Cantina Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema DOC 2019

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With only 2 official wineries, Carema makes a miniscule amount of wine.  This remainder of the wine from this region is produced by the coop where all other growers combine their harvests to produce a lovely expression of Nebbiolo that perfectly encapsulates the Carema terroir. 

Currently, there are only 2 importers that bring this wine to the US.  Frankly, you would have to seek this wine out, even if you were in Piemonte.  We are lucky to have the wine produced by the coop in Carema here in Texas.  I hope you try this rare gem and like it as much as I do. 

Carema is a small mountainous wine-growing district at the southern end (but not administratively part of) the Aosta Valley in the far northern corner of Piedmont, north-western Italy. It was awarded its DOC classification in 1967 and predominantly produces red wines from the Nebbiolo grape.

Similar to the steep, coastal region of Liguria, Carema is a notoriously challenging place to grow vines and much patience and determination is needed – a skill acquired over centuries of vinegrowing in the area.

The zone has a total potential vineyard area of 120 hectares (300 acres), although only around 18 hectares (44 acres) of vines are planted. The vineyards sit 750m (2,460ft) above sea level on a series of terraces (known as "tabbie" in the local dialect) that rise dramatically toward the mountains.

The vines are supported by granite columns and wooden posts, and the thin topsoil often gives way. This means growers have the ardous task of bringing the soil back up from the valley, rebuilding the terraces and stone walls and replanting the vines at the same altitude

Although the wine is barely known internationally due to its limited production, it has been held in great esteem by wine lovers for centuries. In the courts of Savoy, it gained considerable status among the popes and cardinals. According to Pope Paul III, it was "an excellent and perfect beverage for princes and lords".

Carema is a red winemaking zone and boasts the king of Italian red grapes, Nebbiolo, as its leading varietal. The wine must comprise 85% of this variety, the remainder made up of a maximum 15% of authorized Piedmont red grapes.

Due to the cooler mountain climate the grapes don't ripen as well as those further south in Barolo and Barbaresco, so the wines tend to be less powerful, with slightly higher levels of acidity than those from the Langhe. However they are still full-bodied reds with earthy overtones, and lean towards a more aromatic and delicate style of wine.

Like many of the Piedmontese reds made from Nebbiolo, they display a bouquet reminiscent of rose petals and have great ageing potential – although they often require more time to age than their more famed Nebbiolo counterparts. They are an excellent match with the mature hard cheeses of the area, such as Grana Padano, or game.

Carema DOC wine is the epitome of boutique Italian wine. Only two wineries make it, production is limited, properties fragmented (the 17 hectares managed by the admirable local co-op are shared between no fewer than 78 growers), and the demographical trends in the village of Carema are setting alarm bells ringing. Without a younger generation to take on the labour-intensive work in the spectacular terraced vineyards at the foot of the Alps, the risk of extinction is very real. Carema has the most extreme terroir of all the northern Nebbiolos and a fascinatingly subtle and complex character with its delicate red fruit, sweet floral aromas and tangy mineral intensity. If your model of Piedmont is mouthfilling modern Barolo, Carema imposes a change of register. Expect a lighter, drier, finer wine, with brisk acidity and more length than breadth – a dream wine for fans of racy, old-fashioned Nebbiolo.


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