Let's Discover Monferrato, A Mosaic Of Wines And Landscapes
A Mosaic Of Wines And Landscapes
Mun frà, which means «brick for ironing».
If we want to believe the legend, the boundaries of Monferrato were decided by a horse ride. One done by Marquis Aleramo who, in the 10th century, after falling in love with Alasia, daughter of Emperor Otto I, fled with her to his native lands, the hills of southern Piedmont that his father Guglielmo probably obtained as a fief from the then king of Italy, Rudolph of Burgundy. The historical events are very scarce and contradictory, but continuing with the legend, Otto I forgave Aleramo and granted him as many territories as he could manage to ride in three days and three nights. So, the brave man on a mission got the best horse available and, unable to stop by the horseshoers in the area, used a brick (mun) to shoe his horse’s hooves (frà) during the crazy ride: this is how Monferrato was born.
Believe the legend or not, it is also true that Guglielmo and Aleramo were the first feudal lords of the Aleramic dynasty who ruled over a territory quite similar to today's Monferrato. A Marca – as it would have been called at that time – which included, from north to south, the lands between the Ligurian Apennines and the Po river; and from East to West, those between the Langhe and Lomellina.
This vast territory, now divided between the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, is the historic Monferrato, which can be further divided into three other areas: the Basso Monferrato, represented by the northern hills, around Casale Monferrato; the Monferrato Astigiano, largely belonging to the province of Asti; and the Alto Monferrato, which include the area of Acqui, the Moscato Hills and the Lands of Gavi, almost on the border with Liguria.
In this post, we will generally focus on the wine area of Monferrato, dedicating our next entries to wines from Asti, Acqui and the lands of Gavi.
A MOSAIC OF HILLS
If we could fly over Monferrato, the first image it would give us would be that of a multitude of “tiles” of different colors and shapes. Like a huge mosaic, Monferrato is made up of dense and shady woods, golden fields of wheat or forage, green meadows for pastures and, of course, lush vineyards. Unlike the Langhe, where there is a rigorous monoculture of vines, Monferrato is a land of incredible biodiversity and natural resources, where viticulture is harmonized with other agricultural activities and the vine rows are not the only livelihood present.
In some areas, even the forest is regaining land at the expense of the crops, an aspect that makes Monferrato an uncontaminated land with a primordial charm.
SOILS AND VINES
The soils of Monferrato are ancient, originating during the Miocene, or between 20 and 5 million years ago. These are mostly marly soils, but they change a lot depending on the geographic area: near Asti they become clayey and sandy, rich in fossils, a sign that an ancient coast ran here. Further north, towards Casale Monferrato, the soils become sandier. It is here that, even today, the famous Pietra da Cantone is extracted, with which most of the ancient buildings are made. A peculiar feature of northern Monferrato, especially in the area between Rosignano and Vignale Monferrato, are the infernòt, spaces dug into the rock that served as domestic cellars, suitable for storing and refining wines; and the Underground Cathedrals of Canelli, older sisters of the infernòt, impressive systems of tunnels built under the hills dedicated to the refinement of fine wines.
There are numerous varieties grown in Monferrato, but if we were to name the main ones, there would never be any doubt: Barbera and Cortese. The former is the red grape variety that occupies the largest vineyard area in Piedmont, its most historic vine and the one occupying the sunniest positions on the hills; the latter is white-berry variety, grown mainly in Alto Monferrato and in the Lands of Gavi, where the homonymous wine is produced. But in Monferrato Freisa, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Brachetto and Moscato are also cultivated: varieties that have found their home in particular areas, which we will discuss later on.
DUCHESSA LIA’S MONFERRATO WINES
Momentarily not including the areas of Asti, Acqui and the Lands of Gavi, which are Duchessa Lia’s Monferrato labels?
Barbera del Monferrato Doc Duchessa Lia has the typical vinous and pleasant profile of the blunter and more fragrant Barbera. Coming from the hills between the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, it is a pleasantly sparkling wine, with a good structure and notes of freshly picked red fruit. A very pleasant and lively Barbera ready to accompany convivial occasions and family meals: it goes well with everything, from omelettes to meat carpaccio; from fresh pasta with meat sauce; from roast meats to mixed boiled meat and bagna cauda.
Discover Barbera del Monferrato Doc Duchessa Lia and its pairings!
Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato Duchessa Lia comes from Cortese grapes also grown between the areas of Alessandria and Asti. Also mildly sparkling, it stands out for its pale straw yellow color tending to greenish, with characteristic notes of flowers and white fruit. The delicate flavor of Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato goes well with all types of aperitifs, first courses and fish soups, flans and vegetable creams, consommés and fried food. It also pleasantly and delicately pairs with white meat dishes.
SCOPRI GLI ABBINAMENTI CON
IL CORTESE DELL'ALTO MONFERRATO DOC DUCHESSA LIA