Ferrando Carema Etichetta Bianca 2017

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Winemaker: Luigi Ferrando

Appellation: Alto-Piemonte, Italy

Grape Variety: Nebbiolo

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.

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.