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Antonello Rovellotti, “Costa del Salmino” Ghemme RiservaAlto Piemonte, Italy 2015 (750mL)

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Antonello Rovellotti, “Costa del Salmino” Ghemme Riserva Alto Piemonte, Italy 2015 (750mL)

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Rovellotti’s “Costa del Salmino” is like discovering your abstract wall painting is actually hiding an original Kandinsky beneath the canvas: You purchased it for an affordable price but after digging deeper, you learn it’s a priceless, time-tested, painstakingly crafted treasure. Since the 1400s, no fewer than 11 generations of the Rovellotti family have lived in the comune of Ghemme, and today’s rare Riserva is their magnum opus.


Culled from half-century-old vines and matured in Swiss oak for 42 months, this prized and extremely limited Nebbiolo will lock horns with any blue-chip Barolo/Barbaresco. The ebullient fruit, earthen savor, and heady perfume are all there, wrapped in the gracefully woodsy frame that has made Alto Piemonte world-renowned. It’s worth noting that in the select years Rovellotti actually declares a Riserva, only a few hundred cases are produced—so we must limit all purchases to six bottles today. I suggest maxing out because these 2015s will defy Father Time in grand style!




Ghemme belongs to the greater “Alto Piemonte,” the more northerly part of Italy’s Piedmont region, about a 90-minute drive northeast of Barolo. Clustered around the Sesia River north of the city of Novara, the assorted wine appellations of the Alto Piemonte are prime hunting grounds for extreme Nebbiolo values, and Ghemme has proved especially fertile. But there just isn’t much to be had: The geographic boundaries of the appellation are already quite small, but the number of planted acres here is shockingly low (there’s a reason this wine is so hard to obtain!) Further, like Barolo and Barbaresco, Ghemme is classified as a DOCG—the “G” standing for garantita, or guaranteed—which is the highest “quality indicator” in the Italian appellation system. 


Antonello Rovellotti lives in the small village of Ghemme, which is centered around a sprawling castle built in the 1100s. His “winery” is little more than a collection of trap doors, lofts, and crawl spaces hidden all over the castle. Despite the modest production volume here, it takes numerous key rings and an hour of exploring and climbing ladders to see the entire operation. While Antonello is a gifted/experienced winemaker, and his vines are among the village’s oldest and most prized, for me, the real story with Rovellotti is his vinification. 


He is not afraid of making wine the long and hard way. His grapes are macerated on their skins and left on lees for a mind-boggling amount of time. The “Costa del Salmino” Riserva sees the longest: After maturing for 42 months in neutral, lightly toasted Swiss oak barrels, along with heaps of additional time in bottle, six years have passed. Most modern wine producers—even in top-dollar regions like Barolo—aren’t willing to defer revenues for that long. Rovellotti is crafting Piedmontese Nebbiolo much like it was in the 1960s.


Rovellotti’s flagship “Costa del Salmino” always delivers the quintessential look and feel of a premium, superbly graceful Nebbiolo. Truly, they’ve hardly ever missed the mark during my eight years of consuming them. While you should taste this wine after pulling the cork to see how it’s showing, ours needed a full 60 minutes of air before blossoming. 


This 2015 spills into a Burgundy stem with a limpid garnet hue moving out to a brick-orange rim and returns perfumed, woodsy aromas of red cherry, brambleberry, dried black raspberry, candied strawberry, blood orange peel, tar, charred rose, underbrush, polished leather, and light baking spices. The palate is medium-plus-bodied yet wonderfully lifted, a complete master class on the marriage of mineral tension, fine tannins, and a supple wild-berry core. We tracked our sublime bottle well into the second day and it only improved, which leads me to believe this has a long, healthy life ahead of it. Drink now and well into the 2030s.






Antonello Rovellotti, “Costa del Salmino” Ghemme Riserva Alto Piemonte, Italy 2015 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont / Alto Piemonte
  • Sub-RegionGhemme DOCG
  • SoilGlacial Moraine & Red Clay
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendNebbiolo 90%, Vespolina 10%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakSwiss Barrels

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionPiedmont / Alto Piemonte
  • Sub-RegionGhemme DOCG
  • SoilGlacial Moraine & Red Clay
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendNebbiolo 90%, Vespolina 10%
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakSwiss Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBurgundy Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2030+
  • Decanting60 Minutes
  • PairingTajarin al Tartufo (Truffle Pasta)