In a nutshell: Outstanding Nebbiolo from the far North Western border of Piedmont.
The lowdown: Carema at the southern end of the Valle d'Aosta has been producing excellent wines for centuries, mentioned in 1539 as "an excellent drink, perfect for princes and lords" by the bottler to Pope Paul III. The area under vine is tiny though, only 20ha, and these are little terraced and old stone trellised vineyards on the valley slopes with only a small amount of topsoil that often gets washed down to the valley floor, and then is having to be brought back up again! Made with Nebbiolo but the wines are different in style to those of Barolo and Barbaresco to the south, the wines of Carema have been likened as the 'missing link between the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy and the Langhe'. The Riserva is aged for 48 months, of which 30 is in barrel, before release and has the potential to age for over two decades.
Pale garnet in colour, delicate aromas of red berries, lavender, leather and tar. The palate is soft and subtle with balanced tannins, a little dryness, a nice weight and complexity, and great length. A very elegant wine that is another fantastic expression of the King of Italian grapes.
When to drink: Drinking now, though decant for at least 1 hour beforehand. Will keep for another 10-20 years. Perfect with game dishes and savoury cheese. Alternatively works rather well on its own towards the end of the meal and into the evening!
Produttori del Carema is a cooperative that sits in the north of Piedmont in the alpine foothills bordering Aosta. Founded in 1960, originally with less than 12 producers They've always been well known for the quality of their wines and over time and due to their success their numbers have risen to more than 80.
Like the more famous Barbaresco and Barolo, Carema wines are produced from Nebbiolo. However, with the microclimate in Carema being different up until recent years it's sometimes been a struggle to get the Nebbiolo here to ripen sufficiently. On top of this the areas extremely steep slopes have mde using machinery difficult. The vines are trellised on stone and lime pillars, giving the pretty countryside an unmistakable, appearance. Not withstanding all this Carema is a very long-lived red with aromas and flavours reminiscent of sour red cherries, raspberry, red roses and tar. The wines are somewhat similar to Barolo and Barbaresco but with a livelier acidity and tighter structure which makes them wonderfully refined. The wines of Carema have long had an enviable reputation in their home country and have been sought after for centuries.