Cà Dè Santi, Ghemme Piemonte

Read…er…uh…Taste this: “Every bottle of wine is like a book: it has to be read with attention, we must know its author, its setting and when it has been written. From it we will learn an history always different and always having reference to a territory, to the vineyards and to the culture of the men that have produced it.”

That is the motto of this classic old school estate nestled in the remains of an 11th century abbey in the Novara hills north and east of Barolo & Barbaresco. Not that long ago THIS was the most sought after and expensive wine zona in Piemonte. These wines from cooler climes and different terroirs project a slightly lighter but more precocious style than Langhe wines with pronounced bouquets of wild berries and violets instead of tar and roses plus they have less ferocious tannins in their youth. Brits and other fans of old school reds will delight in these bottlings.

Cà Dè Santi Vespolina 2008, Piemonte

So…what the hell is Vespolina? It‘s a very traditional, very local variety grown in the vineyards of and drunk by the makers of great Gattinara & Ghemme (and visiting Brits in the know). Why haven’t you seen one before? You could say it is the beautiful and enchanted daughter whom they packed off to the convent so the whole town wouldn’t be fighting over her. She smells like violets, spices and ripe black cherries, is medium bodied, hauntingly delicious…and is almost too easy (to drink! get your mind out of the gutter!). Serve with antipasti, beautiful SoCal weather and friends. Salud!


Cà Dè Santi Fara 2006, Piemonte

Let’s play “Stump the Wine Geek”! With only 22 hectares in cultivation, DOC Fara wines don’t get outside of Europe much. We fell in love with this one and HAD to bring it to you. This blend of Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Bonarda is medium bodied, spent three years in neutral oak and then two more in bottle,  tastes a good bit older than it is and your Biggu$ Bucku$ wine collecting Brother in Law just might call it as a classic older Barolo…


Cà Dè Santi Sizzano 2004, Piemonte

This is a DOC just South of Lago Maggiore that you might get served with fresh grilled fish if George Clooney ever invites you to his lake house. Failing that, it’s just plain yummy with any lighter but well seasoned dish from Chinese take out to a nice Pork Loin rolled in herbs. Made with 50% Nebbiolo for gravitas but 30% Bonarda and 20% Vespolina for frivolity and fun, this is the perfect solution to a lot of questions.


Cà dè Santi Ghemme 2004, Piemonte  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

This bottling (90% Nebbiolo, 5% each Bonarda & Vespolina) is an outstanding introduction to a great but often overlooked zona if you are new to it. It tastes older than it is and is a great value as well.


Cà Dè Santi Gattinara 2004, Piemonte  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

100% Nebbiolo selected by hand, fermented on the skins for two weeks then mellowed for three years in neutral oak and another year in bottle. Net result: a gorgeous, medium bodied wine with perfume of violets  and spices, a soft mouthfeel and a firm dry finish. It’s looking for long, slow cooked meats, games, ripe cheeses, good friends and a long night of conversation. Don’t disappoint it…



Battagliano Nebbiolo d’Alba 2009, Piemonte Italy  

Battagliano Nebbiolo d’Alba Colla 2008, Piemonte Italy  

Fabrizio’s wines compete VERY well with the Barolo producers a stones throw away whose wines cost at least 50% more. Try a bottle and see why they were such a big hit at our Nebbiolo-Palooza tasting.


Terre da Vino, Barolo, Piemonte

These guys were our find of the year at VinItaly 2009: a modern cooperative cantina in the heart of the Barolo zona with 2800 small growers tending 5096 hectares to chose from but dedicated to quality AND value for money!

Terre da Vino Grignolino d’Asti Paradis 2008, Piemonte

Our notes from VinItaly: “Yeah Baybeeeee! Fresh, fresh, fresh and so drinkable. Perfect color (it’s either a light red or a dark Rosato) and nice packaging, this will KILL with Asian / Mexican food….grab it!”. Serve chilled with spicy foods or fish dishes on warmer days, at cool room temp with pork, chicken or lighter meats on cooler days.


Terre da Vino Dolcetto d’Alba 2007, Piemonte  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Bright and fresh with great red berry flavors, excellent pasta / pizza / burgers plonk.


Terre da Vino Barbera d’Alba 2008, Piemonte  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Our notes from VinItaly: “Lush and smooth with deep plummy fruit…bring it on!”.


Terre da Vino Nebbiolo d’Alba 2009, Piemonte

Terre da Vino Barbaresco 2008, Piemonte

Terre da Vino Barolo 2008, Piemonte

Classic! Tar and roses, good structure and acidity for hearty foods, soft enough to drink now.


Terre da Vino Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco Dolce, Piemonte

Our notes from VinItaly: “Sex on wheels! So fragrant and fun you could drink a whole bottle. Ali will go crazy with this in Hawaii and we need an endless supply here in Santa Monica too.” This is RED Malvasia with a wondrous nose of ripe red berries and rose petals, just a touch of sweetness, full pressure fizz but just 6.5% ABV.


Cascina Corte, Dogliani

This estate is nearly something out of a storybook: a small, organically farmed vineyard perched far above the fog line in the village of Dogliani where Dolcetto is not only King, it has earned its own DOCG due to the intensity of dark fruit and strong underpinning of minerallity achieved here. In addition, they have a small, romantic Bed & Breakfast you simply MUST visit if you are ever in the zona. Their wines start at wondrous and then step it up several notches to “Oh! My! GAWD! How do they do that with Dolcetto?”:

Cascina Corte Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010, Piemonte

Cascina Corte Dogliani Pirochetta Vecchie Vigne 2009, Piemonte


Azienda Agricola Cà Nova, Bogogno, Piemonte

This is a young but fantastically dedicated estate in northeastern Piemonte not far from Lago Maggiore founded in 1996 by the lovely and very passionate Giada Codecasa with able assistance from famed Oenologist Gianluca Scaglione. This cantina is destined to be a major star with their Ghemme (the traditional Nebbiolo Serioso of this zona) but is also making a delicious white from Erbaluce which is already a hit here as well as an intensely flavored Rosato di Nebbiolo.

Cà Nova Ghemme 2004, Piemonte 

The classic Nebbiolo based DOCG wines of the Novara hills differ from Barolo and Barbaresco in that they come from cooler climes and different terroirs which result in a slightly lighter but more precocious style with pronounced bouquets of wild berries and violets instead of tar and roses and less ferocious tannins in their youth. They mature earlier (four to twelve years from the vintage is a good drinking window) and cost less as well. This is an outstanding introduction to the zona if you are new to them. VERY limited!


Cà Nova Nebbiolo Bocciòlo 2006, Colline Novarese

The precocious little brother of the Ghemme, this has a really pretty rose petal & smoke nose leading to much deeper fruit than you expect from the color. Classic Nebbiolo you can drink now (fantastic with any grilled meats or mushroomcentric dishes) while you cellar the Ghemme for a special occasion.


Azienda Agricola Attilio Ghisolfi 

di Gianmarco Ghisolfi, Monforte d’Alba Piemonte

After three generations of his family selling off their grapes, Gianmarco Ghisolfi founded cantina Ghisolfi and started selling his own wine in the great 1989 vintage. With grapes drawn from the prestigious Bussia zona of Barolo’s most famous village, Monforte d’Alba, where he tends 5.5 hectares of vines and produces about 2500 cases of wine, he had a serious head start. Deftly dancing on the fence that divides old and new schools of thought on what Barolo should be, his results are, in a word, DELICIOUS.

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo 2004, Piemonte  375ml

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bricco Visette 1999, Piemonte Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Two outstanding Baroli from classic vintages and the Bricco Visette is a library release that you can actually open now and get an idea of its true potential.


Attilio Ghisolfi Langhe Pinot Nero Pinay 2007, Piemonte

Intrigued by the constant comparisons of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir for their ability to be direct lenses into the soil and reflect terroir, Gianmarco planted a small plot of Pinot Noir in the middle of one of his Barolo plots to see what happened. The result? Soft, smooth and perfumed like Pinot but with an unmistakable stamp of locality.


Cascina Ballarin, La Morra, Piemonte

Gianni and Giorgio Viberti are soft spoken guys, real wine GROWERS who let their sections of some of Barolo’s best sites speak for themselves:

Cascina Ballarin Barolo Tre Ciabot 2004, Piemonte

Cascina Ballarin Barolo Bricco Rocca 1999, Piemonte

Cascina Ballarin Barolo Bussia 2004, Piemonte


Cantina del Glicine, Nieve, Piemonte

Adriana Marzi and her husband Roberto Bruno operate a tiny mom and pop cantina out of a 17th century house in the center of the capital of Barbaresco, Nieve. Nicer folks you will never meet and the wines are outstanding in both quality and fidelity to local traditions. Enjoy!

Cantina del Glicine Barbaresco Marcorino 2004, Piemonte

Cantina del Glicine Barbaresco Curà 2005, Piemonte


Tenuta Il Falchetto, S. Stefano Belbo, Piemonte

The wines of I Fratelli Fabulosi Forno (The Fabulous Forno Brothers!) have been big hits here since we opened the doors in ‘93 and we are overjoyed every time we unload a  new batch of their fabulously food (and wallet!) friendly wines for your enjoyment:

Il Falchetto Dolcetto d’Alba Soulì Bröida 2011, Piemonte

Colloquial Italian for Wine Lovers: “Soulì Bröida” is Piemontese dialect for “a big zesty smuckery fruit bomb (but with NO oak) that will put a smile on EVERYONE’S face”. Really!!! The 2011 has really powerful, dark fruit and spices galore, Giorgio is just out of his mind about the vintage.


Il Falchetto Barbera d’Asti Vigneto Scorrone 2011, Piemonte  

“Yo! Mario….gimme some vino oveh heah already!”  “Relax Vinnie, we just opened the new vintage….let it breath a minute will ya!” Fresh off the boat (but WITH papers!), this is the latest rendition of this bright, zesty and  deeply colored classic, just the sort of wine Piemontese folks have with their everyday meals (not fancy Barolo). From Gnocchi con Funghi to a filet of Piemontese beef grilled rare to a Domino’s Meat Lovers Pizza, this works. The boys DO make an outstanding line of more serious Barbera:


Il Falchetto Barbera d’Asti Superiore Lurëi 2010, Piemonte  

If you like Merlot, you’ll love this big, full bodied Barbera. Yes, this wine is richer, fatter, lusher and just plain more bodaciously fun than most any Merlot, prompting one taster to call call it: “Plum Jello in a Glass”. OUR notes from VinItaly 2012: “Oh my GAWD: huge mouthfeel, incredibly deep plum, dark berry and meat flavors. More Please! Black fruit, coffee and spice on the nose and palate, huge presence in the mouth but enough acidity to keep it all in line and play well with food. Double down on this one!”


Il Falchetto Brachetto d’Aqui 2009, Piemonte  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Brachetto is: 1) Perhaps the most delicious thing you’ll swallow this week. 2) Red (well dark pink actually), slightly sparkling wine with a bouquet of fresh strawberries that’s almost too easy to drink (so you had better get two to prepare). 3) A pretty darn good reason for living, come to think of it. 4) Wonderful with prosciutto e melone, fruit & cheese or just good company on a sunny afternoon. 5) One of the best seduction tools ever devised. Psych! Trick question, it’sall of the above!!!


Azienda Agricola Fontanabianca, Neive, Piemonte

Aldo Pola and Bruno Ferro meticulously tend 14 hectares of vineyards then mostly stay out of the way to let Mother Nature write beautiful poetry in the fabulous dialect of the Langhe. The wines perfectly reflect the different personalities of each vineyard and vintage without being manipulated to produce a house style or to please the palate of critics. And the owners are VERY nice people as well…

Fontanabianca Barbaresco Sori Burdin 2004, Piemonte

The back labels of these wines say they were perfectly eSposed to (betrothed? married to??) the sun. We know they meant to say eXposed but somehow they stumbled on to a higher truth in the translation.


Azienda Agricola Riofava, Barolo, Piemonte

This is Sergio Gomba’s new boutique label for ultra small bottlings of Piemontese classics from his perfectly situated vineyards in Santa Vittoria d’Alba and Barolo. We love them and we are sure you will too. Sergio’s wines came and went so fast last year that we never even got them in our weekly e-mail Hot List let alone up on the web like this. These are the real deal: traditionally vinified old vine Nebbiolo drawn from prime crus set on the steep hillsides of one of Barolo’s best sites (called “sorì della sera” as they face due southwest into the evening sun). They are good values for what they are and won’t last long this time either. Last time around, a customer who had tasted a bottle snatched a case a while later while noting “Man, I couldn’t get that wine out of my SOUL for a week…”.

Riofava Barolo  2003, Piemonte

Riofava Barolo  2004, Piemonte

This wine is made from the vines growing 350-400 meters above sea level on the Boschetti hill overlooking the town of Barolo and its historic castle. The grape bunches are manually harvested and subjected to a vigorous selection process. The must soaks on the skins for nine days before a cool fermentation, then sees a year in large oak casks and an additional year in bottle before release. It has an intense bouquet of licorice and rose petals, medium body and a long, smooth, enchanting finish. Coming from this very warm and precocious vintage, the 2003 is actually quite drinkable now while the more classic 2004 will repay cellaring with interest.


Rio Fava Barolo Surì 2003, Piemonte

Rio Fava Barolo Surì 2004, Piemonte

This bottling is sourced from the very top rows of the Boschetti cru at 400 meters above sea level where the vines are growing in blue marl and yellow sand. Meticulous sorting allows only the very best fruit to reach the crusher. The vinification is the same as the Boschetti but with an additional six months bottle aging before release. The result is a rich and complex constellation of flavors and aromas sure to bring you back for more: Rose Petal, Anise, Wild Blackberries, Tar and Smoke, Meat and Earth are just the beginning of the nuances of this gorgeous wine.


Nada Fiorenzo, Trieso, Piemonte

Vignerons since 1921, the wines of this family were sold in bulk until Fiorenzo’s son Bruno convinced him to estate bottle in 1982. They have since become superstars of the Langhe. These are extremely intense and we often joke with Bruno that, instead of the verse on the label that poetically speaks of their wines tinting the moon with each passing day, they should just cut to the chase and change it to “don’t be afraid of the dark”!

Nada Fiorenzo Dolcetto d’Alba 2009, Piemonte

When we asked Bruno what he drank at home he just smiled and poured us a glass of this. Textbook Dolcetto: bursting with blueberry fruit and a nice spicy  nose just begging for hearty foods.


Nada Fiorenzo Barbera d’Alba 2008, Piemonte

Seriously muscular, needs to find some nice sausages and settle down…


Nada Fiorenzo Langhe Nebbiolo 2008, Piemonte

Drawn from the choice Rombone and Manzola vineyards, this is deeeeeeeply flavored with the classic notes of road tar and dried rose petals on top of lush black fruit, coffee, anise and earth notes. Perhaps the most nuanced dance betwixt traditional and more modern stylings we have ever tasted.


Nada Fiorenzo Barbaresco  2003, Piemonte

Nada Fiorenzo Barbaresco Rombone 2004, Piemonte

More structured than the normale Barbaresco , Rombone needs some combination of the following: long aging, extended decanting or some really big food (think Lamb, Venison, Duck, Elk, or, better yet, a mixed grill of the above). VERY, VERY limited, worth it.


Nada Fiorenzo Langhe Rosso Seifile 2007, Piemonte

Seifile??? It means “six rows”, the best six rows in Bruno’s Barbaresco vineyard, planted to Barbera and Nebbiolo. This is such a good deal for what it is that you should really get at least two so you can experience one in its exuberant youth and put the other one away for five to ten years to serve with roast duck, venison, lamb or other rich meats, grilled eggplant, sautéed portobellos, polenta con tartufi…you get the idea. Very, Very, Very Limited!