2016 Monsecco, Nebbiolo “Pratogrande” Colline Novaresi DOC, Alto Piedmonte, Italy.
The Monsecco Pratogrande Nebbiolo 2016 is an elegant vintage and a beautiful wine, its classic Nebbiolo personality and profile unfolding on the medium/full palate is impressive and makes for an exceptional value with pretty floral notes, layers of dark berry fruits, earthy elements, dusty tannins and lifting natural acidity. The hills of the Colline Novaresi are set on ancient glacial moraine with mineral rich veins, from volcanic influence and gravelly stones that give these wines a sense of spice, liquid rock and salinity, which this wine shows, along with Nebbiolo’s late ripening depth of flavor and high elevation freshness. There’s a lot to love in this 2016 edition, it is a vintage to stock up on, it has the complexity and seductive charm of some of the finest Piedmonte years, but without intensely powerful tannins, which are still here, though more subtle and refined, allowing this vintage to be enjoyed in its youth and still having potential to age. Monesecco’s Pratogrande starts with herbs, savory (gamey) elements, raspberry and wilted rose petals before leading to a mouthful of damson plum, mulberry, red currant, kirsch and anise, along with cedar, mint, underbrush and a hint of orange rind. With air the fruit comes alive and sweetens, it gains tremendously as it opens and especially with protein rich foods. This Nebbiolo is an absolutely delicious wine and a killer bargain at under twenty five bucks, fans of the more famous parts of the Langhe, will certainly need to check out these Monsecco offerings, which are very savvy buys.

These Nebbiolo wines of this region, which also go by the local name Spanna in the Alto Piemonte, are characterized by their fresh detail and mineral notes with lovely aromatics that comes from the old vines and the high altitudes. The Colline Novaresi DOC is set on the left bank of the river Sesia, just across the river from the Coste della Sesia Spanna area, home to more prestigious Ghemme DOCG zone, a long time home to fabulous Nebbiolo based wines, that are usually field blends containing some Vespolina, Croatina and Bonarda, two rare local varietals, and not too far away from Gattinara, Boca, Bramaterra, Carema, Fara and Lessona. The Monsecco Pratogrande is exclusively made from 100% Nebbiolo that was hand harvested from vineyards close to, but just outside of the Gattinara and Ghemme zones, all from steep slopes of hillside parcels and was aged two years in large Botte (Slovenian oak casks) and then another year in bottle before release. This wine sees a lighter maceration than the top Gattinara and Ghemme versions in search of purity and grace, that this 2016 delivers to near perfection, it gives plenty of fruit density as well as energy and supple textural opulence. The Zanetta family, the proprietors, here at Monsecco are committed to quality and hand craft wonderfully transparent wines that give a true sense of place, these are all estate and organic (grown) efforts that deserve your attention and are worth searching out, in particular this one, along with their other single varietal wines, including the Vespolina, Croatina and Bonarda (Uva Rara) bottlings, plus as mentioned the top Ghemme and Gattinara(s).
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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