Why Petterino is Essential
For producers and wine lovers, devotion to Gattinara is a waiting game. This small DOCG at the core of the Novara and Vercelli hills (better known to wine folks as the Alto Piemonte) has a reputation for austerity right out of the bottle. The grape here is Nebbiolo — referred to as Spanna locally — and to say that it requires a few years to reveal its thoughts in the glass is an understatement.
Fortunately, we have Petterino, a tiny traditionalist estate that stubbornly holds on to its wines until they think they're ready to drink. That doesn't always mean that releases are chronological. Like I said: Petterino is traditional, and we're not just talking about their use of botti. You won't find a website, let alone an Instagram account to follow, as Marco Petterino and his brother Giancarlo keep their focus on the slow-and-low craft of making exquisite wines emblematic of their territory. Nothing more, nothing less. In a way, it is an artisanal approach that is quintessentially Italian: if you are going to do one thing, do it to the level of mastery.
In fact, there is only one wine to find. Depending on the vintage you locate, it is either a Gattinara or a Gattinara Riserva, and there are less than 2,000 cases produced annually. Of all the producers listed on the Essential Winemakers of Italy, this is perhaps the rarest. Certainly, it represents the biggest time warp. But for those who can hunt down one of these surprisingly well-priced wines, the rewards are vast. Upon release, this is a glimpse of Gattinara's complexity, grace and vibrant energy, without the waiting game. Cheers to that.