Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where in the World is Wine Ophelia

Right now I'm here, at the beautiful winery La Bruna in Dogliani, Italy. It is nestled in the hills of San Luigi in between Dogliani and Monforte d'Alba. I've been working harvest (la vendemmia) here while I work on my current culinary/wine tourism project seeking out beautiful, historic, local, artisanal wines and foods as well as charming, culturally relevant accommodations. (And am I EVER finding it!!) My deepest thanks to Sebastiano Ramello of Piemonte Wines for helping me with my trip and to Bruno Andriano my host for his incredible kindness and generosity.

I'd like to share with you the story of La Bruna and the truly lovely wines that they make here:

The historic winery and vineyards of La Bruna have been in the Andriano family since the beginning of 1850 when Dogliani was but a speck on a map. Giuseppe Andriano, great-grandfather of the current owner Bruno Andriano, inherited this lovely piece of land between picturesque Dogliani and Monforte d'Alba In the rolling hillsides of San Luigi.
The vineyard extends over 20 hectares, 17 of which are planted exclusively with dolcetto with 39,000 vines. The southwest exposure and 400m altitude are quite favorable for viticulture. The vineyards are cultivated with great respect for the environment and all work is done by hand.

The vines are trained in Guyot style rendering a production of around 2kg of grapes per vine.

Piero Ballario, oenologist for La Bruna and his wife Alessandra provide the winery with the expertise to pull the best out of the dolcetto,producing around 55,000 bottles.

The wines of La Bruna are:

This is one to drink every day if you can! (I certainly am!!)

Langhe Dolcetto ARMONIA: Fermentation in small tanks of 25-50 hectoliters for around 7 days, then in steel tanks for 8 months. Armonia has lovely translucent violet-red color. The bouquet offers bright, just-ripe cherry aromas. On the palate it is youthful with pure, clean fruit, a lively acidity and good tannins and the same bright, ripe cherry notes with a pleasant, faint rose petal acidic finish.

Dolcetto di Dogliani pi cit: Fermentation in small tanks of 20-50 hectoliters for around 7 days then in steel tanks for 9 months. Pi cit has a translucent ruby red color with violet hues. The bouquet is ample with intense ripe black cherry and ripe blackberry and a whiff of spice. On the palate, gorgeous ripe black cherries, subtle leather and a slight chervil note, good tannins and a long pleasant floral, bright cherry finish.

This is the staple of the winery and has developed an incredible reputation in the area.

Dogliani San Luigi DOCG: Fermentation in small tanks of 20-50 hectoliters for around 7 days, steel tanks for 5 months, oak barrels for 5 months, then in bottles for 6 months.
La Bruna Dogliani San Luigi has been DOCG since 2005.
This is the house Cru and is among the most celebrated in the region.
This wine is a very intense, almost opaque ruby red with violet hues. On the bouquet it has concentrated ripe black cherry aromas. The palate is mature and well-structured with delicious ripe black cherry and dark forest berry notes. Firm and pleasant tannins support the ample fruit. It has a long finish with tobacco notes, cherry and herbs.

And this brings us to my personal favorite at the winery:

Langhe Luigina: An assemblage from the best of the barbera, merlot and nebbiolo vines. Fermentation is in small tanks of 20-50 hectoliters for around 7 days then steel tanks for 9 months. After this it rests in barriques for a year to provide it with a balanced structure, complexity and ability to age well.
Gorgeous dark, nearly opaque, red-violet color that belies its lovely extraction. Beautiful aromas of ripe cherries and thyme. On the palate it is complex, lively with acidity, and present, but not overwhelming, tannins. It has notes of mild leather, subtle chocolate, bright cherries, herbs and a lovely floral component. The finish is long and pleasant with an herbal/floral note. It is best served below room temperature and can stand up to a wide range of foods.

From time to time they also make a chardonnay that is aged in barriques for 9 months.

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