The motto at winemaker Goggiano, located in Refrancore in Italy’s Piedmont wine region, is Vini Clasici Piemontesi: classic Piedmont wines. Goggiano produces about seventy thousand standard bottles and thirty thousand magnums annually, most of which they sell right in the tasting room—less than ten percent is exported. Located just northeast of Asti in Refrancore, the winery was founded in 1951 by Giuseppe Goggiano. Giuseppe’s son Michelangelo later took the reins. Today Michelangelo is assisted by his nephews Andrea and Stefano Scassa. Andrea met me in the winery and walked me through the entire operation. I also spoke with his brother Stefano, the chief oenologist for Goggiano. The Scassas have energy and seemingly boundless enthusiasm for their family’s heritage. In addition to the
Ruchè (red) wines I encountered among Goggiano’s neighbors in Monferrato, Goggiano has a foot in the Nebbiolo Camp with a Nebbiolo d’Alba DOCG, and a Barolo DOCG, their most expensive offering at 16.70 Euros. The Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Piasi” follows far behind at 9.00 Euros, the Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG “Fiurin” is 7.00 Euros, with all the other wines in regular bottles priced at 5.00 Euros or under.
Goggiano also produces a trio of white wines, including a local Chardonnay under the DOC Piemonte appellation, as well as several sparklers, among which is one of my favorite light wines, the Moscato d’Asti DOCG. “Although we constantly try to build our export market,” Andrea explains, “we find that most of our production gets scooped up right here at the cellar door by local Italians and tourists from Germany, Holland, and other northern European countries.” Stefano elaborates: “We’ve tried to get some of our wines into the British and American markets, but with our limited production we cannot get prices low enough to make this profitable, especially for British supermarket chains like Tesco.” A huge warehouse-like expanse—nothing fancy—serves as the Goggiano retail outlet and main tasting room. If simple vino da tavola is your preference, you can pick up Refranco Bianco or Refranco Rosso in big two liter bottles for 4.20 Euros.
The vineyards were fog-bound and unsuitable for a tour, but Andrea explained the harvest hierarchy. “We start with the whites at the end of August. In early September, we take in the Grignolino, then the Ruchè, and finally the Barbera.” The winery operates a complete bottling line capable of filling, capping, and labeling 1500 to 2000 bottles per hour.
I tasted two Goggiano wines. The Goggiano Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC 2014 has aromas of forest floor and heather, flavors of blueberry and plum. Forceful tannins and acidity co-exist with 12.5% alcohol. Andrea explains that the wine is still young and ideally should see a year or more of bottle aging before opening, and even then a good deal of airing before drinking. In a tour largely dedicated to Ruchè, I opted, for variety, to taste the Goggiano Grignolino d’Asti DOC “Brunot” 2014 and liked it so much that this was the wine I accepted when Andrea offered to wrap me a bottle to take home to the USA. This was my third Grignolino of the day. Grignolino color varies widely from producer to producer. This was a medium intensity ruby with purple highlights, a spicy, floral nose, very dry with some nice orange peel on the finish. In most respects, Grignolino has little in common with Ruchè, but they do share the quality of being beloved and revered in Piemonte. I am back in the USA but now keep a permanent place of honor for each wine in the labyrinthine network that is my vino-brain. If only I could drive my Chevy up to the winery door to pick up a case of each when I get the urge.
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James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman
Goggiano's Andrea Scassa
The Goggiano bottling line
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