2005 Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio Coste della Sesia

Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio Coste della Sesia It was a long drive to Lessona. We pulled into a narrow driveway that led us to a spooky old castle. But it was when we saw the calendar that we realized that we weren't only going to be treated to a taste of some of the most talked about new wines in Italy. We were also to be treated to an afternoon with the imagination of one of the world's most gifted winegrowers.

Paolo De Marchi is known internationally for the incredible 30-year facelift he engineered at Isole e Olena in Tuscany. The work was done vine by vine, stone by stone, a viticultural masterpiece. But, while De Marchi's Cepparello is the Sangiovese by which all others are defined, our Italian winemaker friends told us that Paolo's new project in Lessona might force Cepparello to take a back seat!

Born in Piemonte, Paolo chooses his words carefully and rarely toots his own horn; the kind of winemaker who always points out some tiny fault in his own wines, a fault that no one else in the tasting room recognizes. But on the way to Lessona, Paolo kept jumping out of the car to scoop up the sand soil from a hidden knoll, the sand sifting through his hands like an hourglass. We've known Paolo for 20 years and had never seen him so wildly animated.

When we got to the castle, Paolo said something that was very un-Paolo-like, audaciously proclaiming, "this isn't Alba. This is Lessona. The soil is so fine, so sandy. The soil has a pH of 4.5-5.5, incredible natural acidity. We're bringing Vosne Romanee to Piemonte!"

Paolo De Marchi
Paolo De Marchi
The 2005 Sperino Uvaggio, made largely of older vine Nebbiolo is an amazing wine, an incredible combination of aromatic delicacy and complexity, with a sweet fruit core that is, yes, more akin to Vosne than Barolo. Paolo's imagination is stamped all over this gorgeously Burgundian Nebbiolo blend.

Later in the visit, after the spectacular barrel tasting, we 'toured' the castle. It was when we pushed through the kitchen to the ancient library that we saw the calendar. It was Paolo's grandmother's calendar. Cobwebs hung down from the ceiling creeping over the calendar page -- March, 1934! "The only thing that's changed at Sperino," Paolo laughed, "is the Nebbiolo!"

Tasting Notes from the WineAccess Travel Log
"(65% multi-clonal Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina, 15% Croatina) Ruby color. Gorgeous aromatics of bright small red fruits, pine needles and flowers. Pinot Noir-like on the palate, with a lovely ripe fruit core, but deep, fine layers of complex red fruit. Long and balanced, a wine that makes you want to never rinse your glass so as to hold on to the aromatic complexity and purity. Drink now-2012."