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La Trava

Where exactly are we? asks Clemens.

Despite its proximity, I had never visited a vineyard outside “the Zone” in Mango until a week or so ago when I drove 5km and a few hundred metres higher  from our house in the valley next to Neive.  La Trava is in an historic location made famous by the writings of  Beppe Fenoglio about the partisans whose neighbourhood this was in World War II. The views are sensational looking back down the valley towards Neive and perfect for those of you with camper vans; space for 5. I was to discover that those few hundred metres and different soil makes a significant difference to the wine produced there. It has only existed in its current form for less than 20 years but  it has come a long way with the evident passion  of  Maria Grazia Rivetti, her husband Giorgio Costa and daughter Manuella. (There is another daughter, Elena, who we we didn’t meet). They make 50-60k bottles a year + “sfuso”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My friend Clemens and I used the words “different” and “unusual” a number of times during the following hour or so as our preconceptions of the grape varieties were challenged. This was not at all in a bad way and I would encourage anyone used to the varietals of Barbaresco and Barolo to try some of these “high altitude” wines.

Of the whites we particularly liked the “different” Favorita that was bone dry and “vivace”. More bubbles than we had ever tasted before in a Favorita, and a great summer wine although at 13% beware. The Arneis 2011 was a bit flat but the 2012 straight from the “vasca” had an excellent floral nose and a delicate structure rather than fresh acidity.

Two Dolcettos followed and our preference was for the Navirot Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 from 40 year old vines located between Mango and Cossano. Classic Dolcetto nose and a pleasing sour cherry bitterness on the finish. The Brich din Lujis 2010 had a “green” nose and was almost elegant and nicely balanced.

Of the 2 Barberas the Barbera d’Alba Superiore was preferred but needs more time. Cherry, burnt caramel with a sweet cherry fudge finish and nice length. Aged in stainless steel from a higher location the “Achiri” 2008 was herby, particularly sage and rosemary. Different!

The Moscato d’Asti was perfect, not too dry not too sweet, not too fizzy but the Nebbiolo was missing the tannins that I love and I will stay with my closer, low-lying neighbours. Lovely people, “different wines” and great views.