Friday, June 12, 2020

Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG: Another stellar Piemontese white wine entry

Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG is a wine appellation covering the production of wine from the Erbaluce grape variety grown in 37 communes located in the Piemonte provinces of Torino, Biella, and Vercelli. The region is illustrated in the two maps following.

Piemonte wine region map (Source:

Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG map

At 188 ha, this is a relatively small appellation. It became a DOC in 1967 and was elevated to DOCG status in 2010.

The soils in the region are remnants of a post-ice-age glacial moraine. The thin topsoils are a mix of clays, pebbles, and shale rich in phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium.

The disciplinaire allows for the production of still, sparkling, and passito wines made wholly from the Erbaluce variety planted in the morainic soils at elevations ranging between 200 and 500 m. Vines must be trained Caluso pergola which dictates 500 m between rows and 5000 vines/ha.

Erbaluce is a high-acid, late-ripening grape of unknown origin. The vine is vigorous and productive, with elongated bunches and bright yellow berries.

The wine I tasted as part of my regular Zoom event was the Cieck Erbaluce di Caluso Vigna Misobolo 2018. The grapes for this wine were sourced from the Misobolo Vineyard which was originally planted in the 1970s. This low-yielding vineyard is rich in mineral salts. It is sited at 320 m on the side of a hill which, with its south and southwest aspects, provides excellent exposure to the sunlight and protection from winter frosts.

The grapes were hand-picked after which the selected grapes were whole-bunch-pressed in order to preserve the fruit character. Pips, stems, and skins were removed post-press and the must cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wines were kept in tank for 5 months before bottling and release on the market.

The wine had a faded green and hay color. Herbs, mint, and sweet fruit on the nose initially. Bright acidity on the palate along with a saline minerality, metallic character, citrus, citrus skin, and heavy excitation of the salivary glands. Some weight, but clean. After some residence in the glass, the edge came off the acidity and the taste was sour citrus fruit, green herbs, minerality, and salinity. I held some of the wine over to the next day and it had become a cross between a Carricante, an Assyrtiko, and a Friulano from Collio: salinity, minerality, and weightier acidity but with the addition of a strong blackpepper character.

This wine is a marked contrast from other Piemontese white wines that I have tasted in the past. Where the international white varieties planted to the south tend to be rustic, and Arneis tends to be somewhat ephemeral (except in cases like Vietti and Giacosa, for example), and the Timorasso hews more towards a Benanti Pietra Marina, this wine is of the land but cries out for the sea.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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