Erbaluce di Caluso: wine, grape variety, history and organoleptic characteristics of a Piedmont treasure
Erbaluce di Caluso is one of the most amazing white wines in Italy: its elegance, the subtle aromas, the amazing flavor and the potential for aging, and therefore evolution, are legendary. But to such opulence correspond great efforts and endless attention to cultivate it and an above-average sensitivity to diseases like gray mold. Not to mention that its natural habitat is very small, so also the scarcity of bottles is part of its charm.
But if we want to understand the potential, and flavor, of the Erbaluce wine, first of all, we must deepen and dig into the earth where the vines are rooted. Because this great wine is the son of a specific terroir. Exactly like Champagne or Sherry or Chablis are the unrepeatable conditions (combined with the wisdom of the Piedmontese winemakers) that have created an immortal wine.
History and production area of Erbaluce di Caluso
The first certified news comes from a great wine lover of the past centuries, Giovan Battista Croce who in his treatise On Excellence and Diversity of Wines that are made in the mountains of Turin told us that Erbalus is one of the finest Piedmontese grapes. So it is a historical vine, cultivated for centuries and yet it has never moved from the provinces of Biella, Turin, and Vercelli. Even if its elective home is an arch that starts from Caluso, touches Candia, Cuceglio and arrives at Agilè.
And it is no coincidence that the soils of this area are special, indeed unique: they are part of the morainic amphitheater of Ivrea. Simply put, where today the Dora Baltea flows, there was a glacier that led to the accumulation of debris and rocks that settled and created a small paradise perfect for the cultivation of the vine.
In the north the vineyards are sheltered from cold winds, the rocks heat up during the day and release heat at night, give minerality to the wine, the altitude favors the temperature range that amplifies aromas and acidity.
After all, there is a reason if Erbaluce is cultivated only here or better if only here it becomes an imaginative wine. Before going further we tell you that according to the latest genetic analysis, it seems to be a very close relative of the Greco vine, with which it shares many characteristics.
Organoleptic characteristics of Erbaluce
If you observe a bunch at sunset, you will notice that it is an intense yellow with pink reflections of haunting beauty. The bouquet is delicate, fruity, with flowers, aromatic herbs, almonds, lime and memories of honey and rocks. It is enough to give it 4-5 years and it becomes a masterpiece: the tertiary and ethereal scents of distillate and malt appear with peremptoriness, sultana raisins, saffron, broom, marzipan are perceived. But do not think of the explosiveness of the Gewurztraminer: Erbaluce is pure finesse.
What does Erbaluce di Caluso taste like?
On the palate, Erbaluce is fresh, smooth, graceful, with good structure and not too much alcohol content and always amazing saltiness. Acidity is pronounced. As said it is a wine that gives its best in the fourth year of life, if you drink it immediately it is a nice, but incomplete, wine.
Types of Erbaluce di Caluso
We have the dry version called Erbaluce di Caluso, then the Erbaluce di Caluso sparkling wine that is becoming more and more popular, thanks to the grace of the perfumes and the good acidity.
And finally Erbaluce di Caluso passito, the quintessence of elegance. The bunches are picked when they are ripe and put on racks (arele) and withered until November. When the sugar reaches at least 29%, the grapes can be pressed and the resulting must is aged for at least 3 years, 4 years for Erbaluce passito Riserva.
What you get is a precious, evolved, opulent, sweet and viscous nectar, but always supported by a wonderful freshness and great minerality that give vitality to the wine. The aromas are mind-boggling: candied fruit, brooms immersed in honey, walnuts, caramelized hazelnuts, spices, and herbal and medicinal tones and balsamic fragrances of resin. We could go on for hours, but it’s better to taste it and start dreaming.
Being an extraordinary wine, Erbaluce passito Riserva is produced at the cost of enormous efforts. And so know that price and quantity are indirectly proportional. Usually, the bottles of this elixir are 0.375 or half-liter and cost a lot, but we are at the levels of Vino and Vin Santo, Picolit, Sauternes. With blue cheeses it is superb.
Erbaluce di Caluso food pairings
Erbaluce di Caluso passito pairings: shortbread with lemon custard. If it is dry it is splendid with fish, Thai food, parmigiana ravioli, spaghetti with clams, chicken tikka masala, Chicken Cacciatore, Vitello Tonnato, truffle risotto, pasta alla carbonara; if it is sweet let’s try it with pastry tarts, cheesecakes and lemon custard.