Today I left for two days in Piedmont for a tour organised by Pellegrini 1904 SpA in collaboration with Babol Communication. Firstly I want to thank Pietro Pellegrini not only for the invitation, but for his pleasant company intertwined with extraordinary oenological expertisewhich is by no means as obvious as it might appear. The first stop was in the Tortona area, in the municipality of Castellania, which recently changed its name to Castellania Coppi... and this already gives you an insight into the link with the cycling champion Fausto Coppi! It is no coincidence that the wine cellar we visited is precisely that of his nephew Francesco Bellocchionamed after his mother, Marina CoppiFausto's daughter. Francesco and Anna, his wife, welcomed us with great humility, professionalism, passion and love for the land. Another thing I really liked was Francesco's desire to create his own identity independent of his grandfather's cumbersome presence, without, however, setting aside the memory of him, which remains very much in mind. I have recently seen wineries of sports champions, television personalities or politicians who instead juggle too much about their name, in a very dangerous way because it is in the nature of things not to please everyone and the risk of having rude trolls who massacre here and there for no reason whatsoever is really high!

In 2002 Francesco and Annawho live in Novi Ligure, decide to return to Castellania and recover the land that historically belonged to Fausto Coppi's family. Thus was born afamily business of just 4.5 hectaresnow in organic conversion, a choice that was made mainly to protect Francesco who works directly in the vineyards. Castellania has just 80 inhabitants and Fausto left for Novi as a young boy to work as an apprentice. With an apparently 'unathletic' physique and a salary of 20 lire a month, it was hard to predict that he would become a cycling champion, and even in his early days, not even five years later, he already had 700 lire a month engagements (with bonuses of 500 to 3000 lire for victories)! Yet Fausto Coppi was an extraordinary man who revolutionised the world of cycling forever, and almost 60 years after his untimely death, his memory is more alive than ever. After his tragic death (due to a misdiagnosis, from malaria in 1960) the lands were all sold and Francesco bought them back, choosing those most suited to viticulture. In these areas there is bluish marl of Sant'Agata, the same as some areas of Barolo and Barbarescowhich gives a very characteristic trait to the wines. The choice has been to have only autochthonous vines, favouring the 'prince' of these lands: the Timorasso. Since it is not a very suitable grape variety for large-scale production, it had been completely abandoned and it was only in the last 20 years that its enormous potential was rediscovered. Other cultivated vines are barbera, favourite e nebbioloof which very few rows are cultivated, producing about 600 bottles each year. In Piedmont, vermentino takes the name 'favourite' and is 'sold less' than in other areas where it retains the name 'vermentino', although here it has remarkable results when it is well worked. The family has a very old vineyard dating back to 1947 with huge vines that, I must say, yields a very fine wine. Speaking with Francesco, his passion for making wine is evident and it is clear that he is there both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The company is advised by a Piedmontese oenologist as good as he is renowned, Gianfranco Corderowho collaborates in the creation of some of Italy's most important and delicious labels.

Francesco and Anna have dedicated the names of their wines to the most important people in their family. There is no need to explain 'Fausto', while 'Marine' is the 'plural' of the two 'Marinas' in Francesco's life: his mother and his eldest daughter! 'Francesca' is his third daughter and also his starting white, the youngest. "Lindin" is a pun dedicated to his second daughter, Linda. All right, I admit that I thought Francis 'is rarely right' with four women in the house and him as the only man! 😆

The tasting room is very nice and has a spectacular panoramic view of the vineyards! Here are my tastings: 

Fausto Coppi Marina Coppi: the wines of her grandson Francesco

"Francesca' 2018, colli tortonesi DOC white - Vigne Marina Coppi

[from 16€].

Two identical versions of this wine come out, where only the date of release and consequently the name on the label change: the 'Colli Tortonesi DOC bianco' comes out before the summer because it is a wine that enjoys a lot of freshness and excellent drinkability and is perfect for the warmer season, while the 'Colli Tortonesi DOC Timorasso' comes out after 1 September as per the specifications. This very young Timorasso leaves my imagination of 'Timorasso' to become a fruity, easy and very drinkable white wine. The vineyard was planted in 2012 and the first bottle of this label was released in 2015. It is no coincidence that the younger vineyards give us more suitable and ready grapes, perfect for this type of use. Actually, for my taste, 'it's not so easy' because I prefer more evolved white wines, but if you're looking for a wine, even for mescita, perfect for aperitifs... this really hits the mark! Since timorasso develops wines that have at least 14%vol, we try to manage the vineyard to have less concentrated grapes that give a more drinkable wine. Production in the vineyard less than 80q/HA as per the production regulations.

👁 Intense straw yellow with greenish highlights. Consistent.

👃 Delicate. White peach, pear, liquorice, violet and citrus.

👄 Pseudocaloric somewhat high. Good structure and savouriness. Discreetly long mineral finish.

🔥 It's not my wine, but it's perfect if you're looking for a fresh, undemanding 'aperitif' wine.

"Marine' 2016, Colli Tortonesi DOC Favorita - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 20€].

100% favoured by late harvest grapes from the 'Gabetto' vineyard near Castellania and the old 'Madonnina' vineyard near Carezzano . As we have said, the Tortona area has these calcareous clays that give a characteristic imprint to any grape grown here. For example, the vermentino here is very different from even the very close Ligurian vermentino, let's say improperly that it is more 'timorasseggiante', with more structure and more minerality. After a light cold maceration, it is vinified in white, a bâtonnage on the noble lees is carried out for 8 months and only steel is used for ageing. Once bottled, it is left to rest in the bottle for at least 18 months before being put on the market. Francesco chooses to let it evolve in the bottle to have better control over oxidation. Very few sulphites are added, well below the minimum threshold. 2016 was an exceptional vintage, with great balance in both production and characteristics.

👁 Very intense and brilliant straw yellow. Consistent.

👃 Intense and immediate... fabulous! Citrus, white pepper, hydrocarbons, acacia flowers, saltiness.

👄 A little too warm, one must take advantage of the intense nose to lower the serving temperature by a couple of degrees. Good structure and sapidity. Balanced. Discreetly long citrus finish.

🔥 I really liked it, it has some riesling tendencies!

"Fausto' 2015, Colli Tortonesi DOC Timorasso - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 32€].

100% timorasso from late-harvest grapes from the 'Gabetto' vineyard near Castellania and the old 'Montagnina' vineyard, planted with a 35% slope. The grapes are harvested by hand in the cooler hours of the morning and brought to the cellar in small crates. After soft pressing of the whole bunches, the must is cold pressed. Alcoholic fermentation takes place slowly at a controlled temperature of 15°C and, once completed, is racked off without malolactic fermentation. The wine matures for at least 10 months on its noble lees in temperature-controlled steel tanks and manual bâtonnage is carried out. Once bottled, it matures at least 24 months in the bottle.  Timorasso's great gift is that it is a champion of three characteristics:

  1. always has a significant alcohol content;
  2. always has a surprising acidity that manages to balance the wine despite its high alcohol content and great structure;
  3. has a natural tannin in the skin that makes it one of the few white wines that is suitable for ageing, even without a passage in wood.

If you taste a timorasso from a tank at the end of the harvest, it has almost the astringency of a nebbiolo. After a couple of years of ageing it already begins to be enjoyable, but it is only after several years that it expresses its full potential. 2015 was a particularly hot year, but it was supported by acidity. 

👁 Very intense and brilliant straw yellow. Very consistent.

👃 Intense, complex and immediate... fabulous! Mineral and brackish notes, clay, citrus, herbs.

👄 Great pleasantness, enriched with a very delicate white chocolate flavour. Structured. Well balanced between softness and acidity, where savouriness prevails. Long citrus finish.

🔥 In my opinion the best wine from the cellar: a Timorasso as you would expect!

"Grand Fostò" 2013, Colli Tortonesi DOC Timorasso - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 63€]

100% timorasso. The wine, like its name, is a homage to France: on the one hand, it was chosen as grandfather Fausto Coppi was called in this land where he had extraordinary successes, and on the other hand, the wine is freely inspired by the style of Burgundy whites. After fermentation in tonneaux for 10 months, it rests in the bottle for at least 4 years and is only created in the most interesting vintages. The first vintage was 2012, where only 350 magnums were produced. For the 2013 vintage, on the other hand, 1000 litres were produced, distributed between about 700 bottles and 250 magnums.

👁 Very intense and brilliant straw yellow. Very consistent.

👃 Delicate, complex, almost broad. Salty notes intertwined with a rich bouquet of ripe citrus fruits. Very elegant, one recognises spicy notes of cardamom, candied pear, late mandarin, walnut, chalk and cedar grass. However, on an olfactory level, I found it a somewhat difficult vintage to understand. The wood has certainly 'stemmed' the characteristic aromas of the variety.

👄 Intense, the passage in wood is distinctly felt. Very fresh and very savoury, however well balanced despite the pseudo-caloric sensation. Very long finish of fresh nuts.

🔥 A great experiment that needs time, both to express itself best in current bottles and to perfect its technique for future bottles.

"Sant'Andrea' 2018, Colli Tortonesi DOC Barbera - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 13€].

90% barbera, 10% croatina from the vineyard in the 'Sant'Andrea' locality near Castellania, where the winery itself is located, from vines grown at 400 m above sea level. The grapes are selected at the optimal time of ripeness and then hand-picked into small 20 kg crates. After crushing and destemming, fermentation takes place in steel tanks at a controlled temperature (25-27°C) and maceration lasts about 10 days with pumping over and punching down; it is very short so as not to give too much concentration. After racking and an initial decanting, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. At this point the wine matures for about 10 months in steel and refines for a further 8 months in the bottle before release. Francesco's aim was to have an easy and immediately enjoyable wine that you don't expect... and he has succeeded perfectly!

👁 Transparent ruby red with violet hues, consistent.

👃 Intense and pleasantly vinous, with mineral notes interwoven with pleasant aromas of spices and small black berries, both fresh and jammy.

👄 Very pleasant, very smooth and balanced. It is reminiscent of certain French Beaujolais novelties.

🔥 In my opinion the most interesting red wine from the cellar: it is very easy and enjoyable to drink, especially in summer and served slightly chilled. I defy you not to fall in love with it, thanks also to the interesting value for money! I really appreciated the willingness to devote so much attention to a basic wine: Francesco has realised that it is precisely thanks to these wines that the customer enters the winery, and for this reason it is essential to offer exceptional products even in a relatively low range.

"Lindin' 2015, colli tortonesi DOC Rosso - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 23€].

100% nebbiolo exclusively from the vineyard called 'Vedra' in Castellania, located 400 m above sea level on limestone-clay soil rich in Sant'Agata marl. In this area so similar to the Langhe, Nebbiolo finds a particularly favourable environment to express itself at its best. The grapes are selected at the optimal time of ripeness and then harvested by hand into small 20 kg crates. After destemming, fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled steel tanks (25-27°C) and maceration lasts about 20 days with gentle manual pumping over and punching down. After racking and an initial decanting, the wine goes into French oak tonneaux where malolactic fermentation takes place. At this point the wine matures here for a period of 18 months and then matures in the bottle for at least 6 months. The name is a play on words dedicated to Linda, the youngest of Francesco and Anna's daughters, born in the spring following the first harvest. This is a very small production of just 600 bottles. 

2015 was a very hot year and Nebbiolo suffered as it is a more sensitive grape than others. For the next harvest, Francesco bought a very old vineyard, which among others has 4-5 rows of nebbiolo.

👁 Intense, semi-transparent ruby red with very slight garnet reflections. Very consistent.

👃 Intense and spicy, the same scents of the Ligurian hinterland and its aromatic plants can be perceived. Notes of chocolate, cherries in spirit, Moroccan mint and marjoram can be recognised.

👄 Needs a few minutes to soften a little, is very fresh and has fairly important tannin. Quite long on the finish with pleasant spicy notes.

🔥 Pleasant herbaceous and mineral notes. It convinced me more on the nose than in the mouth, but has good potential for evolution.

"I GROP" 2015, colli tortonesi DOC Barbera Superiore - Vigne Marina Coppi 

[from 24€]

100% barbera from the 'I Grop' vineyard near Castellania, located 400 m above sea level. The name comes from the characteristic limestone formations rich in fossils that outcrop in the form of large boulders throughout the hillside. The limestone marls typical of this cru give the wines elegance, structure and great longevity. After all, even the 'elders' of Castellania say that the hill has always been known for its extraordinary wines! The grapes are harvested by hand in small 20 kg crates after careful selection. After destemming, fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled steel tanks and maceration lasts about 20 days with pumping over and punching down. After racking and an initial decanting, the wine goes into 12 HL oak casks where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine matures 18 months in casks and then refines in the bottle for at least 6 months. 

👁  Intense impenetrable ruby red with almost purplish highlights at the edges. Consistent.

👃  Intense, one recognises notes of jammy red fruits, strawberry jam, dried tobacco leaves, black pepper, cocoa, fresh cherry, almond and caramel.

👄 Great drinkability supported by a pleasant freshness. Lovely amalgamated tannins. Warm, soft and structured, overall balanced but shifted to hardness. Very long roasted notes. 

🔥 Great potential for evolution, I hope Francesco will invite me to taste this vintage again in at least 4-5 years' time... I am sure it will surprise me with very special effects!



In short, it was a really good tasting! Fausto Coppi bequeathed first and foremost a very smart grandson of whom I am sure he would be immensely proud!

Cheers 🍷


P.S. I recommend you also read these articles about the Pellegrini Press Tour:

... or visit the website of Marina Coppi Vineyards.

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