From: Alto Piemonte, Italy
Varietal: Uva Rara
Taste: This sleek Italian red is all about charm and easy-drinking. It flaunts a pale ruby color, exuding fine elegance with a nose dominated by raspberry, currant, and red cherry notes, sprinkled with hints of rose, violet, and spices. The palate mirrors this elegance, presenting a sapid, medium-bodied wine with medium persistence.
Pairing: Enjoy this red wine with medium-cured salami, youthful cheeses, roasted poultry, BBQ, pastas, and Asian cuisine that incorporates Chinese Five Spice, fermented black bean, and/or dishes that includes umami-laden flavors (see below for recipe). Some sauce examples that add umami are soy or oyster sauce (ps Amino Sauce is an organic, vegan, gluten-free alternative to Soy Sauce), fish sauce, and Worcester sauce. This easy-to-drink, youthful wine will delight with its lively character, offering a delightful accompaniment to a variety of light-to-medium dishes.
By Sam Sifton
About. Tucked away in the hilly landscapes of Alto Piemonte, amidst vistas of profound beauty, lies the heart of Francesco Brigatti’s vineyards, a family-run estate that stands as a testament to generations of dedication to viticulture. The journey begins in the early 1900s, with Alessandro Brigatti, Francesco’s grandfather, who envisaged the first chapter of the estate’s history. Today, Francesco carries on this noble legacy, nurturing the indigenous Uva Rara variety (among other indigenous varietals from the area), the protagonist in their 'Selvalunga' Colline Novaresi.
The Beginning of a Legacy
Alessandro Brigatti’s venture into winemaking was driven by his deep-rooted passion for wine. His quest for an ideal vineyard led him to a south-facing, gently rolling hill, MötZiflon. A spot rich in clay soil and considered one of the finest in the Colline Novaresi DOC. Here, Alessandro planted the Nebbiolo, Vespolina, and Uva Rara vines, the three quintessential red grape varietals of the region. Thus was born Mötziflon, the estate’s flagship wine named after the vineyard itself, often referred to as the 'Robin hill'.
In the late 1950s, Alessandro's son, Luciano, took over the helm, leaving his job as an accountant to devote his energies entirely to the vineyard. His efforts revolutionized the estate through innovative practices like green harvesting and the introduction of novel aging and bottling techniques.
The third-generation steward, Francesco Brigatti, an enologist and agronomist, took the reins in 1995, maintaining the family-run approach to ensure uncompromising quality. Today, he manages 15 acres of vineyards, producing an annual yield of 30,000 bottles, following Integrated Pest Management practices in alignment with his vision of sustainable agriculture.
The Cradle of Selvalunga
The Colline Novaresi, a part of the picturesque Alto Piemonte, is steeped in history, culture, and traditions. The region’s unique climatic conditions and rich soils form the ideal backdrop for cultivating noble and remarkably elegant wines. The Uva Rara for Selvalunga thrives in this land, particularly on glacial-origin hills rich in Loam and relatively acidic, fluvial alluvial sediments.
Francesco Brigatti, with his experience as an agronomist, ensures that the vineyards, with vines averaging 30 years of age, produce optimum yields. The 1,600 vines per acre are meticulously cared for, resulting in a yield of 3,200 Kg per acre.
The Crafting of Selvalunga
The vineyards, located at an altitude of 250-320 meters and Southwest-facing, host clay typical soil, ensuring an excellent terroir for the Uva Rara. Harvesting is usually carried out towards the end of September, with the grapes undergoing five days of maceration and fermentation at controlled low temperatures in stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts. The Selvalunga then matures for six months in stainless steel, untouched by fining, filtration, or cold stabilization, before it graces your glass.
The Uva Rara Experience
Uva Rara is an indigenous grape variety whose name, translating to 'rare grape', alludes to its characteristically sparse clusters. Its previous misidentification with Bonarda (see below) highlights the intriguing subtleties of wine grape varietals. The Uva Rara wine strikes a chord with its medium body and aromatic fragrance, taking you on a sensorial journey through notes of roses and berries.
Uva Rara vs. Bonarda: What’s the Difference?
Uva Rara is known as Bonarda Novarese because it’s widely planted in the Novara hills. It’s also called Bonarda di Cavaglià, after a town in Piedmont. Confusingly, there are several other grapes known as Bonarda:
Croatina: The only DOC-recognized Bonarda wine is Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda, made with Croatina grapes.
Uva Rara: Widely grown in southwest Italy, this grape is sometimes known as Bonarda Novarese.
Bonarda Piemontese: Phylloxera pests virtually extinguished this aromatic grape from Piemonte in the nineteenth century.
Charbano: This wine is known as Bonarda in Argentina, where it is the second-most planted grape after Malbec. Charbano is unrelated to any of the Italian grapes known as Bonarda.
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