The Road to Roero
The business of wine is a funny one. For every cult wine or region that gains its reputation organically, there are dozens more producing great wines but can't break into the public conscious without good marketing or a governing body behind it. Take Roero, for example. Located in the northwest region of Italy, adjacent to the Langhe region in Piedmont, the area was granted DOCG status back in 2005; that was 10 years ago. Producing only 2 varieties, Arneis (white) and Nebbiolo (red), the wines have been overshadowed by the more famous neighboring regions. Due to the efforts of the newly formed Consorzio Tutela Roero, the wines are now working to gain attention in the international playing field. At a recent tasting, I was able to further familiarize myself with this under-the-radar region.
Roero used to be covered by an ancient sea called Golfo Padano and to this day, sediment and sea creature fossils can be found in the sandy soils. The climate can be a bit like New York: cold, harsh winters and hot, humid summers. While it sounds like crop yields can be unpredictable, Roero produces about 423,900 cases of wine annually.
These wines, particularly the reds, can be a great value compared to Barolos and Barbarescos. The wines often exhibit notes of ripe berries, earth and spice. Generally medium-bodied, they range in their tannic structure and have the ability to age. At a recent tasting, a few of the standouts were:
Massucco Roero 2012
Cascina Ca'Rossa Roero "Mompissano" 2010
Monchiero Carbone Roero Riserva "Printi" 2010
The whites, made from the Arneis grape, are a great alternative to some of the better-known Italian white varietals. Citrus and minerality were dominant in all the wines I tried, but some exuded an interesting nuttiness. A couple of whites with a bit of aging on them were presented at the tasting and it was interesting to see how the fruit evolved and how the nutiness became more apparent. A few to try:
Marco Porello Roero Arneis "Carmestri" 2014
Deltello Roero Arneis "Daivej" 2014
Malvira Roero Arneis "Saglietto" 2013
If you haven't tried Roero, now is a great time to seek out these Northern Italian vinos.