In Upper Piedmont, a noble red wine highly esteemed even by Mario Soldati is produced. Here's what it is

Jun 25 2024, 18:09
We're in a small municipality near Biella, where a very interesting red wine is produced, characterized by a subtle and dynamic profile along with notable minerality. Here are the top-rated labels evaluated by Gambero Rosso

"Pure fragrance, pure effluvium, pure spirit" [...] "very refined": this is how Mario Soldati describes the wine from Lessona in the iconic pages of "Vino al vino," in 1968. A few years later, in 1977, this noble and prestigious red wine from Piedmont will boast the DOC status. The designation indeed confirms a certain prestige associated with this wine. In fact, for just over a century, Lessona was also known as "wine of Italy": it was the wine with which Quintino Sella, Minister of Finance of the newly united Kingdom of Italy, toasted to the Unification of Italy after the conquest of Rome through the breach of Porta Pia.

Lessona. The Territory

The few vineyard hectares dedicated to Lessona are all located in the eponymous municipality, a small strip of land in Upper Piedmont, in the province of Biella. While we are at the foot of the Alps, geologically speaking, millions of years ago, this area was under the sea. The vineyards here thus root themselves in soils composed of marine sediments resting on porphyritic rocks. These soils are rich in minerals, almost reddish, with pronounced acidity, unique characteristics that translate into savory counterpoints in the glass. The hills hover around an altitude of 350 meters, shielded by Monte Rosa from the harsh cold winds of northern currents.

The Lessona DOC and the Wines Produced

The denomination includes two types: Lessona and Lessona Riserva. For the former, a maturation of 22 months, including at least 12 in wood, suffices; for the Riserva, the time before commercial release extends to at least 46 months, with 30 in wood. The protagonist of the denomination is Nebbiolo, the prince of Piedmontese grape varieties, known locally as Spanna: it must constitute at least 85% (but can also be used in purity), complemented by Vespolina and Uva Rara.

The best Lessona DOC Wines

The companies producing Lessona are not numerous, but the wines from this area are of great interest. The subtle and dynamic profile of these reds combines with a mineral charm that few other regions can so clearly capture in the glass. We demonstrate this with the following list: the best Lessona wines that this year have earned Due Bicchieri Rossi and Due Bicchieri on the Gambero Rosso Vini d'Italia 2024 guide.

La Prevostura's 2019 Lessona once again fully convinces us: it shines ruby ​​bright, offering aromas of tobacco, licorice, leather, and a potpourri of rose and violet. The tasting experience is harmonious and progressive, with silky tannins and a long finish. For about twenty years, the Bellini brothers have integrated themselves into the viticultural landscape of northern Piedmont, earning a place on the stage of this territory. Their production adventure began in 2003 when Marco acquired a historic estate formerly owned by the Marquises La Marmora and the Quario family, among the first to focus on wines from the area; Davide joined him some time later. The company takes its name from the most prestigious vineyard on the estate, capable of yielding highly aromatic grapes from which the brothers produce their flagship wine, Lessona.

Noah's 2019 Lessona is fresh and complex, with hints of licorice, undergrowth, and roots, and an elegant and fresh palate. In 2011, Andrea Mosca and Giovanna Pepe Diaz's first vintage marked a turning point for these two young people who decided to leave the city's hustle and bustle behind and reconnect with nature more intensely. They chose this practically untouched corner of Piedmont: acquiring vineyards, then renovating a cellar, they began producing wine. Nebbiolo is central to their range, starring in Bramaterra and Lessona, though they also dedicate ample space to Croatina, delicate, floral, and entirely drinkable.

Tenute Sella's Lessona wines are tasty, savory, and rich. With a production history dating back to 1671, the company's estates precisely narrate the distinct terroirs that serve as the productive basins for their range, placing them at the forefront of northern Piedmont wine-making. While the territories are naturally close, Nebbiolo grapes processed by the Sella family manage to convey their varied expressions. If sandy components predominate in Lessona soils, in Bramaterra, limonite and clay take the stage; different substrata yielding different results: the former more aromatic and open, the latter more robust and tannic.

Villa Guelpa's Lessona offers aromas of raspberry, hints of violet and dried herbs, and a refined palate. Although Daniele Dinoia has a long history as a consultant for various wineries in Upper Piedmont, Villa Guelpa has only a few years behind it. This is a company created plot by plot by a fervent enthusiast of wines from Upper Piedmont and their history. With patience, Daniele has assembled a reality composed of vineyards located in the most vocated areas among the municipalities of Lessona, Sizzano, Boca, Roppolo, and Mottalciata. Wines are vinified and aged (in cement and Slavonian oak barrels) to preserve the territorial characteristics unchanged.

Pietro Cassina's 2016 Lessona Pidrin highlights aromas of medicinal herbs and tobacco, with a well-structured palate featuring well-integrated tannins and a long finish.

Lessona Pidrin 2016 - Pietro CassinaLessona Pidrin 2016 - Pietro Cassina

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