In Turin, 2015 was the year of Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco produced by Cascina Gilli.
We have already presented Malvasia as a Piedmontese wine in general, but this specific variant by this small local producer is so unique that it deserves a post on its own.
We found out about this specific producer in the summer when the Pope came over to Turin because one of the top gelaterias in town, Bar Gelateria Miretti created a brand new sorbet to honor the Pope.
Signor Leonardo, the gelato maker contacted Cascina Gilli as they are renown for producing a top quality Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC. With 6 bottles he prepared his trial gelato, the result was simply divine as simple is its recipe: just water and wine. In fact, it is amazing how the divine sorbet retains all the red fruit aroma and the tiny perlage of the original wine!
By a mere coincidence, we were introduced to the winery owners too and in July, right before Turin Epicurean Capital 2015, we paid them a visit and did a glorious tasting.
Cascina Gilli is located in Castelnuovo Don Bosco the village where the catholic saint Don Bosco is from. He actually worked in this winery before devoting his life to religion. This is a very picturesque area, about 40 minuted driving from downtown Turin, beyond vineyard covered hills.
It is such a peaceful area that in the Middle Ages there were many abbeys and monasteries, one of the most preserved ones is the magic Vezzolano Abbey.
Generally speaking, Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco is a red or rose', sweet, sparkling wine with very strong fruity notes. It is usually a blend of rare Malvasia di Schierano grapes and Freisa, another characteristic Piedmontese wine.
The Cascina Gilli production, though, is a ruby red sparkling Malvasia with so strong berry aromas, they keep even in the sorbet! This is because it is actually made only with Malvasia di Schierano grapes!
Its alcohol content is low, only 5.5% which makes it an ideal wine to be sipped in the afternoon too and it pairs wonderfully with any dessert, especially gelatos, cookies, pastries, chocolates and pies.
As it is served chilled, needless to tell you that it did refresh our dog heat summer nights in July!
Since our first visit to Cascina Gilli we felt like entering the Piedmont winemakers' home issue of Vogue Living Magazine! This old winery got fully renovated keeping its historical character and atmosphere. The interior design and decor details recalls the history of the winery and of its wines' terroir. The soft colors on the walls and the wood furniture provide a very tasteful sophisticate touch to this country home.
Back in the heat of July, when we had our tasting, we were served an amazing selection of vegetarian dishes: salads and frittatas where herbs, ginger, farro and vegetables reined on the table accompanying our crescendo wine selection.
Our wine tasting started with their chilled and elegant Chardonnay. Cascina Gilli makes it with a long finish, a delicate aroma and a slight effervescence.
Along our lunch, we moved on to the Le More Barbera D'Asti. This is a young full-bodied red wine with strong blackberry (in Italian more) notes. This wine is well structured, pleasantly dry and acidic.
Freisa di Asti was our third wine. Freisa is by definition a red bubbly wine, traditionally it is the osteria wine because of it's pleasant fruity aromas, tannins smoothness, easiness to pair with many local dishes.
|Piedmontese zucchini in carpione or marinated in wine and vinegar, photo courtesy of William Lyons|
Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC was served next! This is a divine dessert wine, since trying it we decided it is our celebration wine, replacing Spumante and Moscato. This Malvasia first conquered our noses with its deep red fruit aroma as it is made with 100% rare Schierano grapes. Then it won our palates with tiny perlage and its minimal sweetness. Finally, our eyes fell in love with its ruby red hues.
We closed our wine tasting and lunch sipping the passito or raisinated variant of Malvasia. This Malvasia passito feels definitely liqueur-like and intense. it's vinification process is rather interesting as the grape branches are cut and finish their maturation in fridge. Then the grapes are collected in baskets and dried in a cool room to ultimate its maturation and start the fermentation process. Once the level of alcohol reaches 13/14%, the yeasts naturally stop the fermentation.
We visited Cascina Gilli again at the beginning of December. We had movie-like views and took advantage to complete our Vogue Living Magazine tour. We combed the vine covered hills with our eyes and almost felt the cotton candy-like clouds.
As the weather was still rather warm and sunny. we had a coffee on the porch facing the vineyard.
This is one tiny winery indeed but its location, its atmosphere and most definitely its wines are so connected to their locality and the peaceful of its nature, that missing out on them when in Europe would be a crime!
Wine lovers, foodies, home decor fans and art lovers will all equally enjoy a visit to Cascina Gilli as they will experience the simplicity of the country aristocracy and the genuine flavors of the Piedmont hills.