Francesca Castaldi Pianazze Rosso 19

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I've always been a fan of Nebbiolo-based wines. They display a certain charm and elegance that reminds me of great Burgundy, although with more attitude. When it comes to Nebbiolo in the Piemonte, Barolo, Barbaresco, and Gattinara are the names you hear the most. Of course, they rank very high on my list of favorites; however, they're not exactly inexpensive, and they generally require at least a few years of cellaring before you can pull the cork and enjoy a glass.

Over the last ten or fifteen years, the climate in the northern areas of the Piemonte, the Alto Piemonte, has gradually warmed, allowing the region's vignerons to fully ripen Nebbiolo. The weather here is still comparatively cooler to the southern areas of the Piemonte, so the Nebbiolo produced here in the Alto Piemonte tends to be lighter, brighter, and more suitable for immediate enjoyment.

There have been Castaldi's making wine in the Alto Piemonte town of Briona since the early 1700s. The family's current estate was founded in 1922 and operated mainly as a cooperative until the late 1960s. Francesca Castaldi and her son Marco are the current owners, and they continue the family's tradition of making wines only with local, traditional varietals. Their primary focus is on Nebbiolo; however, they also grow small quantities of Vespolina, Uva Rara, and Barbera.

While this may not be Barolo or Barbaresco, you'll know that you have Nebbiolo in your glass! Aromas of strawberry, cherry, and red licorice mingle with notes of roses and wintergreen. The soft red-fruited palate finishes with a bracing hit of minerality, and the firm but ripe tannins keep this light-bodied red squeaky clean.

The firm yet supple structure makes this less a casual sipper and more suitable for savory pairings. We love this with savory stews, lamb chops, and rich Bolognese pasta dishes.

Don't let the light color fool you; it packs a serious punch of power and complexity.


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