Native vines: the great biodiversity of the grape varieties in the heart of Monferrato
Let’s start a journey with Tiziano Barea, Tenuta Montemagno’s owner, in the world of Piedmont native vines: Grignolino, Ruchè, Timorasso, Barbera d’Asti and Malvasia di Casorzo.
There’s a corner in the Monferrato area - the land of UNESCO heritage “infernot” - where a few native vine varieties find a home. Those grapes are the base of great wines, which are enhanced and made famous in the world thanks to Tenuta Montemagno, Barea family’s winery. Tenuta Montemagno is located on the gentle hills of Monferrato at the 45th parallel, an area particularly suited to the cultivation of vines since ancient times.
“Tenuta Montemagno philosophy has always been the enhancement of Monferrato native vines. Our philosophy means strengthening the territory, our identity and heritage at the same time” explains Tiziano Barea, owner of the family winery. The great biodiversity of the grape varieties present on these hills has ancient roots in this territory.
Here in the heart of Monferrato, we find Ruchè, Grignolino, Malvasia, Timorasso and Barbera d’Asti. "On these varieties Tenuta Montemagno has based its production philosophy which, combined with highly technological winemaking techniques, has made our wines an example of quality and innovation" continues Tiziano Barea.
“Our TM method is developed through the following aspects: limited productions, careful defoliation of the vineyard to allow proper ventilation of the selected and hand-picked bunches; a second selection, strictly manual, precedes the mechanical de-stemming phase and the subsequent fermentation, carried out exclusively with selected noble yeasts. For red wines, the start of this delicate phase occurs only when the tank is filled, keeping the temperatures in perfect balance thanks to the Nectar technology” continues the owner of Tenuta Montemagno.
Let’s discover together with Tiziano Barea these native varieties and let's get to know the protagonists in the glass.
Ruchè is a very rare vine that can only be grown in a small area around Montemagno, it is characterized by its flavours of violets and roses on the nose, and its elegance on the palate. “This magical wine owes its current fame to two famous personalities from Castagnole Monferrato: the parish priest, Don Giacomo Cauda, who at the end of the seventies dedicated himself with great enthusiasm to the production of Ruchè, and the mayor Lidia Bianco, who worked hard to obtain the DOC in 1987” explains Barea.
From Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato D.O.C.G. Tenuta Montemagno produces two unique wines:
NOBILIS: an elegant, velvet and persistent wine. It represents the identity of the grape without any intermediation from the vineyard to the bottle. Long-limbed, clean, deep.
INVICTUS: it comes from a particular production of Ruchè grapes with a late harvest in order to give great structure and personality. Dark red color with purple and black reflections, it has intense notes of roses, violets and ripe red fruit. It is deep, broad and incredibly persistent.
Grignolino is a native black grape variety, typical of the Asti and Monferrato Casalese areas. It is probably the most original grape from Monferrato and, in Piedmont, it is synonymous with "a great glass of red wine". It has known since the Middle Ages with the name of Barbesino, or barbexinus, since it has already been mentioned in the capitular archives of Casale Monferrato since 1249. “From this grape Ruber, a Grignolino d’Asti D.O.C. wine with 100% Grignolino grapes, was born” Barea tells us. "The name derives from its color: ruby, above all, the surprising trait is the contemporaneity of style and character that make it current and versatile”.
Malvasia di Casorzo is a very rare red grape variety present only in the municipality of Casorzo, in the Asti area. It is an aromatic grape, one of a kind, which releases flavors and delicate hints of rose and white peach. “DULCEM is born from this grape: a sweet petillant vinified version, produced from vines with south - south west exposure. The great drinkability of this wine is due to its fragrance, but also to its freshness and limited alcohol content” concludes Tiziano Barea.
Timorasso is a native variety with a quality white berried grape grown in the province of Alessandria, an area where the vine finds a valid "habitat" thanks to the soil, the long sunshine and the position sheltered from the winds. Its production is very limited, but of high quality. "Thanks to the peculiar composition of the soil and the exposure of the vineyards dedicated to the cultivation of Timorasso, here on the estate, SOLIS VIS Monferrato Bianco doc is born, made with Timorasso grapes vinified in purity. It's a brilliant straw yellow color wine with intense greenish reflections, characterized by its marked minerality and olfactory complexity, with warm and intense aromas, with evident notes of white fruit and flint. A white wine with a soul and structure that can compete with the great reds of Piedmont "says Barea.
"Barbera d’Asti is our identity and our history." This is how Tiziano Barea introduces Mysterium and Austerum, the two pure Barbera wines vinified in Tenuta Montemagno. "Mysterium is our brand ambassador: a superior Barbera whose grapes come from the oldest vineyards of the estate, which are over 85 years old. Austerum is instead a splendid example of the quality and personality expressed by this grape variety. “Furthermore, for me Barbera has such versatility that it produces a version of the Classic Method, brut, vinifying it in purity: these are our TMBrut 24 and TMBrut 36”.
Sustainable production and uncontaminated territory are therefore the basic ingredients of this Piedmontese company and the proof of this are these wines that are united by the fil rouge of a production philosophy that favors processing in an eco-sustainable vineyard and which maintains very high levels of sulphites low, lower than those required by the organic regulations, enhancing the terroir of each cru in the area, producing quality wines that tell a story of sustainability, quality, uniqueness and that, above all, “give unique emotions” - says Tiziano Barea.