Matteo Correggia: The wines of Langhe & Roero
During our recent visit to Piemonte, we stopped by the Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia in the small town of Canale d’Alba. Here we were treated to a tour of the winery. No mean feat as the Arneis harvest was in the process of being brought in, the busiest time for any winery.
The estate was inherited by Matteo Correggio in 1985. At that time his father grew wine, fruits and vegetables. The boom in wine making that we enjoy in this part of Northern Italy today was nothing but a wild dream at that time, so it shows the vision of Matteo that he invested in red wine, as well as the ubiquitous Arneis of the region. Matteo was a visionary producer, creating Cru style wines for his Nebbiolo and Barbera from the best vineyards as well as planting some international grapes that are otherwise unheard of in the area.
Sadly, Matteo passed away unexpectedly in 2001, when his wife Ornella took over the business along with vintner Luca Rostagno. As time as come on, Matteo’s children have grown up and now Giovanni in particular are deeply involved in making the wine, clearly inspired by their father’s eye for quality and innovation.
Visiting the winery
It was a privilege to be shown around by Ornella. Of particular interest was her discussion of the soil types of the area and the geological history of the Roero. What was once seabeds, millions of years ago is now a range of soil strewn with fossil shells. On one side the sandy yellow soil has excellent drainage and strong mineral character from these inclusions. On the other side the heavier grey soil presents an impermeable layer which the water tends to run off rather than drain through. Both of these types of soils add their own unique characters to the wine and is carefully considered by the winery team.
The tasting room is located in a cool, high ceilinged room in the winery and residential building, nestled amongst the Langhe’s rolling hills. We settled in for a guided tasting of the full range of wines, accompanied by a tasty selection of local snacks including the ubiquitous Piemontese hazelnut.
Roero Arneis 2016
The classic grape of the region, which was vat stored and bottled with a screw cap which was finally allowed by the DOCG in 2012. Arnis is always fresh and busting with citrus fruit – this one notably full of lemon on the nose but lime in the mouth, with an interesting element of complexity that is brought by the high levels of magnesium in the soil which gives a delicate bitter note on the finish.
The Langhe produces a delicate Sauvignon Blanc, which is fermented at low temperatures in steel to retain the fresh fruit characteristics. This super pale lemon wine had some interesting green aromas – nettle, tomato leaf. These delicate sensations are met with citrus, a little stone fruit and a mineral element, although for me the body was a little too light as was the acidity which means this wine wasn’t quite in balance for me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love trying a new grape variety. Brachetto is typical of the region, but I had never come across it in my previous visits. This was a revelation and the wine that I brought home from Matteo Correggia! The wine has a fantasy name and is simply labelled as a red wine as it falls out of the legally defined appellation zone and so cannot be labelled as a Brachetto, but don’t let that put you off!
This wine has a beautiful light colour and when you bob your nose by the glass you’ll be rewarded with a burst of rose and raspberry aromas. The medium acidity, light but grippy tannin and beautiful rose flavours balanced with a delicate savoury note make this a really delightful wine. Young and fresh, they only make 6 or 7000 bottles a year so it is a bit of a gamble whether they sell out way before the next vintage is ready. I am not surprised!
Barbera D’Alba 2016
This wine is blended from across a number of the family’s vineyards and aged in 2nd and 3rd use barrels for 10 months. This means the classic red fruit flavours and slightly sharp tannins are very easy drinking in a pleasantly balanced medium bodied wine. This wine paired particularly well with the range of salame that were served alongside the tasting.
This is a heavier wine than the others, the Nebbiolo delivering its classic black fruit and delightful balance since it has had a little longer aging as per the requirements of the DOCG. This had high acidity, a relatively full body and velvety tannins. A great choice if you don’t have the time or the deep pockets to wait around for a Barolo!
You may have noticed the beautiful colourful snippets of artwork on each of the labels so far. This is a section taken from the work of a Uruguayan artist, Coco Cano, who lives locally. Each section is carefully chosen to match the style and character of the wine. You may notice also that the wines so far have short front labels, showing the Matteo Correggia classic wine range, while there are also a range with longer labels which delineate the selection wines from single vineyards.
This Barbera is grown on a SE facing vineyard, high on the slope where the drainage is at it’s best. The wind up on the hill is important for keeping the compact bunches of grapes dry inside, while the fossil inclusions in the soil also play a part in giving the wine mineral complexity. It ages half in large barrels, half in small for 18 months or more. This has created a rich black cherry wine with super smooth and deeply expressive tannins. This is a brooding, complex wine that I adored – probably the height of Barbera that I have tried.
La Val dei Preti 2014
This single vineyard Matteo Correggia Roero Nebbiolo comes from the oldest vineyard on the property, with vines of up to 80 years old. This wine undergoes the same aging process as Barolo. It was a deep red cherry wine with high alcohol and super ripe fruit – stewed plum, black cherry. It has a relatively moderate acidity and tannin, but full body and velvety smoothness. There was just a slight astringency on the finish that was not to my taste – perhaps another year or two in the bottle?
Roero Riserva 2014
After two years aging in the bottle we were extremely fortunate that this wine had been released just two days before our visit so we were one of the lucky first people to try this wine. This comes from the lighter yellow soiled vineyards and displayed lighter red fruits but also some delicious tertiary notes of meat and leather. It was full of body, high tannins, high acidity – it really fills the mouth. Only 600 bottles were made out of a possible 10k capacity where the best grapes were selected from the easterly, southerly and westerly aspects. The heritage of the area this wine is grown is documented back to 1200. This matches most amazingly with the salami – a wine absolutely made to complement beautiful salty, meaty flavours.
Le Marne Grigie 2014
This Langhe Rosso DOC is named for the grey soil from which the vines spring forth. This deep garnet wine has intense aromas of sweet spice, green and black pepper and dark black fruit. It is a medium acidity and body with smooth tannins, borne of 18 months aging in barriques. This is an expressive wine which examines the capacity of the sandy soils of the Roero vineyards.
It would have been rude not to finish off with the sweet Passito, made from my new best friend, Brachetto. The grapes are dried for one to two months agter picking, giving concentrated aromas of turkish delight, raisin and plum. This is a beautiful wine with high acidity and sumptuous sweetness, with a fine blend of fresh fruits and rose fragrance, orange blossom water along with stewed perfumed rhubarb. What an end to an incredible tasting.
Special mention too for the fun concept of Librottiglia that Matteo Correggio have developed. These are half bottles of wine which each come with an original short story, incorporated into the labelling of the wine. Perfect for a cheeky 45 minute break with your feet up, the style of wine has even been matched to the genre of story – including romance and murder mystery. How awesome is that?
Thanks to Matteo Correggia for the tasting. We paid EUR 15 per person for the tasting and bought wine at full price to take away.