Brachetto d’Acqui: Life is Sweet at Bersano.

Arturo Bersano, one of the founding fathers of Bersano winery in Nizza Monferrato had a motto: if you want to drink well, get yourself a vineyard.  Not all of us have the time of money to take advantage of this advice, so I suggest you find yourself a bottle the of Bersano estate’s wine- especially their beautiful Brachetto d’Acqui.

Thanks to Piemonte Land of Perfection we spent an afternoon with Paolo Lovisolo of Bersano winery, where we were able to tour their museum collection of winemaking and agricultural relics.  These are people who make clean, balanced wines with all respect for past traditions.  At one point Paolo emphasized the winery’s resistance to making critic- driven wines by saying, “if you like the wines, great.  If not, we can shake hands”.  That dedication of terroir and tradition pays dividends.  Of all the lovely wines we tasted that afternoon, I believe it was unanimous- the Brachetti were the most fabulous.

Brachetto is a difficult grape to grow- it looses its flowers easily and generates naturally low yields.  Bersano is rightfully proud of their Brachetto- bold, fruity wines laced with rosewater, strawberries and violets.  Brachetto is fermented a first time, but only to about 4% alcohol.  Then it is held at very low temperatures until a second fermentation is inoculated, which brings the alcohol level up slightly, and adds the frothy pink bubbles.

This process leaves plenty of residual sugar in the wines, creating sweet, bubbly fragrant beverages perfect for hot summer afternoons, or as Paolo suggested “IOW” (Instead of Water).  You have to love Italians and their acronyms!

A surprisingly perfect food pairing for this sweet pink bubbly is the local soft amaretti cookies- big pillows of almond-flavored joy that just sang with the wine.  There is a lot of acidity naturally in Brachetto, which is enhanced and coaxed into center-stage by the sweet cookies and their slightly bitter finish.

This was a great reminder that although Nebbiolo may be the King of Grapes, Piemonte has a rich enological tradition filled with gems like Brachetto.  Grazie, Paolo!  I’ll drink your Brachetto any day, instead of water.