Colombera & Garella is a feel-good, comeback story about a historical wine region in Italy that is still recovering from near death. Alto Piemonte is a small and sprawling wine region that is roughly about an hour drive northeast of Turin. Alto Piemonte is close to Swiss border with continental weather. There are no flat large vineyards in Alto Piemonte. It is continuous rolling hills that twist and turn, leaving only tiny southerly exposed surfaces suited for growing vines. Only dedicated wine-crazy families would cultivate such terrain. As if the weather and terrain were not quite difficult enough, the primary grape in the region is the high-maintenance, late-ripening, low-yielding but ultimately operatic Nebbiolo. Once one drinks a great bottle of Alto Piemonte, one begins to understand the dedication of the wine-crazy families, who are willing to risk all.
Cristiano Garella, who is only in his mid thirties, began tasting and enjoying wines starting at the age of thirteen. That's right. Thirteen. He was born and raised in Alto Piemonte. During his youth, he put all his savings into buying and drinking old vintages of Alto Piemonte and other Italians wines. By the time he was eighteen, he read, travelled and tasted much of Italian wines. When Cristiano entered the local wine school, he met Giacomo Colombera, whose father had purchased some vineyards in the village of Masserano. Through their friendship, Giacomo and Cristiano together began their new winery about five years ago - hence, the name of their adventure. Drinking their wines somewhat diminishes the past pain of Alto Piemonte and brightly burns the incandescent hope for the future.
From the single vineyard of Cascina Cottignano. The soil is volcanic clay. Farming is organic, like all of their vineyards. Harvest is by hand. This wine a blend of 70% Nebbiolo, 15% Vespolina and 15% Croatina. Each varietal is picked by hand and fermented separately with ambient yeasts. Then, the wine is blended and sees about a year in neutral barrels, followed by about six months in bottles prior to release
From the same Cascina Cottignano site, where the soil transitions drastically from volcanic clay to volcanic sand. The vines are 60 years old on average. It is a blend of 80% Nebbiolo, 10% Vespolina, and 10% Croatina. The wine is aged for about a year in botti and additional six month in neutral barrels.
Lessona is one of the finest sites in Alto Piemonte. Whereas Bramaterra has volcanic sand, Lessona has marine sand from a risen seabed. Lessona is only a ten-minute drive from Bramaterra but the soil composition is completely different. Lessona is aged in botti for about eighteen months prior to bottling. It is a blend of 80% Nebbiolo, 10% Vespolina, and 10% Croatina.
(The labels are not current vintages and are shown for illustration purposes only)