A morning with Gruppo Campari’s Enrico Serafino wines, and more, in northern Italy

On the appointed day in mid-November, no one was more surprised than I was, to find myself exactly in the right place at the right time: in the medieval hamlet of Canale, north of Asti, where Enrico Serafino’s offices are. (Hooray for Verizon GPS – it even works in Piedmont!)
My tasting there ranged from Enrico Serafino’s Piemontese wines all over Italy, as this winery is part of the vast Gruppo Campari.
Located in the Roero zone, which is so hilly everything is hand-harvested, Enrico Serafino is focused on local grapes like arneis, barbera and nebbiolo. The winery has undergone a few major modernizations since it was founded in 1878, adding new wines periodically. The latest incarnation is called Cantina Maestra, the “master winery” line – also named for Via Maestra, their address in Canale.
I’m especially interested in sparkling wines, so I paid attention when I found they are one of 10 producers in the new (2002) Alta Langhe sparkling wine Consorzio, having worked for its DOC status since 1990. Sparkling wines have been produced in Piedmont since 1850; now there are modern, brut-style sparklers made with the traditional champagne grapes, undergoing remuage (after 3 years in bottle) in gyropalettes just like they now do in Champagne. I tasted a nice sample out of a just-disgorged bottle grabbed off the bottling line: 85% pinot noir. The winery also produces a classic Moscato d’Asti DOCG so I also got a sip their vintage-dated 2010.
Of course the group has other appealing wines notably: 2005 Terre Rare Carignan Sulcis DOC Riserva; 2008 Chateau La Marque AOC Costieres de Nimes “Les Grandes Cabanes” Syrah; 2004 Marchese di Villamarina Alghero DOC.
We finished the morning with a fun tasting of the Cinzano vermouths, now in retro-shaped bottles.

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