Timorasso is a white grape from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It is another of the white grapes indigenous to this area where reds reign supreme. It was rare in the not too distant past but is seeing a resurgence in notoriety. Some speculate, though unconfirmed, that writings documenting this vine’s existence date back as far as the 13th century. When phylloxera decimated much of the European vineyards late 19th and early 20th century, Timorasso replantings fell out of favor to vines that had significantly larger yields, such as Cortese. In the mid 1980’s, there was only about 1 acre of Timorasso planted. In 2020, that number had ballooned to over 400 acres. Vintner Walter Massa is credited with this growth because, in the late 1980’s, he decided to make a unique wine with the small patch of white grapes growing in his vineyard. This bottling garnered attention from fellow growers and winemakers in the area. As a result, plantings increased and eventually it was allowed to be labeled with Colli Tortonesi DOC. It can be made into still or sparkling wines. The still wines are almost always single varietal because of the complexity they exhibit. If labeled with the DOC designation, by law, it must be aged for a minimum of 13 months before being released to market.
I selected a bottle of 2020 La Spinetta Timorasso from Colli Tortonesi DOC to enjoy this week. The medium straw yellow wine had a few bubbles that clang to the base of the glass. The legs were watery with minimal viscosity. The aromas of toast and wood were prominent when it was poured. I also detected marcona almonds, honey smacks cereal, and white grapefruit. While the aromas would normally indicate this wine was aged in oak barrels, Timorasso commonly displays them without touching any oak in the aging process. This creamy wine tickled the palate with slight petulance. It spent 8 months on the lees (dead yeast cells) after fermentation was complete. This time helped create the roundness this wine showed. The texture was balanced with a moderate level of acid. The front palate had toasted honey and white grapefruit that transitioned to honeysuckle, white peach, stoney minerality, and orange blossom on the mid palate. The minerality joined a lemon pith note on the finish that lingered. This wine was vibrant, complex, and fun while still being substantial enough to drink as the days get colder. This wine would be wonderful with a butternut squash ravioli with a nutty browned butter sauce or butternut squash soup. It could also withstand tomato based sauces with lighter meats or pastas with cream based sauces. I, as are many others, am excited to watch this grape rise in popularity as people are able to try it!