The Thrill of the Obscure
2008 Clerico Costa Sesia Ca du Leria & 2008 Monsecco Pratogrande
For wine lovers who like to drink wine with dinner most nights of the week, there's a sense that it's getting harder to find bottles that are both interesting and inexpensive.
Thanks to Neal Rosenthal's exploration of the northern reaches of Piedmont, we have two to add to your short list.
The Alto Piedmont, the area north of Barolo and Barbaresco, is one of the most fascinating and largely unexplored wine regions that I know of. Here Italy's noble and mighty Nebbiolo grape reigns supreme.
|Entrance to Azienda Clerico|
When it comes to elegance, to perfume and to ageability, Nebbiolo is likely the best that Italy has to offer.
And values abound in these obscure northern reaches where Nebbiolo achieves its most beguiling aromatics and its most food friendly crackling acidity. We're happy that legendary importer Neal Rosenthal has recently dedicated a lot of his focus to discovering traditionally made, well-priced gems in this region.
The two wines on offer today drive this home emphatically. Both wines clock in at $20 or under per bottle. Clerico's Costa Sesia "Ca' du Leria" 08 is an almost baffling $15.95 per bottle and Monsecco's Pratogrande 08 is $19.95. (The price gets even lower on 6-packs.)
Part of the reason for the pricing and obscurity is that there's just not a lot of wine to go around and get noticed - only 1,500 bottles of Clerico's Ca' du Leria are produced,for example. Clerico's entire estate is just 2ha.
Ca' du Leria comes from a steeply sloped single vineyard in front of Clerico's house and cellars. The wine that results is lovely - nervy and silken with bright cherry fruit, roses and a backdrop of dark minerality. There's a finessed brisk alpine quality. Following the local custom, the 50% of Nebbiolo in Ca' du Leria is softened with Vespolina and Croatina.
Monsecco's Pratogrande is the more powerful of the two wines. It comes from the hills around Gattinara and Ghemme just southwest of where Ca' du Leria comes from. Despite this short distance, the wines are markedly different. Pratogrande is more muscular, darker, and has more palate presence while maintaining a nice thread of acid.
2008 in Piedmont is shaping up to be a beautifully classic and very strong vintage. There's a really impressive vividness and energy to the wines. With this clarity comes a clear impression of terroir. In short, they are lovely wines.
These are the sort of wines that deserve a place on your table, in your "everyday" wine collection. The balance, the acidity, the mineral-led honesty, and above all, the pricing make them really merit your attention.
Honestly, I wish the wines were more available, because they deserve to be in as many hands as possible. As things stand, they will probably sell out before the end of the day. Please give us your maximum order and we will allocate as best we can.
To order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits