Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Baratuciat: Another emergent Piemonte white cultivar and wine

Writing in Forbes, Tom Hyland estimated that, at time of publication, approximately 300 indigenous Italian grape varieties were employed in wine production in a country blessed with between 2000 and 3000 native grapes. And a number of these varieties fall into the category of "recently discovered;" as is the case of the Piemontese white cultivar Baratuciat.

Modification of  FederDoc map

According to the literature, Baratuciat, at that time a table grape, was first mentioned in 1877 in the Ampelographic Bulletin. It was not considered as a wine grape due to its vigor and the resultant difficulty in ripening bunches. Approximately 20 ha was under vine but the grape fell into oblivion with the onset of Phylloxera in 1928 and the later industrialization of the area around Turin.

The ancestral home of Baratuciat is Val di Susa, an east-west valley -- between the Graian Alps to the north and the Cottian Alps to the south -- which extends for 50 miles from the French border to the Turin outskirts. And it was in that ancestral home that the rebirth of the variety was launched.

A grape grower by the name of Giorgio Falca took over the care of his grandfather's hundred-year-old vines in Almese -- a municipality in the portion of the valley closest to Turin -- during the 1960s. He was pleased with the wine resulting from the grapes and began working with officials to determine the identity of the cultivar and its feasibility as a wine grape.

Three micro-vineyards were planted in the Rivera area at the end of the 1990s and the enological potential of the variety was tested for over 10 years. 

The first farmer to plant Baratuciat commercially was Guiliano Bosio who, in 2007, deployed 3500 square meters of vines on the hill of Almese in the hamlet of Magnetto. To date he has production capacity of 4000 bottles and his Gesa Veja label has earned Silver Medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2017 and 2018. 

In 2016 the variety was added to the DOC Valsusa and in 2018 it was registered in the National Catalogue of Grape Varieties. There are currently a dozen producers farming 3 ha of this cultivar in Valsusa DOC.

Baratuciat cultivar

Baratuciat growing on a pergola in Valsusa DOC

The winemaking process for this cultivar generally begins with a 12-hour cold soak followed by pressing and fermentation with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The wines are aged for 4 to 5 months in steel, and an additional month in bottle, before being released commercially.

According to
The wine is straw yellow with greenish notes. The aroma is intense with green apple, pineapple and grassy notes and eucalyptus and acacia honey aromas. It is complex in the mouth, with a long tangy finish, accompanied by a firm acidity. It can age more than 4 years.
Some Baratuciat is currently produced in Monferrato, introduced by Enrico Drueto who, in 2008, concluded an agreement with Falca to experiment with various rootstocks with the understanding that half of the cuttings produced would be returned for new vineyards in Almese. According to the literature, the climatic diversity and calcareous soil of Monferrato combined to produce a distinct wine from the one produced in the Susa Valley. The Monferrato wine was less fresh, more full-bodied, and had more structure.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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