Alta Langa DOCG (Spumante)

Created by Carlo Gancia in 1850, after spending time in France getting to know and learn the method of making champagne, the Spumante Alta Langa (sparkling wine) is now a widely appreciated high quality wine.

This is a  Vintage sparkling wine made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, white or rosé, produced by artisans following the traditional method.

History

Although wine, as we know it today, began being made during the nineteenth century, the history of the DOCG Alta Langa is fairly recent. Work on getting it recognized under the Denomination of Origin certification began in the 90s when some local producers decided to return to the production of sparkling wines according to the classical method, selecting the best grapes.

Years studying the territory with the aim of identifying the best production area, carrying out scientific research to identify the terroir’s minimum characteristics and experimenting in winemaking, has led to the creation of the Consorzio Alta Langa consortium.

In 2002, the year after its foundation, the consortium obtained the DOC Alta Langa Metodo Classico certification.

Since then, the 7 founding companies, Enrico Serafino, Fontanafredda, Gancia, Giulio Cocchi, Martini & Rossi, Tosti and Vigne Regali, have worked to promote the production of this high-end sparkling wine that has nothing to envy with its French cousin.

Thanks to the high quality of this wine, mainly due to the careful selection of the vine variety, the consortium has been awarded the DOCG Alta Langa certification with Ministerial Decree dated 21 February 2011.

Terroir and production area

Alta Langa Docg

The DOCG area in question stretches from the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria, on lands belonging to 146 municipalities located to the right of the Tanaro river.

According to the policy document, the vineyards must be planted on marl and limestone and clay soil, that is characterized by moderate fertility and localized exclusively on the hills. The altitude cannot be less than 250 m above sea level.

The vines are cultivated in a low ‘espalier’ form with either traditional Guyot or spurred cordon pruning.

Production technique

Since this is an artisan wine, the grapes are harvested by hand so that the they retain their best organoleptic properties. The fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks.

Before bottling, the various base wines are mixed so as to make the cuvèe (batch) homogeneous. Once the bottles are transferred to the cellar, the slow aging of the wine begins and lasts at least than 30 months.

The last working stages are the remuage and degorgement. In the first of the two phases, the bottles are placed on appropriate trestles, so-called pupitres, which allow them to remain inclined at various angles. Through daily rotations, from the initial horizontal position they had while aging, they reach a nearly vertical position.

The entire process lasts 1-2 months and precedes the degorment, the disgorgement: basically it’s the elimination of the sediment which occurs naturally in wine via the blocking of the sparkling wine in the neck of the bottle. Thanks to the internal pressure, the sediment is ejected as soon as the bottle is uncorked.

Once the classic cork is inserted and secured by the metal cage, the Alta Langa Spumante is ready for sale.

Alta Langa Spumante, Rosato and Riserva

The Alta Langa Spumante (Sparkling wine) is made of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes which can be found in percentages varying between 90% and 100%. “The remaining 10% may be made up of non-aromatic grapes from vines whose cultivation is authorized in Piedmont.” (Decreto Ministeriale 21 febbraio 2011)

The denomination includes four different indications: Alta Langa Spumante and Alta Langa Spumante Rosato and with the respective terms “Riserva” (Reserve) for wines with a minimum aging period of 36 months.

White

Ideal as an aperitif; it’s well suited for appetizers and first course fish and seafood meals, or with truffle dishes.

Foam: fine and persistent
Color: from straw yellow to intense gold
Bouquet: fragrant, complex, characteristic of re-fermentation in bottle
Flavor: savory, fine and harmonious
Minimum alcohol content: 11,50% vol.
Minimum total acidity: 5.00 g/l
Minimum non-reducing extract: 15.00 g/l

Rosé

When it has a good structure, the rosé sparkling wine pairs well with red meat, both braised and stewed, but you can also try being “daring” with unusual combinations such as lentils and sausage, fondue, vegetable flan, land or sea fried mixtures and even Parmesan cheese.

Foam: fine and persistent
Color: from straw yellow to intense gold
Bouquet: fragrant, complex, characteristic of the re-fermentation in bottle
Flavor: savory, fine and harmonious
Minimum alcohol content: 11,50% vol.
Minimum total acidity: 5.00 g/l
Minimum non-reducing extract: 15.00 g/l

And finally, the wines that do not reach the minimum quality requirements may be downgraded to the Piedmont DOC Spumante classification.

Useful info

The Alta Langa Consortium has promoted the creation of a special wine glass made specifically for this sparkling “pride of Piedmont” wine. The glass is a true design object created by Giorgetto Giugiaro: the narrow base widens to enhance the flavors of the wine.

There’s a helical grooving on the stem which allows for an easy grip, while the motifs at the base of the glass recall the Piedmont hills. At the base of the glass we can also find the Spiegelau brand, which belongs to the German manufacturer.

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