Daniele, Davide, and Renato Chiesa

Chiesa and the Roero

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For several years I attended the annual giant tasting in Alba called Nebbiolo Prima; tasting 70-80 Nebbiolos before lunch is a truly interesting and challenging experience. By far the hardest group of wines to taste were from the Roero, the Nebbiolo-centric DOCG just north of Barolo. Poured first in the morning, almost all of the Roeros appeared to be aged in new wood and were overwhelmingly oaky. Their jammy, over-ripe character suggested heavy use of roto-fermenters or some other extraction methods, and most seemed to be trying too way hard to achieve an intensity that wasn’t inherent in the wine. In short, the wines were very much not to my taste, and it was a struggle to be respectfully attentive before tackling that day’s 60+ Barolos.

Early morning vertigo at Nebbiolo Prima                                       

 

Since then, aside from a couple of quasi-distastrous winery visits, I’ve pretty much avoided the Roero (one exception: Val del Prete), so it was a fine surprise to discover the wines made by the Chiesa family.

May 9, 2015 - high season for asparagus in the Roero         

They’ve only been in place on the family farm since 1700 – practically newcomers – but it’s increasingly unusual to find a thriving multi-generational farm still engaged in polyculture, and (at least to the visitor) this one seems a very harmonious operation.

Certainly the food at lunch – all from the farm – was incredible, and although this photo was taken during a rare moment of quiet reflection at table (probably in hommage to the excellent asparagus), it was a lot of fun too.

 

 

The Roero landscape is very beautiful, very hilly and more compact and intimate in feeling than in the Langhe. There is real beauty in the Roero’s diversification of agriculture, while the Langhe (while also stunningly beautiful!) is now almost entirely given over to vines.

 

In general the soils of the Roero are sandy, and they have the potential to produce elegant Nebbiolo that matures earlier than Barolo or Barbaresco. 

Since Chiesa’s land has been in the same hands for over 300 years, the family can assert with authority that only copper and sulfur have ever been used in the vines.

The work in the cellar is similarly straight-forward and traditional. The wines stand out in the Roero for their lack of intervention and manipulation, which shows through in their purity and focus. Jamie Wolff

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Chiesa, Carlo 2014 Roero Arneis Quin

I’ve been trying to figure out Arneis for years now. I know I like Brovia’s version, but I like all things Brovia. My impression is that Arneis is a fairly subtle and undramatic grape, and it’s therefore easy to skew its profile – almost all Arneis is produced with selected yeasts, which produce uniformly adequate but dull wine. On top of that it’s very easy to overdo it with wood, an common thing when it comes to the ‘riservas’ or top of the line bottlings, whatever they call it. It must help the Chiesa Arneis that it is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts; there’s some light batonnage until malo. It’s lively and bright, quite savory and chalky/mineral; it’s very vinous and clean with rich underlying texture, and has compelling dry honey and pear flavors that are a bit reminiscent of Chenin. By far the most interesting Roero Arneis I’ve tasted. Jamie Wolff

The vines for the Roero Arneis were planted in 1960 on sandy soils with a southeast exposure. Aged in stainless steel for 6 months, the wine is bright straw yellow and has persistent flavors of green apples, stone fruit, and white flowers, with just a touch of honey. Would pair well with light pastas, fish / shellfish, antipasti, or even a mild curry. Christine Manula

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Chiesa, Carlo 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo

Assuming that you don’t want your wine oaky and jammy, this is one of the best Nebbiolos from the Roero that I’ve tasted, and it compares favorably with the finest produced in Barolo / Barbaresco. It hits lovely savory and cherry liqueur notes; it’s intense and mouthfilling but light on the palate; firmly tannic, this will play well with a wide range of food, so long as it’s nothing too delicate in flavor. Jamie Wolff

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  • red
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  • Low Sulfur

Chiesa, Carlo 2008 Roero Nebbiolo Monfriggio

You could certainly cellar this wine for some years to come, but I like the way it’s drinking now. The nose is warm with baking spice, rose, and savory aromas; there’s a dark core to the wine but it’s actually quite elegant, with velvety tannin, and it even becomes delicate on the long finish. Miles ahead of the competition! Jamie Wolff

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  • $27.99

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