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Cascina Preziosa's Il More: northern Piedmont's Vespolina revisited

by Claudio Celio

The Vespolina variety has long lived in the shadow of Piedmont’s more famous grapes.

A native of the region’s north, it has always featured in the blend of such well-known DOCs as Gattinara and Bramaterra, while experiments with pure varietals had hitherto been truly few and far between. Lately, however, largely thanks to the rediscovery of the grapes and wines of northern Piedmont, Vespolina is getting its share of attention and attempts to upgrade its reputation are becoming increasingly frequent.

Several growers have started vinifying 100% Vespolina varietals, and results have not been long in coming.

Cascina Preziosa is one of the wineries that’s chosen to invest in this grape, planting one hectare (a little under 2.5 acres) wholly with Vespolina, which now yields some 2,000 bottles a year.

“Our philosophy is producing little and well,” says owner Gianni Selva Bonino, who deliberately passes up the chance to increase quantities so he can have more time to closely follow every phase from vineyard to bottle. “For instance I'm entirely in charge of pruning: at this stage, I don’t feel comfortable delegating such a crucial activity to anyone else.”

Il More is a pure Vespolina varietal from natural fermentation with indigenous yeasts lasting 19 days, subsequently left to macerate on the skins. It is fine-tuned in medium-toasted, oval oak barrels, 1,500 liters in size, for 12 months, followed by 6 months’ bottle age.

The ensuing wine is firm-textured yet anything but heavy. The 2015 vintage shows well-knit structure combined with elegance. The wine is young and tannins are still rather rough around the edges: a little more time in the cellar is needed for it to mellow out, and you can tell there is room for growth.

The bouquet shows predominantly spicy notes – an intense nuance of white pepper in particular – while the fruit component tends to recall various shades of blueberry. On the palate, the wine is lively, focused and consistent. The wood is well integrated and does not overwhelm the intensity of a tasting experience that’s rich while never palling, also thanks to a fresh acidity that sustains quaffability.

It was rather a shame, perhaps, to open the bottle so young, as time would have allowed this vintage to evolve beautifully: it’s surely a cellar-worthy example, and a fine pairing with rich, rather fatty meat dishes.