like yellow grapefruit and fresh pear. But it is the mineral undertone, which the nose doesn't exactly sense yet, that explodes on the palate: an intense, decisive and full-bodied flavour, incredibly well-rounded, with a balanced and imperious richness of refined roundness given by the aging which has just begun, and should take no less than five years from harvest.

  • Alcohol content: 12,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 6ºC and 8ºC

Orsolani Erbaluce di Caluso La Rustìa 2015
Front and back

Vigneti Massa Derthona 2015 (2 bottles)

White. Vigneti Massa Colli Tortonesi, Italy Uva autoctona a bacca bianca

Bottle: £11.98 club members / £13.70 non-members


Walter Massa, the symbol of sophisticated and independent wine growing, but at the same time unique and unconventional, is indisputably the father of the revival of Timorasso. This native variety is from a small plot of land that is historically linked to Milan but now constitutes the southeast part of Piedmont. Enthusiasts of great Italian territorial whites are obviously well versed in the character and personality of Timorasso, a seemingly rough and wiry vine that, in the expert hands of great maestros like Walter Massa, becomes an absolute champion of materiality, minerality and longevity.

The gentle hills of Tortona, 300 meters above sea level on soils of skeleton and structure, are the cradle of this artisanal and agriculturally-aware wine, with its incredible expressiveness and infinite sensory complexity. Derthona, the winery range’s incoming product, is a Timorasso which is exemplary of Walter Massa's philosophy, made up of obsessive selections in the vineyard, aging on the lees, stabilization in steel containers and significant conditioning dictated by variability of the year.

Derthona is, therefore, a truly straightforward and natural wine, which behind its seemingly unassuming appearance of a pale straw-gold colour, is a veritable explosion of sensations, destined to deepen and evolve over the decades. Delicately floral, with pervasive acacia and lime wood, it tastes citrusy and gently fruity when young. But the mineral temperament, which is already in this young Derthona, is the explosive feature that best provides a clue to its future evolution. There is something tense about it, reminiscent of a hydrocarbon, silica, vegetables, and which constitutes the maximum guarantee of longevity of this Derthona.

The taste is simply the prolongation of the olfactory sensations. Pulpy, rich, dense, warm, but also tense, dense, vertical, with an endless freshness and energetic flavour, wiry, irresistible. A prelude to a glorious future. Needless to say, the persistence of almond and citrus is further proof of emotions that were meant to last.

  • Alcohol content: 13,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 8ºC and 10ºC

Vigneti Massa Timorasso Derthona 2015
Front and back

La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2012 (2 bottles)

White. La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Italy Vernaccia, Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia

Bottle: £12.81 club members / £15.25 non-members


In the district of San Gimignano, where the history of Tuscan wine is interwoven and becomes one with the history of the greatest Italian minds, the gentle clay-limestone hills in this charming landscape produce one of the country's most recognisable whites. In San Gimignano, calling a great Vernaccia a "Reserve" means giving aficionados a symphony of emotions that a great white rarely provides. The manual and meticulous selection of individual bunches of grapes in the vineyard is a prelude to careful and fastidious winemaking that even entails barrique partial fermentation of a duration which can be up to a month.

Is this one of those trendy "orange" wines with a contemporary flavour? Quite the contrary: the Vernaccia Reserve has its roots in typical Renaissance winemaking, in which slow, elaborate and extractive fermentation were not the exclusive preserve of full-bodied reds. After all, aging too of this product, including barrique and steel for at least six months, followed by further stabilization in only steel, tells of a wine for long keeps in the cellar, thereby providing unforgettable flavours even fifteen years after harvest.

Brilliantly golden, firm texture, with persistent church windows on the surface of the glass. This is the sensational guise for an incredibly mineral-like soul, which even has prominent flint and hydrocarbon notes with a refined vanilla undertone. Fresh peach and honeydew melon are a counterpoint to this full-bodied complexity. Can a white get any better? Tasting it confirms all this: structured, sharp flavour and cutting freshness, it's a colossal that never tires. The perfect accompaniment (need we emphasize this?) to meat, perhaps sealed by spices to make the pairing both solemn and original at the same time.

Sirloin steak

  • Alcohol content: 13,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 8ºC and 10ºC

La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2012
Front and back

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