Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Boca DOC and its scent of violets, spices and pomegranates

This week we are talking about Boca a DOC red wine from the Novara area, in High Piedmont just a little bit north of the Ghemme and Gattinara zones. This is the first area of Piedmont you visit when coming from Milan and it's now the main production area of Gorgonzola cheese and of the Italian rice paddies.  
Boca DOC production area

In the past, Boca vines covered most of the area and were planted at a pre-Alpine high climate, up to 500m high from the sea level. The picture below is from the 1930s shows how, back then, the vines totally covered the surrounding hills where today, we just have large extensions of acacia woods.
Imagine, back in the 1930s there were up to 10,000 vineyards of Boca but as the local people made more money in the factories, the cultivation shrank to just a about 10 hectares in the mid 1990s!
1930s Boca vineyards
Boca vines have always been cultivated following the maggiorina system which consists of four vines united at the bottom, growing separately according to the four cardinal points. This system was perfectioned by Alessandro Antonelli, the architect of the Mole Antonelliana, the symbol building of Turin!
Maggiorina requires quite a lot of space between the vines as we can see from that old picture, and it can only involve manual labor, preventing the employment of any machinery, and consequently, increasing the production costs.
This fascinating system allowed to mix different grapes like Nebbiolo, Croatina or Vespolina.
The soil composition of this area is also key important as the porphyritic rocks of volcanic origin help maintain the roots consistently hydrated with the right amount of water.

Boca and cheese
Boca facts:
- it must be made of a blend of 45-70% of Spanna, 20% Bonarda Novarese and 20-40% of Vespolina 
- it must be aged for 36 months, of which 24 in oak
- it is a full-bodied and well-structured wine with aromas of violets, sweet spices and notes of pomegranates on the finish
- it displays a garnet color
- its high levels of acidity contribute to its aging process and make of it one of the longest-lived Italian reds
- it's a 12% alcohol content

It should be served in large wine glasses at room temperature. You can pair it with roasts, game and aged cheeses!
The NY Times published a fantastic article where Gattinara, Ghemme and Boca get compared in our beautiful regional context. It's really these are among the best wines in Piedmont and they taste even better when sipped in their native area and while savoring the local foods.

Boca label

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