Nascetta is an indigenous white grape variety to the Alba area within the region of Piedmont in northern Italy. Alba is far more renowned for being home to Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba, and Dolcetto d’Alba. Alba is located in the Langhe DOC. The wines produced in this appellation can contain various combinations of the 14 approved grape varieties allowed to be grown in the area. Single variety wines must contain a minimum of 85% of the principle grape with the other 15% being one of the other non aromatic grape varieties. Blending with non aromatic grapes maintains the varietal character of the primary grape.
Nascetta was nearly extinct until Elvio Cogno produced a tiny production using the fruit in 1994. This experiment using 100% Nascetta grapes garnered exposure to the unknown grape variety, and many believe saved it from eternal obscurity. Just 8 years later, in 2002, Nascetta became a DOC recognized grape variety in Langhe. Elvio probably only embarked on this experiment after trying a 1986 Nascetto with a member of the press that had upheld surprisingly well over time. It had developed flavors of dried fruit that was reminiscent of the dessert wine Sauternes of Bordeaux made of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. It was at this time, he knew it was destined for greatness. In 2010, it had the ultimate Italian wine designation bestowed upon it by earning its own appellation designation known as Langhe Nascetta of the township Novello. Wines with this designation must contain 100% Nascetta. These wines have earned a reputation for being complex and age worthy in a relatively short time frame. Currently, around 40 acres are under vine in Langhe.
The bottle that found me this week was a 2020 Nascetta Langhe DOC by Daniele Conterno. Again, I can’t say enough about my local wine shop, Tacoma Wine Merchants, for seeking and procuring so many fascinating wines to expose people to. This wine was a pale lemon with slight petulance. It wasn’t discernable on the goblet but there were a significant number of bubbles on the surface of the wine. The legs were watery and unremarkable. On the nose, it exhibited an overt chalky character with wet slate minerality balanced with lemon pith, elderflower, and white grapefruit. On the palate, this crisp, dry, light bodied, moderate alcohol wine had prominent citrus flavors that were rounded out with the sleekness of a steely minerality. This was a lean wine that would only improve with some age, developing notes of honey or more exotic fruits. It was refreshing on a warm summer day for the time being. As with so many light wines during the summer, this would pair with a moderately acidic main course or appetizer, especially if citrus was a featured component! While others are drinking their first PSL of the season, I’m holding tight to my light citrus driven white wines and temperate summer evenings.