Stunning 2015s, plus a new wine
The past decade has witnessed a massive influx of interest in the Alto Piemonte, as a younger generation whose forebears may have fled the area for big-city comforts came to realize the specialness of what was left behind, and have dedicated themselves to reestablishing the Alto Piemonte’s former viticultural glory. While that goal is still far beyond the horizon, the sense of energy and excitement here today is palpable, and recent investments in the area by notables in the Langhe and beyond suggest that this momentum will only increase over time.
At the forefront of this movement is Andrea Mosca, who abandoned his career as an architect nine years ago and acquired three hectares of vines in and around the village of Brusnengo, in the heart of the Bramaterra appellation. Christening his project NOAH, after his then-newborn son Francesco Noah, Andrea quickly set to producing thrillingly pure wines beginning with the 2011 vintage, and we at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have been by his side since the outset. Bramaterra—a portmanteau of bramare (“to long for”) and terra (“the land”)—is certainly a fitting home base nomenclature-wise for one who changed careers in the manner of Andrea, and he has since acquired a hectare and a half in the neighboring appellation of Lessona as well. It has been a thrill to witness Andrea’s evolution, and today, with nine harvests under his belt, he exudes the quiet confidence of a skilled winegrower—one who is always seeking to coax further expressiveness from the land to which he returned.
We have just received a round of new releases from NOAH, including the 2015 Bramaterra, 2015 Lessona (only the second vintage for this wine), and a phenomenal new Coste della Sesia called “Dellamesola.’ These wines—farmed organically, and vinified and aged in deeply traditional fashion—demonstrate pointedly the deep promise within the great terroirs of the Alto Piemonte, and offer irrefutable evidence of an immensely talented young winegrower on the ascent.
2018 “Dellamesola” Costa della Sesia
2018 marks the debut vintage for Andrea’s “Dellamesola” (named after his particular zone of Brusnengo), a letter-perfect exemplar of the specialness of his terroir in miniature. Comprising 80% Nebbiolo and 10% each Vespolina and Croatina from just outside the delimitation of the Bramaterra appellation, it spent one year in large Slavonian oak casks and was bottled with minimal sulfur. Open-knit yet still built around a core of pert acidity, “Dellamesola” delivers the volcanic thrust of Bramaterra on a friendlier and more immediately luscious frame, with lifted, vividly articulated dark red fruit and a subtle floral character.
One of the Alto Piemonte’s great virtues is the variety of soil types found among its seven communes, each of which marks the Nebbiolo—itself a profoundly articulate conduit of terroir—in distinctive ways. Bramaterra’s hard, red volcanic porphyry yields wines of penetrating minerality, sizzling acidity, and incredible, almost saline tension; these are lean and chiseled wines, even within the context of northern Piedmont Nebbiolo. Andrea Mosca’s Bramaterra comes from a sector of Brusnengo known as Mesola, a zone whose praises can be found being sung in printed materials dating back to the early 19th century. He works his four sites within this zone fully manually, and the final wine blends 80% Nebbiolo with 10% Croatina, 5% Vespolina, and 5% Uva Rara, with an average vine age of 25 years. Vinification takes place in large, well-used 80-hectoliter open-top casks of Slavonian oak, and the wine ages one year in 80-hectoliter cask, and a second year in 27-hectoliter cask—a staunchly traditional cellar regimen which allows this unique terroir to shine through with brilliance. This 2015 offers a remarkably pure, pretty nose of dusty strawberries and mountain herbs, with an electrifying yet suave texture, and finely wrought, tight-grained tannins.
Andrea applies the same traditional approach to his Lessona as he does his Bramaterra, and the finished result highlights the enormous differences between these two terroirs. Lessona is an appellation of marine sands, which lend its Nebbiolo a silken elegance and a sense of refinement, and this 2015 (only NOAH’s second vintage from this appellation) is flat-out gorgeous. Its tannins are no less significant than the Bramaterra, but they are more polite, more filigree—a firm handshake through a soft glove. Its overall texture is rounder, yet not richer, offering excellent poise and length, and its impression of acidity is more serene. Notably, NOAH’s Lessona is 100% Nebbiolo from a single 1.5-hectare parcel, without any of the secondary varieties that frequently make appearances in these appellations. One marvels at the authority and precision on display here in what is only Andrea’s fifth harvest.