Azienda Agricola Tiziano Mazzoni

Ghemme | Piedmont

Sitting down to dinner one evening with the Mazzoni family, we asked Ghemme winemaker Tiziano Mazzoni whether he often visited the Barolo region. “Well, yes. It’s good for motorcycle riding.”

Part rebel, part natural talent, all passion—this winemaking family from Ghemme, located less than 100 miles as the crow flies from the heart of Barolo, is now the standard bearer for both quality and tradition in this northern Piedmontese wine region.

The Mazzoni family has a long history in Ghemme, yet winemaking as a profession in recent generations hasn’t always been practical. Tiziano’s father in the early 1960s left behind the life of a farmer to work in a factory, as many other Italians did at the time during the north’s economic boom.

Yet wine remained a vital part of the family’s heritage, a connection that for Tiziano, would later become a call he simply couldn’t ignore.

In many trips down to Barolo via motorbike, Tiziano explored the Langhe and the flavors and textures of Nebbiolo. And with time, he decided to return to his roots and explore Nebbiolo on his home soils.

In 1999, he purchased three acres of vineyard in Ghemme, a small portion of which was planted in the late 1960s—a symbolic bridge, in a sense, connecting his family’s leaving the land to his return to it. Today Tiziano farms a total of 11 acres in Ghemme, with a focus on Nebbiolo and Vespolina, a native red grape with lively red fruit and floral aromas.

There’s no question that Tiziano and his wines set a new standard for Ghemme, a region that was named a DOCG in 1997. With just under 200 acres total, this northern appellation is certainly small!

What you’ll find in Ghemme—and above all with Mazzoni—is Nebbiolo both elegant and powerful, an emphasis on red fruits and roses, and tannins that are supple and fine-grained.

FARMING & WINEMAKING

Ghemme is located in northern Piedmont, less than 100 miles as the crow flies from Barolo and to the southwest of Italy’s lake district in Lombardy. In the 19th century and up until the second world war, Nebbiolo wines from this region held a very high reputation, even more so than wines from the Langhe. Yet after the war, many farmers moved from the land to work in factories, and vineyards were abandoned.

In 1997, the region was upgraded to DOCG status in part as an attempt to preserve its vineyards but also to acknowledge the region’s historic place in Italy’s winemaking traditions. Today, families like the Mazzonis are pivotal in bringing this 200-acre appellation back into the ranks of Italy’s great wine areas, where it clearly belongs. Still, there are less than two dozen producers making wine in Ghemme.

Regional soils are a mix of volcanic stone and clay, well-draining and full of beneficial minerals. The family from the beginning has farmed the land according to organic principles, avoiding any chemical treatments. Sulfur addition is minimal.

Grapes are harvested by hand, destemmed, and fermented on indigenous yeasts—with long, slow macerations—in temperature-controlled tanks. The family ages their two Ghemme DOCG wines in a combination of older tonneaux (500L) and French oak “botti” (15HL). Wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

RED WINES

Colline Novaresi Vespolina 'il Ricetto'

Vespolina is a very special treat from Ghemme — this rare, red grape is native to this corner of northern Piedmont and is found virtually nowhere else. A touch of Fleurie, a pinch of Pelaverga, a whole lot of red berry fruit and refined tannins. Almost too fun to enjoy! A wine for sharing with friends, says winemaker Tiziano Mazzoni.

 

 

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Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo 'del Monteregio'

A gorgeous example of Nebbiolo from this pre-Alpine region of northern Piedmont. This classic grape here takes on a more refined, elegant and floral expression, for wines that are seductive from the first sip. This early-drinking Nebbiolo is a salve for body and soul!

 

 

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Ghemme 'dei Mazzoni'

This special, single vineyard wine represents winemaker Tiziano Mazzoni’s first foray into winemaking, returning to his roots in Ghemme to express both his love for Nebbiolo and his pride in Ghemme — a region that because of Tiziano’s efforts, is finally returning to its lofty status in Italy’s winemaking pantheon. Soils here combine volcanic stone with clay, for a wine of wonderfully smooth tannins and texture, high-toned red berry fruit and a bouquet of red roses.

 

 

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Ghemme 'ai Livelli'

The pride of the estate and a gorgeous Ghemme for the cellar. ‘ai Livelli’ is a selection of vines planted in 1968 from within the ‘dei Mazzoni’ vineyard. This extra bit of wisdom translates to deeper, darker berry fruit and more meaty tannins, all wrapped in the supple silk and floral essence that defines the finest Ghemme Nebbiolo.

 

 

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Established: 1999
Winemaker: Tiziano Mazzoni
Region: Italy • Piedmont • Cavaglio d’Agogna
Vineyard size: 11 acres

PRACTICING ORGANIC

Tiziano Mazzoni is among the growers who have returned home to revive ancient family traditions of viticulture and winemaking. Over the last fifteen years or so, Mazzoni has put together about five hectares of vineyards in Ghemme, all farmed organically. The wines I tasted show notable potential. Mazzoni is a grower to watch…

—Antonio Galloni

Domaine Vincent Dureuil Janthial Burgundy France