Wine Journal: Piemonte Seminar Pt. 1, Malvira

The Viva Vino Wine Festival took place in Los Angeles last week and so it’s been quite a good month for great,quality wines. The festival, which featured both larger trade shows and small tastings and seminars, was a great way to really dive right on into the wonderful world of Italian wines. I was fortunate enough to attend a small Piemonte tasting featuring two fantastic wine producers: Malvira and Bruno Rocca.

It’s always great when you get to hear about the wines directly from the producers. The seminar was small and intimate so there was plenty of room for comments and questions. Roberto Damante (one of the two sons of Guiseppe Damonte, the original owner) was a delight and was generous enough to bring us four wines from their Langhe and Roero vineyards. Although it was a little difficult to follow what he was saying (very Italian, limited English), Malvira’s wines were good enough to speak volumes.

The Damonte brothers are keeping their father's tradition alive.

We began with an apertif (so to speak). Malvira’s 2009 Arneis: an un-oaked white with very strong floral aromatics, mild acidity, and an impeccably clean finish. I found it a little on the impression-less side, but it wasn’t anything offensive. A good summer white, but not one I’d be reaching for on my own.

We then moved onto their 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo-a complex offering with its aggressive tannins and high acidity. Considered a “beginner’s” Nebbiolo or a pre-curser to Barolo, this unfiltered red can pair beautifully with rich meals. I was a fan of this one, but it wasn’t quite love. I was however, impressed by the value price tag of just under $20. You cannot find anything domestically of that caliber and integrity for under $20!

The 2000 “Trinita” was much more my speed. Its deep aromas, dark garnet color, and softer tannins were silky, providing a light and pleasant mouth-feel. This blend was very complimentary to the previous Nebbiolo and is also a big “food wine.”  ($50 per bottle.)

Lastly on our adventure through Malvira’s wines was a very terroir-based Nebbiolo from Renesio. This 2005 packs a strong raspberry nose and had a crimson– nearly blood red and magenta hue. Spicy, with notes of tobacco, star anise, and strong (but structured) tannins. Drinkability calls for rich foods and main courses. Quite beautiful! ($49 per bottle.)

Overall, I was impressed by Malvira’s offerings and was amazed that such complex Nebbiolos were being produced at such young vintages that can hold up next to Barolo. Their attention to detail and tradition make them a wine to definitely seek out, and I’m pretty sure a trip to their Villa Tiboldi will have to be in order one of these summers.


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