La Ghersa, owned by winelover Massimo Pastura, is a rather small winery (23ha - 160.000 bottles) situated in Moasca, but produces one of the more special Barbera’s we’ve ever tasted. His great-grandfather replanted Barbera after the phylloxera crisis, but in that time it was even a smaller business then it is now. It was only until his uncle closed his little Vinicola (something between a wine bar and a small restaurant) that the family decided to focus on the winery in Asti. Helped by their mentor Giuseppe Bologna, the pioneer of small oak barrels and late harvest Barbera’s, they putted a lot of effort in creating a first class Barbera. The interest in small organic wineries grew at that time (the methanol scandals in the mid eighties only increased this), so slowly they became one of the references in Barbera d’Asti.
Although we are talking about what we like to call the ‘core’ region of Barbara, around 2005 Massimo was looking for a new expression. After he drunk a bottle of Walter Massa’s Timorasso, he decided to use this almost disappeared grape for himself. He bought some hectares in the east of Piemonte, close to the Gavi area (next to Pomodolce, another winery we like), where he now grows the white Timorasso: a very special grape, with some green and grassy flavours, but very sappy in the mouth. At that time, Timorasso had almost completely vanished after all the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay plantings in the mid-eighties, until local boy Walter Massa revived the distinguished grape variety. In the same area, he cultivates Croatina, another lesser-known but wider cultivated grape of North Italy.
But enough history, back to the Barbara. Like we said, Massimo Pastura is constantly looking out to create something special. After four years of micro vinification at the wine university of Torino, he created the ‘MUASCAE’ (the original name of Moasca), a wine fermented from very small grapes, which creates a lot of concentration. But the most special thing about this wine is that after the harvest, 30% of the grapes are dried for a period of four months. So eventually, we have an Amarone in Piedmont! But we really fell in love after tasting the ‘VIGNASSA’, which is made from the 90 years old crops from Massimo’s grandfather. This is a red soil Barbera, where the clay becomes tuff after 3 meters (the roots grow even deeper, until 6 or 7 meters). With 45 days of skin maceration, this wine has a lot of concentration and flavours. We noticed hints of dark red fruit, leather, cacao, minerality, coffee, gun powder, etc. When you want to compare Barbera d’Asti with Barbera d’Alba (which has more earthiness and tannines), this is a safe pick.
In a few months, Massimo Pastura opens 4 guest rooms (2 double rooms and two apartments), in a building that also has a restaurant where you can follow cooking lessons. We think we will meet again, soon!