Tenute Sella and the encyclopaedia of terroirs
Northern Piedmont is capable of creating elegant and complex expressions of Nebbiolo > The historic family of entrepreneurs that has been active in vinegrowing and winemaking for centuries, has now become the mouthpiece for the spirit of rebirth of a territory that is still unknown: especially Lessona and Bramaterra
Sella Family, a history start in the eighteenth century
Far from the areas and “structural generosity” of Barolo, there is a territory where Nebbiolo reveals a more delicate and gentle soul, giving rise to fresh, elegant products with great aromatic potential. We are talking about Upper Piedmont and, in particular, the province of Biella, where the Sella family (who made textile and banking history here) has its wine estates. Founded in 1671 and already bottling at the start of the eighteenth century for the main European courts, the Sella Estates are a historic reference point for local winemaking. “In fact we have been the only producers in the area for forty years,” explains Marco Rizzetti, CEO of the winery and part of the Sella family on his mother’s side. The first vineyard was bought in Lessona and others soon followed, always in the same area. In the middle of the nineteenth century the family started buying land in the Bramaterra area, to eventually reach the current 17 hectares of vineyards. About 7 of these are in Lessona and are extremely fragmented and on sandy soil, whereas the other 10 hectares in Bramaterra are all together and on porphyry soil. “Our Estates have a veritable encyclopaedia of terroirs at their disposal, which is reflected in the specific peculiarities of the wines,” says Marco Rizzetti. The land in Lessona, in fact, is essentially made up of Pliocene sands from marine sediments, whereas there are deposits of marine sands with fossil shells on the valley floors. The Bramaterra soils are made up of red volcanic porphyry, with marine sands and clay.
An extraordinary place where the highestquality grapes are grown
“Every harvest,” explains the winemaker Paolo Benassi, who has taken over production in the past two years, “the wines bring back the exciting challenge between the sands and the porphyries of the Biella area, where Nebbiolo (locally called Spanna) is combined with small amounts of Croatina and Vespolina, which add more spicy notes to the glass. Vespolina, in particular, is as spicy, with pepper notes, as the climate in which it grows is cool.” The grapes are vinified in the cellar which, as it happens, is inside the rooms of a former silk factory. And here a range of wines is created which includes, on the one hand, the Lessona DOC, the selection San Sebastiano allo Zoppo and the signature wine Omaggio a Quintino Sella; on the other hand, the Bramaterra DOC and the selection I Porfidi recall the soil composition they come from. Omaggio a Quintino Sella is the winery’s flagship wine: 85% Spanna and 15% Vespolina from the highest part of Vigna Castello, where the highestquality grapes are grown and where the vine is said to have been present since the fifteenth century. The family of Quintino Sella, great statesman from Piedmont, wanted to dedicate a Lessona DOC wine to him, because he is said to have toasted the Unity of Italy with this very wine. But in the winery’s range there are also the Coste della Sesia DOC reds, Casteltorto and Orbello (this latter, as well as the classic grape blend of Nebbiolo, Croatina and Vespolina, also includes Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon), Nebbiolo rosato Majoli rosé and Erbaluce Doranda.
Tenute Sella follows a style of winemaking guided by the principle of a classical nature
Tradition allows the wines to express themselves naturally and technology in the cellar aims to enhance the characteristics of the grapes and terroirs of origin. The fermentation, maceration and ageing of Nebbiolo-based wines is done in large oak barrels. Production is around 80-90 thousand bottles per year, two thirds goes to the local market. For this reason, and also due to the entrepreneurial spirit that has distinguished the Sella family for generations, in recent years decisive steps have been taken to increase production while maintaining a firm hold on quality. “The idea is to reach 300 thousand bottles,” Rizzetti confides to us. “We have a project to recover old abandoned vineyards in other areas of Upper Piedmont, such as the suitable areas between Carema and Boca. In the province of Biella we are buying some vineyards in the Mesola area (Brusnengo) and Masserano. Next year we are going to plant 4 hectares in Cerreto Castello, in a particularly suitable cru for growing grapes for 100% Nebbiolo wines for laying down.” Also in the vineyards, the Tenute Sella have started research on Nebbiolo with Professor Cesare Intrieri from the University of Bologna. The aim is to bring balance to the production of each plant through a correct system of (long) pruning and targeted defoliation, which puts the canopy at the service of the bunches.
(Photo ©Andrea Guermani)
via IV novembre 128 Lessona (Biella)
+39 (015) 99455
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