Staying Home: Pasta and a Piedmont Red Stand in for a Visit to Italy
Bruce Sanderson is the lead taster for the wines of Piedmont and Tuscany.

Staying Home: Pasta and a Piedmont Red Stand in for a Visit to Italy

Our editors share the wines and memorable moments that are helping brighten dark times

Apr 16, 2020

Our winery friends in Italy are struggling, especially in their home market, with restaurants, bars and hotels closed and residents quarantined since March 9. However, the country considers the agricultural sector essential, and the winemakers I have contacted have been busy in the vineyards, where it is easier to practice safe distancing.

Thinking of all the people I know over there, I have been opening and enjoying numerous Italian wines, primarily from the regions I cover, Piedmont and Tuscany. The other night, I pulled the cork on the Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera 2014 (93 points) to drink with pasta and pesto sauce.

I chose the 2014, though youthful, because it is a lighter, leaner style with high acidity, therefore ideal with food. It had bright, focused floral, cherry, licorice and savory flavors, firm but manageable tannins and a beam of vivid acidity that handled the pungent minty and anise notes in the basil. It’s structured enough to develop over the next 10 to 15 years, but with its well-defined fruit, it’s approachable now.

Many producers bottle Nebbiolo from the Ravera Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva (MGA), but Elvio Cogno makes four wines from the cru. Winery owners Valter Fissore and his wife, Nadia Cogno, daughter of the late founder, know Ravera in detail because they live on a promontory overlooking the MGA—a perch that affords a 180-degree panorama of Cogno’s 27 acres of holdings there.

In addition to the Barolo Ravera, they bottle the Barolo Cascina Nuova, from their youngest vines in the MGA; Barolo Ravera Bricco Pernice, from a site with a higher concentration of limestone; and Barolo Ravera Vigna Elena Riserva, vinified entirely from the Rosé variant of Nebbiolo and named after the couple’s daughter. Fissore follows traditional methods in the cellar, with long macerations and aging in large Slavonian oak casks.

While their wines are notable for their quality and purity, Nadia and Valter are memorable for their passion for their work and their irresistible enthusiasm. I was looking forward to seeing them at Wine Spectator’s OperaWine event before Vinitaly this month, but due to its cancellation, we will have to wait for better days ahead. Nonetheless, tasting the wine took me back to our visits together in the Cogno cellar.


Have your own wine story from recent weeks? Whether it’s pulling a special bottle from the cellar or enjoying a glass of a great value that you stockpiled, whether you shared it with close friends and family or savored it on your own, we want to hear from you. Share what you're drinking with us on our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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