Last week I was invited to a Piedmontese wine tasting where we tried two wines that are produced near the town of Novara. The wines were: 2000 Castello Conti Boca DOC and 1999 Azienda Agricola Bianchi Ghemme DOCG. Piedmontese wines are usually not the type of wine I prefer but this tasting was quite an experience
Novara is located in the northeastern part of the Piedmont and was founded by the Romans. The area has a long history of winemaking and wineries mostly use Nebbiolo, Barbera and Uva Rara for their red wines and Erbaluce for their white ones.
Novara is also the capital city of the province of Novara. The wines we drank that evening are both produced in the province of Novara. Boca DOC is named after the town Boca and Ghemme DOCG is named after the town Ghemme. The two towns are only separated by a short 20 minute car drive. Boca includes 15 hectares and Ghemme 85 hectares. Ghemme is one of the smallest DOCGs in the Piedmont. So why did we compare these wines on the same evening? Besides their close proximity the two wines are produced with the very same set of grapes: Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Uva Rara. Boca DOC legislation requires the wine to age at least 3 years of aging out of which at least 2 in oak barrels. Ghemme DOCG legislations is very similar and requires also a minimum of 3 years of aging (at least 20 months in oak and at least 9 months in the bottle). Therefore these wines were perfect for our blind tasting.
Prior to drinking both wines were decanted for roughly 3 hours and served at a little below room temperature. We had two identical decanters, served the wines in identical glasses and only the host knew which wine was in which decanter. Blind tastings are always fun in my opinion because it’s all about the wine and not about the pretty looking labels, prejudgments and other stuff.
We did two rounds – one without food and one with food. We ate a traditional dish from the Piedmont called Polenta alla Piemontese with lamb. Below you find my tasting notes for the Boca and the Ghemme.
In the glass, the Boca had a garnet red color. 12.5% was the label listed alcohol by volume. The Ghemme from Azienda Agricola Bianchi had a garnet red color with orange hues. The label listed ABV was 13%
On the nose, Ghemme was extremely intense with aromas of raspberry jam, black cherries and vanilla. Surprisingly the Boca had completely different aromas and overall was less intense: Eucalyptus, herbs, mead and blackberries. Just by comparing the bouquets I have to say that I find the Ghemme more interesting.
In the mouth, the Boca was dry and well-ballanced. A full-bodied, complex wine with good structure and intense notes of minerals and red berries. The wine had a soft acidity. Boca had pleasing, mellow tannins and a lingering finish. Ghemme was also dry but less intense than the Boca. Unfortunately, the wine oxidized a little bit but it was still enjoyable. However, the acidicy was a bit more biting and the tannins were slightly more aggressive.
The finish was a a little shorter compared to the Boca. When comparing only how both wine tasted then I have to say that I prefer the Boca over the Ghemme.
Now things are getting tricky. Which one did I like more? Well as I said I prefer the bouquet of the Ghemme but the Boca tastes better. While I believe that a pleasing bouquet is very important I am also of the opinion that the taste of a wine is a little more important and therefore my winner is the 2000 Castello Conti Boca DOC. I’m wondering if the result would have been different if the Ghemme hadn’t oxidized.. I drank the Azienda Agricola Bianchi Ghemme on a few occasions before and from what I remember the wine tasted much better. I’m looking forward to repeat this tasting with two completely healthy bottles of Boca and Ghemme.
For more information about Boca and Ghemme visit the website of the respective wineries. Do you like blind tastings? Let me know in the comment section below! That’s all for today. Up next will be a wine review about a Sagrantino di Montefalco.