February 2020 Selection

Croatina: a thousand years old and still renewing itself

February 2020 Selection

Barni Croatina Mesolone 2014 (2 bottles)
Vigneti Massa Pertichetta 2012 (2 bottles)
Picchioni Rosso d'Asia 2015 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: 111.58 €
Club Discount Price: 98.50 €
You save: 13.08 € (11.72%)

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About this selection...

According to some, perhaps due to the spicy aromas, it is the "Italian Syrah". Yet Croatina, a typical red grape from Northern Italy, has characteristics all its own, which go beyond the predictable variety of the grape which have relegated it for too long to the role of Cinderella compared to the more noble cousins. Firstly, which area are we talking about? Croatina is considered typical in mainly three areas. The first is Oltrepò Pavese. Here it competes, or is found in its single varietal wine, in the classic blends of Bonarda and Buttafuoco. Indeed, in the general direction that lately has been leading to the qualitative recovery of this grape, Croatina in a single variety wine, is often the distinguishing feature of the best Bonarda and Buttafuoco.

Then there is that area between Piedmont and Lombardy, also historically linked to Milan, which are the Colli Tortonesi. An area in geographical continuity with Oltrepò, and therefore a natural setting to host, in addition to Barbera and Timorasso, Croatina too. The same can be said of the Colli Piacentini, where the grape variety is present in the typical wines of the area, quite similar to those of Pavia. Finally, upper Piedmont. That is, the area of Gattinara, Boca and Bramaterra. A volcanic area where Croatina expresses itself with rigour and verticality.

What do these "Croatinas" have in common? In a word, a story of subordination. In no area, except occasionally Oltrepò, does Croatina have a history of single-variety winemaking. This is because it is considered, not without a hint of truth, a hard, angular grape variety, with sharp tannins and a non-elegant structure, Croatina is actually a grape that you need to know how to cultivate and vinify. Traditionally vinified together with grapes that were supposed to soften it, and usually vinified sparkling to facilitate its drinking, Croatina is instead benefiting from the most recent cultivation and winemaking techniques. And has revealed itself to be a wine of surprising roundness and wonderful longevity.

It is no coincidence that, today, Croatina boasts among its flag-bearers the best winemakers from Pavia, Tortona and Piedmont. And there must have been a reason if its name probably derives from the "cravattina" (little tie) was worn on holidays, when it was customary to consume exceptional wines. And, after all, Croatina’s journey is very long. Not only territorial, but also over time. It is in fact documented in Rovescala, in Oltrepò Pavese, since 1192 with the name of Bonarda. Since then it has been the symbol of Lombard tables. A journey, certainly, to be continued.

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Barni Croatina Mesolone 2014 (2 bottles)

Red. Barni Wines without GI, Italy Croatina

Bottle: 15.02 € club members / 16.90 € non-members


The "meisola" is a natural ladle-shaped basin located between two hills in Brusnengo, in the Biella area. "Mesolone" is therefore the wine of the "meisola". It is a historical wine, almost archaeological, which comes from centuries-old vines of only Croatina. A clay soil with volcanic tracts, classic of upper Piedmont, where the woods gives way, in patches, to the vineyard. A stony landscape, almost lunar, with a very dry climate, verging on desert-like. A situation, in the heart of Bramaterra, which enhances the quality of the grapes and the hard work of the vineyard, concentrating the calibre and personality in a few bunches.

The man behind this rediscovery is Giuseppe Filippo Barni, who runs the family winery together with his wife with the visionary attitude of the "wine artist". Passion, love and dedication to the territory are the ingredients of this project, which is based on completely natural methods both in the vineyard and in the cellar, without gimmicks and with a clear and clean stylistic manner.

Mesolone is a wine of great intensity and consistency, a true champion of the rebirth of Croatina in a single variety. Bright ruby ​​red, the nose expresses fruity vinous aromas (cherry, red fruits), spicy and vegetal. On the palate it has good acidity, structure and has an excellent tannic component, with hints of bitter almond. Excellent as a meal wine, it goes particularly well with roasts, game and stews. From grapes grown using the “maggiorina” technique, the historical system of planting in Upper Piedmont, it stays for two years in oak barrels.

  • Alcohol content: 13,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Barni Croatina Mesolone 2014
Front and back

Vigneti Massa Pertichetta 2012 (2 bottles)

Red. Vigneti Massa Wines without GI, Italy Uva autoctona a bacca rossa

Bottle: 15.75 € club members / 17.90 € non-members


A real figure in the world of wine, Walter Massa is regarded today as a master of Italian oenology. The land and the indigenous varieties have been a first and foremost mission throughout his life, and his Timorasso wine, an exceptional white from the Tortona Hills, between the Piemonte and Lombardy, has become a cult wine in Italy. An opponent of guides and classifications, Walter Massa has engaged in his work by showing exceptional creativity and great loyalty to the vineyards and their sustainability, with the aim of delivering with every single bottle the highest quality and maximum representation of the terroir and the vine.

This masterly rediscoverer of vines could not escape that is, after Timorasso and Barbera, the third great historical grape of the Tortorna area: Croatina. A wine of peasant origin, Croatina is produced by Walter Massa with an almost aristocratic verve. Suffice it to say that Pertichetta, after spontaneous fermentation in steel, rests for one year in wood of various types and for two years in the bottle before being sold. A clear sign of how Croatina, if made well, can produce one of the longest-lasting wines in the area.

Pertichetta is a full-bodied and intense red wine, with an intense ruby ​​colour tending towards garnet. The nose highlights complex notes of ripe fruit, bergamot, spices, tobacco and humus: a balsamic ensemble of beautiful persistence and intensity. On the palate it broad, fresh, full-bodied, with great structure, power and vivid tannins, certainly with many years ahead. Excellent with agnolotti “al plin”, stewed red meats, grilled roasted meats, stuffed guinea fowl, aged cheeses.

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Vigneti Massa Pertichetta 2012
Front and back

Picchioni Rosso d'Asia 2015 (2 bottles)

Red. Picchioni Wines without GI, Italy Croatina, Ughetta

Bottle: 18.48 € club members / 21.00 € non-members


A Slow Food “Chiocciola” winery and by far one of the most awarded in Oltrepò Pavese, Andrea Picchioni's is one of the most beautiful and healthy wine-producing realities in Lombardy. Meticulous in the vineyard and prudent in the cellar, a purveyor of careful, rigorous and clean choices, Picchioni interprets the Oltrepò with spectacular wines for their adherence to the territory and tradition, for their simplicity that, in the glass, magically turns into a surprising complexity. Located in Canneto Pavese, the quality heart of the area, the winery is relatively young. Founded in the nineties, it has grown gradually, using the experience of the local winemakers. The conversion to organic, here is certainly not a fad, and Picchioni approaches it with practicality: product quality and protection of the territory go hand in hand.

In the Solinga Valley, one of the most suitable areas in Oltrepò, Picchioni has recovered some of the best “bricchi” (slopes) from abandonment: vineyards located on often impervious and steep, loose and pebbly soils, but which benefit from fantastic exposure. Grapes that are perfectly ripe, therefore, but at the same time sapid, mineral and vertical, therefore of great elegance. More interested in the Rossist tradition of the Oltrepò than in the more recent sparkling wine trend, Picchioni manages his range consistently and rigorously. And it is no coincidence that the grapes and the typical wines of the territory (those that, with an over-abused expression, we would say "of the grandparents") are his warhorses.

Rosso d'Asia, in the Picchioni range, is the perfect combination of tradition and innovation. It is in fact a Croatina (albeit with a small dose of Ughetta), therefore the typical wine of the history of Oltrepò, which, after a couple of weeks of maceration, stays for at least a year in small wooden barrels. Old historic vineyards, on sandy-pebbly soils, recovered in the 1980s and previously abandoned, produce a Croatina that surpasses itself in terms of elegance, concentration and vocation for aging. When young it has an intense and bright ruby ​​colour, then tilts to garnet. The bouquet is broad, varied, with hints of ripe berries, sour cherry, undergrowth, spices, vanilla, liquorice and the typical balsamic note of the grapes grown in the Solinga valley. On the palate it is full-bodied, with smooth tannins, full, rich, broad, not without grip and freshness thanks to the decisive but very balanced use of wood. It is a dream with pasta dishes seasoned with game sauces, risotto with sausage, roasted lamb, braised red meats.

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 16ºC and 18ºC

Picchioni Rosso d'Asia 2015
Front and back

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