Sella Estate to toast Unification of Italy
Here I am as promised, with the second high-level experience in Piedmont a few weeks ago. We visited the Sella Estate, the main Lessona DOC producer in Upper Piedmont, where Nebbiolo (the Spanna type) resembles a mountain climber, thin and with tensed muscles. It is no coincidence that it is often blended with Vespolina to give it roundness and a fleeting pepper note.
The Sella family is, as the saying goes, native.
Their ancestors have owned land here since the seventeenth century and they already started to expand in 1850 by buying property in Bramaterra, the neighbouring designation. We are in the province of Biella, in Upper Piedmont, between the paddy fields and Monte Rosa, which dominates the heroic landscape, like these rare wines with such low production that sometimes it is difficult to understand how the vigneron can make a profit. We would also like to mention Carema wine, at the entrance of the Valle d’Aosta, and Boca wine. All to be rediscovered.
Now the Sella Estate, managed by Marco Rizzetti, has a great project to recover some of the most suitable vinegrowing areas in Upper Piedmont. Here, between morainic-volcanic and marine-sandy soils, you can find all the great variety of expressions of Nebbiolo.
The currently-expanding Winery is renewing its vineyards in collaboration with Professor Cesare Intrieri, one of the leading viticulture experts in Italy. This year 800 quintals of grapes were harvested, which might possibly make 80 thousand bottles. The yield is too low and, contrary to what is often said, an excessively low quantity does not always mean high quality. It all depends on the canopy-fruit balance.
Today, average yield is 35 quintals per hectare. It is unsustainable from every point of view, this is why renewal has been started. For 45 years the Sella family were the only producers: Lessona could have been considered a monopoly. In all probability, the minister Quintino Sella, a leading politician, toasted to the Unification of Italy with this wine (certainly not a DOC then). Even at that time, it seems to have been a very sought after wine.
Now there are six producers. So, not many more than before. And the Sella family have started to look for hidden treasure in their area. Their contribution is fundamental, otherwise an enormous historical-vinegrowing heritage would be lost.
At the end of the tour we tasted the estate’s wines and, if you happen to be passing in this area at the foot of the Alps, we recommend not missing Lessona DOC 2009, Bramaterra DOC 2010 and the excellent Omaggio a Quintino Sella Lessona DOC 2007, intense aromas of violet and strawberry, slight notes of toastiness and dark jam, complex and lingering on the palate.
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