2016 Luigi Ferrando, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “La Torrazza” Northern Piedmonte, Italy.
One of the coolest and best value Italian whites from the Alto Piedmonte, the Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza is full of energy, depth and dry extract, gaining texture and richness (body) with air and time in the glass, making for a remarkable wine from a little know varietal that was close to extinction less than a generation ago. In recent years, Ferrando and Favaro have really shown the quality in this grape and have brought this DOCG into the spotlight and onto the world’s stage, making dry and elegant wines that has a serious nature and mouth feel that rivals some much more expensive regional white wines including some famous places like Burgundy and the Loire Valley. The Erbaluce, an ancient grape that little is know about, but once was thought of as the noble varietal in this northwest part of Italy, finds its home high up in the Canavese district, the lake country in the Alpine foothills north of Torino, it’s a place that has gained attention for Nebbiolo wines lately with wines that are now thought of in the same breath as the fabled Alba and Asti zones, with Ferrando crafting a fine expression of Nebbiolo as well. The La Torrazza is 100% stainless steel fermented and aged to preserve purity and freshness, which shows clearly in this 2016 vintage with its brisk lemony tones and underlying natural acidity delivering layers of peach (like Chenin in some ways), mixed citrus and lime blossoms, minty mountain herbs, acacia honey and steely crispness.
Here in the Canavese, according to Ferrando’s importer, Rosenthal, that northwesterly most area of Piedmont that sits on the western flank of the Alto Piemonte before the transition to the Vallé d’Aosta, Erbaluce produces the sole white wines of this region granted DOCG status, Erbaluce di Caluso, Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante, Erbaluce di Caluso Passito. Adding also that, Historical records show that Erbaluce’s virtues were touted as early as 1606. The name reflects the grassy, hay-like qualities of its flavors and aromas (Erbe … meaning grass or herbs) and its ability to capture and thrive on the light (Luce) from the sun that sweeps across these terraced hillsides in abundance throughout the growing season. The soils here were formed by glaciers (moraine) and are mineral rich, which transmits itself in the wines. Ferrando crafts this wine without malolactic fermentation, and its bottled after eight months on the fine lees, that adds the textural finesse without the use of oak. After time in the glass this light golden Erbaluce adds savory tones, quince tanginess, crushed stones and spicy jasmine. This wine is fabulous with food and especially sea food and soft cheeses and as well as being a fine choice with oysters. There’s a ton of interest in the Piedmonte whites and this Erbaluce is really worth discovering and Ferrando is a great starting point, and this vintage should drink well for another 3 to 5 years easy.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive