During my December tour of Monferrato and Piemonte in northeastern Italy, wine writer Fiammetta Mussio took me to meet Carmen Pergola at the Bersano winery in Nizza Monferrato. Even though Bersano is a large operation, the stamp of the Bersano family is evident wherever you look. I was impressed to browse through a room in the front section of the winery that houses a wall-full of Arturo Bersano’s ribbons and awards. Carmen took us through both outdoor and indoor Bersano wine museums filled with ancient farming equipment, wine barrels, wine presses, all types of bottling and wine transport equipment, maps and artwork, antique wine labels, and every type of bottle and cask. In the early 20th century, Arturo Bersano built up holdings that now cover over 230 hectares (568 acres) in the Monferrato and Langhe areas of Piemonte, comprising one of the largest privately owned wineries in all of Italy. Properties include the Cascina Cremosina, a venerable mansion in Nizza Monferrato, the center of the winery and vineyards in which
Barbera d’Asti is the star, the Badarina Estate in Serralunga d’Alba, for Barolo, the Brachetto vineyards in the Baretta area that yield grapes for both sweet and sparkling wines, the Moscato hills that produce Moscato and other aromatic grapes, and Bersano’s most recent acquisition: a fifty-three acre property near Portacomaro where Bersano produces both
Grignolino, two of Piemonte’s most interesting indigenous grapes.
Bersano has a number of wine lines. From Bersano’s elite estates come their line of “Crus,” a French term indicating a choice combination of grape and land. Wines from this line include a Barolo DOCG, two Barbera d’Asti DOCG Superiore wines, a Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG and a Grignolino d’Asti DOP. Bersano’s “Classic” line includes three Nebbiolo wines: a Barolo, a Barbaresco, and a Nebbiolo d’Alba, two Barberas, the Barbera d’Asti DOCG Costalunga, and the Barbera d’Alba DOP Sanguigna, a pair of red Dolcettos, two white Gavis, a white Arneis, and the lightly sparkling Cortese Alto Monferrato.
The Bersano sparkling wine line is extensive and ambitious. I tasted the Arturosè Metodo Classico Brut Rosé, produced from Pinot Noir, fermented in the bottle with yeast maturation of twenty-four months. A light salmon in color, delightfully tickling bubbles, clean, with aromas of apricot piecrust and vanilla. Very well balanced and long-lived in the mouth. Bersano also produces a Pinot Noir based Metodo Classico Brut, three Brachetto d’Acqui sparklers, an Asti DOC from Moscato, and the Pinot Oltrepò DOP Spumante, a lightly sparkling wine out of Pinot Noir. The line of sweet wines features Moscato d’Asti, and Brachetto d’Acqui.
Bersano also has holdings in Tuscany, where it produces a number of Sangiovese-based wines the likes of Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and several Chianti wines.
In an unsuccessful attempt to wish away the abiding fog and see some of the vineyard properties, after lunch Carmen drove me through large swaths of Monferrato. We went right through Portacomaro, the birthplace of Mario José Bergoglio, father of the present Pope Francis. The locals are not shy about mentioning their papal connection. The billboard with the Pope’s image on it was impressive, but I did not get a shot.
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James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Arturo Bersano's wall of wine awards
Just a portion of the extensive Bersano cellars
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