Proprieta Sperino, “Uvaggio” Coste della Sesia DOC 2015 (about $35)

Italian Wine for febuary, 2021

It all started in 1966 when Paolo de Marchi, owner and winemaker of the famed Isole e Olena estate in Tuscany, decided to undertake an extensive renovation of his historic family estate, Proprietà Sperino.

Located a few miles south of Lessona in the northern Piedmont region, the estate has a rich wine history. It was here at the turn of the previous century that Paolo’s great, great uncle, Felice Sperino, developed a well-earned reputation for producing elegant, age-worthy - and expensive - Nebbiolo-based wines.

However, the Sperino estate as well as the regional wine area fell on hard times in the years following World War I. Many of the vineyards were uprooted and/or abandoned as people headed off for less stressful and higher-paying industrial jobs in Milan or Turin.

With the goal of restoring Proprietà Sperino to its former glory and hopefully stimulating a viticultural renaissance in the historic Coste della Sesia DOC wine producing area, Paolo and his son, Luca, replanted the vineyards and updated the wine-making and ageing facilities. In 2006, they released their first vintage-dated wine, a 2004, and with that they were off and running, gaining accolades for their wines along the way.

Today, the estate has 20 acres of vineyards in the foothills of the Alps where it grows primarily Nebbiolo. Known locally as Spanna, Nebbiolo is the dominant variety in the Coste della Sesia viticultural area. It is also known informally as “mountain Nebbiolo” because of its high elevation vineyards that range from 700 feet to almost 2,000 feet in contrast to the Nebbiolo from lower-elevation vineyards used in the production of Piedmont's prized Barolo and Barbaresco wines.

While Proprietà Sperino produces a pure Nebbiolo wine, the most common form for a Coste della Sesia DOC wine is a Nebbiolo base with the addition of small amounts of other local red varieties. The estate’s 2015 “Uvaggio” consists of 80 percent Nebbiolo with 15 percent Vespolina and 5 percent Croatina. The name “Uvaggio” roughly translates as “blended grapes”.

The wine is produced from hand-harvested grapes in estate vineyards. The Vespolina and Croatina grapes are picked in late September and the late-ripening Nebbiolo grapes are harvested 2 to 3 weeks later. The grapes are gently pressed and then fermented with native yeasts in wood casks for about 4 weeks. The wine ages in a combination of barriques and large-format and oval casks for 18 months and then bottled where it rests for over a year before release for sale. It has a food-friendly 13.5 percent alcohol.

Proprietà Sperino’s 2015 Uvaggio has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and a gentle swishing of the wine glass releases a cascade of intense ripe cherry and plum aromas with a touch of spice notes. While the wine’s aromatic profile is almost Burgundian in nature its medium to full-bodied structure, fine but firm tannins and lushly-fruited flavors clearly reflect its Nebbiolo foundation. It has an energy and acidic freshness that give lift to a long and complex finish.

While drinkable now, this refined, even elegant wine has sufficient stuffing to age well for at least another 5 to 10 years.


©Richard Marcis
February 9, 2021

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