ROERO ON THE RISE

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find exactly what you have been looking for. 

Often times in the Piedmont, much of the conversation is dominated by a few highly touted territories and wines. However, this is instead an invitation to taste, experience and enjoy something slightly more unexpected. 

As a foreigner living in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities and regions in the world, I’m regularly asked by family, friends and acquaintances about hints and tips in regards to traveling around Italy and its wine country. The most common phrase I hear is “off the beaten path.” Everyone wants that unexpected discovery, a personal, authentic and local experience. For those who open a map and look at the majestic hills to the southeast of Turin, a few recognizable names jump out at you. It’d be easy to stop there, but what happens when you look a little closer? On the northern bank of the Tanaro river, whose path changed over 100,000 years ago, you’ll see quintessential rolling hills with beautifully lined vineyards and a what seems like geometric patterns of perfect orchard fields. Take a deep breath, let it all sink in – by now, you’ve probably fallen in love with Roero. 

In the heart of this unique territory is the city of Canale, surrounded by picturesque vineyards, it’s a historical hub of all things agricultural for the area. Just outside the busier center, since the 1990s, there’s been constant growth and transformation of a once traditional family dwelling, as well as livestock business. Now, thanks to the vision of a family whose roots grow are more profound than the vines themselves, Cascina Chicco sits perched on the side of a beautiful hill, and like all truly great things, there is more than what meets the eye. 

Visit Cascina Chicco for yourself! Click here to discover more! http://bit.ly/cascinachiccovisite

Upon arriving, it’s easy to be taken aback by the size of their enormity of their cellar. This mesmerizing sensation quickly disappears, and you’re brought back down to earth when Enrico Faccenda, one of two brothers and the third generation of winemakers in the family, stretches out his hand, making you feel right at home. The authenticity of the people in Roero seems to be reciprocal with its wines, as well. It’s a sensation you can happily enjoy for yourself during a tasting of some of the outstanding wines produced by Enrico, the mayor of Canale, and his brother Marco. 

As they began to show me around their cellar, it became clear that my biggest problem was picking up jaw up off the floor after every turn. During their expansion from the 1990s to 2014, the family decided to dig deep and do the hard work so that their heritage remained intact. Deep as in over 25 meters deep. Now, we were walking through a labyrinth of exposed brick corridors, each with arches containing priceless bottles of historical family vintages and also vintages that have yet to be released. From that point on I knew I had to embark on a journey of understanding more about territory that unjustly receives less attention than other areas.

The land and soil composition itself is quite different than those of Alba and Asti, and it has to do with the recession of the Golfo Padano several million years before the Tanaro river shifted. An intriguing patchwork of clay, limestone and sand play an essential role in the flavor profile of the wines from the region, as well as the aspects, a term used to describe a hill’s sun exposure. 

Click here and take a look at the cellar for yourself!  http://bit.ly/cascinachicco 

As the Re, “the king”, of Piemontese wines, Nebbiolo has long reigned on these hills, and will undoubtedly continue. Compared to its counterparts on the more southern hills, this King has built its castle on the sandy south-facing slopes which are lack certain nutrients. Don’t be fooled, because this castle built on sand is still made to last. Imagine the lightness of sand, that same fleeting feeling of it running through your fingers, can be found in the Nebbiolo DOCG from Roero. These wines are lighter than the other big B’s (Barolo and Barbaresco) in the piedmont, but have exuberant fragrances and are a joy to drink young. The prominent notes of sour cherries, red fruit and a touch of natural spice that is then tastefully developed thanks to the minimum of 20 months, six of which must be in barrels. Wines made with Nebbiolo, as well as other native varietals like the up and coming Arneis and Barbera, all have an opportunity to age and develop into something extraordinary. I was fortunate enough to taste a Barbera d’Alba from Cascina Chicco from 1997 during our visit that had been opened hours and was absolutely blown away by its structure, opulence and freshness. 

Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2017 Roero Arneis
  • 2017 Barbera d’Alba Granera Alta
  • 2016 Barbera d’Alba Bric Loira
  • 2016 Nebbiolo d’Alba Mompissano
  • 2011 Barolo Ginestra Riserva
  • 2014 Barolo Roche di Castelletto
  • 2015 Roero Nebbiolo Valmaggiore
  • 1998 Barbera d’Alba Granera Alta

Click here for the full list of their wines: http://bit.ly/cascinachiccowines

After our visit we took home a treasure trove of wines ranging from their incredible metodo classico which uses Nebbiolo, territorial whites like the Favorita and Arneis and some impeccable reds made from Barbera and Nebbiolo. The beauty of these wines and the philosophy of Cascina Chicco is their desire to make wines that represent the identity of the land they come from. Their labels are a sincere expression of these same principles as well, conveying the image of the vineyards and the lines themselves.

What personally struck me was the authenticity of each bottle. You know the feeling you have when you meet a person for the very first time, and you feel like you known them always known them? The wines I tasted were similar, in short they struck a cord with me. There was something natural that resonated and I personally believe that it has everything to do with the way Enrico and Marco approach winemaking. They understand that Roero is what sets them apart, and therefore it must be front and center.

All of the eloquently crafted wines from Cascina Chicco have a naturally striking elegance that captivates anyone who has the opportunity to sip them. They represent the allure and class of the entire region. Unfortunately, like all great things, the best very often is hidden, but once it is brought light, you won’t be able to get enough. If you don’t believe me, go and try them for yourself and I promise you be left saying, “it doesn’t get much better than Roero wines.”

Check out our live streaming on Facebook of their wines!

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