The hot Boston summer means that drinking anything but white wine is tough. Sometimes, however, you want something with a little more body than you’d find in a typical white wine. People usually think the options at that point are either Rose or Lambrusco, both of which can be great options. But what about a chilled red wine? Though the concept seems rather foreign to most people, with the right wine it can be the perfect answer to a hot summer evening. But not all red wines would be good when chilled, so finding the right one is key. As a general rule of thumb, you go north. North in Italy means Switzerland or Austria and the small number of wine regions tucked across the Italian border in their shadows. That is exactly where you’ll find this region, the Valli Ossolane DOC.
This region is one of the most obscure Italian wine regions I’ve explored so far. So much so that it’s not in The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, one of my go-to sources for all things wine. In fact, this small region was only granted it’s DOC designation in 2009, making it one of the most recently crowned wine regions in the DOC catalog. It sits right up against the border with Switzerland with Lombardy to it’s right and Valle d’Aosta about 40 miles to the southwest and has one of the most impressive landscapes of all Piedmontese regions. It is not the northern most wine region in Italy, since the country angles slightly northward as you move east (making Alto Adige the northern most area) but it is more northern than just about any other Italian wine region in it’s area.
The region produces four different types of wine – three red and one white (surprising for a region so far north). The white wine must be made up of at least 60% Chardonnay, with other Piedmontese varietals making up the rest of the blend. Of the three red wines, two are varietals made from Nebbiolo – one “standard” version and a Superiore version, which has some additional requirements including a longer aging period. The final red wine is a blend of Nebbiolo, Croatina, and Merlot.
The red wines from this region, though often consisting of mostly Nebbiolo, tend to be bright and fruit driven; not as big and powerful as the Nebbiolo’s found in southern Piedmont. This particular wine is from the producer cantineGarrone and falls into the third category of red wines, a blend that consists of mostly (but not all) Nebbiolo. In has a dark, ruby red coloring and a fruity bouquet that is a bit muted at first, when the wine is cold, but opens up nicely as it warms. There are notes of blueberry and raspberry, with qualities that remind me of a raspberry sorbet (though not as sweet). The body is dry and has medium acidity and tannins, with more traditional red and dark fruits notes – cherry and raspberry on the forefront. It is nice and crisp when chilled, perfect for sitting outside when it’s hot. If you’re looking for a red wine you can drink chilled, this would definitely be one of my recommendations.