Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Marenco Carialoso 2016, Monferrato DOC

The Piemonte region in northwest Italy is famous for its Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Moscato d’Asti, Brachetto d’Acqui, Arneis and Cortese. In addition, there is Grignolino, Ruché, Friesa, Bonarda, Croatina, Erbaluce, Pelaverga, Vespolina, Timorasso and more. But one grape I had not heard of until my recent visit to Piemonte was Caricalasino, a rare native grape in Piemonte that was close to extinction. Luckily, the grape has been revitalized and the Marenco Carialoso 2016, Monferrato DOC is the Please The Palate wine of the week.

Caricalasino, which translates to the “load of the donkey”, was saved by Marenco winemaker Patrizia Marenco who discovered some old vines in the Bagnario Valley in Strevi.

In 1990, Patrizia began experimenting and approximately 3000 plants were reproduced. For a while, they thought that this white grape was Vermentino, brought up from Ligueria. But this wine has more structure than a Vermentino. Then, ten years ago, research and testing concluded that the grape Caricalasino is white Barbera (the skin of the grape is white).

The Marenco Carialoso comes from a vineyard in Strevi with white marl soils. The grapes are hand-picked and fermented in stainless steel for 15 days. The wine is then aged on the lees for five or six months in stainless steel and in 250 liter barrels.

The Marenco 2016 Carialoso is a bright straw yellow color with delicate notes of citrus fruits, aromatic herbs, flint, camomile and butane. The wine is well-structured with electric acidity on the palate. It is refreshing with a saline finish and soft tannins.

Only 3000 bottles of this wine are made and only in the best vintages. 2016 was the last one  they produced and 2018 will be the next vintage. This is a wine that is versatile with food pairing! It can be enjoyed with white meat and fish.

Luckily, 20 cases of this wine are imported into the USA by Vias Imports. It may be difficult to find but it is available and delicious if you can get your hands on it!