I’ll be honest, when I met Alessandro from La Campore at the Terra Madre festival in Turin last year, I didn’t think for a moment that I’d see him again. However, as it turns out, their vineyard is right next to my friend’s mum’s village. It’s a small world!
And so, on our recent trip to Italy to the Gelato Artigianale Festival in Agugliano, it would have been rude not to make a flying visit to see the vineyard that had been described in so much detail for ourselves.
La Campore is just an incredibly idyllic spot. Like the rest of the northern region of Piedmont, it exists in the embrace of the Alps to the north, which give a reassuring feeling of permanence and presence to the area. The vines are grown under a number of different trellis systems, according to the various needs of each varietal – including espalier, pergola and half-pergola. These systems also are a nod to the wine making traditions of the area.
The natural rolling hillside of the area creates a perfect microclimate for the grapes to grow. As you can see from the photos, an organic approach is preferred and although not all of the wines are certified, you can see the impact that it has on creating a long-term sustainable vineyard which is absolutely bursting with diversity and life. I think I saw more species of wildflower in one short tour than I do over a few months here in the UK and there were plenty of signal species of flora and fauna that demonstrated the overall health of the land.
I think this is a carpenter bee? It was very blue.
Teeny wild strawberries can be very fussy so they are a great indicator of health in the environment
After all that gorgeousness, you’d expect some pretty special wines and you would not be disappointed! We popped into the little cellar to have a look at the red wines taking on some age in the barrels and have an enticing sniff of the vintage yet to come and then it was out on the terrace for a tasting.
Bacchus wanted to know what we were all up to in the dark cellar.
We were looking at wine!
We started with the Erbaluce di Caluso 2016. Erbaluce is a very common grape in this DOP and this was a lovely refreshing wine with a distinctly rounded finish. There were hints of elderflower and even pineapple layered behind the initial crispness. A perfect balance in the heat!
Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante Brut 2012 came next, a formidable sparkling wine with delicate, small bubbles and a crisp flavour, which exhibited a slight sourness and even a tendancy towards biscuit and vanilla notes. In fact, all the characteristics that are highly prized in French sparkling wines, although this was not made with their traditional blend of grapes but just Erbaluce. It definitely puts itself forward as a contender in the sparkling world – not all Italian sparkling is prosecco (happily).
Finally, we tried theCanavese Rosso 2016. This had a fascinating aroma to it, which reminded me absolutely of rose foliage – almost walking through an English country garden. It also had a good body which belied the youth of the wine, with good black fruit notes. It is certainly the benefits of the summer sun and protective microclimate which allows this red to be so full of texture and complex flavours.
Along with this blended wine, they also make the prized Nebbiolo of the region which I did not try on this occasion but have enjoyed in the past.
All in all, this little vineyard is producing some absolutely delicious, incredibly well priced wines. Organic certification is present on some of the younger wines, so there are plenty of people out there who would enjoy getting the opportunity to try something so cost effective on the pocket but with so much flavour.
Sadly, it’s a small vineyard and so your chances of finding the wines over here in the UK are minimal. So you’ll just have to plan your trip to Piedmont and seek them out for yourselves. There are promises of a stage being built overlooking the vineyard and the incredible view for tastings in the future and I would sign up for that any day of the week. A beautiful place to visit and a rare treat indeed.