Sunday, October 28, 2012

Piemonte's other white grape

Giovanni Manzone working in the cellar with his daughter

Piemonte is often associated with Barolo. And with Barbera, with Dolcetto, and with red wines. Of course there are whites. There is Gavi. Also Erbaluce. And there is Arneis. There is even Nascetta. But did you know that there is also Rossese Bianco? I didn't. Rossese I'd heard of, but only as a red wine from Liguria. And that is apparently a different grape than the Bianco, the Bianco being native to the Piemonte and a personal favorite of Giovanni Manzone. Giovanni discovered the unusual white in an experimental vineyard, and has worked for years to revive it with plantings near his winery in Monforte. I got a chance to try the results when Mauro Manzone, Giovanni's 27 year old son, poured me a sample of Rossese Bianco during my recent visit.

Mauro Manzone

The Rossese Bianco at Giovanni Manzone is fermented in 500 liter barrels, and then aged for 10 months on the lees in barrels of the same size. The 2010 Rossese Bianco from Manzone is called "Rosserto," and is sold as a Langhe Bianco. The 2010 showed freshness, but also texture, with a zippy character conjoined to waxy notes. I could imagine someone who liked the nutty character and grip of an Arneis also liking a Rossese Bianco, although the Rossese Bianco showed more linden and chamomile character than nuttiness. It was 13% alcohol, and the sort of wine I might be happy to discover over a casual meal.

Giovanni Manzone produced 3 barrels of the 2010 Rossese Bianco, which represents about 2,500 bottles. Of those, none were exported to the United States. Mauro did not know of any other producers in the area making a wine from the grape variety.

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