Have you ever been to the Roero region?
I live in Piedmont and think that it’s one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Here you can find many types of wine. There are 17 DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) – the Italian DOCG are 75 – and a lot of indigenous grapes. It’s very hard not to find a wine to your taste.
It’s also hard to know all the wine regions of Piedmont well, exactly because the ampelographic patrimony is so huge. One of the ones that I knew little is the Roero.
During Vinitaly 2018 I visited the stand of Cascina Chicco and three weeks ago took part in a tour of the cellar and the vineyards. You may have seen some pics and video on my Instagram Stories.
I want to tell you more about the Roero region and my experience at Cascina Chicco.
Are you ready? Let’s start!
Roero is located in the north of Alba and delimited from the left bank of the river Tanaro. Tanaro then separates Roero from Langhe.
The name comes from the Roero family that dominated this region during the Middle Ages.
Its hilly landscape is very varied, showing woods, orchards, and vineyards. Since 2014, Roero has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Monferrato and Langhe.
Another characteristic of the landscape is the presence of the Rocche, steep slopes caused by geologic erosion phenomenon. These Rocche are fascinating and I suggest that you take a look!
The area of production includes the districts of Canale, Corneliano d’Alba, Piobesi d’Alba, and Vezza d’Alba. In addition, partially the districts of Baldissero d’Alba, Castagnito, Castellinaldo, Govone, Guarene, Magliano Alfieri, Montà d’Alba, Montaldo Roero, Monteu Roero, Monticello d’Alba, Pocapaglia, Priocca, Santa Vittoria d’Alba, Santo Stefano Roero, and Sommariva Perno.
The Roero wine can be both white and red. White is realized with at least 95% Arneis, and also has a sparkling version. The red is produced from the Nebbiolo grape (at least 95%) and there is also the Reserve.
After this little overview of Roero, it’s time to talk about my experience at Cascina Chicco.
The cellar is located in Canale, 20 minutes from Alba. It has recently been expanded and renewed and is surrounded by its Arneis vineyards. Technology meets tradition in a wonderful cellar that descends 28 meters deep under the hill, dug by hand into the naked rock.
Nowadays the 4th generation of the family guides the winery. The whole family was born and raised in Roero, so they have great love and respect for the land.
There are some solar panels on the roof of the cellar. The underground construction allows a constant temperature for the ageing of the wines. Cascina Chicco follows the specifications of The Green Experience project, thus there is a big reduction of treatments in the vineyards.
My tour started exactly from the vineyards.
They spread over 44 hectares in Roero. Every grape variety is grown where it expresses itself better.
The historic vineyards are in Canale with the Crus of Anterisio (Arneis) and Mompissano (Nebbiolo). At Anterisio you can find some marine fossils in the sandy soil. Castellinaldo is the ideal area for Barbera with Granera Alta and Bric Loira. I had the opportunity to discover both during the tour. They are adjacent but offer very different wines. The vineyards of Granera Alta are younger (from 20 years old) than Bric Loira (around 40 years old). The production is also different – 70k bottles of Granera Alta as against 15k bottles of Bric Loira. The other Cru that I visited was Valmaggiore in Vezza d’Alba. It’s dedicated to Nebbiolo and Favorita grapes.
Cascina Chicco has also 8 hectares of vineyards in Langhe since 2006. Exactly in Monforte d’Alba, land of Barolo, with the prestigious Crus Ginestra and Castelletto. I’ll visit them during my next time at Cascina Chicco!
After the morning spent in the vineyards, we had lunch at All’Enoteca. The chef Davide Palluda’s restaurant with one Michelin star.
There I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Cascina Chicco with some delicious courses. To be exact, Langhe Favorita 2017, Cuvée Zero Extra Brut, and Arcass 2015.
If you’re looking for a restaurant for a special occasion or if you are close, I highly recommend All’Enoteca! You can find a characteristic Langhe and Roero cuisine there.
It was time for a tour of the cellar tour after the sublime lunch. Started from the vinification rooms and continued to the fascinating underground hallways, passing through the barrel rooms. You can spend a lot of time to discover all. There is also a huge dodecagonal room there called Wheel Room, topped with a dome and twelve arches. Its floor is designed with the wheel of the Roero the symbol of the Roero family. Around the Wheel Room, there were some recesses for ageing of old bottles.
At Cascina Chicco you can also taste the old vintages, I did in the last and very desired part of my tour.
The Green Experience
Before I tell you the notes of the tasted wines, I want to give you more details about The Green Experience, a project by Coldiretti Cuneo.
It doesn’t follow organic agriculture, nor does it follow the conventional one. There are ten rules of sustainability:
- eco-friendly and sustainable viticulture and productions;
- protection of biodiversity and the natural environment;
- aesthetic protection of the natural and anthropic landscape;
- priorities to agronomic solutions and respect for the soil;
- elimination of chemical weeding in vine rows;
- sowing of herbal and floral essences in the vineyard;
- dissemination of useful pollinating insects;
- location of nests for birds useful for cultivation;
- respect for and honesty consumers;
- traceability of controls and external certification.
The Green Experience wants to preserve the typical identity of Piedmontese wines.
The Wine Tasting
Here are my notes about the last part of my tour. But there are also the three wines that I tasted during the lunch.
Langhe Favorita 2017
Pale yellow is the color. The aromas are nectarine, casaba melon, and citrus fruit. The wine is delicate, elegant, quite persistent, more fresh than sapid. It also has an interesting mineral note.
Cuvée Zero Extra Brut
36 months on the lees for the Nebbiolo grape, zero dosage. The color is pale yellow with some greenish highlights on the quite fine and quite persistent perlage. The nose can detect some aromas of pear, bread crust, almond, and peanuts. It’s quite fresh, quite sapid, and quite persistent.
It’s a sweet wine produced from the Arneis grapes around the cellar. The harvest happens 20/30 days after the standard harvest, then the bunches are rack dried until Christmas. The amount of sugar is around 160 g/l. Its color is golden. Only steel tanks, but the complexity is very interesting. The bouquet expresses candied fruit, peach, melon, and honey at the end. It has a good acidity, softness, and a long finish.
Langhe Nebbiolo 2016
Its color looks ruby. You’ll smell berry fruit, black pepper, violet, and face powder. Full-bodied, quite tannic, quite fresh, quite persistent.
Nebbiolo d’Alba Mompissano 2015
This one is more complex than Langhe Nebbiolo 2016. It’s the upper level. It has a ruby color. On the nose, it expresses the crunchiness with some aromas of wild strawberry, currant, and a balsamic hint. It’s quite fresh, quite tannic, quite persistent, well-balanced, fine, and elegant.
Barolo Ginestra Reserve 2011
Barolo is the wine king of Piedmont. Its color is bright garnet. On the nose, you’ll detect some aromas of dried roses, tobacco, and blueberries. The ageing in large oak barrels gives the wine good freshness and medium tannins.
Barbera d’Alba Bric Loira 1998
This one is an example of the old vintages that you can taste during a tour at Cascina Chicco. Ruby red with garnet highlights is the color. The bouquet has mainly spiced notes such as licorice but also coffee, tobacco, and a balsamic hint. Very hard to guess the vintage in a blind tasting because it was in a great evolutionary state. Fresh, quite tannic, quite sapid, mainly on the softness.
Are you ready for a tour?
I told you before that I left to discover the vineyards at Monforte d’Alba. It could be a good excuse to visit them together.
Please, let me know if you pass through Piedmont!
I will be very happy to taste with you the wines of Cascina Chicco and discover your opinion. My favorite was Nebbiolo d’Alba Mompissano 2015.
Did you know already its wines? Let me know by leaving a comment.
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