|Grapes||Erbaluce, Croatina, Nebbiolo|
90% Croatina - from vines over 100 years old, 10% Vespolina a little Erbaluce and some other bits and pieces. Croatina is quite a low-acid grape, but the tannins can be a bit ristic, so Christoph now picks this last to make sure the tannins are properly ripe. Dense and very dark. Deep purple colour. Positive juicy black fruit with cherry acidity and cherry-skin tannins. This is given only three or four days of skin contact, and then aged 3 years in tonneaux. Very different but rather fab. L&S (Mar 2017)
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The 2012 Piane Vino Rosso (formerly Colline Novaresi) is deep, powerful and intense, almost unusually so for a Croatina-based wine. Plum, black stone fruit, licorice and smoke meld together in a pliant, resonant red full of personality. Hints of sweet herb and tobacco emerge on the finish, but this is a distinctly deep wine that will require time in bottle to develop its full range of aromatics. Tasted from barrel. Drinking range: 2016 - 2024 Rating: 90-92 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Jul 2015)
Christoph Kunzli, originally a Swiss wine importer, was introduced to the tiny and little known region of Boca by Paolo di Marchi, owner of the famous Chianti estate, Isole e Olena. Located in the highest and most north-eastern part of Piedmont the region has a rich history of winemaking up until the 1950s when investment turned from vineyards to textiles. In the 19th century the Boca region boasted almost 40,000 hectares of vines, but by the 1990s had dwindled to less than 10, leaving it all but abandoned and largely forgotten, with most of the area returning to woodland. Christoph came here in 1998.
In 2000 Paolo de Marche started his own property as Lessona, a neighbouring district. Christoph has added five hectares of vines to the original two, planted with Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Bonarda and Croatina (a.k.a. Refosco), and all of which are surrounded by dense woodland with not another vine in sight, although a sign beside the track in the woods shows an ancient photograph of the area, with a patchwork of vineyards covering the surrounding hills which looks a lot like modern-day Barolo. Christoph follows vineyard practices which are leading towards becoming fully biodynamic, and being totally non-interventionist in the winery, choosing to make the wines 'by his mouth' rather than by science. Whatever he is doing he is doing it very well and these are some of the most natural and exciting wines we have found from Piemonte; totally expressive, quite unique and with a wonderfully elegant and fine profile.
BOCA DOC consists of Nebbiolo (85%) and Vespolina grapes. This wine requires full maturity and is aged in the barrel for 3 to 4 years, and can then be stored for decades. The mineral composition of the porphyritic soil together with the characteristic structure of the Nebbiolo grapes allow 'Boca' to become a full, expressive wine. It's savour reminds one of well matured forest fruit, violets, tobacco and dried herbs with hints of balsam and citrus fruit. Power and a silky elegance will develop in the mouth, fascinating and playful, with a slightly noble and bitter note. The vast complexity allows one to discover new facets over and over again. Boca Le Piane can refine in bottles for 10-20 years.
'PIANE': at Le Piane Christoff and his team have rediscovered the forgotten richness of the local Croatina grape. They undertook the challenging task of selecting grapes from the best very old vineyards, up to 100 years old, on high hill sides (500m) around the Montalbano, Traversagna and Santuario areas to develop a wine with tremendous character. This wine is aged in tonneaux and large wooden barrels for 2 years. The wine is very concentrated and shows notes of blackberry, cherry, tobacco and spices. The dense substance gives a velvety and mineral finish. A wine which can refine in bottles for up to 10 years.
You can download the full .pdf brochure of the vineyard and wines here.
Here's a cross the board selection from Christoph Kunzli's outstanding, vinously isolated and deliciously different estate in north-east Piedmont.
'This is simply a magical bottle. That's all there is to it.' says Antonio Galloni of the Boca 2011, lavishing 96 big points on it into the bargain. That's reason enough, surely, to lay in a pack. 85% Nebbiolo 15% Vespolina, so the one that speaks most of what you might expect from Piedmont, Maybe.
The Le Piane, on the other hand, is idiosyncrasy that proves how different Boca is to the rest of Piedmont. 90% Croatina with small amounts of Vespolina, Nebbiolo, Erbaluce and others.
And the charming plump blackcherry and spice Mimmo (70% Nebbiolo, 30% Croatina) is the one to drink whilst you're deciding when to broach the other two.
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