Episode 119: Albarossa Grape Gab and May Wine in July
This month’s Grape Gab is all about Albarossa. We were fortunate to have a conversation earlier this month with Andrea Costa from the Marenco family winery in Piemonte, Italy. He was one of the first handful of producers to experiment with it, and he generously shares some of his experiences with us. We also tried a traditional May Wine – in July, because that’s how we roll – and have shoutouts and announcements to wrap up this week’s fun.
It’s a midsummer day’s grape gab dream but we weren’t going to be doing all of the gabbing. Andrea Costa from Marenco in Piemonte was kind enough to spend some Skype time a couple weeks ago laying down some Albarossa 411 for us!
While we don’t have the Albarossa in our glasses, we do have a special treat.
Our Millennial Moment with Andrew back in Episode 111 revealed a wine that neither Val nor I had experienced. Well, Andrew sent us some Maiwein (May Wine) and we’re trying it together.
In July. Because that’s how we roll. In the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. Lay it on us Steph, talk about the May Wine! That’s right, #ItsNotMayAndWeDontCare!
In Our Glasses:
NV May Wine blended and bottled by Glunz Family Winery & Cellars in Grayslake, Illinois. The white wine is from California (Paso Robles) and then Glunz Family flavors (aromatizes) the wine with an herb called woodruff.
The Glunz family is originally from Germany and first arrived in Chicago in the late 1800’s. Today, the winery is still owned and operated by the Glunz family but now located in Paso Robles. The family continues to bottle wine out of their Grayslake location in Illinois too. You can also find fortified wines, Sangria, and Glögg made by Glunz.
A side note: Val was particularly impressed by the “Gene’s Sausage” tag on the bottle which elicited dreams of sausage stores where one could gather life’s tasty pleasures in the same shopping basket – something Colorado is slow to get on board with.
She was further inspired to google this gastronomic meat Mecca … and immediately started drooling. There may be online salami orders in her future. Meanwhile…
Main Discussion + Factoid: Grape Gab Albarossa
The Albarossa grape isn’t new. In 1938 it was created as another obscure grape, Chatus, was crossed with Barbera. Chatus was once confused with Nebbiolo, but in 2009 DNA testing revealed that what was thought to be Nebbiolo was actually Nebbiolo di Dronero, or Chatus. Although Chatus is a grape originally from the Adeche region in France, it’s still grown in Piemonte.
Giovanni Dalmasso was the name of the professor responsible for the cross. This explains why you may also hear Albarossa referred to as Dalmasso or Incrocio Dalmasso (which means the Dalmasso cross).
Andrea Costa of Marenco winery talks to us about the Albarossa grape. What’s interesting is that it’s “new” but still considered indigenous to Northern Italy. It was developed to make Nebbiolo wines more intense in color.
However, during World War II, the grape project was all but forgotten about until about 40 years later. In 2001 a handful of producers like the well-known Michele Chiarlo, Prunotto, and the Marenco family began planting the grape and experimenting with the wines in an attempt to raise the grape from obscurity and showcase it among the other Piemontese varieties.
The albarossa grapes are small, thick-skinned berries. This allows the winemakers a short fermentation, good extraction, and plenty of tannins and anthocyanins. Marenco removes the skins and continues the fermentation the way one would with a white wine, as he tells us in the interview.
The Marencos age their Albarossa in a combination of large and small barrels for about a 18 months.
Now there are nearly 70-80 producers producing about 250,000 bottles of Albarossa each year.
In the Glass
Andrea describes the wine in the glass for someone who may have never tried one. The color is dark, intense, and there is a complex nose that is also easy to approach. He describes it as love at first sight, a sexy wine, with spice, nutmeg and ever-evolving.
It’s a wine with full body and a nice acidity, and that makes it food friendly. He recommends it with a bloody steak, cheese, pizza, and to always try with a new pairing – and yes, that means fish.
Marenco’s library dates back to 2009, but still is quite fresh in acidity with good tannins. You would not know by it’s youthful characteristics that it’s a 7 year-old wine.
This wine is certainly now on our radar, which brings us to …
Val: You can read more about the presentation that spawned this discussion here: http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/2017/05/30/conference-preview-tasting-history-and-the-stories-behind-the-wines/
And about Marenco’s Albarossa here: http://en.marencovini.com/vini/piemonte-albarossa/
Ooh – and you can geek out on more grape gab goodness here at the Vitis International Variety Catalogue (VIVC)!
Steph: “Riding in an Uber with our friends on Saturday, I learned about Bottle Rock in Napa Valley. It is an annual music festival with wine, of course, and next year the dates are May 25-27, 2018. My friend Aneka has been 2 years in a row and saw Maroon 5 this year. So if you love concerts, celebrity chefs, wine, beer and sexy people… you might want to check out Bottle Rock for next year. Here’s a video recap from this year that will get you dancing in your chair.”
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Steph: Lvnae Bosoni winery in Liguria, Italy has all my affection. They are known for their Vermentino and I refer to it as my “wedding wine”… maybe I’ve mentioned it on the show before? So on par with last year, I bought a case of their Vermentino for summer sipping and sharing with friends. Well, at Cholon restaurant in Denver, I just ordered the Lvnae Bosoni “Mae Rosa” Rosato (Vermentino Nero) because I’ve never seen it before. As I expected, it was the ultimate refreshment! Now I will be buying a case of that as well. I love you, Lvnae!
Val: Shoutout to Andrea Costa of Marenco for sitting down and chatting with me about the Albarossa grape and Marenco’s wines.
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