Deep in the romantic Piemonte region of Italy, known for elegant wines like Barolo and the highly sought-after black and white truffles, lies the region of Roero, characterized by rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, backed by centuries of winemaking.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of traveling through the region via a flight of wines produced by the Gallino family. Patriarch Domenico Gallino founded the winery, Bric Castelvej, in 1956, and since then, the quality vision of Domenico has been carried by his grandchildren, Mario and Cristiano Gallino.
The location of the tasting couldn’t have been more fitting: Bottega restaurant in Yountville. There, we tried the wines presented by Cristiano alongside culinary staples from the Bottega kitchen.
Cristiano picked a handful of wines to tell the story of his estate and proudly explained each selection with fatherly pride and excitement worthy of sharing with the world.
The first wine we enjoyed after a proper Aperol Spritz while we got acquainted was the 2017 Bric Castelvej Moscato D’Asti, Piemonte DOCG, a style of wine championed in the Piemonte Region.
The wine, with a frizzy and slightly sweet nature, exploded out of the glass with peach blossoms, mandarin zest and enticing electric acidity, which balanced the kiss of sweetness.
The following wine, a sharp and crisp white wine, was the 2017 Bric Castelvej Roero Arneis, Piemonte DOCG, a flagship wine from the region. This wine exhibited notes of apple orchard, almond skins and a dry, cleansing profile ideal for seafood. We thoroughly enjoyed this wine with the braised octopus with a hint of spice.
We then moved to the red wines starting with a fun and refreshing 2017 Bric Castelvej Langhe Nebbiolo, Piemonte DOC, the kind of wine one wishes for on a daily basis. Light and bright in color with fresh red fruit, high acid and soft tannins.
The following taste was the 2017 Bric Castelvej Barbera D’Alba, Piemonte DOC, a varietal that often gets overlooked but always delivers an intellectual wine at great value. This wine was gentle and complex at the same time offering sour cherries, fresh violets and a turned soil layer that teased the senses.
Cristiano followed the tasting with the serious sibling, 2017 Bric Castelvej Barbera D’Alba Superiore Vigna Mompissano, Piemonte. Superiore wines deliver a higher concentration, this wine delivered a handful of herbs and spices dominated by cinnamon and holiday spice, macerated cherry and plum. Ideal for a Christmas dinner or barbecue tri-tip with the family.
We ended the flight with a head-turner wine, a serious contender to your favorite Barolo. The 2014 Bric Castelvej Roero Riserva Panera Alta DOCG, 100 percent Nebbiolo (just like Barolo) from 40-year-old vines planted on the stunning hillside. Both powerful and seductive, like Sophia Loren, a plethora of aromas takes over with dried roses, fruit cake, tar and asphalt. On the first sip, a balance between macerated cherries and earth with a generous profile completed by meaty tannins and a lingering finish that lasted for miles. This wine, alongside the black truffle raviolo, was like enjoying a tango performance by Carlos Gardel.
There is no doubt that Cristiano’s winemaking hand inherited from his grandfather has done him well. Although Bric Castelvej wines are hard to find in the United States, I sure can’t wait to be blue to find them for a weekly rendezvous.
At the same time, I am looking forward to visit their estate soon.