An immaculate cellar in so many ways, it is owned by Josetta Saffirio the amateur artist who created the ‘Gnome’ labels. These are romantic creatures in Piemonte, in no way related to their more kitsch cousins found around the ponds of middle-England. These live in forests and look after the environment in return for a little wine. Josetta created the characters to amuse her children and they wonderfully represent the philosophy of the cellar which is very much in tune with the land.
Sara Saffirio represents the fifth generation of the family working the land; she works with her father the renowned oenologist Roberto Vezza. She was in her early twenties when she took over and restarted wine production, since then a cellar has been created that uses cork insulation, photovoltaic cells produce twice the energy the cellar needs and everything is designed to minimise the impact on the earths’ resources. The land is forty percent woodland and has been farmed organically for ten years, it is now a certified bio park (one day I will work our exactly what that means).
Saffirio’s five hectares of vineyard are all within the Castelletto subzone. The looming hill of Castelletto ensures a cooler micro-climate and the wines have a reputation for elegance. Historically, the area is famed for the quality of its Barbera, a vine that benefits from the loose, sandy soils found on the upper part of Pressenda (the central part of Castelletto). At the heart of the vineyard is the Nebbiolo planted by Sara’s grandfather in 1948, the clone has perfectly adapted to the terroir and it is the stock that has parented subsequent plantings. The cellar is one of the last remaining producers of Rossese, an excellent white grape variety worthy of seeking out.
A wine of purity and sapidity, it is remarkably drinkable now – I recommend decanting it for a few hours though. A great depth of rose and wild forest fruit on the nose, porcini, mocha and cranberry. Full flavoured, in no way heavy, its ripe sweet tannins promise a long life, the wine has a hint of pepper through bramble and cranberry fruit. A beautiful wine with remarkable balance and freshness.
14% An extraordinary vintage, old English rose, redcurrant, even lychee on the nose. Modest colour, beautiful ripe, velvety tannins, harmonious ripe raspberry and bramble. Inviting, pure and complex: exceptional.