Though officially disregarded by the European Union, Italy’s top quality level—the DOCG—still commands attention in the wider wine world and certainly within Italy itself. Achieving DOCG status is something many denominations dream of and quite a few are actively working toward. The most recent one to achieve that goal is Terre Alfieri DOCG, a relatively unnoticed sapling in the midst of the crowded thicket of denominations in Piedmont’s prime winemaking zone.
If you are familiar with Roero DOCG, Terre Alfieri is a doppelgänger right next-door. Like Roero, Terre Alfieri makes wines basically from just two grape varieties, red Nebbiolo or white Arneis (minimum 85% for Terre Alfieri, compared to 95%+ in Roero). The denomination begins where Roero DOCG stops (see map) in a corner of Cuneo Province and carries the Nebbiolo/Arneis combo farther northeast along the north bank of the Tanaro River into Asti Province. Beppe Pescaja (pictured), a driving force behind the denomination, notes that Terre Alfieri is morphologically connected to Roero. Kathryn Pattinson of Carlin de Paolo adds that the climate of Terre Alfieri is distinct from that of either Monferrato or Langhe.
The name (“Lands of the Alfieri”) refers to the noble Alfieri family that held sway in this area for centuries. Their 17th-century castle is located in the town of Magliano Alfieri in Cuneo.
Terre Alfieri was established as a DOC in 2009 and finished the marathon project of becoming a DOCG in time for the 2020 vintage. As part of the conversion, the denomination added Superiore levels for both Nebbiolo and Arneis and a Nebbiolo Riserva, all with longer aging requirements.
Terre Alfieri’s current production is far smaller than Roero’s, with a mere 20,000 cases a year—less than 4% of Roero’s output—from two dozen small producers with a combined 40 hectares (100 acres) of vineyards. Few Terre Alfieri wines are currently available in the U.S. A Terre Alfieri Nebbiolo from Carlin de Paolo is imported in California by Alluvial Wines. Other Terre Alfieri producers that showed up in a recent Internet search and may be available include:
- Marchesi Alfieri’s Costa Quaglia Nebbiolo
- Tenuta la Pergola, both styles
- Vincenzo Bossotti’s Camilin Arneis
- Pescaja, which makes a Terre Alfieri Nebbiolo called Tuké and a Terre Alfieri Arneis called SoLei (Pescaja also makes a Roero Arneis, which could make for a nice comparative tasting, if you can find them)
We invite anyone who comes across a Terre Alfieri wine to let us know in a comment below or by email (tell us where you found it and the price, and feel free to include tasting notes).