Le Piane Maggiorina
I haphazardly visited Le Piane at a very good time. Christoph Kunzli, the brilliant winemaker and historian of his own vines, was busy with bottling before the 2018 harvest had begun. Yet he made time to drive me up winding, overgrown forest tracks in these cool sub-Alpine Northern Piemonte hills. We emerged from dense woods that used to be vineyards just 100 years ago and walked into sunlit vines older than the two of us combined. He encouraged me to try the different grapes from these rescued old family plots that he cobbled together into a vineyard. The vines were mostly Croatina and Nebbiolo but also Uva Rara, Bonarda and white grapes like Erbaluce. Some of the vines were planted so long ago that their names are no longer known. Rather than try to homogenize and streamline this incredible biodiversity, Christoph picks everything on the same day, and presses and ferments everything together. The end result is his Maggiorina: a glass of wine that contains not just incredible complexity and uniqueness of flavor but also a connection to the history and the families of a forgotten place and time.