Vallana Vertical: 2010 — 1954
@ Del Posto Restaurant, NYC (5/9/2013)

The Rare Wine Co. set up this dinner focusing on the Nebbiolo (Spanna) based wines of Antonio Vallana e Figlio, one of the most highly regarded wineries in Alto Piemonte region north of Turin, including the Colline Novaresi (Novara Hills).

The guests of honor were Marina Vallana (in charge of marketing) and her brother, the winemaker Francis Vallana. Marina and Francis are the great grandchildren of winery founder Antonio Vallana. Here is the text of the email announcing this dinner.

The food at Del Posto was very good and fairly well-matched to the wines.

All the wines were opened around 5pm and double-decanted between 6 and 6:15. The dinner started around 7:15 and lasted till about 10pm.

For each image, I have posted a compressed (and possibly cropped) version. Click on it to see the original, much larger image.

Arriving at Del Posto.

For Tasting Notes. Food & Wines.

Line-up of wines (served from left to right).

Mannie introduces the evening.

Marina Vallana (left) listening to Mannie.


Flight 1

Vitello Tonnato with Olive Crostone, Caper Shoots,
Parsley Stems & Lime Cells.

Francis & Marina Vallana tell us about the winery and its history.

The Vallana family has been in the wine business since the 1700s. In 1937 Antonio Vallana and his son Bernardo founded the Antonio Vallana e Figlio wine company. Bernardo the son was the owner/winemaker who made the classic wines of the 1950s and 60s. During this time, he was grooming his son Antonio (named after his grandfather) to take over the winemaking. Sadly, in 1968 Antonio died suddenly at the age of 17. Bernardo was distraught. He continued to make the wine, but without the same enthusiasm.

Meanwhile in 1980, his only other child, his daugher Giuseppina Vallana, married an Englishman, Guy Fogarty, who was working as an English teacher. Bernardo taught Guy Fogarty how to make wine, which he did until his untimely death in 1996.

Francis and Marina are the children of Giuseppina Vallana and Guy Fogarty. So Antonio Vallana is their great grandfather. When their father died, Francis took over as winemaker. He has a PhD in viticulture. Their mother Giuseppina and her mother Marina (wife of Bernardo) are still involved in the winery, while the younger Marina is heavily involed in marketing operations.


Flight 2
Veal Anolotti with Grana Padano.


Flight 3

New York Strip Steak with Parmigiano Puffs, Wild Mushrooms & Bone Marrow Sauce.


Flight 4

Cheese Plate (clockwise from left): Ricotta Scorza Nera, Testun di Pecora, Taleggio.


Marina Vallana chats with Larry Klane, a member of my table.

Mark Fornatale was there representing the NY importer Skurnick.

Mannie Berk chatting with Alice Feiring.

Paul Tortora chatting with Levi Dalton.


Conclusion

It is great to see the tradition renewed by a new generation at this historic estate. As Marina Vallana said, We have a religious respect for our tradition.

Since the wines made here in 1950s were often great wines, some of which are still vibrant and youthful today, it is natural to ask if the wines made here today will age anything like those wines. Unfortunately, it is a very challenging question to compare wines that span a lifetime (literally mine, since I was born in 1954). There is a lot of kinship between then and now: The grapes for every wine in this tasting were crushed with the same press, which was new in 1954. To this day, there is no new wood of any kind and minimal use of wood for aging. It is mostly the same vineyards which supply the grapes for these wines, both for the estate and non-estate owned vineyards.

The biggest difference may very well be the effect of government regulation on grape varieties. Since the very late 1960s, the Italian government only allows Spanna (Nebbiolo) and smaller amounts of Vespolina and Uva Rara (aka Bonarda Novarese) in most of these appellations. According to Francis, the wines before that were really field blends that included many other grapes unknown to anyone outside the region. It's hard to estimate the complexity this brought, but I can tell you that the 1955 we had here has not yet hit its peak. It is a wine of great complexity that one could sit with for hours. Several of the other very old wines were also interesting and complex. I do not know if the wines made today till age 60 years, but they will surely provide a lot of pleasure for decades to come.


Tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.

 

 


All original content © Ken Vastola