Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Taste of Travaglini Gattinara


The Travaglini family is obsessed with Nebbiolo and I don’t blame them. Nebbiolo is a grape native to the Piedmont region of Italy and it’s the grape in wines from Barolo and Barbaresco. But the Travalglini family is from Gattinara, a region of Piedmont that received a DOCG certification for wine in 1967 and wines produced there must be at least 90% Nebbiolo (a tiny amount of Bonarda and Vespolina are also allowed). In Gattinara the grape expresses itself in a way that is extraordinary—it has incredible minerality and earthiness, but also freshness, with spicy, fruity, floral and herbal notes, terrific acidity and elegant silky tannins. Imagine a wine with raspberries, cherries, violets, roses, and even a bit of licorice and sometimes tobacco. I’d say it’s a great wine for Thanksgiving because it pairs with just about everything. Drink it with pasta, with cheese, with game, with turkey, with beef, even with fish. 

Nebbiolo is named for nebbia, the Italian word for fog. But it’s not just named for the climate, but rather poetically for the opalescent cast on the grapes that resembles fog. The very small Gattinara appellation is in the rocky alpine foothills of the Monte Rosa mountain range where cold winds blow down from the alps and the volcanic soil is rich with granite and iron. The family-run Travaglini Gattinara winery owns 146 of the 247 acres of Gattinara production so it's the label you are most likely to find. 

The Travaglini bottle makes quite an impression. Literally, the bottle. It is “twisted” and was designed by Giancarlo Travaglini in 1958. While there is charming mythology about the bottle—that it was formed accidentally by fire, or designed to fit the hand of a left-handed pope, the truth is much more practical. As you might imagine, Gattinara is a wine that ages very well, but with age comes sediment, so the dip in the bottle collects any sediment when the wine is poured. I hope you get a chance to experience this exceptional wine, entry-level bottles cost around $30.  

Disclaimer: My thanks to the Taub Family Selections for including me in an event where I got to meet the Travaglini family and enjoy their wines.