Just when I thought boredom had crept into the vinous landscape, a source such as this comes out of nowhere to electrify all five senses and it does so with such poise, talent and humility, the eventual success that will come their way is already an afterthought…
We first debuted this micro winery in the hills of eastern Piedmont last year and the buzz(saw) the offer created sent a heap of national importers critics and curiosity seekers their way (in a mad dash to usurp and catch a wave that had already left its roost). In France, a small winery such as this would be a lesser story but, in Italy, most natural wine entities with hope and aspiration remain far off in the background to the known brands and larger wineries that continue to pull most of the spaghetti strings in the country.
Like everywhere else in the world, the lens in Italy is changing – a new (hopefully wiser) way of seeing has emerged as the youth culture grows up to become the norm – with their own vision of a unified earth leading the way. Much like generations before them, their world – led by millions of same-age peers around the globe – eventually gains the footing required to take hold and oust the outdated thoughts of the prior. Their vision is far different than their parents and grandparents (like every new generation – in every walk of life) and they wish for their legacy to be the longest lasting yet.
Some generations are fortunate to have great influence on the world, but some are (unfortunately) stymied and stifled by nuisance, economic hardship, war and other man-made calamities that put a hold on the development and growth of new voices that may never be heard from at all.
At present, we are in a time where/when the youth can scream as loudly and as poignantly as they so choose.
We are in a time when the new generation of the world can imprint their creative genius and it will not only be listened to, but it will be given the chance necessary to move mountains. This is an anomaly era for the twenty-somethigns – those that make the choice to step over the line of normalcy, to tread a new path that they believe in (to the inner core of their every fiber), may ultimately have actual, great and lasting impact on the future and the unified word they so hope to create.
They already are.
In wine terms, Oltretorrente has that voice and desire in Northern Italy.
They see things just a bit ahead of others, just a touch slower but even faster because of it.
Their wine is inspirational – the 2012’s are so good, I actually burst the Rosso out of my mouth for the first time in years (actually spit it down the sides of my face while laughing in complete and utter jubilance) while the mayor of the small Italian town I was tasting with sat aghast at my indecency. For all my attempts at grace and cultural deference everywhere I go, in that moment, I didn’t care.
What mattered was the wine, not my manners, and I do hope each of you captures that same “stop everything, this is different, this is real” essence when you decide to open the bottles below. Not only are they (for the time being) priced at laughable levels for the intrigue and importance to their economically depressed region, but they are as alive as you will allow them to be…
Da una delle uve a bacca bianca più diffuse, e forse meno considerate, del Piemonte sudoccidentale un perfetto esempio per ricredersi: così succoso, fresco e di ottima acidità che fa venire voglia di masticarlo. Questo Cortese di Oltretorrente nasce grazie al recupero fatto da Michele e Chiara di alcune vecchie vigne di collina – certi appezzamenti hanno oltre 100 anni di vita e di onorata carriera – suddivise in 6 parcelle e ben 10 ambienti differenti con un’altitudine compresa tra i 350-400 metri. La coltivazione biologica dà luogo a un bianco onesto e molto dotato, giallo paglierino intenso e brillante con riflessi verdolini che anticipano tanto dei suoi profumi e della sua giovane età. Al naso poi è invitante e accattivante, profumato com’è di fiori di campo, di erbe aromatiche, salvia in particolare, e di tanta frutta matura e succosa, pera e mela prima di tutto, ma anche agrumi, pompelmo e lime. Il sorso poi è eccezionale grazie a un’ottima complessità e all’ampiezza data dalla materia unica da cui proviene, con quelle sensazioni saline che chiudono la beva insieme a una prolungata persistenza. Non si smetterebbe mai di berlo, ma bisogna fare attenzione perché le bottiglie prodotte sono proprio pochine. A buon intenditor poche parole.
THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION ANNOUNCES 2013 RESULTS
This Year’s Wine Competition Once Again Sets Unparalleled Standards and Uncovers the World’s Best Wines. June 22, 2013, New York, NY- In its third year, the New York International Wine Competition (NYIWC) welcomed close to 1000 submissions from the United States and over 30 countries from all over the world.
The NYIWC is the only major international wine competition to be judged solely by trade buyers. Each wine is judged by its category and retail price. All participating judges have purchasing power through their stores, restaurants, distribution networks, which results in their ability to have a direct impact on brand sales.
Barbera Wine of the Year
Oltretorrente Barbera Superiore
Italy Winery of the Year
Oltretorrente Barbera Superiore 2010
All other white varietal wines not otherwise listed 0-,7% residual sugar
Oltretorrente Timorasso 2011
Il Barbera Superiore ha naso intenso, austero, maturo, che sa di amarene sottospirito, cioccolato fondente, radici di china; in bocca ha bella polpa, spina acida, tannini presenti ma fini, sapidità, persistenza. Molto gradevole anche il Rosso.
Lorenzo Gritti has been working together with Nina Cuneo, one of his colleagues at Studio Armad’illo, to completely re-design the label for the exclusive Oltretorrente wine brand. The company gave a chance to to the dynamic duo to collaborate on the new look. Lorenzo created the illustrations and Nina worked on the graphic design. The concept defined a style that gives the Paderna, Italy based brand an appealing edge.
Save it for a rainy day?
That day is today.
During the course of my current travels, I discovered several new gems so sensitive and pulsing with life that I tucked them away in my hip pocket as insurance against boredom and the everyday. Despite my best attempts at keeping them sealed in a corner of my consciousness, the life that so swayed my emotion has its own destiny and this morning marks the arrival on my keypad of one of the more exciting new entrants I’ve tasted in 2012.
From Italy, not from France.
Named as a play on words between the the rivers that rage nearby and the central theme of the novel Oltretorrente, a book that marked the story of a key Italian resistance to the emergence of fascism in the 1920’a, the pages were staged on the outskirts of Parma (in the district of Oltretorrente) but that is hundreds of geographic miles from the tiny hamlet this winery calls home – nestled on the border of Lombardy and Piedmont. The two pinpoints may be unrelated in a cartographic sense but their philosophy and strong-armed will more than make up for the perceived distance.
Enabled by a talented and youthful husband/wife think-tank in the wild west of Piedmont (the Colli Tortonesi), the wine of Oltretorrente is pure magic. It is so real, it’s as though you were there, stage left, directing a play of winegrowing and grape picking. When things were just right, you had them press and age the wine for you, precisely to taste.
That is what Oltretorrente stands for – purity of mind and body…in a wine sense of course.
From very old vines (some 100+ years), brought back to BIO/organic sustenance by the gentle approach of this free-thinking team, the 2011 Rosso is so fabulous, I’ve been trying to compare everything I’ve tasted to it since that first night. In its current state, it requires 2-3 days of decant to show itself but the near-painfully dense and expressive mineral-infused fruit takes the phrase “catching lightning in a bottle” to new heights – it is lightning in a bottle. The finish has everything – fruit, earth, stone, spice, acidity and extract all wrapped in a ball of natural fragments that find their cohesion with the introduction of oxygen. A mix of Barbera and “other” with such powerful fruit presence, it’s about as striking as wine in this tariff range can be.
…we also have a few bottles of their EXTREMELY LIMITED and acclaimed white examples – the 2011 Timorasso and slightly “larger” production Cortese. Both are also stunning examples without malolactic or any intrusion into their white wine purity – I could drink both of them on any night, at at any occasion and always find something to keep me intrigued and focused on the glass at hand…
Please keep in mind, this is a very small operation – they still write letters by hand and conduct “business” with a handshake – it’s an example of how things used to be and still can be when the belief in the human spirit prevails instead of the unfortunate tendency to allow negativity to cloud a special gift that mankind possesses: the awareness of optimism.
At Oltretorrente, that optimism fills the air…even more so when the cork is pulled.