The Cantine Garrone winery in the Val d'Ossola with the Swiss/Italian alps in the background
Cantine Garrone "Munaloss" 2012
The Cantine Garrone is one of those marvels of Italian viticulture; the Cantina Cooperativa. So many of the great wines we source from northern Italy come from these co-ops (Produttori del Barbaresco. Caves Coop, de Donnas etc.) and if you're familiar with the general quality level of the wines from co-ops in other countries, these wines are almost too good to be true.
The Cantine Garrone is a family run operation that's been in business for generations, serving as winery and commercialization facility for 60 growers farming 45 hectares of tiny, terraced plots clinging to impossibly steep hillsides in this most northern of all of Piedmonts many valleys, hard up against the Swiss border northwest of Lago Maggiore. The primary variety grown here is the most ancient form of Nebbiolo (DNA testing confirmed) known locally as Prünent, along with plots of Bonarda, Croatina and Barbera. These are old vineyards with stone trellising systems dating back hundreds of years and many of these vines themselves are well over a hundred years old planted on ungrafted vines. This is 100% manual labor, no chemicals or synthetic fertilizers, and it isn't easy on these steep hillsides.
The cellar, though housed in the vaulted cellars of Cà d'Matè, a 15th century farmhouse, is up to date and equipped with modern conveniences including a thermal solar plant that generates all of the electricity needed to run the winery eliminating all carbon emissions and helping to maintain the pristine local alpine environment.
The Munaloss is a blend of 50% Nebbiolo and the balance Barbera,and Croatina. The name refers to Ossolanum which is the old Roman name for this valley. Munaloss is Ossolanum backwards (sort of) since the first time they put Ossolanum on a label the Italian government fined them a few hundred euros as they weren't pleased with their self appointed appellation. The wine is simply called a vino rosso now. This is the largest amount of anything they produce here at 2,000 cases but fully half that is earmarked for consumption by the growers and most of the balance snapped up locally. A tiny bit makes it's way to the US and we have a good amount in stock.
This is such a vivacious example of structured Piemontese red wine with the backbone of Nebbiolo and deep fruit from the Croatina and Barbera. Bright red color with lots of vibrant red cherry, spice and a little menthol on the nose. Good acidity and slightly rustic tannins along with a very low alcohol profile by typically Nebbiolo standards, just 12%, making this a standout for salumi, anything with a red sauce or roast pork.