Cantina Nervi is a historic Gattinara producer possessing some of the most prized vineyards within the tiny DOCG appellation. Founded in 1906 by Italo Nervi, it is the oldest estate in Gattinara. Vineyard holdings comprise 28 1/2 hectares including the top Crus Molsino and Valferana. These are ancient, historic crus in Gattinara with mentions of Molsino in town records as far back as 1471 and those of Valferana to 1231.
The Nervi family built up the reputation of the estate, running it continually until 1991 when a steel magnate named Germano Bocciolone purchased the peoperty. Twenty years later Erling Astrup, a passionate wine collector, purchased the winery. Astrup endeavored to push the level of quality at Nervi and sought out advice from his longtime friend Roberto Conterno. In 2018, he decided to sell the winery and wanting to see it fall into good hands, felt it was best to offer it to Roberto Conterno.
By law, Gattinara must be predominantly produced from the famed Nebbiolo grape (90%) with Bonarda and Vespolina allowed in the blend in minor proportions. Many producers choose to bottle Gattinara as 100% Nebbiolo. The Commune of Gattinara, around which the vineyards giving the wine its name lie, is in the northwest corner of Piedmont. Although traditionally viewed as a “second tier” wine verus its southern cousins Barolo and Barbaresco, Gattinara is capable of attaining world class level and longevity. Along with Travaglini, Nervi is a top trusted producer. With the backing and investment of Roberto Conterno, who immediately set about revitalizing the Nervi cellars, the wines should continue to improve.
Recently I spied a stash of the 2015 Nervi-Conterno Gattinara at a compelling price and so I quickly grabbed a few bottles. Nervi produces three Gattinara wines. The first is the estate wine which is the subject of this article. There are also two single vineyard wines comprised from the best selection of the Crus above (Molsino and Valferana) the balance is put into this wine.
Brilliant violet in the glass, the wine fades to a light iodine hue at the edge of the bowl. On the nose, the wine exudes pronounced aromas of ripe cherry, dried herbs, fennel and hints of turned earth. The freshness is very appealing. On the palate, this is so elegant in a feminine graceful manner. Medium to full bodied, the dusty, minerally tannins seem to take a back seat to the appealing crushed berry, fennel seed and fresh tobacco flavors. Aged for three years in large cask and an additional year in bottle before release this is very tempting upon release. However, I bought a magnum to cellar for 15-20 years. 91 points. Great value, especially relative to some Barolo. Shop around. About $38-$45. Find this wine.
The wonderful character of this wine has me curious about the single vineyard wines. Have you ever tried them? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section.