Explore a New-to-You Wine – Nas-Cëtta from the Langhe in Piemonte
Always ready to discover something new about compelling areas of Italy through wine, food and travel are the writers of #ItalianFWT group on social media. Once a month, articles pertaining to a specific theme or region are written and shared. This month, we’re offering our impressions of the Langhe, a subregion of Piemonte (Piedmont) located just south of Alba.
Photo Credit: Wandering Italy
Piemonte is home to the world renown region of Barolo where the red grape Nebbiolo holds court. In the Langhe, a hilly area bordering France and Switzerland, mountains, plains and beautiful vineyards on sunny hillsides are found. After the House of Savoy finally maintained peace in the 1800s (after centuries of strife), the region became known for its wines, those that the noble French family shared with royal courts throughout Europe.
In the Langhe, a continental climate featuring long, cold winters, often with snow thanks to the area’s proximity to the Alps, is experienced. Summers are hot with an extreme diurnal shift of temperatures between day and night that allows the grapes to flourish and develop bright acidity, intense fruit notes and bold tannins. Calcareous and clay soils provide a foundation that offer the region’s grapes complexity and structure.
Langhe DOC produces red grapes Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetta and Freisa along with international varieties. White grapes include Favorita, Arneis, Chardonnay and Nas-Cëtta.
Fast forward to the 1990s, when native white grape Nas-Cëtta was rediscovered. Today, it’s considered one of the most notable white wines of the Langhe and often said to be “the white wine of Barolo” since it’s cultivated on the hills of Barolo and, to a greater extent, Novello.
After the House of Savoy finally maintained peace in the 1800s (after centuries of strife), the region became known for its wines, those that the noble French family shared with royal courts throughout Europe. The first writing about Nas-Cëtta was in 1877 by Rovasenda in his “Essay about universal ampelography” in which he cites “Anascetta” as an “extremely delicate grape and the best wine.”
At that time, the variety was used for blending with other white grapes or made into sweet wines for the Church. Unfortunately, phylloxera, two world wars and difficulty in containing its vigorous growth caused Nas-Cëtta to become nearly extinct in the 20th century – a few rows of the variety were maintained in Novello, however, for sentimental reasons.
Enter producer Elvio Cogno and his son-in-law Valter Fissure. Both became enamored with Nas-Cëtta and began the process to make a single-variety vinification. In 1994, their goal was achieved and today they have 3 hectares with 20,000 bottles produced. Now, a total of 40 hectares of Nas-Cëtta is found throughout the Langhe, with a third of the production in Novello. In fact, Nas-Cëtta del Comune di Novello was designated a DOC in 2010 and currently, there are 12 producers.
Ahhh, Nas-Cëtta. A semi-aromatic white grape, aromas and flavors may vary. From easy drinking and pleasant with fruit forward notes of crisp apple and bright citrus to a more complex profile with notes of apricot, herbs, exotic fruit, flint and honey, we find soft acidity and a tangy finish. Of note is that Nas-Cëtta has ageing potential.
To take Nas-Cëtta out for a taste test, I chose Marengo Mauro Langhe Nas-Cëtta DOC 2020 sent as a sample. The slightly chilled wine offered aromas and flavors of dried stone fruit, apricots, crisp apple, a hint of honey and crushed almonds. The finish was long and savory and was an exceptional pairing to a crispy skin salmon with both roasted and pureed cauliflower, roasted carrots, locally foraged mushrooms and hazelnuts.
Cheers! ~ Cindy
Check out my #ItalianFWT colleagues’ articles about the Langhe. Cin Cin!