2017 Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, Carena Riserva DOC, Alto Piemonte, Italy.
Beautifully pure Nebbiolo, aromatic and slightly earthy on the nose with classic rustic flavors on the medium bodied palate with brandied cherries, dried raspberry, damson plum and tart red currant fruits, along with leather, loam, tarry truffle, rose petal, minty herbs, cedar and anise. This wine opens up nicely, with a fine grained dry tannin structure, becoming smoothly textured, but still fresh and briar spiced, adding savory balsamic elements, making it much better with food than by itself. The Cantina de Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema winery, which I had not had before until sampling this wine, was founded in 1960 by a group of local growers in the region in the northern most growing area of Piemonte in a picturesque mountain valley that has largely gone unnoticed for hundreds of years, even though the wines have been cherished by nobility and even a pope in the distant past, but now has become a hot spot for high quality Nebbiolo. The Alto Piemonte and Alta Langhe is producing some enchanting wines and this regional co-op is a good source to explore some exciting Nebbiolo, these wines are less polished and more authentic than the more well known Langhe area, but can be wonderfully complex and age worthy wines.

The Carema region is between Piedmont and the Aosta Valley and is remote and steep with mostly terraced or pergola trained vineyards, it is a historic wine region that was even noted in wine guides as far back as 1539. The rules changed in 2010, and now Carema DOC and Carema Riserva DOC wines are made exclusively of 100% Nebbiolo grapes, which puts this region alongside Barolo and Barbaresco and unique amounts its closest neighbors that allow a small percentage of ancient and local other varietals. For the Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, Carena Riserva DOC, all hillside vines, the wine was fermented in stainless tank with 100% de-stemmed grapes with a two week or so maceration the extra color and allow for pure aromatics. The Carema Riserva DOC (white label) is aged for a minimum of 3 years, of which, the winery says is done with 18 months in used large oak or chestnut wood barrels, and rested in the cellar for another 18 months before release. The Nebbiolo here, which locals call Picotendro, grows on stony glacial soils with the rocks, which are piled up, holding the suns warmth to help ripen this late ripening grape. I am curious to try more of these wines, especially from top vintages, so I’ll be following Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema and recommend Nebbiolo fans do the same, especially their Carema Riserva DOC and their black label Carema DOC, that is next on my want list, as it what looks like a great value.
($38 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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