Cantine Garrone is a small winery nestled into the Alps in the Ossola Valley, the northernmost appellation in Piedmont. The winery, in fact, is only 7 miles as the crow flies from the Swiss border and is part of the the Valli Ossolane appellation which was only recently given its own DOC in 2009. The vineyards fall at about the same latitude as those of Valtellina and similarly, at such northern reaches, the vines are planted solely on south-facing slopes.
The estate dates back to 1920 but it was not until 1994 that their first commercial production was released – a whopping 36 bottles! The family is dedicated, along with the Valli Ossolane growers association to the preservation of the culture and winemaking of the area. Mario Garrone and his nephew Matteo run the winery with Matteo handling most of the winemaking. The Garrone family owns one hectare of vineyards and also buys fruit from 60 growers. Much like in Carema and Donnas, most of these are steep, tiny parcels (the largest being one hectare). Matteo and Mario have close relationships with all of the growers from whom they buy grapes and are able to monitor their vineyard-work and ensure that their fruit is the best that it can be. Many of the parcels have vines over 100 years old which are grown on the local traditional pergola training system called “topia.”
One of the prizes of the Ossola Valley is the local biotype of Nebbiolo called Prünent. It is believed the rest of the Nebbiolo in Piedmont actually evolved from this local varietal whose bunches are more compact and cylindrical than the Nebbiolo grown elsewhere. Cantine Garrone produces a monovarietal Prünent from vines averaging about 60-80 years old (many on original root stock). They also make Ca’ d’Mate which is Nebbiolo blended with 15-20% Croatina whose vines average over 40 years old. Finally they make a fresh and delicious young wine called Munaloss which is a blend of Nebbiolo, Croatina with a little Barbera –aged in steel.
These wines are truly elegant, aromatic and precise mountain wines, and are a treat for any fans of Alto-Piedmont Nebbiolo!