I stumbled across this jewel recently and I hope to inspire more people to become patrons of the inspirational ‘Patrone Winery’. This is a hide away gem, not heavily advertised on the wine routes around but a star in the making. This winery is located in the cross roads town of Cortemilia in The Langhe Hills, 30 mins from Barbaresco. We saw the familiar ‘degustatzione’ sign and thought, 'why not?'
Welcomed by the wonderful 'Camila', a very pretty, blonde, puppy dog, we were then greeted in human language by the smiling, and extremely fit looking, brother and sister team, who sit behind this label, both in their younger years, I didn’t dare ask their ages but estimate mid to late twenties, possibly younger, you see, inspirational already. I don’t know about you but I seem to keep having tastings at wineries that have generations of history and prestige going back a hundred years, with typical middle aged owners, who have succeeded their successful parents’ business, none of which I mind of course. Sometimes there are glimmers of newcomers, but what I find so inspiring, about this brother and sister team, is that there was no prestigious name behind them, just the usual farming land with hazelnuts and vines grown for personal consumption, grown, prior to their succession, as basic table wine. But Enzo and Elena decided to go for it, and go for it large. No testing, or experimenting, from scratch, they have taken this business very seriously, including going to college to study viniculture, and further studies at the world famous Alba viniculture college. This has led to almost instant success and reward with their first production in the single digit thousands of bottles and being pretty much sold out to local distributors. Their subsequent seasons have seen them tweak and refine and now their wine is flying off the shelves.
Going into their, cooler climate, presentation room, we saw rows of ageing Barbera 2015 in French wooden barrels and a tasting table with crackers, cheese and ham. We tasted all of their offerings, which unveiled some great finds. Firstly, a Pinot Noir ‘champagne’ style, Spumante Brut sparkling wine, it was a treat, very hard indeed to not think of it as Champagne, as the taste and bubble texture was the same, easy to drink at 12.5% and it seemed perfect for a celebratory toast.
A 100% Chardonnay was then opened, again another rare grape in this region, which tends towards promoting the Roero Arneis grape, so we were thrilled to try it. This wine was the number 1 for me of the tasting, though most who know me know my preference towards white wine in this region. Truly though you have to try this wine. At 14% I thought it was going to be fiery but it was totally the opposite, mellow and creamy, reminiscent of a good Chablis. At this stage I was looking at Enzo and Elena in awe, what a team. They spoke with so much passion about each wine and you could see the little tension in their faces, as they awaited our amateur feedback on each bottle tasted. This is such a rare sight, as often I find the tasting tables, at other wineries, seem attended by either bored members of a winery, other cocky ‘we know our wines are fabulous’ types, or people with little half smiles and sympathetic eyes, as we give our not very professional but honest thoughts on a wine. Enzo and Elena are a real credit to their winery and will put all newcomers to wine, to wizened professionals of wine, into a trance of happiness by just being there with them and witnessing their real, genuine, enthusiasm for their wines.
The star for Andrew was the Nebbiolo, a well know regional grape and the backdrop to the fine wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Here, fortunately for me, they had made it a bit smoother and less fiery at 13.5%, but still with lots of spice and fruit notes. Perfect with cheese and ham and with grilled, or roasted, meats. Enzo seemed really proud of this achievement, and so they should be.
Through the discussions of the wine, Enzo explained some of their methods, they call it ‘organoleptic’ and with some biodynamic elements too, such as bottling when there is a new moon, this keeps the bottle from creating fizz, a big mistake if you bottle on an old moon and I have tasted such 'mistakes' numerous times in Italy, when I have witnessed this in my mouth, thinking I am sipping a regular white wine and suddenly little fizzy bubbles pop up, I hate that. So Enzo and Elena have studied hard and, working with nature, they have produced these fine wines as a result. I am sure with the Pinot Noir sparkling wine they bottle on an old moon! I haven’t been able to look at the moon the same way since.
We had a tour of the cellar and saw the modern steel tanks, somewhat smaller than the big guns of this region, but nonetheless filled with beautiful wine in the making. The steeply, south-east facing, terraced vineyards went a long way towards explaining the athletic physiques of these two young wine makers, I don’t think I would have made it up to the first terrace without collapsing. The old ancient stone terraces adds the historic terroir factor to this new winery and of course the sun soaking stones help with regulating the night temperatures emitting some warmth into the normally cold nights.
We left with a good 12 bottles knowing we will frequently return for more. If you don’t have time to pop in here they are stocked in the local bakers on Piazza Savona, in Cortemilia, which is run by Enzo’s girlfriend. An all-round, great, team effort.
www.patronewinery.it firstname.lastname@example.org t +39 0173 81723
Azienda Agricola Patron Elena, Strada Viarascio 15, Cortemilia, Cuneo, Piemonte
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Clare, 41, living the 'dolce vita' in Piemonte in the Langhe Hills. This new blog is dedicated to the delicious food and drink of the Italian Piedmont region. To read more about our new life in the Langhe we have a life in Piemonte blog here