Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Looking for a new favorite? Timorasso might be the one!

One of my favorite things about blogging are the relationships that you develop around the world . I originally met Lara Statham awhile back when she was still working at Turin Italy Guide as co-founder.  Lara was born in the UK and has lived all over the world including Greece, Hungary, Jordan and Egypt,  but has called Turin in  Piedmont, Italy home for the last 18 years. A fan of Piedmontese cuisine & wines with a penchant for Langhe reds, she has written for various publications about Turin & Piedmont including Time Out, Wine Pass and the Turin Italy Guide.  I asked Lara to share with me something unique about the wine from her region and today we discuss the grape, timorasso.
Capital of Piedmont, Turin
Turin, Italy by Maelick \
Timorasso is one of my all-time favorite white wines from Piedmont, Italy. I have a tendency to having lots of favorites (!!!) but this one really stands out. Perhaps surprisingly, not many people have actually heard of it. Only those ‘in the know’. Sometimes I’m inevitably asked what my favorite wine is. On mentioning the name Timorasso, I am either met with mild puzzled looks or wide-eyed expressions accompanied by sage nods of approval.

I first tried it purely by chance at Parola wine bar in downtown Turin, the capital of Piedmont. When the owner told me that my usual white of choice, Arneis, was off their chalkboard menu I experienced a twinge of disappointment. I love savoring the ripe pear and apricot flavors and crisp freshness of a glass of Arneis, especially during the summer months. 

But my disappointment didn’t last for long. 

I’m always eager to try new wines…and as my eyes scanned the board they rested on a new variety…Timorasso, a wine that, until that moment, I don’t think I’d ever heard of before.
It’s certainly not one of the better known grapes picked from the terraced vineyards of Piedmont’s Monferrato (or Langhe) hills. But it is also not new. I found out that it is one of the most ancient indigenous grapes grown in these parts. I also discovered that some time ago it had fallen out of favor and risked extinction in the 1980s. 

It was only due to the perceptive foresight of Walter Massa of Vigneti Massa (in business since 1879!) that the Timorasso variety was saved and production of this overlooked grape began to grow. The grapes are used both for white wines and grappa. It is one of the most exciting ‘terroirs’ in Piedmont…and in all of Italy for that matter!

Anyway, back to the drink…

From the moment I put that delicious glass of Timorasso to my lips and took that first delicious drop I fell hook, line and sinker for this delightfully full-bodied, interestingly complex wine. Flavors and aromas that you too will hopefully experience include whispers of lemon and lime, toasted hazelnut, smooth caramel, subtle spice and aromatic mountain herb. Hints of smoky, aromatic cigar-box flavors swirl deliciously around the mouth. Matured in oak, it has a lovely smoooth, creamy texture. It goes exceedingly well with chicken dishes, grilled sausages, smoked meats and cheeses…spaghetti carbonara apparently…and bar snacks!
Colli Tortonesi DOC by Magnus Reuterdahl
The ‘viticultural’ DOC area where Timorasso is produced is called ‘Colli Tortonesi. It covers a vast area in southeast Piedmont that stretches from the picturesque Monferrato to the border with Lombardy. The Italian city of Tortona lies at the foot of the Monferrato hills. Historically famous for its noble families and excellent wine growers it was once known as ‘Derthona’. This name, coming from Roman times, can often be seen on Timorasso wine bottle labels. 
Derthona timorasso grape of Piedmont
Timorasso grape by Magnus Reuterdahl
Any wine produced from the Timorasso grape has to contain at least 85% Timorasso. The rest can be made up of Moscato Bianco and Favorita (another of my favorites!!!).

Now, you too are ‘in the know’ why not try Timorasso for yourself? It might join the list of your own favorites!