2021 Chiussuma, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Pajarin” Alto Piemonte, Italy.
The Chiussuma Erbaluce di Caluso “Pajarin” by Matteo Ravera Chion, a winery and winemaker I’ve not tried before, was fermented and aged exclusively in steel, after which it was rested for about a year in the bottle, that all allows this beautiful dry white to be expressive and transparent. Even without oak aging, there is a round and textural, leesy, mouth feel, while staying vibrant, minerally and crisply focused showing off white peach, quince, melon and racy citrus fruits, as well as hints of hazelnut, dry straw, wet flinty stones, tangy herbs, white flowers and saline notes. As this wine, grown on sandy glacial morainic soils, opens, it takes on a presence on the medium bodied palate that is not dissimilar to white Burgundy meets Muscadet, but unique to its self and making for a very distinctive wine, proving why this rare varietal is gaining fans in the wine world. Like some other Piemonte white grapes, Erbaluce was close to extinction less than a generation ago, but now enjoys an enthusiast following, and we are lucky to have the wines made from this grape available to us in the States, and I recommend searching for this alternative white, with this golden Chiussuma Pajarin being a super place to start.

Erbaluce, an indigenous grape, with a long history in the region, dating back at least to the 1600’s, when it was documented in print, was recently given full DOCG status, due to the quality of the varietal in the area known as Erbaluce di Caluso in northern Piemonte. I’ve been following this grape for close to a decade, even if I’ve not had this Chiussuma Erbaluce di Caluso before, I’ve really enjoyed wines of Camillo Favaro and the most famous Erbaluce by Ferrando, a winery that was instrumental in reviving this grape’s fortune and years of being nothing more than an obscure curiosity and almost never seen outside of northern Italy. Matteo Ravera Chion’s version of Erbaluce is a real gem and is sublime food wine, it should please especially with sea foods and was great with raw oysters, when I had it recently, but has enough depth to handle an array of cuisine choices. Found almost exclusively in the Canavese area, the Alpine like northwesterly most part of Piedmont, sitting 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 that has DOCG status, with Erbaluce di Caluso, as seen here, as well as the sparkling Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante and the sweet Erbaluce di Caluso Passito.
($34 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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