Roero: A Mosaic of Terroir, Wines, and History in the Heart of Piedmont

Dec 06, 2023Daniele Borgogno
Roero: Un Mosaico di Terroir, Vini e Storia nel Cuore del Piemonte

Roero, a region in northwestern Piedmont, is famous for its bold and tannic Nebbiolo red wines, as well as for its fresh Arneis whites. The Nebbiolo wines of Roero, less tannic and more accessible thanks to the sandy soils of the region, offer a unique experience compared to their more famous neighbors, Barolo and Barbaresco.

Wine production in Roero dates back at least to the 7th century BC, with trade, consumption, and wine production documented since the time of the Etruscans. Viticulture expanded significantly with the arrival of the Romans. After a period of decline, viticulture regained vigor in the 11th century and continued to grow until the 19th century. Phylloxera, which struck the European continent at the end of the 19th century, did not leave particularly damaging marks on Roero, but contributed to the natural selection of areas more suited to the cultivation of Nebbiolo.

The official wine-growing area of Roero is located on the north bank of the Tanaro River, opposite the city of Alba, extending for about 25 kilometers between the city of Bra and the village of Govone. The landscape of Roero, characterized by round and undulating hills, is geologically distinct from the more crested hills of the nearby Langhe district. The terroir of Roero has been shaped by the change of course of the Tanaro River about 100,000 years ago and by its history as part of an ancient sea, the Padano Gulf. Limestone and sand play a significant role in the terroir, with layers of clay, limestone, and sand alternating in a slightly chaotic manner, creating a mosaic of aspects and soil types.
Roero Wines Roero is known for two main varieties: the white Arneis and the red Nebbiolo. Arneis, a native grape variety, produces aromatic and fruity white wines, with notes of pear and nutty characteristics after a few years of aging. On the other hand, Roero Nebbiolo, although sharing some characteristics with the more famous Barolo and Barbaresco, has a richer and softer fruity profile, with pronounced tannins that soften with age.

Arneis, whose name in Piedmontese dialect means "little rascal," has been cultivated in the Roero region at least since the 15th century. The Roero region, with its sandy soil and better permeability, contributes to giving Roero Arneis its elegance, not too structured body, good acidity, and excellent freshness. Roero Arneis is harvested in mid-September. Once harvested, the grapes are pressed with immediate separation from the skins to avoid excessive vegetal tones. Fermentation occurs at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks, and some producers opt for a long fermentation, up to two months using selected yeasts and keeping the temperature as low as possible. This process enhances the aromas of this grape, especially the fruity and floral scents. After at least 4 months of aging (which becomes 16 for the Riserva version), the wine can be released to the market. Some producers are experimenting with the use of wood, obtaining excellent results other aging in steel and in the bottle to give this wine something extra.

ROERO (Nebbiolo)
In the 19th century, despite the arrival of phylloxera, Roero established itself as one of the most suitable areas for the cultivation of Nebbiolo. Roero Rosso must contain at least 95% Nebbiolo grapes and requires aging of 20 months, of which at least six in oak barrels. To achieve the status of "Riserva," an additional 12 months of aging is required. Roero Rosso wines are characterized by spicy aromas of black berries and sour cherries, medium body, and relatively high tannins. The sandy and clay-rich soils, once the seabed, give Roero wines an aromatic and elegant profile. Roero Nebbiolo needs a lot of sunlight to reach full maturity and is almost exclusively cultivated in hillside vineyards. Roero Nebbiolo wines are known for their full body and aromatic flavors of rose and licorice, often aged in oak for several years. Unlike the more tannic and deeper flavored Barolo, Roero Nebbiolo is fruitier, more elegant, and fragrant, with softer tannins. This allows for enjoying Roero Nebbiolo wines at a younger age and at a more accessible price.

We present 4 wines to discover Roero and its wines, these masterpieces embody the quintessence of this fascinating region.

Roero Arneis San Francesco DOCG 2021 - Cravanzola

Roero Arneis San Francesco - Cravanzola
The Roero Arneis San Francesco DOCG by Cravanzola, a Piedmontese jewel, presents itself with a golden hue that heralds its complexity. On the nose, notes of white flowers and white-fleshed fruit develop, while on the palate an elegant balance emerges, characterized by freshness and intense minerality. Ideal for romantic dinners, it pairs beautifully with fish and white meats.





Roero Arneis Tucci DOCG 2020 - Pelassa

Roero Arneis Tucci - Pelassa
The Roero Arneis Tucci DOCG by Pelassa is a celebration of Roero in every sip. With its straw yellow color and greenish reflections, the wine expresses an unmistakable freshness. The aromatic bouquet of white flowers and peach is combined with a light mineral note, while on the palate it stands out for liveliness and fruitiness, accompanied by a pleasant acidity. Perfect for summer aperitifs or pairings with fish dishes.





Roero DOCG Canavodi 2017 - Cravanzola

Roero Canavodi - Cravanzola
The Roero Canavodi by Cravanzola, cultivated in the limestone and sandy lands of Castellinaldo d'Alba with a South-West exposure, expresses the true essence of Nebbiolo. It presents with an intense garnet color and a complex aroma, combining floral notes of iris with fruity hints of raspberry, with a touch of cinnamon and green pepper. On the palate, it is rich and soft, offering a long aromatic persistence. This wine pairs perfectly with rich and flavorful dishes, such as red meats, game, and aged cheeses.




Roero Riserva Antaniolo DOCG 2017 - Pelassa

Roero Riserva Antaniolo DOCG - Pelassa
The Roero Riserva Antaniolo DOCG by Pelassa expresses refinement and elegance. Produced from selected Nebbiolo grapes, it offers an intense ruby red color with garnet reflections. The bouquet is a complex mix of berries, spices, leather, and tobacco. On the palate, it stands out for its enveloping structure and soft tannins, ideal with rich dishes such as braised meats or aged cheeses, perfect for contemplative evenings.

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