Story and phots by Babbie De Derian
Discover Nizza Master Class
An Italian wine label will usually include certain information: the name of the winery, perhaps also the name of the vineyard that produced the grapes, the vintage (the year in which the wine was made), and either an abbreviation (e.g., DOC, DOCG) or a phrase (Vino da Tavola) that indicates a category.
D.O.C.G. wines are regulated by a set of production regulations and are distinguished by a very precise area of origin which may also include sub-areas covering a certain village, hamlet, farm, or vineyard. The designated area is quite limited and is the area which is most suitable for the production of that wine.
The production regulations of D.O.C.G. wines include the same sort of rules as the DOC wines but with tighter parameters. The law foresees that the DOCG status be awarded to wines which have been DOC wines for at least 5 years. DOCG wines must pass a double test with the second checks being carried out during the bottling stage. It is obligatory to indicate the vintage on the label (except for sparkling wines).
Production regulations must outline:
- the name of the appellation
- the area of origin of the grapes
- the maximum yield of grapes and wine per hectare
- the minimum potential alcohol level of the grapes
- the chemical and organoleptic characteristics of the wine as well as the minimum alcohol content of the wine
- the production conditions (climate, soil, elevation, sun exposure, etc.)
- the layout of the vineyards in terms of plant density, types of training systems, pruning
- how the sensory analysis examinations are to be carried out
- minimum period of ageing in wood or in bottle
- in which specific area the wine must be bottled.
Trade and media gathered at Del Posto Restaurant in New York for the Discover Nizza D.O.C.G. Master Class and luncheon, presented by Mr. Gregory Dal Piaz, with a panel of wine producers: who are working together for the very first time, in a ground breaking movement, to produce and promote iconic wines from the region.
Nizza Monferrato is a municipality in the Province of Asti in the Italian region of Piedmont, Nizza is proving to be the best place to grow Barbera grapes.
The winery panel included: Cascina Lana, Michele Chiarlo, Prunotto, Dacapo, Bersano, Coppo, L'Armangia, Tenuta Olim Bauda and Tenuta Garetto.
Each participating winery had their own unique story to tell. They shared a little family history... their roles and differences... passions for wine making… and how the soil changes from north to south, affecting the grapes; the more sand in the soil, the less water it can retain putting stress on the vines. Each is working to delineate their own characteristics, and to bottle something special, even in adverse weather conditions. "Last year we had a very rainy season; it was a very difficult time".
These producers are the first to admit, they are still learning, "trying to figure it out”; "our job is to create; the rest is up to you".
Coming from 80 villages, Nizza is producing 100% Barbera wines that are aged 16 to 18 months in oak barrels. Logistics come into play; not just what winemakers want it to taste.
As I swirled, sniffed and sipped each wine, I discovered a new world of fun Italian wines with elegant nuances. Wines varied in depth of color as they did in sensory profile: from deep ruby red to purple with ruby hues… and from velvety with a silky finish to intense with scents of rhubarb, tobacco and spices or to peppery, blackberry and coffee.
Wines that came from sandy soil regions definitely tasted different than those cultivated in brown chalky soil.
It was an honor to be introduced to the Nizza World of Wine by a group of wine producers who are so deeply invested and committed to the future of Barbera, and their role in empowering the Consortium. Production will continue to grow as the market discovers these affordable, full bodied and friendly-to-the-palate red wines.
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