Valle Roncati 2013 Fara Riserva 'Ciada'

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Valle Roncati is our latest discovery from Alto Piemonte. This is one of their red Riservas: Fara. This is one of Alto Piemonte's microscopic DOCs, a mere 5 hectares in total. The wine is made from a majority of Nebbiolo with small amounts of Uva Rara and Vespolina to give extra dimensions to the wine. The wine is polished and elegant, like a fine Barolo from an expert winemaker. There are reds and black fruits, but more than that it has aromas of forest floor and wood polish with tannins that are enveloping and generous.

This Month's Mixed Cases

The Wine Region



Piedmont is, without fear of contradiction, Italy's most exciting wine region. Home to Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's finest and most long-lived wines, being the ultimate expression of the world's greatest grape variety: Nebbiolo. OK, I might be going a bit far with that one, but it's my favourite. This variety has, perhaps even more so than Pinot Noir, an in-built ability to transmit its terroir into the glass with laser-like precision and clarity. Perhaps this is why there are 170 named, single-vineyards in Barolo alone (what we now call the Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive, or MGAs for short). Barolo is, without doubt, worthy of its title, 'The King of Wines, The Wine of Kings'.

The hills of The Langhe, where Barolo and Barbaresco are found, is also home to other wonderful varieties: Dolcetto is a delight when the winemaker can get the balance of tannins correct, Dogliani being the favoured zone; Barbera is juicy and fruitful with many examples reaching lofty heights of quality; Freisa is light but deliciously complex. There are white varieties too: Arneis is making some kind of come back, since it nearly disappeared entirely: Favorita is the local version of Vermentino; and of course, who could forget Moscato?

Elsewhere, the wines which are receiving the most attention, are those of Alto Piemonte: Gattinara, Ghemme, Sizzano, Fara and many other microscopic DOCs where you can often find pure Nebbiolos, or ocassionally mixed up with Vespolina and Uva Rara. These are not the 'poor man's Barolo', these are distinct wines, worthy of merit. There is also the ubiquitous Gavi di Gavi, one of the few Italian whites with a household name.

The Producer

Valle Roncati

Valle Roncati

Valle Roncati is a small producer based in the village of Briona, about 20KM from Novara and 40KM from the start of the Alps. They work with a number of small DOCs and one DOCG, Ghemme. We have selected the wines from two of these.

One is Fara, a tiny DOC which is only 5 hectares in size, amongst the smallest in Italy. The wines are based on Nebbiolo, but peppered with other varieties from the region, namely Vespolina and Uva Rara. The former of these is a black-pepper spicy black variety and the latter, also known as Bonarda Novarese, is also rich and dark, so these varieties bring another dimension to the elegant Nebbiolo.

The other DOC is Sizzano, a sub-region which you will be forgiven for having never heard of before. Also a Nebbiolo with a splash of Vespolina and Uva Rara, but these two wines couldn't be more different from each other, and that just goes to show 'terroir' at work.

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