Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Nonno's grignolino

The Moncalvo area in the Monferrato wine dristrict is rather rich of farms and interesting locations for both wine lovers and foodies, therefore our tour had to visit at our friend Stefano's family vineyard. Yes, Stefano is one lucky man whose grandpa had a beautiful country house, the kind you only see on decor and design magazines and he also happened to own the "perfect vineyard"!

Stefano Girola of Poderi Girola winery showing us la Sossala

This is where country boys, Stefano and his cousin used to spend their summer vacations when growing up, playing the winemakers of course! Sounds like a movie, well, this is rather normal in a region like Piedmont where most of the city people have roots in the mountains and on the hills.
After the university, Stefano had to decide what to do of his life. In his mid 20s, it didn't take him much to decide to make of winemaking his business. And what better place than the perfect vineyard nonno had left him?
This is how Poderi Girola was born in Calliano, about 10 minute driving from Moncalvo. Currently this winery has three vineyards along three different hills. The closest one to the family house - that is basically a castle wing! - is the nonno's one: La Sossala.

a portion of La Sossala, these are Barbera d'Asti grapes
La Sossala aka nonno's vineyard is particularly special because it naturally grows on one side of a hill and it is only half-exposed to SW. This is an extremely favorable factor because, the photosynthesis naturally stops and therefore the grapes and their final product - the wine keep very unique scents.
La Sossala is a tiny Barbera DOCG vineyard, only 7000 squared meters/1.7 acres, while in front of it there are the Grignolino DOC and the Chardonnay DOC ones above a cute hazelnut grove.

Indeed Stefano's passion gets directly to the wines he bottles. His wines are special because he and his very few trusted workers still do as much as they can by hand and although, the Poderi Girola wines can't claim the organic or biodynamic labels yet, they basically are very natural wines, well within the governmental requirements.

Moncalvo view from Poderi Girola
No herbicides or chemicals are used on these vines because integrated pest management techniques and mechanic weeding are the practices of choice. The clay and limestone soils together with the perfect weather combinations create the best conditions to train the vines with the Guyot system, where old plants are slowly replaced by new ones. Consequently, grapes clones with low yield and high quality are the real protagonists of these winery. This is how Stefano's wine production is very small: only 10 thousand bottles of wine a year.

Only native yeasts are employed in the vinification process, while sulfur dioxide is very limited as the grapes are picked at their ripest point and only the healthiest ones are selected to make the wine. Within 30 minutes from the picking they reach the cellar where the fermentation process naturally starts.

The Poderi Girola's are really artisan wines like they used to be made way back at the time when nonno's family bought land in 1834. This is also the home district of the Grignolino DOC and the Barbera d'Asti DOCG wines so it doesn't surprise that more than just an alcohol drink, they are indeed an experience and an expression of the UNESCO World Heritage Monferrato hills.

The Girola family house

Even to natives and wine connoisseurs, this particular Grignolino and Barbera are quite exceptional. The San Pietro Grignolino charms your nose right away with its fruity and flower aromas. Unlike others, it's low in tannins and very elegant. Wherever you are from and whatever your favorite foods are, most likely they will all pair with it very easily: from fish to meat, pasta and cheeses.

La Sossala Barbera, coming from the nonno's vineyard is probably THE best Barbera d'Asti around! Every vintage makes a slightly different production in terms of alcohol content, however, the cherry and blackberry scents are quite its distinctive note. This is a full-bodied wine indeed that pairs beautifully with Piedmontese cuisine but also with cured meats, cheeses and stir fried foods.

Finally, when the prosecco lovers come over, they will all be amazed by the Poderi Girola Spumante Brut or foamy brut white wine. This is a high quality dry sparkling white that can be easily paired with any celebration and it is very versatile. Just imagine all the cocktails you can make:P
It is made with 50% Chardonnay grapes and 50% Pinot Noir grapes - yeah... ;) - and the Martinotti - Charmat method. It's aged for seven months to allow its aromas and flavors to fully bloom. Its perlage is tiny and consistent, just like its foam. This is an elegant young wine to use as an aperitif, to make a toast, and to serve with poultry, fish, aged cheese and world specialties!

No matter if you are a wine specialist or not, as long as you can tell good from bad, you'll quickly be captivated by these natural wines: your bodies will feel every note and many food pairings will easily come up to your minds.
All you need to do is coming over to the Monferrato wine district and try for yourselves: Stefano and his wines are waiting for you in his vineyards!

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