Outside the Langhe, Piemontese wine had a rough twentieth century. Ravaged by phylloxera, Mussolinian antipathy, destruction during the Second World War and a troubled economy after, much hectarage went out of production. Ancient places like Ghemme, Carema, and Boca, once highly-regarded but now obscure, came close to going extinct. In 1998 when Christoph Kuenzli, being smitten by Boca wines, bought the property and library of Antonio Cerri, one of the few remaining vintners in the region, production was down to a trickle; even today there are only about 25 hectares under vine. When you taste his “Maggiorina” bottling, you’ll be glad he’s reviving the area. Made for young drinking, it’s a field blend focused on Nebbiolo and Croatina, with ten other grapes (including aromatic whites) making their contribution. Spicy and lively, the nose of black raspberry, pepper, and cranberry provides an alluring introduction on which the palate delivers. Peppery underneath, with cranberry, herbs, black and red raspberry, and a brambly note twining in and out, it’s intriguing and food-friendly. Clean and smooth, it drinks easily, unfolding as it opens with baking spices, plum and pluot fruit, and finishing with brilliant acidity.
Pairing: Just drinking it makes you hungry: have it with a platter of salumi and cheeses, vegetarian lasagna, or lamb cutlet.