Alessandria - Piedmont - Italy
Born of the passion of a young family, Oltretorrente came into existence when husband and wife team Michele Conoscente and Chiara Penati bought just 1.5 hectares of land on the smooth hills of Tortona region of Piedmont. Michele had studied oenology at the University of Milan when he met Chiara, with whom he purchased his first vineyard sites. With the intention of creating artisanal wines that reflected both history and place, the project began with small plots of indigenous varietals cultivated in an organic fashion. Today, the winery remains boutique, cultivating grapes from 3.5 hectares, divided into 7 vineyard sites. Growing exclusively cortese, barbera, dolcetto, and timorasso, Michele and Chiara work painstakingly to produce wines that express the unique terroir of the area, while incorporating their own modern approach to winemaking.
Each wine reflects this unique region of Piedmont, where the soil is rich in limestone, calcified skeletal fragments, and fossilized shells. Growing at 300 meters above sea level in vineyards with northernly and southernly exposure, the grapes ripen with optimal sun exposure and climactic influence. Through thoughtful techniques and innovative approaches, Michele and Chiara work to create expressive, original wines that reflect their place of origin.
Cortese Colli Tortonesi
At a time when many winemakers in Italy are choosing to work for larger, more secure wineries, a select few people deviate from the masses. Winemakers Michele and Chiara seem to be a step ahead of the curve, deciding to stay away from the corporate wine world and to instead make small- production, artisanal wines; organically grown, carefully harvested, and diligently observed throughout the vinification process, these wines are not only unique but loudly reflect their place of origin. Cortese Colli Tortonesi is no exception: dense in its chalk and mineral content, with concentrated ripe yellow and white fruit, the wine is long, complex, and intriguing.
Rosso Colli Tortonesi
Oltretorrente’s Rosso blend gives us a delicate interplay of ripe fruit and bright, mineral acidity. For many years, barbera and dolcetto were produced without or with only minimal wood influence, resulting in high-toned, structured styles. Mass markets seem to have moved towards intensely oaked styles, sappy in their richness with little balance or tannic structure to keep them from unraveling in the glass. By using only concrete to age this wine in, Oltretorrente keeps the classical elements of barbera and dolcetto, with their brightly tart high-note and tight tannin running throughout, but with a breath from the porous concrete which gives the wine depth, roundness, and a pleasant texture.
Timorasso Colli Tortonesi
It takes a strong individual to cultivate the timorasso grape. Historically a noble grape, its qualities were perhaps overshadowed by its cranky growing process: asynchronous grape maturation, thin skins, and delicate stems dissuaded growers from continuing cultivation of this grape; however, under the watchful eye of a diligent farmer, timorasso thrives in the Colli Tortonesi. A contemplative wine, with richness and concentration to the palate that is cut down with a lean, mineral acidity, offers a pleasurable drinking experience to friends around a table, as well as to the most fastidious riesling drinker. A wine that’s lovely in its youth and develops delicious savory qualities with age.
Barbera Superiore Colli Tortonesi
The Barbera Superiore functions as the calling card for the Oltretorrente winery, representing their oldest vines and the grape varietal most commonly associated with the Colli Tortenesi. Chalky, clay- influenced soils make the perfect base for barbera that conveys not only high-toned, bright red fruit, but also gives a textural sense of place. Michele takes care of the wine down in the cellar, barreling the liquid in French oak after alcoholic fermentation and maceration takes place in concrete tanks. About two-thirds of the wine ages in neutral barrel while the remainder sees new oak. The result is a wine with balanced richness and density, harmoniously fusing the high-toned, acidic crispness typical of barbera from this region with the length and elegance of a world-class wine.