Our tasting impressions
We were on a mission to find a great Timorasso after tasting one at home, and with La Colombera, we can happily say, mission accomplished! This is glorious! Normally, we think of acidic wines as lean but this Timorasso is bright and edgy, yet has considerable body. It offers incredible floral aromas and notable minerality on the palate. Added bonus: these wines can age. Elisa surprised us with a 2006 for dinner and it was fresh, vibrant and wonderful. Twenty years of positive aging is not out of the question.
About this wine
100% Timorasso from a few different vineyards between 18-21 years old. Some are in light clay soil and some in dark and Elisa believes this is critical to the unique taste of her wine. Hand-harvesting takes about a month to complete. Yields are 70 hl/ha.
A 3-hour maceration precedes a soft pressing. Fermentation is with native yeast in steel tanks. It stays in those tanks aging on the lees for at least 10 months. It is bottled (cold-stabilized and filtered) and held for 6 months prior to release. Production is 20,000 bottles.
About the grape
Timorasso, an ancient, thick-skinned grape, is almost exclusively grown in southeast Piedmont, in and around the town of Tortona (traditionally known as Derthona). It was rescued from extinction within the last few decades.
Timorasso fell on hard times because it is a challenging crop. The grapes in each cluster vary in size and thus, ripen at varying rates. Plus, the vines are not vigorous and are susceptible to disease. So why bother with a revival? Simply put, this crisply acidic, mineral-laden grape is capable of producing one of Italy's most interesting white wines and with good body.
There still are only about two dozen producers making Timorasso, but as more people get exposed to this remarkable wine, demand will compel more to plant this indigenous grape.
On your table
We tried it with butternut squash angolotti and thought it was grand. Any rich, creamy dish will be a good compliment because the wine has enough body to stand up to them and enough acidity to cut through it. Consider a side of green vegetable - even those notoriously tough on wine like asparagus or fiddleheads. Serve slightly chilled.
Elisa (known as the Queen of Timorasso), along with her father and brother, own and operate this 22-hectare estate in Tortona. The family has been farming the land since 1937 and the first vines were planted in the 50's (to provide for the family's wine consumption). Decades later, grapes would be sold until eventually, Piercarlo (Elisa's dad) started bottling himself.
In 1998, La Colombera was established and two years later, they harvested their first Timorasso. At the time, they were one of just five offering this wine. Other quality wines are produced, but there is no doubt that Timorasso is the reason for being and principal focus for La Colombera. Farming is uncertified organic. Elisa is an intense student of the grape and the terroir, and happy to share her knowledge.
Visiting here is most enjoyable. Aside from Elisa's energy, enthusiasm and good-nature, the Cantine is a cross between general store and museum. They make a slew of condiments, jams, nuts and all things edible and these are interspersed with barrels and winemaking paraphernalia.