Beyond Barolo: 2005 Monsecco Gattinara

Posted by Joe Salamone

The Other Piedmont Speaks
2005 Monsecco Gattinara

Neal Rosenthal is an incredible sleuth - in his storied career he's brought to light some very soulful (and now very famous) estates: Fourrier in Burgundy, Paolo Bea and Ferrando in Italy, to name but a few...

Today, a new producer who may very well end up on this short list.

Monsecco is one of the newest additions to Neal Rosenthal's strong portfolio. Rosenthal has been a long-time champion of Piedmont's hinterlands: Ferrando's legendary Carema is a monument to his passion for the area. It also underscores his ability to discover great producers in obscure places.

Though it's worth remembering that what's obscure today might not have been obscure in the past: Wine writers are quick to point out that in the 19th century Gattinara enjoyed greater renown than Barolo or Barbaresco. In other words: This is very serious terroir for Nebbiolo.

The Gattinara DOC, in fact, produces some of the most powerful, longest lived Nebbiolos. Bottles can easily see their 30th birthdays - do not underestimate the top bottlings of Gattinara.

If you've been reading our emails for any time, it's become apparent that we're fascinated by Nebbiolos from outside Barolo and Barbaresco. Ferrando's Carema, Antoniotti's Bramaterra, Ar. Pe. Pe.'s Valtellina wines - these are wines that we've supported for a long time.

Nebbiolo, like all noble varieties, is incredibly sensitive to where it's grown - as with Burgundy and Germany, this site-specificity is the fun of it! North of Barolo and Barbaresco, the grape is able to achieve a haunting delicacy and lovely energy.

To situate Gattinara within the large context of Piedmont, it represents a middle ground between the alpine floral briskness of Ferrando Carema and the muscular intensity of Barolo or Barbaresco.

Gattinara benefits from ample sunlight during the day along with cool night time temperatures. The soils are rocky glacial moraines with tons of mineral salts. Grapes ripen very well in Gattinara and there's a substantial palate presence that reflects this.

Yet, there's also a firm and energetic core that drives a wash of saline minerals and high-toned floral notes across the palate. There's a combination of power, poise and mineral elegance that makes these wines so compelling.

Monsecco's 05 Gattinara struts this combination of power and shivering agility with seamless harmony and finely calibrated balance. And this is exactly what bodes well for its ageablity. The wine is full of dark cherries, licorice, rosemary and crushed violets.

Winemaking at Monsecco follows the old fashioned course. The wine is aged in large botte for three years or more and then receives additional bottle aging. The effort is to let the grape and the place speak for themselves with no more interference than necessary.

Monsecco's 2005 Gattinara illustrates how uncharted the Piedmont is beyond Barolo and Barbaresco. There is a huge upside for drinkers here - don't miss.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits