Timorasso - Derthona in Colli Tortonesi in Piedmont
One of the up-and-coming grape varieties in Italy at the moment is the white grape Timorasso which originates in the southeastern corner of Piemonte.
Colli Tortonesi has always been a wine region growing grapes like Barbera, Cortese and Timorasso - in fact, at one point Timorasso rivalled Cortese (that you may know from the white Gavi) for being the most common white grapes in all of Piemonte.
Back in the day, there were plenty of small vineyards, but as the old farmers started to disappear, the vineyards were ripped out, and only a few plots of old vines remain. Some grapes that were harder to grow were in danger of extinction.
This was almost the case for Timorasso, saved by Walter Massa a few decades ago. The revival of the temperamental grape has sparked the interest of many and land prices are quickly rising as new investors arrive from neighbouring wine regions such as Barolo & Barbaresco.
Timorasso is a difficult grape to grow because it gives an irregular crop, often with both ripe and unripe berries within the same bunch. It is thin-skinned making it a target for fungi and tends to drop fruit to the ground in windy areas. So there are plenty of cons when it comes to growing it. But when it comes to drinking it, the pros outweigh the cons. The result is an important and noble, mineral white which reminds you of a bonedry Riesling especially after a few years of bottle ageing.
For this reason, in just 20 years plantings have gone from a mere 3 hectares to around 150 today.
"Derthona" is the Latin name for Tortona - the region's largest town - a name you'll see on the label that serves to emphasize that the wine was made from grapes grown in the Colli Tortonesi, Timorasso's place of origin.
Here's the story of a small organic winery, Oltretorrente, in the southern part of the Colli Tortonesi DOC region, started by a young couple of agronomists who moved here from Milan.
PS. available on www.tuscanyinabottle.com