2015 Alta Langa DOCG Brut
In our research for Italian wine, we visited Piedmont last year before the Covid-19 pandemic with our dear friend Davide, who's a native of Alba. We visited together many wineries, which we first met at Vinitaly 2019. One of the wines that impressed us the most was this sparkling wine from Altalanga DOCG “Matteo Giribaldi” Millesimato 2015 by the winery Mario Giribaldi. We always had the idea of making this exceptional curated shipment of "Italian Metodo Classico" from some of the most famous Italian denomination for sparkling wines. So we kept note of the name and we talked with Alessandra Giribaldi for the eventual collaboration for this shipment. More than a year later, we couldn't be more excited to share this very special bottle with you! It's one of our favorite Alta Langa Metodo Classico sparkling wines, made in "pas dosè", Tommaso and Carly’s favorite style!
2015 "Matteo Giribaldi" Alta Langa DOCG Pas Dosé by Mario Giribaldi
Grape: 60% Pinot Nero, 40% Chardonnay
Region: Piemonte (Piedmont)
Tasting Notes: The color is bright yellow. At the nose the wine is aromatic, elegant and powerful. Hints of dry fruit and honey. In the mouth the wine is smooth with lingering bubbles and attractively dry and savory. A long citrus aftertaste.
Recommended Drinking Window: Best now until 2025
Temperature of Service: 42-46° F
Decanting: NOT NEEDED
The story of the Alta Langa DOCG starts back in the 1800s when the counts of Sambuy, influenced by their geographic and cultural proximity to France and its wines, began cultivating a few French grape varieties (primarily Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) and Chardonnay) in Piedmont, with a view of making sparkling wines similar to Champagne. Carlo Gancia, after his studies of enology in Reims (Champagne-France), came back to Piedmont with the idea of making a Piedmontese Metodo Classico. He started to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay around the town of Cannelli, paving the way for numerous other local producers.
Cannelli is a town located in the Asti province and it stands on a monumentally designed network of tunnels and galleries dug into the ground between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries: Canelli’s Underground Cathedrals are engineering masterpieces, authentic treasures of wine culture. These majestic rooms with brick vaults and imposing atmospheres alternate with narrow passages, drawing a dense map of history and winemaking stories, bearing exceptional architectural testimony to Piedmont’s winemaking heritage. They hosted, and still host, thousands of bottles of classic method sparkling wine, aging at a constant temperature between 53 and 56 F. The “Underground Cathedrals” were recognized as a World Heritage by Unesco in 2014.
The appellation “Alta Langa” obtained the DOC in 2002 and then promoted to a DOCG in 2011. Alta Langa DOCG is the Piedmontese brut spumante (sparkling wine) always made in Metodo Classico (the "Classic/Traditional/Champagne Method") from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, either 100% or in variable percentages. It can be either white or rosé, brut or pas dosé, and ages on lees for at least 30 months. The cultivation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes requires moderately-fertile calcareous clay marl soils. The vineyards have to be located in the hills, at a minimum altitude of 820 feet above sea level, so the use of grapes grown in damp, flat, valley-floor vineyards is strictly forbidden— which makes sense given the name "Alta Langa" literally translates to "High Langa".
The name of the wine, "Matteo Giribaldi", comes from Matteo, the 4th generation of the family. Matteo, is young winemaker that started to make Barolo in 2006 and in 2011 decided to create a sparkling wine from their Rodello vineyards. The vineyards are at an altitude of over 1700 feet and they are perfect for cultivating Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for a Metodo Classico. This sparkling wine is a 2015 "Millesimato", meaning that the grapes were harvested from the declared vintage (FUN FACT: Alta Langa is one of the only Metodo Classico DOCG's that requires its bottles to declare a vintage, unlike Franciacorta and some Champage! This makes Alta Langa DOCG one of the most stringent sparkling wine appellations in the world!). The 2015 is a very complex vintage, powerful and elegant in the same style, perfect match to do an excellent Metodo Classico Pas Dosé, without any addition of sugar.
"Dosage" is the final step before corking. This is the addition of a small quantity of sugar "liqueur de dosage" to the wine, also known as the "liquer d'expédition". Traditionally, the dosages are listed as the following, from sweetest to driest:
Doux: more than 50 grams of sugar per litre
Demi-sec: 32-50 grams of sugar per litre
Sec: 17-32 grams of sugar per litre
Extra dry: 12-17 grams of sugar per litre
Brut: less than 12 grams of sugar per litre
Extra brut: 0-6 grams of sugar per litre
Brut nature, Pas Dosé or Dosage Zéro: contains zero dosage and less than 3 grams sugar per litre
The harvest is done manually in the period of late August-early September. The grapes are gently pressed and the fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 54-58° F for 28 days. Here, the wine remains for some months and during this time they make one “batonnage” a week (batonnage is a french word for stirring settled "lees", the dead yeast, into the wine). In March-April the wine goes for the second fermentation in the bottle that will last about 60 days. The wine is refined with its lees for 48 months, keeping the bottles horizontally in an underground room of the cellar. Following, the bottles can be placed on “pupitres” for manual riddling, essential procedure for the final disgorgement “a la glace”.