Rovellotti

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My first memory of the wines of Ghemme dates back to the late 1970s when I drank with much satisfaction and pleasure a bottle of 1961 produced by the Cantina Sociale (the local cooperative). This was a wine of exceptional elegance and breed with fine tannins, ethereal aromas and a complex and satisfying flavor. Since that time, rare has been the moment when I have even seen a bottle of Ghemme much less had the pleasure of tasting it once again.

We recently (March 2012) embarked on a journey of rediscovery of the wines of the Alto Piemonte and to start the search we contacted our great friends, the Ferrando family, the producers of the noble Carema. As it turns out, the oenologue who consults with Roberto Ferrando also works with Paolo and Antonello Rovellotti who have vineyards in Ghemme. Thus, our quest began with a fine reference and we were not disappointed. We found a family of proud tradition working in the classic manner.

The Rovellotti family traces its roots in Ghemme to the latter stages of the 15th century. As Antonello Rovellotti proclaimed: “the Rovellotti name is truly ‘Ghemmese’”. Of the less than 200 people in the world who carry that family name, 66 live in and around Ghemme and the rest can be found in other parts of Italy, in France and in Argentina. Ghemme itself is a town of ancient tradition. At its center is the “Ricetto” a walled compound that served as a refuge for people of the area during times of strife and war. This citadel of 12000 square meters was first mentioned in documents dating to the 10th century. Eventually, this brick-built structure evolved into a communal storehouse for the agricultural products native to the area with most of the surface being dedicated to wine. It is there that much of the work of producing the Rovellotti wines takes place … an historic cantina for the ultimate classical wines of Ghemme.

The family vineyard holdings, encompassing fifteen hectares, are found in the Baraggiola zone of Ghemme, the southernmost sector of the appellation. Baraggiola is further divided into four separate vineyard sites: Barragiola Valle d’Enrico where the Erbaluce for the family Passito is planted; the Baraggiola Valplazza planted almost exclusively to the Nebbiolo used in the Colline Novarese bottling; the sector known as “Chioso dei Pomi” in the center of Baraggiola, recognized as a prime site as early as 1600, in which the Nebbiolo used for the Ghemme is grown; and, finally, the “Costa del Salmino”, also recognized early in the history of Ghemme as a site of exceptional potential, is the home of the oldest Nebbiolo vines, replanted by Antonello and Paolo in 1976, which are used to produce the Ghemme Riserva along with Vespolina planted in the same special sector.

Starting in the 1980s, the vineyards have been maintained according to a special regimen applied in coordination with the agricultural faculty at the University of Milan with the express purpose of achieving zero use of chemicals in order to re-establish the natural balance of environmental and ecological elements. The majority of the vineyards are planted to Nebbiolo and are supplemented by plantings of Vespolina (also used as a complementary grape in the Ghemme), Bonarda (also known as Uva Rara) and the white grape, Erbaluce (frequently referred to in the Alto Piemonte as Greco Bianco).

Rovellotti-Vitigno-Innominabile Rovellotti Innominabile Colline Novaresi Bianco: Made from 100% Erbaluce (known locally as “Greco Novarese”), this wine is called “Unnamable” because according to DOC wine law, Erbaluce may only give its name to a label when grown in the Canavese (ex: the fabulous Erbaluce wines of our friend Luigi Ferrando). In fact, the Rovellotti family’s Erbaluce is very different from Ferrando’s in style, and the contrast seems to attest to the skills of both growers, as well as to the versatility of the grape. From the Il Criccone vineyard, harvested in late September, vinified in stainless steel with a 12 hour maceration on the skins to give phenolic character to the finished wine, this is an earthy yet crisp, medium-bodied example of the grape, with notes of lemon peel, wild herb, and area’s volcanic soil.
Rovellotti-Vespolina Rovellotti Ronco al Maso Colline Novaresi Vespolina: Vespolina plays the primary supporting role to the great Nebbiolo-based wines of the Alto Piemonte. Occasionally, an ambitious producer will elect to release a single varietal Vespolina, offering us a portrait of the grape’s character. Rovellotti’s Vespolina hails from is a .40 hectare plot in the Ronco al Maso vineyard, with full southern exposure in the commune of Ghemme. The grapes are harvested in the third week of September. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel to preserve the zesty, fresh, wild berry fruit of the grape, with an eight day maceration on the skins, giving the wine a fine and distinct tannic structure. The wine then spends three months in botti, and is bottled the spring following harvest. Enjoy with a light chill!
Rovellotti-ghemme GHEMME Chioso dei Pomi: The grapes for this cuvée are sourced from the “Chioso dei Pomi” vineyard in the heart of Barragiola. The plot is approximately three hectares in size and the vines have a south-southwest exposure. The ultimate blend of grapes for the Ghemme is 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina. The Vespolina is harvested normally at the end of September while the Nebbiolo is picked after the first 10 days of October. Harvest is by hand. The grapes are fermented separately in stainless steel cuves and the fermentation extends for a minimum of ten days with frequent “remontage”. The malolactic fermentation occurs mostly in barrel. The wine is aged in large barrels of Slavonian oak for the first twelve months after harvest and then is racked into smaller five hectoliter barrels for an additional eighteen months. The various parts of the wine are assembled and blended together in the spring of the third year. After bottling, the wine is aged in bottle at least nine additional months before release.
Rovellotti-ghemme-riserva GHEMME RISERVA Costa del Salmino: The grapes for the Riserva are sourced from the southernmost section of Baraggiola and the blend is 90% Nebbiolo and 10% Vespolina. The best of the Vespolina is selected for the Riserva and is normally harvested at the end of September; the Nebbiolo is harvested in mid-October and is fermented separately from the Vespolina. The cuvaison extends for a minimum of ten days and frequently longer depending on the structure of the vintage. The malolactic occurs partially in stainless steel and partially in barrel. The Riserva is aged for two years in large Slavonian oak barrels of 50 hectoliter size; then the wine is racked into smaller barrels (5 hectoliters) of French oak origin for an additional 12 to 18 months. After bottling, the wine is held for at least an additional nine months before it is released for sale.
Download Rovellotti Tech Sheet
Domaine NameRovellotti Viticoltori in Ghemme
Family/Owners NameRovellotti
How many years has the family owned the domaine?Forever, but we have only been producing bottled wine for sale since 1973
How many generations?11 documented generations (Rovellotti Giuseppe GiovanBattista born in 1649) Reasonably, 20
How many hectares of vines are leased?13
How many hectares of vines are owned?2
Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? If yes, in the EU? In the US? If no, are you in the process of becoming certified? No
Describe your vineyard management practices (e.g. low-intervention, organic, biodynamic, standard, etc.).Pruning and manual training system. We use fungicides and insecticides pursuant to the integrated pest management of EEC Rule 2078, which, together with other companies, we implemented thirty years ago in cooperation with the University of Milan. In the last 25 years, we have only used insecticide treatments mandated by law against flavescence dorée. When necessary, thinning is done on Nebbiolo and Vespolina, never on Erbaluce. Defoliation is done by hand.
Do you do field work and harvest manually? By machine? By horse?Grapes are harvested and selected by hand. Fertilization is not necessary for the quantities per hectare that we produce.
Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac/allo sfuso?No
Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.We neither buy nor sell grapes
WINE #1
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationGhemme DOCG Riserva
Cepage/UvaggioNebbiolo: 90-95%. Vespolina: 5-10%
% Alcohol by volume13.5-14.00
# of bottles produced0-3,500
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsCosta del Salmino (Vigna del Nonno) Ghemme- Regione Baraggiole – Valle d’Enrico
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSouthwest
Soil Types(s)Glacial, acidic red clay
Average vine age (per vineyard)35 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)2,000 (replanting: 4,000)
Approximate harvest date(s)October 15-20
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?
2016 was initially cold and damp. Downy mildew damaged the quantity (especially Vespolina). July, August and September were better, with moderately warm and breezy weather. Some rain around September 20 (a little late). Harvesting of Vespolina grapes expected to take place on September 25, Nebbiolo on October 10-15, as usual. It is difficult to predict color extraction and tannin development. I think the alcohol content will be 13 rather than 13.5 It might be more elegant than powerful a wine, more 2006 than 2008.
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destalked
Fermentation: vessel type and size 52-hectoliter steel vats
Duration of contact with lees20 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Only local yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationDestalking and crushing of carefully selected grapes. Low yield and elimination of less-than-perfect grapes. Flawed grapes are used for table wine. Natural fermentation at 25-28 degrees C. Pumping over for at least 30 minutes twice daily until fermentation ends. Pressing with membrane press, recovery of the first pressed grapes up to 5 atmospheres for color richness, malolactic fermentation in stainless steel (up to this point, wine is basically without sulphur dioxide because of fermentation). Racking and clarification. No sugar added before and after the malolactic fermentation.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Between 3 and 6 months in 52-hectoliter stainless steel vats
Duration of elevage40-48 months in Suppiger barrels (Swiss Jura oak) Light-light toast
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketAt least one year
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describePrior to bottling, filtration with large cellulose Carlson filter, as a safety measure.
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Vinification
WINE #2
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationColline Novaresi DOC Bianco
Cepage/Uvaggio100% Erbaluce
% Alcohol by volume0.13
# of bottles produced10,000-15,000
Grams of Residual Sugar0-1
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsIl Criccone. Ghemme- Regione Baraggiole – Valle d’Enrico
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSouthwest
Soil Types(s)Glacial, acidic red clay
Average vine age (per vineyard)15-20 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)2,000 (replanting: 4,000)
Approximate harvest date(s)Around September 20
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?
2016 was initially cold and damp, without any downy mildew on Erbaluce. A more than satisfying quantity. July, August and September were better, with moderately warm and breezy weather. Harvesting for "spumante" on September 1. Selected harvesting for "passito" (raisin wine) from September 20 to 28. 2016 was not really different from past years: wine was not acidic, had low mineral content and moderate alcohol content. Typical bouquet.
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destalked
Fermentation: vessel type and size52-hectoliter steel vats. Minimum 10 days
Duration of contact with lees20 days. Cold maceration for at least 20 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Cultured yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationDestalking and crushing of selected grapes. Cold maceration for 3 hours. Gentle pressing. Flotation with nitrogen, separation of clean must. Fermentation at 17°C. When the must is dry, it is kept at a cold temperature and sulphites are added. No malolactic fermentation. Periodic batonnage in steel vats. No sugar added.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s). Duration of elevage3-6 months in 52-hectoliter stainless steel vats
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeFiltration before bottling with cellulose Carlson filter
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Vinificazione: 0. After fermentation: 1-2 grams per hectoliter. Upon bottling, sulphur dioxide is titrated so that the final content is always below the level of bio certification (100 milligrams per liter); on average, it is between 50 and 75.
WINE #3
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationGhemme DOCG
Cepage/UvaggioNebbiolo: 85-90% Vespolina: 10-15%
% Alcohol by volume13.5
# of bottles producedMinimum 6,500 - Maximum 13,000
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsChioso dei Pomi. Ghemme- Regione Baraggiole – Valle d’Enrico
Exposures and slope of vineyardsSouthwest
Soil Types(s)Glacial, acidic red clay
Average vine age (per vineyard)25 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)3,000 (replanting: 4,000)
Approximate harvest date(s)Around October 15
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?
2016 was initially cold and damp. Downy mildew damaged the quantity (especially Vespolina). July, August and September were better, with moderately warm and breezy weather. Some rain around September 20 (a little late). Harvesting of Vespolina grapes expected to take place on September 25, Nebbiolo on October 10-15, as usual. It is difficult to predict color extraction and tannin development. I think the alcohol content will be 13 rather than 13.5 It might be more elegant than powerful a wine, more 2006 than 2008.
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destalked
Fermentation: vessel type and size52-hectoliter steel vats
Duration of contact with lees15 days
Select or indigenous yeast?Only local yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationDestalking and crushing of carefully selected grapes. Natural fermentation at 25-28 degrees C. Pumping over for at least 30 minutes twice daily until fermentation ends. Pressing with membrane press, recovery of the first pressed grapes up to 0. 5 atmospheres for color richness, immediate malolactic fermentation in stainlees steel (up to this point, wine is basically without sulphur dioxide because of fermentation). Racking and first clarification. No sugar added before and after the malolactic fermentation.
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)Between 3 and 6 months in 52-hectoliter stainless steel vats
Duration of elevage40-48 months in Suppiger barrels (Swiss Jura oak). Light-light toast
Duration of bottle ageing before release to US marketAt least one year
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describePrior to bottling, filtration with large cellulose Carlson filter, as a safety measure.
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Vinification
WINE #4
GENERAL INFORMATION
AppellationColline Novaresi DOC Vespolina
Cepage/Uvaggio100% Vespolina
% Alcohol by volume0.13
# of bottles produced5,000-6,000
Grams of Residual Sugar0
VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION
Vineyard/ name(s) and locationsRonco al Maso. Ghemme- Regione Baraggiole – Ronco al Maso
Exposures and slope of vineyardsWest-Southwest
Soil Types(s)Glacial, acidic red clay. Disaggregated morainic rocks
Average vine age (per vineyard)15-20 years old
Average Vine Density (vines/HA)3500
Approximate harvest date(s)Around September 25
PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?
2016 was initially cold and damp, with major problems caused by downy mildew and heavy losses. Improvements in July, August and September, when the weather was warm but breezy. Harvesting began on September 28. Because of the lower yield, grapes accumulated more substances. Wine might be darker, with more tannins and a higher content of extracts. Spicier and more mature bouquet. Alcohol content as in previous years.
WINEMAKING/CELLAR INFORMATION
whole cluster, % destemmed, %100% destalked
Fermentation: vessel type and size52 -hectoliter steel vats
Duration of contact with lees10 days. Approximately one week
Select or indigenous yeast?Local yeasts
Please describe wine making process for EACH wine such as: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalizationDestalking and crushing from crates. Sulphites: 1-2 grams per hectoliter. Fermentation at 25-28 degrees C. After approximately 8 days, gentle pressing. Natural malolactic fermentation at a temperature of 21 degrees C in the cellar. After malolactic fermentation, clarification and addition of sulphites (1 gram per hectoliter). Cold stabilization. Upon bottling, safety filtration. No sugar added
Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)3-6 months in 52-hectoliter stainless steel vats
Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describeBefore bottling, filtration with large, cellulose Carlson filter
Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?Vinification: 1-2 grams per hectoliter. After fermentation, 1-2 grams per hectoliter. Upon bottling, sulphur dioxode is titrated so that the final content is always below the level of bio certification (100 milligrams per liter); on average, it is between 50 and 75.

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