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A snow day with the 1981 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme


The snow days full of shoveling and sledding left me worn out by the end.  I have mostly drunk inexpensive wines as a result, not wanting to waste anything.  I did manage to open one nice wine.  The 1981 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme is produced mostly from Spanna which is the local name for Nebbiolo.  Ghemme, like its neighbor Gattinara, are lesser known regions compared to Barolo and Barbaresco.  In Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1991) the 1981 vintage is not regarded too well.  In fact, the wines of Ghemme in general are damned with the conclusion “one has to wonder if it is really worth the effort to make these wines.”

If you drank this bottle within an hour or two of opening it you might agree.  Confident in the staying-powering of Spanna, I double-decanted this bottle 24 hours before drinking it.  The Wassermans also wrote that Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo is “the finest producer in the zone.”  Given that this basic bottling from a poor vintage showed as well as it did is testament to this estate.  The wine is, in all senses, elegant and tastes as if the flavors are fully mature.  However, this fine wine will continue to hold your attention for many years to come.  This wine was purchased from The Rare Wine Company.


1981 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, Ghemme – $90
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is a blend of 75-80% Spanna, 15% Vespolina, and 5-10% Bonarda Novarese.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose was finely scented with roast aromas.  In the mouth was a subtle sense of sweetness to the flavors of dried herbs and fruit, the later from a tart cherry core.  The fine interplay between the dry flavors, old wood tannins, and very good acidity, left fresh impressions in the mouth.  ***(*) Now – 2026.


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