I am fascinated by Piemonte for several reasons, many of them beginning with “B”. Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and most recently, Boca. This tiny region is located in the province of Novara in the northern part of Piemonte. The Boca DOC was estabilished in 1969, and even now there are only about a half a dozen wineries making wines under the Boca DOC. The DOC rules prescribe a minimum of 45% and a maximum of 70% of Nebbiolo grapes, while the remaining blend is Vespolina, a grape known for its spiciness, and tiny portions of Uva Rara also known as Bonarda Novarese.
The signature difference for me between the Boca wines, and the more well-known Nebbiolo-based reds of Barolo and Barbaresco, is the acidity level. The altitude of these vines, as well as the soil composition gives them a unique and long-lasting elegance. These wines can age for decades.
Thanks to Max Stefanelli at Terroni in Los Angeles, I recently discovered a Boca producer making a “Boca Chinato” from their red wine. Just as the Langhe has it’s “Barolo Chinato”, so too can the wineries of Boca turn their red wines into lovely little vini da meditazione. By cold-soaking their Boca DOC in herbs and spices, and then adding sugar to fortify the end product, Conti Cantine del Castello ends up with an amazingly light, intriguing little liqueur. The aromatized Elixir reminds me of violets, cardamon and heather. It’s trademark Boca acidity turn the flavors towards rhubarb and strawberry pie.
Products like these make me realize just how much there is to know about the nooks an crannies of Italian wine. I hope I never stop learning.