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A glass of wine for anyone who can tell me about Spanna without Googling it!

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I tried a 1990 vintage last night at Bar Henry in NYC after 1995 Barolo and 2004 Cornas...Good Time!

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  1. i can tell you that i love those chewy tannins...but they really don't love me ;) Nebbiolo grapes are among my favorites.

    1. Once upon a time, there was Spanna galore in New York, though the several producers escape right now. Basically, it was plonk from Piedmont , and more often than not, was pretty good. Valanna is a grower that comes to me....Just think Nebbiolo before the hype and fuss, and you'll be happy.

      1. Yeah, this wine Rocked! I never would have guessed Nebbiolo. It reminded me of a funky and extremely dense 1990 Cornas. Great pick John and Bar Henry!

        1. OK, so off the top of my head . . .

          Spanna is a DOC (I don't *think* it has DOCG status yet) in Piedmonte. The wine is 100 percent Nebbiolo, is very tannic/chewy when young; and it ages beautifully. It is less expensive generally than Barolo and Barbaresco, although top producers command a "serious" price. That said, I strongly disagree that is/was "plonk" -- certainly 1957 Spannas from Pio Cesare (among others) were beautifully alive and well in the 1970s and 1980s, and on into the early 1990s.


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          1. re: zin1953

            Victor Hazan, in his 1982 "Italian Wine," wrote: "A great many people drink Spanna, but hardly anyone talks about it. Of all the proud offsping of the nebbiolo grape, Spanna is the outcast child, the one that is never acknowledged...Nevertheless, when it is honestly made, it is capable of showing all the hereditary class of its nebbiolo parentage." Vallana is the correct spelling of the grower whose Spanna I used to drink (and enjoy.) I will take back the "plonk" appellation (I did say it used to be "pretty good") but haven't had one in a long time. They were seriously underpriced at the time (bottles with 10 years or more bottle age at $2.99 to $3.99) so I guess I didn't take them so seriously (of course, Barolo once upon a time was quite affordable, too.) Checking the web, I notice that in NYC, at a cheeky restaurant owned by Grayden Carter, a 1958 Vallana is on the wine list...I can only guess what the tab must be...

          2. It might not have been plonk, but it was always a bit questionable about provenance--purportedly nebbiolo, but said to be one doc whose producers (Vallana, mostly, in old fashioned bottlings) blurred the rules. I haven't had one in years: Crossroads on W 14th always carried some, but I do remember a hearty, spicey, warm red. Gattinara is another, more trustworthy, nebbiolo, of similar, more sophisticated character. If memory (pre-google) serves, spanna was a microlocalized name for nebbiolo, too.

            1. A response to the original post and subsequent commentary. First off, Spanna is not a DOC but is the name given Nebbiolo in the regions of Novara and Vercelli, which are in Northern Piedmont. Thus, spanna based wines could hail from appellations like Boca, Gattinara, Fara and some other obscure localities. Many Gattinara wines in the 1950's had the phrase Spanna Gattinara on the label to indicate that the wine was made from %100 Nebbiolo--Spanna-- and not blended with other varietals. It was often whispered that Vallana blended Aglianico into his wines, which might account for their atypical longevity. That said, his Spanna's definitely had true nebbiolo character in taste, palate presence and aromatics. Don';t know what producer's spanna was consumed at Harry's, but will be on the lookout for it next time I am in NYC.To my knowledge, Dessilani is the only producer from Northern Piedmont with Spannas of more recent vintage in the US market. Had Vallana's 54 Traversagna, 55 normale , 55 and 58 Campi Raudii over the past few months. Each was beautiful in its own way, though I would have to give the nod to the '55's.