Elvio Cogno Bricco dei Merli Barbera 2011
The Cogno family has been making wine for four generations in Piedmont. In 1990, Elvio Cogno left a long and fruitful partnership with the venerable Barolo producer Marcarini at La Morra and bought a splendid, historic 18th-century farmhouse on the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello in the Langhe area. (Novello is one of the 11 communes in which Barolo is produced.) The farm was surrounded by 11 hectares (27.18 acres) of steeply sloped vineyards. Elvio restored the manor, converted the old granaries to wine cellars and founded his eponymous winery. For the next 20 years he devoted himself to the winemaking traditions handed down to him by his father and grandfather.
Elvio, in turn, has now passed the torch to his daughter, Nadia, and her husband, Valter Fissore, who has worked beside Elvio for 25 years. Following in the footsteps of Elvio the maestro, Elvio Cogno winery continues to produce elegant wines without altering the traditions, styles and flavors of the Langhe, with its breathtaking quilted landscape and unique grape varieties.
The Elvio Cogno winery sits at the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello in the Langhe area of Piedmont, one of the 11 communes in which Barolo is produced. Ravera is the finest cru of Novello, encircling the top of the hill and the winery, reaching a 380-meter (1,246-foot) elevation, with breathtaking views in all directions. At sunset on clear days, a turquoise horizon frames the farm, hence the name “Petorchino,” or “blue feet,” for this vineyard land.
In a sense, “Alba” is a catch-all phrase, and includes the declassified Nebbiolo wines made in Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as the Nebbiolo grown just outside of these regions’ borders. In fact, Nebbiolo d’Alba is a softer, less tannic and more fruit-forward wine ready to drink within just a couple years of bottling. It is a great place to start if you want to begin to understand the grape. Likewise, the even broader category of Langhe Nebbiolo offers approachable and value-driven options as well.
Barbera, planted alongside Nebbiolo in the surrounding hills, and referred to as Barbera d’Alba, takes on a more powerful and concentrated personality compared to its counterparts in Asti.
Dolcetto is ubiquitous here and, known as Dolcetto d'Alba, can be found casually served alongside antipasti on the tables of Alba’s cafes and wine bars.
Not surprisingly, given its location, Alba is recognized as one of Italy’s premiere culinary destinations and is the home of the fall truffle fair, which attracts visitors from worldwide every year.
Friendly and approachable, Barbera produces wines in a wide range of styles, from youthful, fresh and fruity to serious, structured and age-worthy. Piedmont is the most famous source of Barbera; those from Asti and Alba garner the most praise. Barbera actually can adapt to many climates and enjoys success in some New World regions. Somm Secret—In the past it wasn’t common or even accepted to age Barbera in oak but today both styles—oaked and unoaked—abound and in fact most Piedmontese producers today produce both styles.