Roccasanta Winery – Perletto, Langhe, Piemonte
More than just a winery!
Our local butcher stocks a shelf of local wine, which until recently I hadn’t really noticed, after all we are surrounded by wine in Langhe. But one day in February we decided to pick up a Dolcetto from the shelf, one I hadn’t come across before. Dolcetto is my new go to wine for light red wine drinking, typically ranging from 12-13% alcohol volume and it is great with pizza and pasta. Importantly, it is not to be confused with a sweet wine, aka dolci wine. Dolcetto is traditionally the farmers wine and they would drink it after their morning work on the land and thus it has the great nickname of 'breakfast' wine (and no I am not drinking it at breakfast). Trying the Dolcetto that night was a revelation, it was smooth, and full of berry and fruitiness, I inspected the label, and found it to be fortunately produced by Roccasanta, in Perletto, a local village and only 12% avc. Perletto is a mere 7 km away from our house. The next day, a Sunday, we decided to venture out to find the Roccasanta winery. We turned off the main Perletto road into wine growing country, acres of vines stood in the winter sun as we slowly crept along the white road towards a cluster of houses. Still no sign of the vineyard. This is strange, as some of the larger wineries around here go to great lengths to direct people off the main road and towards their vineyards, with promises of degustazione ‘tastings’ and to buy the local Langhe wine. Here there wasn’t a clue. Heading down towards the hamlet we spotted two young boys out on a stroll ahead of us and we pulled up to ask them for directions, with great Italian shoulder heaving and nonchalance they pointed us to the farm house. Pulling up to the house, Andrew was sent off to knock on the door, just in case some wild dog came out, as not a soul stirred. While he disappeared the two boys turned into the drive and walked into the farmhouse. It's all very secretive around here, I thought. The next moment Andrew appeared with a young man and introduced me to him, ‘Alex’ and it turned out he works at the winery, as Alex himself explained in perfect English. The next thing I knew Alex set off at haste in his little car, leaving a trail of dusty, chalky puffs in the air, as he sped along the 'off road' lane to find the farmer before we could say no. Five minutes later a big burly moustached farmer arrived, with Alex, with a big smile and ‘Buongiorno’, Alex introduced me to him, ‘This is Ferrucio’, "Piacere", I said with warmth and my suddenly small hand disappeared into his ginormous but gentle hand shake.
Ferrucio led us off to a large modern shed, where there, hidden from the road, was the ‘Roccasanta’ name and a pristine yard. With much protest from us, as we were sure he had more important things to do on the land, he opened the vast doors and we stepped into a proper winery with oak barrels, and vast steel tanks. All was very cold on this winter’s day and we stood with cold boned but rapt attention, as he, via Alex, explained all the different wines. With great care Ferrucio poured the wines, starting with the Dolcetto, a bit colder than we remembered. To be honest, all was cold but tasted lovely, but I wouldn’t be doing justice to this winery if I gave my thoughts on this tasting, as more was to come. The story of Roccasanta is fascinating. It turns out Ferrucio is the farmer and expertly grows the vines but he is not the winemaker. Another man, Pietro Monti is, Pietro is 32 and a genius I have decided. Apparently, an early talent he started making wine in his earlier twenties and did so well he was soon selling Roccasanta wine throughout Europe and then BAM! He was involved in a car accident and was blinded at 25 years of age. This lovely winery took a backseat for a few years while Pietro got himself back together and eventually found himself back in the winery doing what he does best, making wine. We promised to return to meet Pietro soon.
We did meet Pietro, later that week we returned to pick up some more wine and there he was, a strong man, great use of the English language and accompanied by his father Renato, as his eyes. He is very easy to talk to and he has a great passion for wine to pass on to visitors. We organised to come back and have a proper tasting of all his wines. And we did.
Here are my amateur tasting notes:
The Barbera D’Alba Superiore DOC is now my favourite wine, it is rounded and smooth with almost a lemon sugar after taste and I have to say I crave this wine now. It’s very difficult to restrain myself during the week. The regular Barbera D’Alba DOC is easy to drink with most food as I can attest to but is totally overshadowed by the Superiore.
The Langhe Nebbiolo DOC is rich and elegant without being overpowering like Barolo or Barbaresco. It is lighter in alcohol 13.5% and I think gives a better understanding of the grape in its simplicity than the big ‘B’s do. You still get the dark fruit, peppery spice and very slight tar, but dark fruity chocolate is my main impression.
The regular Langhe Chardonnay DOC is a great white wine discovery in this region, at this alcohol level, 12.5%, the non barriqued wine has a touch of the Chablis about it and is very easy to drink at lunch time with a fish dish, as I did the other day with poached salmon, refreshing and not heavy, light and gently fruity and herby.
The barrique Langhe Chardonnay DOC is a favourite with many people I have introduced this to, I think because it is so unusual to have oaked Chardonnay in Langhe. It is more golden in colour than the regular chardonnay and more of a treat wine than an every-day wine but nonetheless a star. Touches of banana and pineapple.
There is a Barolo DOCG, Pietro ships in the grapes from a parcel in Monteforte d’Alba (Barolo territory) and has turned it into a 3 glasses award (excellent) winning wine in the 'I Vini Di Veronelli 2017' wine guide, a mean feat for any winery in the Barolo territory and testament to his excellence. We didn’t get to try it, as there are only a few precious bottles left! Well of course that would be the case and we decided to leave those for Barolo connosieurs, which we are not.
The wines are at the lower level of alcohol due to some of the terrain being in shade for part of the day and, I have to say, this really makes a positive difference, as a lot of the Langhe wines are steadily increasing in alcohol due to the longer hotter summers of the past few years.
If you want to pop along for a tasting you can Email Pietro via the website to arrange a time, as he is only there 3-4 days a week, he speaks good English and is an absolute gentleman to deal with. You won’t be disappointed.
All contact details http://www.aziendagricolaroccasanta.it/
AZIENDA AGRICOLA ROCCASANTA, Via Piana 19, LOC. Chiappa, 12070 Perletto, Cuneo, Piemonte
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