The Bovone family herald from Ovada where they were wine merchants until Gian Piero Bovone bought the Cornarea estate back in 1974. Having studied oenology, Gian Piero had figured out that reductive, anaerobic winemaking was the key to vinifying Arneis. He then invested in the single vineyard of 15 hectares overlooking the small town of Canale, where he had the foresight to replant almost the entire hill to the white Arneis grape, culminating, in 1981, with their first single varietal wine.
The key to Cornarea’s high quality white wine Arneis DOCG (in north-west Piedmont in Italy) is the territorio/terroir: 30 million year old Miocene former sea bed soils rich in marine fossils and magnesium. In fact so rich is the soil in magnesium that a couple of doctors from nearby Canale made their fortune selling salt of magnesium, dug up locally, as a remedy during the late 19th century. The presence of magnesium, giving minerality to the wine, is apparently common to three villages: Canale, Montà, & Monteu Roero.
In recent years they have been fine-tuning their Nebbiolo wines too: both from the exact same hill, the Nebbiolo d’Alba is soft & fruity with pleasing freshness, while Roero DOCG possesses the finest of tannins & shows great elegance. In vintage 2011 they launched ‘Enritard’, a late-release Roero Arneis that spent more time on lees & 3/4 years in bottle.
> Converting to organic
Roero Arneis, Canale
‘Enritard’ Roero Arneis, Canale
Nebbiolo d’Alba, Canale
Roero DOCG, Canale
2018 Roero Arneis, Canale – tasted Nov’18 from bottle (as the short 2017 had run out so hence the early bottling), 13.4%. Normal yields in 2018, vs -25% in 2017; lower alcohol too, 13.4% vs 13.7%. A classic vintage compared to 2017. Pier & Gian will bottle most of the 2018 during the first quarter of 2019, so leaving the wine in contact with the fine lees for longer, but the market was short for Christmas! Appena nato, bright, lime skin, oranges & lemons, crunchy, fossils/shellfish sapidity, citrus sprint! TA 5.5.
2017 Roero Arneis, Canale – bottled January 2018, tasted Feb 2018. Fresh and sunny, with notes of white peach and honey, bay leaf, lime flower. Concentrated and lively on the palate, with lots of ripe fruit, texture and body. Good acidity, and a mineral spine (from the magnesium rich soils). White stone salinity on the finish. 13.5% abv.
2016 Roero Arneis, Canale – fresher than the sunny 2015, pinpoint yet joyful lime flower fruit, notes of accacia (honey), of spring! Med/full, neat, with exciting acidity & yet languid, relaxed with no sense of extraction (never!). Irrisistible now, but a live wire now that should develop nicely in bottle over the next 10 yrs.
2014 ‘Enritard’ Roero Arneis, Canale – tasted Nov’18, 13%, bottled end 2017, only 3.5k bts made: restained, more savoury than fruit notes, more nettle than lime. Slim, sapid, agrumato. Mosel-esque raciness & pebbliness, very fine, drawing on 6 mths of lees contact.
2013 ‘Enritard’ Roero Arneis, Canale – 13.2%, 6 mths extra on its lees in tank prior to bottling, the ‘Enritard’ (dialect for ‘late’) is a more savoury, sapid, drier, immensely food friendly Roero Arneis: less on the fruit, incredibly intense, crunchy, more spearmint fresh, grown up, with shoulders (structure), less showy, more mealy, ginger root, tight, vertical, such refinement (as is the character of the vintage), compelling, long…should age beautifully in bottle!
2016 Nebbiolo d’Alba, Canale – tasted May’18, bottled Marzo’18, 13.5%, this wine is notable not only for the high quality of the vintage but also because Gian Nicola Bovone, the owner/winemaker, chose to reduce further the amount of wood ageing so as to focus on the pretty Nebbiolo fruit; hence 50% of the wine was aged for 2/3 mths in 14 & 16HL botti grandi. A very bright, pretty ‘Ribena’ red, with flecks of cranberry/rose. On the nose, a lovely freshness, a zip of cool crunch, with freshly picked Roero strawberry intensity. To taste, this med. bodied, early drinking style of Roero Nebbiolo (100%), is alive with cleansing, exciting red berry fruit. Yum!
2015 Nebbiolo d’Alba, Canale – drawn from the same Villa Cornarea hill overlooking Canale, rich in salt of magnesium, left briefly for 6-8 days on the skins to retain the light, joyful character of the vintage, followed by 2/3 months in botte: bright with ‘spremuta’ (squeezed) fresh strawberry aromas, it’s gorgeously sunny, with peachy notes, capturing the Roero sandy soils, the freshness of the hill & the silky tannins of the region! Crunchy & sumptuous! Fantastico.
2015 Roero DOCG, Canale – tasted in February 2018, 13.5%. Pale ruby, with a perfumed nose, and aromas of raspberries, strawberries, gentle sweet spice, and a delicate floral note. Lots of ripe red berry fruit on the palate, slightly fuller and more serious versus the Nebbiolo d’Alba, but again with lovely freshness, exciting acidity, and a peppery finish. Creamy texture from 20 months in 14 & 16HL botti grandi oak, with silky tannins, and a seductive edge. The vines were planted in 1967!
2014 Roero DOCG, Canale – bottled in Feb ’17, the Roero & Cornarea in particular appeared to have succeeded in the tricky 2014 vintage: focus, lots of strawberry soft, red cage fruit, still a hint of creamy oak (from bottling), but it’s precise, fine, with almost forest fruit generosity.