A fantastic vine, reborn thanks to iconic and passionate producers
Italy is the country that has the largest number of native vines, more than 350 according to official estimates. An impressive number if you consider that 80 of these cover 75% of the vineyard area, while in neighboring France the same percentage is made up of only about twenty species.
Among the most popular local vines is Timorasso, a vine that has come close to extinction thanks to what is now its most iconic producer: Walter Massa.
We are located in the province of Alessandria, more precisely in the Tortona Hills area, where the Val Borbera and the Valle del Grue alternate with the Curone and Ossona.
Tortona, baptized Derthona by the Romans, lends its ancient name to the sub-area created in 2020 by the Protection Consortium Vini dei Colli Tortonesi, which aims to give prestige to what constitutes the habitat of choice in Timorasso.
A Piedmont somewhat different from that of other suitable areas, such as Langhe and Monferrato: here, in fact, the clayey soils host a high limestone component, which in some areas shapes the precious Marne of Sant’Agata, the same subsoil that dwells under the Barolo vines.
The sunny position sheltered from the winds then guarantees optimal ripening of the grapes and particular quality when the altitude of the vines exceeds 250 m.a.s.l.
Timorasso is not an easy vine, it has its own specific claims and a particular sensitivity towards rot. It also requires careful management of the foliage in the summer, so that a yield of 60-65 quintals per hectare can be obtained and the problem of inconstant productivity can be stemmed.
For these and other reasons, in the past it was explanted in favor of Barbera and Cortese, more productive and less complicated to grow, reaching the threshold of extinction.
The reversal of the inexorable decline occurred in the 1980s, when Walter Massa decided to enhance this species, which had genes common to black grape varieties, Riesling and Viognier, and which therefore possessed the potential to stand out as a white counterpart to the noble Langhe reds; a symbol of typicality in an increasingly approved scenario.
In 1987 there was the first harvest vinified in purity, but the real turning point came in ’95, when the winemaker realized that this wine needs time to express itself at its best and placed on the market, a year and a half after the harvest, the “Costa del Vento”.
At this point the Timorasso, rigorously aged in steel and then in the bottle, presented itself as the wine of great structure and acidity that we know today.
A “red dressed in white”, as evidenced by the minimum extract of 17 grams / liter, characterized by a nice flavor and bold mineral and iodized notes which, with aging, become more and more elegant.
It goes without saying that when it landed on the market it was a success. From that small production in 1987, we have reached today’s 175 hectares of vineyards and soon 350 will be reached.
A nice revenge for all those winemakers who, in unsuspected times, believed in their own territory.