Little known and barely appreciated, Erbaluce may very well be Northern Italy’s most noble white grape. In the masterful hands of Luigi Ferrando (of white/black label Carema fame), this noble grape becomes a thing of magic. Plush and velvety, the creamy texture of Caluso is so inherently comfortable your tongue will feel like it’s resting on whatever the wine’s equivalent is to a ottoman. Think of an Alpine Chenin and you’re on the right track. Wild flowers, herbs golden honey along with a core of savory mineral is perfect as we get into the stronger, more heavy flavors of Autumn. For the price this is absurd. Buy it, try and it, you won’t be sorry.
2016 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso “Cascina Cariola”
Neal Rosenthal’s Note: “Ferrando’s ‘Cariola’ bottling comes from the choicest parcels of their Borgomasino vineyard, and in contrast to the pure-stainless-steel aging of the “La Torrazza” above, 20% of the wine is fermented and aged in 600-liter oak barrel. The skillfully worked oak is felt as a textural element rather than an aromatic or flavor contribution, serving to accentuate the lusciousness of the fruit, but not at all detracting from the wine’s inherent zing. ‘Cariola’ offers more fruit-driven ripeness on the nose than “La Torrazza,” with a less-pronounced herbal streak and a Chenin-Blanc-like grace note of lanolin, and while it is more unctuous on the palate, it finishes with an even greater sensation of stony cling.”
More about the Wine
Historical records show that Erbaluce’s virtues were touted as early as 1606. The name reflects the grassy, hay-like qualities of its flavors and aromas (Erbe … meaning grass or herbs) and its ability to capture and thrive on the light (Luce) from the sun that sweeps across these terraced hillsides in abundance throughout the growing season. Erbaluce is capable of real magic in the Alpine foothills where it’s grown, painting a vivid picture of the rocks, streams, flowers, herbs, and crisp air in which the vines thrive, and offering a range of full-spectrum expressiveness—from naturally sparkling to bone-dry to achingly late-harvest-sweet—comparable in its flexibility and drama to that of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley.
Ferrando’s Erbaluce is grown in Caluso, which many consider the finest, most fitting terroir for the varietal: poor (read good) soil full of sand and small pebbles. Erbaluce made here has just as much detail of earth as any truly great wine would, this one being a sumptuous portrayal of the Alps: Pine, silky minerals, and more savory flavors, shavings of almond, white flowers, kiss of a tropical citrus, pear and honeyed apple. 2016, a vintage of total freshness and clarity, enjoys the perfect amount of fruit, body and acidity making one of favorite expressions of “Cascina Cariola” we’ve ever come across.