Luigi Ferrando has long been the leading producer of wines from the Canavese region where his family’s winemaking tradition goes back to 1900. Like many of our producers, he has strong ties to his local region. His attachment and commitment run deep, and have led him to collaborate with other wine growers and academics. Together, they are responsible for discovering and preserving local grape varieties and traditions that might otherwise have been lost. Luigi’s sons, Roberto and Andrea, now work with him on the estate (Roberto) and in the family’s vinoteca (Andrea) located in the heart of the city of Ivrea, the commercial hub of the Canavese region. Thus, the continuation of the Ferrando tradition has been enabled.
Technically speaking, the Canavese is part of Piedmont. Its location at the frontier of the Valle d’Aosta, the very edge of Piedmont, an area renowned for its steeply terraced vineyards, imparts a distinctive quality to the wines. The Ferrandos painstakingly cultivate their Nebbiolo vineyards on the mountainside terroir of Carema, in an amphitheater that sits in the very shadows of Monte Bianco. The resulting wine is very different than its more famous cousins from Barolo or Barbaresco and is sought after by connoisseurs for its finesse, complexity, and longevity. Their other vineyard holdings are lower in altitude, on the plains and hills of the Canavese region, in and around the village of Caluso, approximately 45 minutes north of Torino. Here, they work with interesting local grape varieties and are particularly known for their Erbaluce di Caluso. The Erbaluce grape is an ancient white variety that originates, and can only be found, in the alpine foothills of this northwestern corner of Piedmont. It has a bright acidity, an elegant underlying minerality, and a complex structure that makes it the ultimate flexible wine: producing everything from sparkling wine, through bone-dry, off-dry, and late harvest wines.
The Ferrando wines were the very first wines we imported to the United States back in January 1980. This was at a time when Carema and Erbaluce were unknown to almost anyone who did not live within 50 kilometers of Torino. It has been our particular pleasure and satisfaction to see the growing respect for these exceptional wines within the American market, further proof of the compelling, almost mystical aura that is at the core of the series of wines produced by the Ferrando family.
|Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante Brut: A unique sparkling wine made from Erbaluce and aged in bottle for 18 to 36 months, all in the Champagne tradition. The soil underlying the Erbaluce vineyards was formed millions of years ago during the ice age and is essentially a glacial moraine of stone and silt. Approximately 2000 bottles of this hand-crafted spumante are produced annually.|
|Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza: A fresh, dry, mineral-driven wine|
|Erbaluce di Caluso Cascina Cariola: This special cuvée is produced from the single-vineyard “cru” site of Cascina Cariola situated in the village of Piverone. For ultimate ripeness, harvest frequently takes place in the first days of October. Fermentation is at controlled temperatures in stainless steel cuves. The wine, approximately 6,000 bottles annually, is bottled 9 to 12 months after harvest and is released after several months of additional aging in bottle. The US market receives 2400 bottles per annum.|
|Canavese Bianco Castello Loranze: A very limited production wine that is dedicated almost exclusively for the US market ; from a single vineyard that lies just outside of the delimited zone of « Erbaluce di Caluso », thus the appellation of « Canavese Bianco » ; again, a wine produced exclusively from the Erbaluce grape, vinified in stainless steel with a more reserved character, less full bodied than the single vineyard Cascina Cariola but quite elegant and delicate with a singing minerality to the finish. 600 bottles are shipped annually to the USA.|
|Canavese Rosso La Torrazza: Produced predominantly from Nebbiolo with roughly 30% Barbera and a touch of a local variety known as “Neretta” (the “little black”), this lovely red wine, vinified in stainless steel and bottled 12 to 15 months after harvest, is full of wild berries (notably strawberry and raspberry), spice and a touch of warm earthiness. The tannins are delicate and fine which enables this wine to be consumed with pleasure in its youth. As always with Nebbiolo-based wines, harvest occurs usually in the early to mid parts of October. Approximately 8000 bottles of this wine are produced annually and a major portion of the production is shipped under our care for sale in the US market.|
|Carema Etichetta Bianca: If there is any wine that defines the Ferrando “oeuvre” it is this one: the white label Carema. No single wine in our portfolio is more illustrative of our work than this brilliant rendition of Nebbiolo. Produced exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape planted in a series of vineyards that sit beneath Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) in a broad amphitheatre with full southern exposure overlooking the river, Dora Baltea, that runs from the snow-capped mountains south through the Valle d’Aosta into the northwestern range of Piedmont slicing the city of Ivrea in half. The vines are trained in a special way on pergola (known as “tupin” in local dialect) to obtain maximum exposure to the sun in this high altitude district and are planted to soils that are dominated by slate. The appellation of Carema is extremely small: only 16 hectares (approximately 40 acres) are planted to the vine. The Ferrando family controls 2.5 hectares of the appellation. The Nebbiolo grapes are harvested normally during the second half of October; then, they undergo a cuvaison of approximately two weeks in stainless steel before being racked into a mixture of large and small barrels for an extensive aging period of 30 to 36 months before being bottled (without filtration). By law, the Carema cannot be released before four years of aging. Production of the Carema “Etichetta Bianca” is approximately 7200 bottles per annum, two-thirds of which (4800 bottles) comes to the States. A small quantity of magnums is bottled each year at our request as well. The Carema of Ferrando reveals the most elegant and delicate and complex characteristics of the Nebbiolo grape with a surprising capacity to age. We have witnessed this wine at thirty-plus years of age displaying vibrant, seductive qualities that are simply astonishing.|
|Carema Etichetta Nera: This exceptional and rare wine is produced only in the finest vintages. It comes from a special selection of grapes harvested from several particularly well-placed parcels within the appellation (frequently from the Silanc and Siei vineyard sites). Aged for at least three years prior to bottling, the “elevage” is done primarily in small barrels, only a small percentage of which are new. One hundred of the three hundred cases produced are dedicated to the US market, augmented by a small amount of magnums.|
|Solativo Erbaluce Vendemmia Tardiva: A late harvest wine made from Erbaluce grapes grown in the Canavese district. The grapes are left to “raisin” on the vine with harvest usually occurring in the last days of December. The grapes are then pressed and fermented and aged in small oak barrels a la Sauternes for approximately ten months prior to bottling. The wine is marked by aromas and flavors of ripe citrus and honey and is a splendid accompaniment to many of the cheeses of the high mountain regions of Piedmont and the Valle d’Aosta. Approximately 2000 half bottles are produced annually.|
|Caluso Passito Cascina Cariola: This fabled wine is the traditional late harvest wine of the region and is sourced from the Cascina Cariola vineyard in the village of Piverone. Harvest occurs in late September at which point the grapes are left on racks to dry for five months before being pressed gently during the month of March following the year of harvest. The juice is then fermented in barrique and aged for an additional two years in small barrel followed by two years of bottle aging prior to release. The wine, we assure you, will age to perfection over an eternity! Approximately 2000 half bottles are produced annually. The Caluso Passito “Cascina Cariola” is a wonderful companion to dried fruits and aromatic, flavorful cheeses and is a classic “vino da meditazione”.|
|Grappa di Carema and Grappa di Erbaluce: We import from time-to-time small amounts of two grappas distilled from the must and grapes of the Nebbiolo and Erbaluce grapes used by the Ferrando family to produce their exceptional range of wines. The Grappas are clear, smooth and elegant … the perfect digestifs.|
Long ago, sweetness in any form was far rarer than today, and it was prized thusly. In our era of ubiquitous corn syrup, junk food, and soda, it is difficult to imagine a world in which sugar was special, and the overall difficulty in selling sweet wines across all markets testifies to that. Still, sweetness in wine—real wine whose sweetness has not been coerced—remains one of nature’s rare gifts. Producing sweet wines requires a grower to be courageous, as she must wait to harvest and risk late-season vagaries of weather, or, in passito-style wines, assume the risk of air-drying fruit for upwards of half a year in her cellar. Sweet wine production requires prodigious effort for feeble yields, which generally then take longer to produce and longer to sell than their dry counterparts.
The histories of Rosenthal Wine Merchant and the village of Carema have been intertwined since January of 1980, when Neal purchased a small lot of wine from Luigi Ferrando—the very first wine he ever imported. Over the ensuing decades, Ferrando’s Carema has gone from a wine virtually unknown outside of its immediate vicinity to one of the most iconic wines in our portfolio, revered by enthusiasts across the United States and well beyond, and allocated down to the bottle. Read More
Beyond Champagne, excellent bubbly now comes from all over in a diversity of styles. You don’t require a special occasion to enjoy them.
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut Zéro NV $26.99
The Jura region of France is a reliable source of Champagne-style sparkling wines that are subtly different from Champagne. This one, from the excellent Domaine de Montbourgeau, is a fine example. It’s rich and creamy, yet precise — bone dry and still rounded and lush. In most Champagne-style wines, producers add a dose of sweetness just before sealing the bottle to balance the often searing acidity. But if the wine is balanced without the dosage, as this one is, it can be omitted. Hence the designation, Brut Zéro. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
Seeing the Ferrando brothers in this photo reminds me of the first visit I made to Carema back in January 1980. In the company of a roguish Neapolitan, I met Luigi Ferrando, father of Roberto and Andrea (seen in this photo) on a damp, overcast day. We met in the small city of Ivrea, home to the Olivetti dynasty, a family noted for its well-conceived approach to urban life, creating over the years a “company town” generous in its living standards and cultural and sporting accoutrements. From Ivrea, we made the short drive to the village of Carema,
The histories of Rosenthal Wine Merchant and the village of Carema have been intertwined since January of 1980, when Neal purchased a small lot of wine from Luigi Ferrando—the very first wine he ever imported. In the ensuing four decades, Ferrando’s Carema has gone from a wine virtually unknown outside of its immediate vicinity to one of the most iconic wines in our portfolio, revered by enthusiasts across the United States and well beyond, and allocated down to the bottle.
GuildSomm Kelli White 18 Oct 2018 Neal Rosenthal throws open the door to his upstate New York farmhouse. Two red-tinted standard poodles spill out from either side of his legs and begin their inspection. I hold out my hands in greeting—one to Neal, one to the dogs. “You made it!” he exclaims, sounding as surprised […]
A VITICULTURAL AND HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Piedmont, revered for the grandiose wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape, is home as well to an exceptional white variety, ERBALUCE, that is little known and barely appreciated. The Erbaluce finds its home high up in the Canavese district, the lake country in the Alpine foothills north of Torino that […]
For us at Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Ferrando Carema is more than a wine; it’s an emblem—a one-wine encapsulation of our history, our aesthetic sensibilities, and our most deeply held values. Back in 1980, when Neal and Kerry were still lugging boxes around their Upper East Side shop themselves, it was the very first wine they […]
Whenever we think about the idea of terroir, we think of Carema. The word terroir is frequently used casually when talking about wine. Often a wine is labeled “terroir-driven” if it is viewed as a quality wine that has balance and a pure, unbroken expression of its agricultural beginnings. When asked to give a definition, […]
The nicest aspect of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is that it gives us a bit of “down-time” to explore the cellar and dig up a few wines to drink at our leisure. So, here is a brief report on a few wonders that have been hanging out underground for awhile … We had the pleasure […]
A day in Carema, October 2013: “Our visit with Luigi, Roberto and Andrea Ferrando was spent mostly in discussion of the “crisis of quantity” in Carema and whether there is some way to increase access to, and control the production of, grapes within the appellation. There is no easy answer to this conundrum but, at […]