There are more than a dozen wine zones in Piedmont’s Alpine foothills, the DOC zones that run along the border with Valle d’ Aosta and follow the contours of the Alps toward Lake Maggiore, but there is only one of them, Caluso, dedicated to white wines. In a glacial basin around the towns of Caluso and Canavese, the ancient variety Erbaluce (early references date back to 1606!) is made by a handful of producers into a chalky, mineral, crisp dry white, although the thick skin of the grape originally made it popular for passito dessert wines. In the ‘frazione’ of Cuceglio, Massimilano Bianco and GianMarco Viano champion the variety with one of the area’s largest plantings, mind you, still only 15 hectares, oriented south, south-west on morainic soil at 300 – 350 metres. They still have three hectares trained on the ancient Pergola Canavesana, known locally as ‘topia‘ and made from local chestnut where the canes are trained overhead in a criss-cross pattern.
Sea spray, oxidative fino character, cider apple and lemon, light powdery texture, distinct sea-side tang, with a minor floral perfume. It’s a bracing style, but full of character. Not for everyone, perhaps, but interesting. I like it. Tasted: Oct 17; Alcohol: 13%; Price: $33; Closure: Cork; Drink: 2018-2021+; Rated: 90 Points; Gary Walsh; The Wine Front
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