Wine Denominations and Grapes
The wines of Alto Piemonte are based on the Nebbiolo grape. Nebbiolo is the greatest indigenous grape of Italy and produces some of the world’s finest wines, including the classic wines of Alto Piemonte: Bramaterra, Boca, Gattinara, Ghemme and Lessona, and Barolo and Barbaresco from the Langhe region two hours south of us. Wines made from Nebbiolo have depth, purity and elegance. When well made Nebbiolo has a haunting, unforgettable perfume. Nebbiolo is very site sensitive and only makes great wine in Piedmont and a small area in neighboring Lombardy.
Our town of Masserano lies within two small appellations of Alto Piemonte: Bramaterra and Costa della Sesia. When a wine is made within the geographic boundaries of these areas and in accordance with the requirements protected by law, the wine may carry these names and the designation Denominazione di Origine Contrallata (DOC), meaning “denomination of controlled origin”. The appearance of the letters DOC on the label are a guarantee of origin, identity and quality.
Bramaterra is our classic wine. Bramaterra is mostly Nebbiolo with the addition of some Croatina, Vespolina or Uva Rara (also called Bonarda), traditional grape varieties blended with Nebbiolo to round out Nebbiolo’s tannins. Bramaterra must have at least two years of age, three for a riserva. It has traditionally produced wines of great depth, perfume, elegance and aging ability. It is one of Italy’s great wines.
Costa della Sesia is the wine from our area which has more flexible blending requirements and may be sold and enjoyed earlier. Costa della Sesia must be at least 50% Nebbiolo and the rest traditional grapes from our area. Although considered the younger sibling of Bramaterra, its flexible requirements allow for more creativity and expression by the winemaker. It has traditionally produced lighter wines with softer tannins and more immediate appeal.
Alto Piemonte has a wine making tradition going back centuries. During this long development the best sites for growing each grape variety were identified, farming methods were refined, and cellar techniques for making the best wine were developed. Over the past thirty years additional experimentation in the Langhe region with Barolo and Barbaresco wines challenged traditional wine making methods in favor of more modern techniques. Now, in the twenty first century, we are the beneficiaries of this accumulated tradition and experimentation in Piedmont, which teaches us that the finest wines are made with natural vineyard management, careful selection of grapes at harvest, and simple winemaking in the cellar.
At Le Cascinette we use naturally occurring yeasts already on the grapes at harvest. We ferment in stainless steel and large oak vats. Our wines will age in large oak casks called botti, which slow down the aging process, impart minimal wood to the wine, and allow the wine to achieve the full and natural expression of the vineyard site and the grape variety. The use of sulfites is kept to a minimum.
Great wine is a natural product born in the vineyard. It should taste delicious, alive, energetic, and evolve in the glass as you drink it. It is our mission to make wines in this natural and simple way which allow our land and grapes to reach their greatest expression.
Top: Almost perfect Nebbiolo grapes from our 2020 harvest of Il Chiose d’Olive vineyard. Above left: We install poles to hold down the cap of newly fermenting grapes. This old method, called steccatura, keeps the solids submerged in the liquid for a gentle extraction of the flavors and nutritional components. Above right: looking inside the fermenting vat.
Classic red wines
Bramaterra. We produce Bramaterra, the classic wine of our denomination.
Costa della Sesia. We also produce three Costa della Sesia wines: a 100% Nebbiolo wine, a light red blend, and a deep rosè called cerasuolo.
Our 100% Nebbiolo wine does not conform to the Bramaterra DOC requirements which require that Bramaterra be blended, so it must be designated Costa della Sesia. We believe our 100% Nebbiolo will rival Bramaterra for depth, perfume, and elegance. It will be our other flagship wine.
These aged wines are meant to be enjoyed on special occasions and as a special occasion. It may be said that these wines are the greatest and deepest expression of this land and its grapes. These wines typically have developed, nuanced, and layered flavors, a higher alcohol content, and may be classified as full-bodied red wines. They typically accompany deeply flavored risottos, meat-based pasta sauces, and roasts. They also pair well with aged cheeses, nuts and nut-based desserts such as hazelnut and rosemary cake.
Lighter red and rosè wines
We produce a lighter red wine that is also expressive of our soil and native grapes and can be enjoyed younger and fresher. Beginning in 2021 we will also produce a cerasuolo rosè. There is much to recommend a light wine that is expressive of its land and grape varieties, can be enjoyed soon after the harvest, and has fresh, directly accessible fruit and minerality. Many of these wines are refreshing and provide immense pleasure. In the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century most wine in Piedmont was consumed this way. Farmers could not wait to age wine: they needed to sell it for revenue and also have it for their daily meals. Today many foods are best enjoyed with lighter wines that enhance the food and dance with it rather than overpower it.
We currently have two vintages that will be bottled as light reds in the spring of 2021.
Mario Delmastro, Gianfranco Negri and Alessandro Negri rack (clarify) a cask of Nebbiolo. Periodic tasting is both a pleasure and a checkup on the progress of the wine.