Let’s take a little trip to Italy, courtesy of producer Enrico Serafino:
In the steep hills of the Northwestern Cuneo province in Piedmont lies the Roero subregion. The region is often overlooked given its prestigious neighbor, Langhe, but Roero commands its own attention and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its enological prowess and spectacular beauty in 2009. Established in 1878 by its namesake, Enrico Serafino is the longest continually operating winery in Roero and has been a working winery for more than 140 years. Still found at its original location in Canale, time, innovation and the production of consistently high-quality wines, has helped Enrico Serafino to become a top producer in the region.
At the time of Enrico Serafino’s establishment, the DOC laws had not yet passed in Italy. Enrico Serafino chose to produce fashionable Piedmont wines such as Gavi, Barolo, Barbera d’Alba and more. When the boundaries were eventually drawn, Enrico Serafino was able to evade this geographic subdivision and to this day remains one of the only producers allowed to vinify Barolo wines outside of the Barolo DOCG.
Beyond traditional still Piedmont wines, Enrico Serafino also produces high quality Metodo Classico sparkling wines. In the early days of Northern Italian sparkling wine, many Piedmont producers focused on creating sparkling wines from Moscato. From the start, Enrico Serafino preferred to work in a style that mimicked traditional Champagne, with base wines vinified from Pinot Nero and Chardonnay. Enrico Serafino, along with six other producers, worked together to create the Alta Langa DOC (now DOCG), which continues to help shape the identity of Piedmont sparkling wines. The winery has recently been focused on procuring new vineyards for Nebbiolo and discovered a rare sub-variety of Nebbiolo in their existing vineyards called Picotener. After several vintages of studying the varietal and being pleased with its unique attributes, they decided to release it for the first time commercially with the 2017 vintage.
Today we look at three wines from Serafino, including its inaugural Picotener release.
2018 Enrico Serafino Gavi di Gavi Grifo del Quartaro DOCG – Boldly fruit-forward, this wine drops on the tongue like a pile driver, with notes of apricot, white peach, lemon, and some hints of white table grapes. An edge of earthiness creeps in somewhere in the middle of the experience, but it’s mild and understated. The bright, white fruit does the heavily lifting — sometimes overwhelmingly so — though it’s touched just so with florals on the finish. B+ / $17
2017 Enrico Serafino Picotener Nebbiolo Langhe DOC – A bracing mini-twist on the nebbiolo grape, this wine is tannic and restrained, with notes of licorice, cloves, and dense blackberry all in effect. An earthiness, more graphite than anise, pushes hard toward the finish, though ultimately (with air time) light floral notes make a showing. Fun stuff, and built for pairing with any Italian dinner. A- / $25
2015 Enrico Serafino Monclivio Barolo DOCG – It’s not the biggest or most tannic of Barolos, but Serafino’s bottling is wildly approachable as it stands. Notes of blackberry stand up well to a hefty spice bill, and notes of graphite, spearmint, and dark chocolate are all delightful complements to the rather fruity attack. The finish sees a layering of leather and toasted oak, adding complexity to an otherwise fresh — and well-priced — Barolo. A- / $46