Nascetta: a lobster wine…

And so began the talk given by the wonderful ampelographer Enza Cavallero, by now in her early eighties, at the Nascetta conference held in Novello last Saturday. She did not talk much about Nascetta as a grape variety, since historical notes about it are scarce, but instead gave the producers suggestions about how to handle this rare Piedmont grape variety. According to this writer from Turin, Nascetta always needs to made into wine without blending it with other varieties, its production quantities need to be kept small, its uniqueness and organoleptic qualities need to be emphasized when promoting it, it pairs delightfully with lobster and prawns and, above all, it needs to be priced high in order to value its rarity.

The conference continued, and when the oenologist Sergio Molino took the floor it was from a more technical standpoint. Molino is currently the expert with the most experience in the study and wine production of this unknown grape variety.  Nascetta excites him for its potential for development and because it could become the great Piedmont white wine. The young and talented oenologist said that in order to discover the best of this grape variety, producers are needed who will join him in accepting the challenge. Which is why he has tried to convince some Langa businesses to cultivate Nascetta, the Rivetto family being one of the very first to embrace this new project.

I will not go into the technical aspects of wine production that were recommended by Sergio for best respecting this delicate grape, but I would like to linger on the aspect that explains why this grape variety has a great potential for ageing.  In the first year and half after bottling, the fragrances of this wine are remarkably aromatic and rich in linalool, which is a terpene composition characteristic of Muscat grapes. After the second year, the linalool disappears, making way for norisoprenoids, substances that are at first scentless but then, after a few years, develop complex aromas, which Fantini compared to the great Rieslings of the Rhine Valley in 1860.

I am in complete agreement with Sergio in saying that this is a white wine for ageing, and that we must not treat it as a ready-to-drink wine. Many Nascetta producers were present at the conference, perhaps even all of them (not much more than ten), and I would like to urge them to be courageous, waiting to sell Nascetta until after a few years of ageing and seizing, all together, the opportunity that this grape variety is offering to us, to make it into the great white wine of Piedmont.

Returning to the question of pairing, I wanted to offer you my experience: I admit that I am not a big fan of oysters, but the manager of a famous restaurant in Philadelphia convinced me to try the Langhe Nascetta oysters from the Atlantic ocean: mamma mia, what a sight!

I almost forget…for those of you who have had the chance to taste Nascetta wine, what delicious dishes would you pair it with?