2013 Nervi, Gattinara DOCG, Vigna Valferana, Alta Langhe, Piedmonte, Italy.
The rusticly classic flavored and garnet/orange/brickish hued Nervi Vigna Valferana Gattinara is pure savory Nebbiolo goodness in the glass that engages the medium bodied palate the same way a perfectly matured Burgundy does with a sense of old world charm and silken layers of red fruits, dried flowers, mineral notes and earthy elements. This Nebbiolo from Gattinara’s oldest winery, founded in 1906 by Luigi Nervi and recently bought and run by Robert Conterno who is part of the famous Barolo family, comes from vines in the Vercelli hills on the west bank of the Sesia River and Novara hills, rivals many top names in the well known Barolo. Gattinara is a high quality DOCG zone in the northern reaches of Piedmonte, with a long history of wine growing and has become hotspot in recent with outstanding wines and vintages in this region, which needs to be about 90% Nebbiolo (or Spanna, as the locals call it) along with tiny amounts of Barbera and Vespolina being allowed in the DOCG wines. The 2013 vintage was a nice and ripe year, making for wines that are surprisingly easy to drink in their youth with satiny smooth tannins and good depth and density, which this Nervi shows with distinction, bringing a huge grin to my face and it should please Nebbiolo enthusiasts everywhere. The Nervi Gattinara offers up a leathery and woodsy nose with delicate florals and wild berries to start before a core of cherry, plum and strawberry comes into focus in mouth, as well as anise, cedar, minty herbs, umami, sous bois or sanguine (iron) notes and macerated rose petals. This wine took a little while to open up, but it proved fantastically rewarding, it really deserves a three to four course meal to get all of its complexity and lengthy finish.

The Nervi Gattinara, sourced from all estate organic vines, in the Valferana cru, saw a gentle crush with 100% de-stemmed Nebbiolo grapes with 15 day maceration and fermentation in stainless steel vats with temperature control. After which the wine was racked to oak casks to complete malolactic conversion where it was aged for about three years barrels. The winery focuses on three Gattinara bottlings including a basic normale Gattinara DOCG, the Gattinara Molsino and this brilliant Gattinara Valferana. These single-vineyard Gattinara offerings contain the best fruit from Nervi’s vineyards and show each site’s sense of place, plus it should be noted that these single parcel efforts are only done in the best years, which shows the commitment to only release the highest quality examples possible. While I’ve only had limited experience with these Nervi wines, now Nervi-Conterno, I have always been highly impressed with the ones I have tasted, and this 2013 Vigna Valferana with its balanced structure and persistence made for a remarkable evening and I’ll be in search of more, as well as the current 2016 version. Conterno’s influence here will only bring great things to these Nervi Nebbiolo(s) and while the price per bottle has gone up, they still are reasonable for what you get. These northern Piedmonte communes, including Gattinara, Gheme, Lessona, Bramaterra and Boca, with Le Piene being a winery in particular to check out, are well worth discovering and exploring with a real jump in quality being very noticeable in the last 15 years or so. The Nervi, I’ll add, got even better on day two, revealing even more textural pleasure and perfume, filling out completely, which leads me to believe it will age gracefully for many more years!
($49 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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